I hope I don't bore people to death with this,but in my opinion, definitely the ninth wonder of the world! I asked questions of Rolls Royce given that the Conways were the biggest criticism of the plane.
The dialogue went like this......
Is this a fair assessment? Discuss!!
The questions you posted were surely interesting. Lots of times I wonder what will happen to an old aircraft if re-engined and sent out in the market! Some of them will do fine (e.g Hawker 125 --> 850XP) but others may just have a wrong formula today. Anyway what now makes me curious is why we really don't see Bizjets with podded engines? Maybe they are too large to compensate for the awkward landing gear that my result in this...
About the VC-10's structural discussion, it makes total sense! It is undubtely a very elegant looking machine, but this does not mean it to be up to ttoday's tasks!! Same goes for L-1011, DC-10\MD-11, DC-9\MD-80, all phasing out (Trident? not even ask! Yet I love the Trident...)
I have only just found this site so I must apologise for the long delay in 'penning' a reply. Like you I am a dedicated VC10 lover and have been since they entered service with the RAF. I have flown on RAF '10's up until I left the forces in 1983. To add my two penneth to the discussion Dave Piggott is partly correct in the debate on re-engineing (an analysis was carried out back in the 70's) which resulted in the project being scrapped because of cost. Rolls Royce did successfully marry a RB211 to the port side of airframe XR809 for experimental purposes. The cost of re-engineering the engine support beams to carry the V25000 engine and ducting etc. was in the region of £5.0M per airframe. This was outside of the Defence budget for that era.
The main reason for the demise of the worlds most elegant Queen of the Skys, and with the most passenger appeal, was political. A certain lady minister of the 70's (no names - no pack drill) wanted to strengthen ties with the USA and twisted BOAC's (now BA) arm into scapping most of their VC10 fleet and re-equipping with the new Boeing 747. The reasons given was the fuel consumption per passenger and the noise issue. The USA were becoming very noise conscious and imposing flight rules which was effecting Concorde as well as the VC10. Amazingly the minister flew many hours on RAF VC10 C Mk 1's to many places for summits and official visits because of the very comfortable ride and dependability on arriving on time..
George Edwards who was the chief designer for the VC10 had several designs based on the VC10 on the drawing board (including a double decker - a.k.a. A380 !!) and a Super Super VC10 but was so disappointed with the government and BA that he had all the jigs broken up. Luckily the RAF were able to convert the full range of VC10's into various marks of tanker and are to be in service until 2015. The 707 was phased out years ago which goes to demonstrate the build of the airframe.
If you want to have a good read on the history of the VC10, I recommend Silent, swift, superb: The story of the Vickers VC10 by Scott Henderson
Hope these snippets are worth while.