The last operational Vickers VC10s will perform the type’s final flights for the Royal Air Force on 20 September, before being retired from use.

A final pair of Rolls-Royce Conway-engined VC10 tankers are due to conduct the sortie from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, bringing to an end a 47-year service life.

Flown by personnel from 101 Sqn, the aircraft should perform a last air-to-air refuelling mission, before conducting a series of separate flypasts at air force bases and other sites around the UK. Their formal retirement will be completed by the end of September.

 VC10 - Crown Copyright

Crown Copyright

Aircraft ZA147 (above) and ZA150 are the last remaining examples of the VC10 to be flown, with the RAF having progressively reduced its fleet of the tanker/transport over the last several years. The KC3-model pair entered service in 1966 and 1970, respectively, says Flightglobal’s MiliCAS database.

The only military user to adopt the VC10, the RAF has flown the type since 1966. Its capabilities have been assumed by the UK’s AirTanker-provided Airbus A330 Voyagers, which are in use with 10 Sqn and are also to in the future be used by a re-commissioned 101 Sqn from Brize Norton.

Six Voyagers have been delivered so far, with the RAF due to declare full capability by May 2014, on the availability of nine of the tanker-equipped aircraft.

 Archive VC10 - Rex Features

Rex Features

The VC10 has been used by the Royal Air Force since 1966

With the VC10 now leaving use, the RAF has positioned one of its Lockheed TriStar tankers on the Falkland Islands, where it is providing air-to-air refuelling support for an air defence detachment of Eurofighter Typhoons. The service is also due to cease operations with the tri-jet type by May 2014.