The origin of the Viscount can be traced back to the war-time Brabazon Committee, which was charged with the task of steering Britain's aircraft industry in the right direction in the immediate post-war years. One of its recommendations was the development of a turboprop-powered short/medium-range airliner (identified originally as the Brabazon IIB), and in April 1945 Vickers were instructed to proceed with its design and development, then identified by the company as the VC2 project.
Discussions between the committee, liased with B.E.A., and Vickers designers resulted in the developing of the Type 609. Construction of two prototypes began in December 1946, modified to a 32-seat capacity at the request of British European Airways, renumbered Type 630 and named Viceroy. The name was changed to Viscount in 1947. This was the first of the company's designs to be brought to fruition under the leadership of George (later Sir George) Edwards, following the death of Rex Pierson.
As finalised, a circular-section pressurised fuselage was chosen with low-set monoplane wings, a Vickers-style tail unit, retractable tricycle-type landing gear and four of Rolls-Royce's new Dart turboprops.
Despite the efforts of Edwards, his design team and Vickers' engineers, interest in the project waned when BEA had doubts about the aircraft's economics in the autumn of 1947.
Prototype Model 630 Viscount (G-AHRF) powered by Rolls-Royce Darts engines was flown first on 16 July 1948. The second prototype (G-AHRG; VX217), completed with Rolls-Royce Tay turbojets was used as an engine test-bed. The design was considered as to small and slow, went back to the drawing board and re-emerged as the larger Type 700 with a 53-seat capacity. The new prototype (G-AMAV) flew for the first time on August 28, 1950. By this time, BEA had already bolstered Vickers' enthusiasm by ordering 20 (later 26) Viscount 701s on 3 August.
A C.A.A. team arrived on May 16th 1954 to evaluate the Viscount. Their visit, the first step towards American certification of the Viscount, resulted from negotiations between Vickers-Armstrongs and TransCaribbean Airways, an American independent airline.
The Italian journal Alata reported in May 1954: "The Viscounts destined for the R.A.F., probably three in number - two to replace the present Royal Vikings - will be 700Ds, and will be powered by the new Dart RDa.6."
The Viscount 700 had a fuselage 80 inches longer, albeit bringing a 7,500 lb weight increase. The prototype had a fuel load of 1,620 gallons whereas production Type 701s would carry 1,920 gallons. A total of 287 of the Viscount 700 Srs. were built.
The 800 series had more powerful engines and a longer fuselage seating up to 75 passengers and flew on 27 July 1956, sixty-seven being produced, followed by 84 Viscount 810 Srs. aircraft.
KLM began receiving the first of nine Viscount 803s at the end of 1957. By the middle of 1958 40 airlines had ordered the Viscount 400 had been sold so far at over £150 million.
One development, flown but not continued, was a RR Tay powered version.
Between 1953 and 1959 438 were sold and orders from Capital Airlines of Washington totalled 60 aircraft.
Engines: 4 x 1,530 h.p. Rolls-Royce Dart 506 turboprop
Length 81.2 ft. (24.75 m)
Wing span 94 ft. (28.65 m)
Weight, loaded 56,000 lb. (2,540 kg)
Seats: 3 to 4 crew; 40 to 48 passengers
Max cruise speed: 300 mph (480 kph)
Ceiling 28,500 ft. (8,700 km) fully loaded
Range: 750 miles (1,200 km) 13,000 lb payload
Engines: 4 x RR Dart 510
Span 93 ft 8.5 in
Length 81 ft 2 in
MAUW 60,000 lb
Cruise speed 320 mph
Vickers V 800 Viscount
Engines: 4 x Rolls Royce Dart 510, 1989 shp
Length : 85 ft 7 in / 26.11 m
Height : 26.739 ft / 8.15 m
Wingspan : 93 ft 8.5 in / 28.65 m
Max. speed : 297 kts / 550 km/h
Cruise speed: 315 mph
Service ceiling : 25098 ft / 7650 m
Crew : 3+60
MAUW: 62,000 lb
Engines: 4 x Rolls-Royce Dart
Engines: 4 x Rolls-Royce Dart RDa. 7/1 Mk 525 turbo-prop, 1566kW
Max take-off weight: 32885 kg / 72499 lb
Empty weight: 18854 kg / 41566 lb
Wingspan: 28.56 m / 94 ft 8 in
Length: 26.11 m / 86 ft 8 in
Height: 8.15 m / 27 ft 9 in
Cruise speed: 563 km/h / 350 mph
Ceiling: 7620 m / 25000 ft
Range w/max.payload: 2776 km / 1725 miles
KLM began receiving the first of nine Viscount 803s at the end of 1957.