HC Deb 30 March 1955 vol 539 cc346-7
4 and 5. Mr. Beswick

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Air (1) how many of the Blackburn freighter and the V.1000 transport aircraft, respectively, have been ordered for the Royal Air Force; approximately when they are expected to be available for service; and what other aircraft types, other than the Comet, have been ordered for Transport Command;

(2) how many Comet aircraft have been ordered for the Royal Air Force; of what marks; and when they are expected to be available for service.

Mr. Ward

It would clearly not be in the public interest to give the total number of every type of aircraft ordered. Enough V.1000's have been ordered to get economic production going but it is not at present possible to say when this aircraft will come into service.

Meanwhile, orders have been placed for a number of Comets Mark 2; these aircraft are being strengthened and modified for use by the Royal Air Force and, subject to the satisfactory outcome of special tests, we hope that the first aircraft will be delivered at the beginning of next year. As the House knows, substantial orders have been placed for the Blackburn freighter. Deliveries will begin within the next few months. No other aircraft types have been ordered for Transport Command.

Mr. Swingler

May I ask, first, whether it is possible to give a date, within at least a year, with regard to the V.1000; and, secondly, if the hon. Gentleman's answer means that the idea of using the Princess flying boat has now been completely dropped?

Mr. Ward

On the first point, I would hesitate to give a forecast because it is still so far off, but, as the hon. Gentleman knows, the V.1000 was ordered off the drawing board in the middle of 1954, and we are hoping that the first prototype will fly in mid-1956. As to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, the development of the Princess flying boat is, of course, a matter for the Minister of Supply. But, as I said in the course of the debate on the Air Estimates, we have been forced to the conclusion that in nuclear warfare there would be few tasks which only a flying boat could perform, and that, from the point of view of the Royal Air Force, the money would be better spent on the provision of land-based aircraft.

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