Aviation Archive Registration Acknowledgements
BAC 100: 2010. Join in the Celebrations of 100 Years of Aviation in the West of England. Aviation image sequence: Photograph of the Bristol Flying School at Larkhill by T L Fuller © J T Fuller. Mercury engine installation diagram, courtesy of BAC/Rolls-Royce. Selection of old postcards from the collection of Jackie Sims. Photograph of A380 over Clifton Suspension Bridge courtesy of Airbus SAS 2006. Computer generated image of A350 XWB courtesy of Airbus. Artist's impressions of main exhibition by Simon Gurr. Sir George White (Airbus).
What's On
The BAC Story
Great Reading Adventure 2010
Learning Zone
News and Press

As a result of wartime production, the number of BAC employees had risen to over 52,000 by 1943, but with a gradual slackening of military demand, the company was soon looking to new peacetime ventures to keep its core workforce in employment including the civil airline market, pre-fabricated buildings and cars.

The decade was dominated by the events of World War Two, the post-war reconstruction efforts and the early stages of the Cold War. It was also the decade of swing and bebop, George Orwell's Animal Farm and atmospheric crime films like Double Indemnity, The Big Sleep and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

April 1940
First Beaufighter prototypes delivered to RAF.
25 September 1940
Major daylight bombing raid on BAC, accelerating the dispersal programme.
Other UK and world events this year:
First successful flight by single-rotor helicopter. Start of British Strategic Air Offensive against Germany. Evacuation of Dunkirk. Battle of Britain.
June 1942
Coastal Beaufighter drops tricolour in a roof-top level daylight flight over occupied Paris. Read more of this in the obituary of Group Captain Ken Gatward.
Other UK and world events this year:
Brabazon Committee formed to plan postwar aircraft production in UK.
Roy Fedden leaves company. Bristol Aeroplane Welfare Association formed.
4 April 1943
Torpedo-armed coastal version of Beaufighter makes its first successful action against German ships.
Other UK and world events this year:
First jet combat aeroplane. First long-range missile.
Raoul Hafner joins BAC to lead development of helicopters, a new division later being formed which moves to Weston-super-Mare in 1955.
Other UK and world events this year:
Rolls-Royce Derwent engine begins flight trials in a Gloster Meteor testbed.
30 July 1945
First tenant moves into Bristol pre-fab at Shirehampton. Over 11,000 homes completed in first three years of production, the majority built at Weston-super-Mare.
2 December 1945
Maiden flight of Freighter transporter, a valuable 'bread-and-butter' earner in the post-war period which had a passenger variant called the Wayfarer.
Other UK and world events this year:
VE Day. Atomic bomb dropped. VJ Day. Gloster Meteor sets new world speed record.
BAC car division based on BMW technology begins production as part of war reparations agreement.
Other UK and world events this year:
PanAm starts scheduled New York-London service.
British Messier set up as a BAC subsidiary specialising in undercarriage research, marketing and production.
27 July 1947
Maiden flight of Sycamore, the first all-British designed and built helicopter.
Other UK and world events this year:
International Civil Aviation Organisation established.
Theseus becomes world's first turboprop engine to pass type test. Stanley Hooker joins company, going on to become director of Bristol Aero Engines Ltd and responsible for the development of Olympus. UK's first permanent pre-fabricated aluminium school erected at Lockleaze, Bristol, one of over 450 schools built by the company.
14 July 1948
Silver City begins first car ferry service using Freighter.
Other UK and world events this year:
Berlin airlift.
Guided Weapons Department formed.
4 September
Maiden flight of the Brabazon, the world's biggest airliner, a commercial white elephant but a major technological achievement.
Other UK and world events this year:
Maiden flight of Comet. NATO formed.
Search the site
Beaufighter (Bristol Aero Collection).
Beaufighter (Bristol Aero Collection).

Freighter (Bristol Aero Collection).
Freighter (Bristol Aero Collection).

Bristol car (private collection).
Bristol car (private collection).

Bristol pre-fab (Bristol Aero Collection).
Bristol pre-fab (Bristol Aero Collection).

Theseus (Bristol Aero Collection).
Theseus (Bristol Aero Collection).

Brabazon (Bristol Aero Collection).
Brabazon (Bristol Aero Collection).
Sycamore (Bristol Aero Collection).
See a dedicated display of 'Bristol' helicopters at the Helicopter Museum at Weston-super-Mare.
The Bristol Aero Collection at Kemble includes a display of wartime memorabilia.
Aviation Archive
Search the Aviation Archive for images of West of England aircraft in the 1940s.
Dispersal Sites
Olveston Parish Historical Society has recently produced a leaflet giving information about the wartime dispersal sites in the area. This can be downloaded here as a PDF.
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