Hunting Air Trans/Hunting-Clan

Operated from Dec 1945 to Jul 1960

Main Bases – Luton, Bovingdon and then Heathrow
Founders/Directors – Mr Charles Hunting, Wing Comm. Gerald Hunting & Capt. Percy Llewellyn Hunting

From small beginnings grew what would eventually end up as being Britain’s biggest independent airline and by the mid-60s this company, albeit in another guise, was flying trips to almost every corner of the planet. However, Hunting would initially start out as a reasonably well equipped air taxi operator with four Proctors to its name, these having been procured from Percival Aircraft over which Hunting’s directors also held dominion. In the same year, Dragon Rapides and Avro 19s were also brought in to compliment the Proctors and this saw the company undertaking more work in the form of photo reconnaissance and some charter services. Finally, in 1947 two Doves and the first of many Vickers Vikings were added to the fleet, the latter of which would more or less become the backbone of Hunting’s operations until its reformation into B.U.A in 1960.

It was in 1947 that Hunting made the move into charters and commercial operations and by 1950, the airline was flying a glut of domestic and European charters and associate agreement services (with B.E.A) while I.T operations would see its aircraft being dispatched to much of Africa. It was on these African routes that the Vikings would really earn their keep and despite offering a slower service, Hunting continued to undercut B.O.A.C’s prices by a considerable margin and as a consequence, the airline grew and grew. A huge trooping contract also landed in Hunting’s lap during 1951 and by mid-1952, its fleet had now been expanded to eight Vikings and two C-47s. In the meantime, Hunting in association with Airwork continued to expand its network of I.T routes to a multitude of new destinations on the African continent.

The year 1953 would witness the addition of another five C-47s while the Clan Line Holding Group would procure a considerable share of the company which resulted in the new Hunting-Clan name. Indeed, this airline’s further exploits are too numerous to mention here, although worthy of mention are a small number of fleet changes that would take place during 1955 and 1956. In 1955, the first of several Viscounts was brought in to replace the ageing Vikings on the African routes while a ‘new’ type in the shape of Avro Yorks were purchased with the intention of putting them to work carrying cargo back and forth between the UK and Africa. However, these lumbering, unpressurised aircraft were not really suited to African climes and the somewhat unpredictable weather that occurred there and by 1958, they had been replaced by a pair of DC-6s.

While Hunting did make the odd visit to SEN during the 1950s (especially on diversions), it wasn’t until the final two years of this airline’s existence that flights really started to increase. The odd Viking was known to have previously ventured into the airport while two airframes were later sold to Tradair and flown in Hunting colours until their removal from service. But, it was Hunting’s larger equipment that would become something of a regular feature at SEN. By 1958, Hunting-Clan was making substantial losses, having successfully bid to take over the UK—Singapore trooping contract from Airwork, albeit at a price too low to leave any room for the depreciation of that airline’s two new Britannia’s. Hunting was also facing unexpected problems meeting the War Office’s contractual requirements, so something needed to be done.

As such, Hunting decided to subcontract a significant part of its newly won business to Air Charter at a loss. Although this arrangement technically made ACL Hunting-Clan’s sub-contractor, Laker managed to persuade Hunting to agree to a new deal regarding the sharing of business and as a consequence, the management of these flights along with two DC-6s were transferred over to Air Charter. This also fitted in nicely with the idea of forming BUA which later came about through the merger of Airwork and the financially failing Hunting Clan. Indeed prior to this, Hunting had always maintained these airframes at their engineering facility at LHR but after the amalgamation, the Hunting hangars at LHR were passed on to Field Aircraft Services, the latter of which was not included in the deal to form BUA despite it previously having been part of the Hunting organisation and as a result of this, the DC-6s were transferred to SEN.

After their arrival at Southend, the two DC-6As were put to work mostly operating the twice weekly AFRICARGO cargo freighter service between Heathrow and Johannesburg. However, they also operated flights ex-SEN to supplement the CAB fleet during high peak times both to Ostend and other destinations, while a considerable number of charter flights were thrown in for good measure too. These aircraft were also occasionally used to supplement ACL’s Skymasters on the Southend – Adelaide Ministry of Supply route especially after G-ANYB had been withdrawn as the first airframe to enter the ATL-98 Carvair programme. Needless to say, it would also fall to ATEL to provide maintenance services for these two DC-6 aircraft, not to mention a pair of their C-47s which passed through for pre-delivery checks before joining BUA.

With thanks to Peter Clark for helping to correct some of the above information.

 

Hunting fleet from 1957 to 1960

(Only those aircraft that were likely to have visited SEN have been listed)

Vickers Viking

G-AGRP – 6/51 to 2/58

Sold to Overseas Aviation

G-AGRV*– 5/51 to 5/60

Sold to Tradair

G-ARGW – 5/51 to 12/59

Sold to Overseas Aviation

G-AHOY – 1/49 to 2/58

Sold to Pegasus Airlines

G-AHPB*– 1/49 to 6/60

Sold to Overseas Aviation

G-AHPC*– 1/49 to 5/60

Sold to Tradair

G-AHPJ – 3/47 to 12/59

Sold to Overseas Aviation

G-AKBG – 4/55 to 5/60

Sold to Don Everall Aviation

G-AMNK – 8/52 to 5/60

Sold to Don Everall Aviation

Douglas C-47 Dakota

G-AMHJ – 4/57 to 5/61

TFR to BUA

G-AMNL – 11/51 to 5/61

TFR to BUA

G-AMSJ*– 10/53 to 6/61

TFR to BUA

G-AOFZ*– 7/56 to 2/60

Sold to Derby Aviation

Douglas DC-6

G-APNO*– 7/58 to 7/60

TFR to BUA

G-APNP*– 7/58 to 7/60

TFR to BUA

Bristol Britannia

G-ANCD*– 12/59 to 7/60

TFR from Air Charter – Later TFR to BUA

G-ANCE*– 12/59 to 7/60

TFR from Air Charter – Later TFR to BUA

 

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about this airline’s SEN history or indeed, any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on saadinfomail@gmail.com

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.