The Type 950 Vanguard was a British short/medium-range turboprop airliner introduced in 1959 by Vickers-Armstrongs, a development of their successful Viscount design with considerably more internal room. The Vanguard was introduced just before the first of the large jet-powered airliners, and was largely ignored by the market. Only 43 were built, ordered by Trans-Canada Airlines (TCA) and British European Airways (BEA). After only about 10 years service TCA experimentally converted one of theirs to a freighter configuration, calling it the Cargoliner. This was considered successful, and in the early 1970s most were converted to freighters, those from BEA becoming the Merchantman. These freighters remained in service for many years, with the last one (G-APEP) only retiring in 1996.
The aircraft was designed to a BEA requirement for a 100-seat aircraft to replace their Viscounts. The original Type 870 design was then modified when TCA expressed their interest in the design as well, and Vickers returned the updated Type 950 that filled both requirements.
The main difference between the Viscount and Vanguard was the construction of the fuselage. The Vanguard started with the original Viscount fuselage, but cut it off about half of the way up from the bottom, and replaced the top section with a larger-diameter fuselage to give it a double bubble cross-section (similar to the Boeing Stratocruiser). The result of the larger upper portion was a roomier interior, with increased cargo capacity below the floor.
With this larger, and heavier, fuselage came the need for a new engine to lift it. Rolls-Royce delivered their new Tyne design with a nominal 4,000 hp (3,000 kW) (as compared to the Viscount's Dart of about 1,700 hp (1,300 kW)).
This allowed for a much higher service ceiling and cruise speed, the Vanguard had a service ceiling almost twice that of the Viscount. The Vanguard was one of the fastest turboprops ever and was faster than the present day Saab 2000 or de Havilland Canada Dash 8.
The first Type 950 prototype flew on 20 January 1959.
The Vanguard entered service with BEA and TCA in late 1960. BEA operated their first Vanguard schedule on 17 December from Heathrow to Paris. Following delivery of their full fleet of six V951 and 14 V953 aircraft by 30 March 1962, the type took over many of BEAs busier European and UK trunk routes. The aircraft received names of famous Royal Navy warships, the first G-APEA was named "Vanguard", but these tended to be dropped later in service. Initial seating was 18 first class at the rear and 108 tourist, but this was changed to 139 all-tourist, in which configuration the Vanguard had very low operating costs per seat/mile. On flights up to 300 miles, such as from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, the type could match the block times of the pure jets which were being introduced in the early 1960s. The remaining BEA fleet passed to British Airways on 1 April 1974 and the last BA passenger flight with the type was on 16 June.
TCA initiated Vanguard schedules on 1 February 1961 with two flights from Toronto and Montreal via intermediate stops to Vancouver. The fleet was also used on services from Toronto and Montreal to New York and Nassau, Bahamas.
In 1966 Air Canada removed all the seats in CF-TKK and refitted the aircraft for pure cargo work, in which role it could carry 42,000 lbs of freight. Known by the airline as the "Cargoliner", it was the only such conversion, but survived to be the last Canadian Vanguard to be retired in December 1972.
BEA operated nine Vanguards mofified to a V953C "Merchantman" all-cargo layout from 1969, with the first two conversions being designed and carried out by Aviation Traders Engineering (ATL) at Southend Airport. BEA modified the remainder at Heathrow using kits from ATL. A large forward cargo door (139 inches by 80 inches high) was incorporated. The Merchantmen continued in service with BA until late 1979 when the remaining five were sold.