While the Bristol Britannia retains the crown for the most visits made by a large turboprop to Southend during the 1960s, the Vickers Vanguard was quick to usurp the Britannia’s No.1 spot as the 1970s dawned. Indeed, B.E.A Vanguards had already started frequenting SEN in small numbers from October 1969 onwards, the first of two aircraft arriving for conversion from passenger airliners to cargo carrying ‘Merchantmen’. However, a good number of other airlines would also avail themselves of Southend’s engineering prowess, while several ex-Air Canada Vanguards would also turn up for pre-delivery checks and maintenance before being sold on. So, as a nod to the last of the large British turboprops, as with the Britannia menu below you will find a list of all of the operators whose Vanguards (whether they were owned or leased) regularly passed through Southend for pre-delivery checks, painting or engineering work.


Vanguard Operators

Air Canada

Many of Air Canada’s Vanguards would pass through Southend at some point or another, although this was generally after they had been delivered to Air Holdings Ltd at either Stansted or Cambridge where most of these aircraft were stored until being leased or sold on to other concerns. When this eventually occurred, some of these aircraft were dispatched to Southend where they would be overhauled, given pre-delivery checks and a new livery if such was required.

Former Air Canada Vanguards

(Only those Vanguards which are known to have passed through SEN in a CF- reg are listed)

CF-TKF*– Del direct to SEN – 18/3/72

Later del to Invicta as G-AZRE

CF-TKG*– Flown from STN to SEN – 25/6/69

Later del to Air Holdings as G-AYLD

CF-TKI*– Camb to SEN by road – 5/72

Fuselage for spares use only

CF-TKO*– Flown from Camb to SEN – 1/5/72

Del to Air Trader 23/5 for use as a spares ship

CF-TKQ*– Del direct to SEN – 3/4/72

Later del to Air Holdings – ff 9/4/72 – Reg as G-AZUI – 9/5/72

CF-TKP*– Flown Camb to SEN – 28/8/72

Later del to Air Holdings as G-BAFK

CF-TKU*– Flown from Camb to SEN – 17/7/71

Later del to Air Holdings as G-AZNG


Air Holdings

All of Air Holdings Vanguard acquisitions came through Air Canada and while most of these aircraft would either be leased or sold on to other companies, one aircraft was actually painted up in an Air Holdings livery. You can read more about this, along with the entire Air Holdings Vanguard fleet in the ‘SEN Visitors‘ menu above.

Air Holdings Vanguard fleet

G-AYLD*– 6/69 to 11/73

Sold to EAS as F-BUFT


Air Trader

This Swedish operation leased three aircraft from Air Holdings, all of which were overhauled and refinished at Southend. This trio then later returned to Southend where they were again prepared for lease or sale to other operators. A fourth airframe was provided although this remained at Bromma as a spares ship and was finally B/U there in 3/78 (See CF-TKO above).

Air Trader Vanguard fleet

SE-FTH*– 1/72 to 11/72

Leased from Air Holdings

SE-FTI*– 4/72 to 1/73

Leased from Air Holdings

SE-FTK*– 7/72 to 3/73

Leased from Air Holdings



Not a frequent visitor to Southend by any means, however it was two of these B.E.A aircraft in particular that would effectively set the Vanguard ball rolling at Southend with the conversions of both G-APEM and G-APEO from passenger airliners into cargo carrying ‘Merchantmen’ that came fully equipped with a large, forward opening door on the port side of the aircraft. Further conversions to the rest of the Vanguard fleet were also undertaken, although these would be carried out at Heathrow using kits supplied by ATEL. Otherwise, other B.E.A Vanguards would still pop into Southend from time to time, either when their Heathrow facility was busy or possibly as a result of ongoing or further conversion work.

B.E.A Vanguard fleet

(only those aircraft that appeared at SEN have been listed)

G-APEJ* – 8/61 to 12/79

Sold to Air Bridge Carriers

G-APEM*– 11/61 to 7/76

Converted to ‘Merchantman’ at SEN – 10/69

G-APEO*– 11/61 to 11/77

Converted to ‘Merchantman’ at SEN – 2/70


Europe Aero Service

At its height, this French airline had ten operational Vanguards in its fleet with five of them having been derived from Air Holdings stock. Several others were delivered to the company although these were used purely for spares. While many of these aircraft would pass through the ATEL hangars in their former Air Canada guise before delivery, a small number of EAS Vanguards would also return to SEN either for overhauls, maintenance or on the odd freight flight.

EAS Vanguard fleet

(Only those aircraft that passed through SEN are listed)

F-BTOV*– 4/72 to 1/82

Sold to Merpati as PK-MVH – Purchased back for spares – 12/87

F-BUFT*– 11/73 to 6/83

Sold to Air Gabon as TR-LBA – Owned again between mid-86 and 2/87

F-BVUY*– 11/74 to 3/81

Sold to Merpati as PK-MVA

F-BXAJ*– 8/75 to 7/79

WFU and later B/U at Perpignon, France – 7/79


Invicta International

This Manston based airline would eventually end up availing itself of seven former Air Holdings/Air Canada Vanguards, while its engineers would travel to Canada to scrap three more for spares. However, not only would these aircraft be delivered from Southend, but they would also continue to make the short hop across the Thames for maintenance with ATEL. To save costs, this airline initially retained the livery of Air Canada and simply replaced the company logo and titles with their own, although in what can only be perceived as a cost cutting measure, some airframes did later appear in a blue, orange and grey scheme, courtesy of Air Trader who had previously leased some of these aircraft. Rumour has it that this airline also carried out a small number of freight flights on behalf of BAF and even ended up leasing Carvair G-ASDC for freight flights during October & November 1975.

Invicta Vanguard fleet

G-AXNT*– 3/73 to 10/75

Leased from Air Holdings – 10/70 to 1/73 then purchased – Sold to EAS for parts use

G-AXOO – 3/73 to 4/76

Leased from Air Holdings – 3/71 to 1/73 then purchased – B/U at Manston – 4/76

G-AXOP*– 3/73 to 4/73

Leased from Air Holdings – 5/71 to 1/73 then purchased – Crashed Hochwald, Swittzerland – 10/4/73

G-AXOY*– 3/73 to 11/75

Leased from Air Holdings – 5/72 to 1/73 then purchased – Sold to EAS for parts use

G-AYFN*– 4/73 to 8/75

Leased from Air Holdings – 4/73 to 10/73 – Sold to EAS as F-BXAJ

G-AZRE*– 3/73 to 9/75

Leased from Air Holdings – 3/72 to 1/73 then purchased – Sold to EAS as F-BXOF

G-BAFK*– 7/74 to 10/75

Sold to EAS as F-BXOG


Merpati Nusantara

Again, Air Holdings would become instrumental in providing this Indonesian airline with Vanguard equipment, two of which they would buy while a further two would be leased. The latter two aircraft were eventually returned to Southend where yet again one would be prepared for re-sale while the other was WFU and slowly broken up due to severe corrosion issues. Four more Vanguards were procured from B.E.A., but there is no evidence of these aircraft ever coming to SEN.

Merpati Vanguard fleet

(Excludes former B.E.A aircraft)

PK-MVC*– 8/73 to 4/74

Leased from Air Holdings – Ret 3/81 as PK-MVA – WFU and B/U Jakarta – 11/85

PK-MVH*– 1/82 to 12/87

Sold to Europe Aero Service for spares use

PK-MVR*– 11/72 to 4/74

Leased from Air Holdings

PK-MVW*– 3/72 to 12/72

B/U at Southend during 1974


Thor Air Cargo Iceland

Two more Air Holdings Vanguards would be dispatched to Iceland at the beginning of 1971. Again, these aircraft would return to Southend for pre-delivery checks and repainting before joining other airlines.

Thor Air Cargo Vanguard fleet

TF-JEJ*– 2/71 to 6/71

Leased from Air Holdings

TF-JES*– 3/71 to 6/71

Leased from Air Holdings



Other Vanguard operators would also frequent SEN usually on cargo flights, although due to the small number of visits they made the the airport, some of them have not been individually listed here. Such operators included Air Viking, Elan, Inter Cargo Service and Air Bridge, the latter of which was a more frequent visitor and thus has its own page in the SEN Visitors menu above.

Do you have any other, interesting snippets of information about these airline’s and their SEN history or indeed, any pictures that you would like to share? If so, then please contact us on

Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.