Despite the rationalization of the Britain's aerospace
industry into BAC and Hawker Siddeley, by 1965 it was again unable to compete with foreign competitors. Lord Plowden headed a special Parliamentary committee that
recommended a second major restructuring of the aircraft industry. The Plowden Report proposed that Rolls-Royce and Bristol-Siddeley
merge to form a single company that manufactured aircraft engines. This merger, which included the sale of Hawker Siddeley's 50 percent interest in Bristol Siddeley to Rolls-Royce, was carried out in 1966. The second proposal, a merger of BAC and Hawker Siddeley, was abandoned.
By the early 1970’s poor economic conditions and intense competition from the Americans had
eroded the already tenuous position of the British aerospace industry. In 1975 the Plowden merger proposal for BAC and Hawker Siddeley had been resurrected in the form of an Aircraft and Shipping Industries Bill. The following year BAC and Hawker Siddeley were nationalized, less in an attempt to protect their finances than to force a merger upon them. In 1977, after once being
rejected in the House of Lords and defeated in the Commons, the Industries Bill was successfully ushered through Parliament.
Aircraft and Shipping Industries Bill merged the Aircraft and Dynamics divisions of Hawker Siddeley with the British Aircraft Corporation and Scottish Aviation, Ltd. The new company, called British Aerospace (BAe), was formed on 29 April 1977, with its Corporate
head office at the ex-BAC facility at Weybridge, and continued to be operated by the British government as a state-owned corporation. On 1 January
1978 it was announced that the company would be divided into two Groups: British Aerospace Aircraft Group,
based at the ex-Hawker Siddeley facility in Kingston, and British Aerospace Dynamics Group, headquartered at the ex-BAC Guided Weapons plant in Stevenage (outside the scope of this website). The Aircraft Group was further divided into
six divisions: Hatfield/Chester, Kingston/Brough, Manchester, Warton, Scottish and Weybridge/Bristol. These divisions
employed some 50,000 people over eighteen sites – Bitteswell, Brough, Chadderton, Chester, Christchurch, Dunsfold, Filton,
Hamble, Hatfield, Holme-on-Spalding Moor, Hurn, Kingston, Preston, Prestwick, Salmsbury, Warton, Weybridge and Woodford.
Hawker Siddeley had been part of the first Airbus project, the Airbus A300 and, although the British government withdrew support in April
1969, Hawker Siddeley, and later BAe, continued to design and supply the wing box for the A300. However, even in its new form, British Aerospace
lacked the resources to develop a new commercial jetliner on its own any larger than the HS.146 (now renamed BAe.146) by itself
and foreign collaboration would be essential. A new programme was set up in June 1977, the Joint European Transport
(JET), under the leadership of Derek Brown (b. May 10, 1925, d. November 7, 2010), with BAe being partnered by MBB,
Fokker-VFW and Aérospatiale, based at the former Vickers site in Weybridge, Surrey, UK. On January 1, 1979 British Aerospace purchased a 20 percent share of Airbus, pledging
$500 million through 1983 for incurred costs and development of a new aircraft designated the A310, designing and supplying
the wing box as for the A300. The JET programme was now transferred to Airbus, leading up to the creation of the Single-Aisle
(SA) studies in 1980 and eventually the Airbus A320 series.
Just as foreign collaboration would be essential in
the civil sector, it was even more so in defence. In December 1979, BAe and MBB presented the European Collaborative
Fighter (ECF) project to their respective governments. However, the political desire to include France into the partnership
led to Dassault-Breguet joining BAe and MBB, the result being the European Combat Aircraft (ECA). Work on this continued until
March 1981, before the various Ministries declared the programme unaffordable.
Meanwhile, in accordance with the provisions
of the British Aerospace Act 1980 the statutory corporation was changed to a public limited company under the name British
Aerospace PLC, on 1 January 1981. On 4 February 1981 the government sold 51.57% of its shares, selling its remaining
shares in 1985 but maintaining a £1 golden share allowing it veto foreign control of the board or company. The man chosen
to lead the new company was the chairman of Esso Petroleum, Austin Pearce, now faced with the dual task of guiding British
Aerospace through the privatization while ensuring that the company's orders were being filled.
A memorandum of Understanding
had been in place between Hawker Siddeley and Mcdonnell Douglas of St Louis since the early 1970’s to allow McD to participate in AV-8A Harrier production, although
in the endthis was not actually undertaken. However, this had led Mcdonnell Douglas to study advanced Harrier variants during
the 1970’s and by 1981, when the Ministry of Defence had finally decided to participate in the Harrier II program, a
second MoU was negotiated between Mcdonnell Douglas and British Aerospace, resulting in 60/40 split in manufacture of all
Harrier II (Harrier GR.5 in RAF service) for both the USMC and the RAF. The fact that this MoU worked well for several years
bode well for the joint McDonnell Douglas/BAe submission for the US Navy VTXTS competition, won by the T-45 Goshawk variant
of the BAe Hawk trainer in 1984.
The inevitable rationalisation of the industry following the formation of BAe was
announced in March 1982. Bitteswell, which BAe had continued to use for refurbishing Avro Shackletons and Vulcans, along with other work for the Ministry of Defence, was to close by April 1983, with the loss of
1,000 jobs. In July 1983, BAe announced that, with the end of BAC.111 production, the Hurn factory would close by July 1984, with the loss of 2,000 jobs. Another 1550 redundancies
were made across other sites. Holme-on-Spalding Moor had continued support for Phantoms and Buccaneers but following the last
Buccaneer flight in December 1983 that too was closed. In February 1984, four of BAe's six divisions disappeared in a major
reorganisation. A new civil division was formed centred at Hatfield, combining Bristol and Scottish (Prestwick) as well as
existing partner Chester, rationalising 146, Airbus, Jetstream, and 125 commercial transport manufacture. On the military
side, the Weybridge/Bristol, Kingston/ Brough and Manchester divisions were brought together in a new Weybridge division,
bringing Harrier, Hawk, and Nimrod together. The Warton division, with Tornado, Jaguar, Strikemaster, remained unchanged.
Following the cancellation of the ACA, BAe continued company funded studies, resulting in the P.110. The British government
made it clear that funding would not be forthcoming without international collaboration, so in April 1982, BAe, MBB and Aeritalia
revived their Tornado partnership with the Agile Combat Aircraft (ACA), closely resembling the P.110 but
with side intakes replaced by a chin intake favoured by MBB for better handling at high angles of attack. To develop and test
the new technologies being proposed for the ACA, the partners produced the Experimental Aircraft Program (EAP), first disclosed
in May 1983, though by December that year MBB dropped out of that project. This all eventually led, in 1986, to the European
Fighter Aircraft (EFA) programme. Once again it was attempted to include France in the programme, but the relative
requirements were to disparate. To manage the design and development, Eurofighter Jagdfluzeug GmBH was formed
on 2 June 1986 with offices in Munich, and comprising BAe, MBB/Dornier, Aeritalia and CASA. Finally the years of defence collaborative
effort paid off; the Eurofighter Typhoon made its first flight on 27 March, 1994.
The March 1984 decision by the British
Government to provide a £250 million deferred-interest loan to fund British Aerospace's development work on the Airbus
A320 finally gave the green light to the European project. Until now the centre of British Aerospace work on Airbus had been
at Hatfield, but in 1985 this was moved to Filton to allow Hatfield concentrate on its expanding 146 and 125 work. On the
A320, BAe had been given an increased share of work; the company had been responsible for the basic wing box and fuel system
of the earlier Airbus versions but on the A320 BAe took design and manufacturing responsibility for much of the rest of the
wing as well, including final assembly. BAe Chester (now Airbus Broughton) still builds the wing box of each A320 wing, which
is then transported Filton to receive slats, flaps, spoilers, ailerons and systems, for which a new £3. 5 million hangar
was built in 1985. The resulting complete wing is then flown to Toulouse.
On May 15, 1984, the chairman of Thorn EMI
announced his company's intention to merge with BAe. The announcement invited criticism from the managing director of Britain's
General Electric Company (GEC), which was a principal owner of BAC before 1977, who stated it was fully prepared to exceed any bid submitted by Thorn EMI. In June 1984 British Aerospace rejected
Thorn EMI's takeover proposal, and the following month did the same with GEC, citing a lack of any specific proposals. The
government was satisfied with the takeover rejections because it ensured that British Aerospace would remain under British
ownership and that it would continue to be a part of the Airbus group. By 1985, confident about the company's position, the
British government sold its 48 percent of British Aerospace, retaining, however, a special £1 share to ensure that BAe
would stay under U.K. control. The £550 million offer was tightly restricted to institutional investors. The company
also was reorganized into eight functional divisions during the year, a move that was intended to economize utilization of
engineering teams by having them specialize in the development of products in specific fields.
In 1982 the Future
International Military Airlifter (FIMA) was proposed by a group comprising British Aerospace, Aérospatiale,
MBB and Lockheed to develop a replacement for the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Transall C-160 transport aircraft. Other companies
joined in 1987, primarily Aeritalia (now Alenia Aermacchi) and CASA, and the project was retitled FLAEG (Future Large Aircraft
Exploratory Group). However, progress was slow and in 1989 Lockheed left the consortium to develop the second-generation Hercules,
the C-130J. Now a European concern, the project was again renamed, this time as EUROFLAG (European Future Large Aircraft
Group) and was formally established as a limited liability company in Rome in 1991. In September 1994 it was absorbed
by Airbus Industrie and the programme management passed to a dedicated Airbus Military core team in Toulouse in 1995. In January
1999 the Airbus Future Large Aircraft (FLA) was re-named A400M.
Probably the most significant closure of the 1980s
was that of Weybridge, BAe announcing in July 1986 that all manufacturing work would go to other BAe factories, leaving Weybridge
with just the corporate headquarters, military division HQ, along with some civil design and support responsibilities. Continued
employment for 1,500 of the 4000 workforce was offered at Weybridge, Kingston, Dunsfold, and other company locations throughout
the UK, but closure still lead to some 2,500 redundancies. BAE Systems still retain a logistics centre at Weybridge in 2018.
In April 1987 British Aerospace acquired Royal Ordnance plc, a state-owned maker of small arms ammunition, for £190
million. Shortly thereafter, Pearce stepped down as chairman, being replaced by Professor Roland Smith. Under Smith's leadership,
there followed a period of considerable, if ill-advised acquisitions by BAe unconnected to the aerospace or defence industries.
In August 1991, BAe formed a naval systems joint venture, BAeSEMA, with the Sema Group. By now, BAe was near collapse. A
recession had severely impacted the automobile and real estate sectors, turning the acquisitions of Rover and Arlington sour.
The economic downturn also wreaked havoc with the company's already troubled regional and corporate aircraft operations. Smith
approached first Trafalgar House (a construction engineering and property group) and then GEC about a merger. When the BAe
board found out about the talks with GEC, they ordered that the discussions be terminated. In September 1991 the company's
dire straits forced Smith to attempt to raise £432 million through a stock offering. When current shareholders revolted,
the board ousted Smith, replacing him temporarily with Graham Day, who had been chairman of Rover. During Day's brief six-month
tenure, he succeeded in turning away yet another attempt by GEC to acquire BAe.
The severe financial problems BAe
had found itself in led to the closure of more sites, including two of its most iconic. In December 1990, British Aerospace
announced the closure of the historic Sopwith/Hawker site at Kingston, to be phased over a period between June 1991 and December 1992, and the old English Electric Preston Strand Road site in 1993. Kingston’s future project design offices had already been rationalised and
centred on Warton and Brough earlier in 1988 and now its manufacturing moved to Dunsfold, but, with completion of Harrier
production, this also closed in 2000. BAe later announced the cessation of aircraft production at the old de Havilland Hatfield site from 1993, with civil aircraft design being located at Prestwick and Woodford. BAe had used the former
Folland/Hawker Siddeley facility at Hamble for component manufacture, setting up a separate subsidiary, Aerostructure Hamble Ltd
in January 1989. BAe disposed of this facility in April 1992, it thereafter operating as an independent concern, eventually
becoming part of the Dowty Group.
As part of the earlier expansion under Smith’s chairmanship, BAe’s Aerospace
concerns had been reorganized into two subsidiary companies: British Aerospace (Civil Aircraft) Limited,
incorporated on 21 July 1988, and British Aerospace (Military Aircraft) Limited, incorporated five days later.
Grahame Day continued these restructuring operations, placing defence operations under a single umbrella subsidiary called
British Aerospace Defence Limited in January 1992, and dividing the civil division into two parts: British
Aerospace Corporate Jets Limited (just Corporate Jets from May 1992), to continue development of
the 125 line and any new corporate jet developments, and British Aerospace Regional Aircraft Limited, centred
at Hatfield, both incorporated on 28 January 1992. On 1 February 1992, British Aerospace (Airbus) Limited
was formed as a separate company at Filton. Regional Aircraft was further broken down when Jetstream Aircraft Limited
(incorporated 9 July 1992) was formed to consolidate Jetstream (including the ATP, now re-branded Jetstream 61) production
at Prestwick, and Avro International Aerospace Limited (incorporated on 9 November 1992) to consolidate production
of the BAe.146 at Woodford. It was intended that Avro International was to be set up as a 50/50 joint venture with the Taiwan
Aerospace Corporation, which was to inject £120 million into the new company, with the intention of setting up a second
production line in Taiwan, but in the end the finance was not available and the deal collapsed. British Aerospace decided
to continue without outside investment due to the cost savings realised with the closure of the BAe.146 production line at
Hatfield Aerodrome and the consolidation of production at Woodford. Arguably, the BAe.125 was the UK's most successful
turbine-powered civil aircraft programme, with deliveries having averaged about two a month since it began life in 1962 as
the D.H.125. But this programme was a victim of BAe's strategy to dispose of "non-core activities", when it sold
its Corporate Jets division to Raytheon (later Hawker Beechcraft) in 1993, though all major subassembly work remained in the
UK at the BAe (later Airbus) UK Broughton plant. Production ended in 2013 due to Hawker Beechcraft’s bankruptcy.
Starting in the mid-1990’s, Aérospatiale, BAe and Germany’s DASA teamed up to create what would be Concorde’s
replacement. This project was simply known as “Alliance,” while the aircraft was known as the “ESCT”
(European Supersonic Commercial Transport), or "AST" (Advanced Supersonic Transport). Outside of
the main three countries involved with the tri-national venture, Italy, Russia, Japan, and the United States had some minor
involvement. Wholly, the development of the European design would require $15-20 billion annually. Project Alliance’s
concept was an ambitious step forward from Concorde; the project’s intended advancements consisting primarily of increased
range, speed, passengers, and versatility. To sustain the costs that would ensue from the operation of such a complex aircraft,
the passenger capacity was set to 250-300 passengers. Increasing the passenger capacity would reduce the airfare of the SST,
and make filling seats a less laborious task. Aside from the expanded number of passengers, the SST would fly at an increased
speed of Mach 2.2. Additionally, the aircraft would have an improved range of 10,000km, thus adding to the amount of routes
the aircraft could cover. This would open a window of opportunity that Concorde never had; completing transpacific and other
lengthy routes without stopovers to refuel, therefore making the aircraft’s market more optimistic and versatile. Unfortunately,
the ESCT concept of Project Alliance failed to move past the developmental stages. During the 1999 G7 summit in Seattle, discussions
between the involved countries led to the subsequent closing of the project.
In 1995 an agreement was signed with
the Franco-Italian Avions de Transport Regional (ATR) to create a multi-national consortium named Aero International
(Regional) (AI(R)), to be based at Toulouse. As well as Avro it would also include Jetstream Aircraft of Prestwick.
Avro would continue to build the regional jet family at Woodford but they would be marketed under the AI(R) branding. Although
BAe aircraft were marketed for a time via AI(R), no new designs were forthcoming from the consortium and it was officially
dissolved on 1 July 1998.
Defence consolidation became a major activity in late 1990's. BAeSEMA, Siemens
Plessey and GEC-Marconi formed UKAMS Ltd in 1994 as part of the Principal Anti-Air Missile System (PAAMS) consortium. UKAMS
would become a wholly owned subsidiary of BAe Dynamics in 1998. In 1995 Saab Military Aircraft and BAe signed an agreement
for the joint development and marketing of the export version of the JAS 39 Gripen. In 1996 BAe and Matra Defense agreed to
merge their missile businesses into a joint venture called Matra BAe Dynamics. In 1997 BAe joined the Lockheed Martin X-35
Joint Strike Fighter team. The company acquired the UK operations of Siemens Plessey Systems (SPS) in 1998 from Siemens AG,
while DASA purchased SPS' German assets. In 1998, numerous reports linked various European defence groups – mainly
with each other but also with American defence contractors. It was widely anticipated that BAe would merge with Germany’s
DASA to form a pan-European aerospace giant. A merger deal was negotiated between Richard Evans and DASA CEO Jürgen Schrempp.
However, when it became clear that GEC was selling its defence electronics business Marconi Electronic Systems, Evans put
the DASA merger on hold in favour of purchasing Marconi. Evans stated in 2004 that his fear was that an American defence contractor
would acquire Marconi and challenge both BAe and DASA. Schrempp was angered by Evans' actions and chose instead to merge DASA
with Aerospatiale to create the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). This group was joined by Spain’s
CASA following an agreement in December 1999.
The GEC merger to create a UK company compared to what would have been
an Anglo-German firm, made the possibility of further penetration of the United States defence market more likely. The company,
initially called "New British Aerospace", was officially formed on 30 November 1999 as BAE Systems.
The dropping of the words “British” and “Aerospace” in the name indicated the direction the new company
intended to take – a global organization with an emphasis on all aspects of defence, not just aerospace. BAE Systems
had little ambition to be a serious player in the civil sector outside Airbus. BAE Systems' first annual report identified
Airbus, support services to militaries and integrated systems for air, land and naval applications as key areas of growth.
It also stated the company's desire to both expand in the US and participate in further consolidation in Europe. On the civil
side, AI(R) had achieved little except to confirm the demise of the UK's remaining turboprop projects - the Jetstream 31,
41 and 61 (original the ATP). Under BAE Systems, the ongoing civil activities were renamed BAE Systems Airbus
and BAE Systems, Regional Aircraft, but on 1 January 2001 BAE Systems, Regional Aircraft and BAE Systems
Aviation Services were merged to form BAE Systems Aviation Services Group. In March, BAE Systems also merged
its UK-and US-based civil aerostructures businesses to form a new division. The enlarged Aerostructures Group
was based in Chadderton and included component manufacture at Prestwick and Samlesbury, along with with Precision Aerostructures
of Wellington, Kansas.
The Avro RJ continued for a short while with a third-generation development, the RJX,
which began flight testing, but the sudden downturn in the autumn of 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks gave BAE the excuse
it needed to finally extinguish any remaining aspirations to build airliners. But the same was not true of its involvement
in Airbus.BAE still enjoyed the sizeable revenue and profits that their Airbus activity generated, and was fully behind the
1999-2000 revamp of the original consortium structure into an integrated company. In 2001 BAE transferred its UK Airbus facilities,
including its Broughton site and design and manufacturing activities at the historic Filton site, to the newly formed Airbus
UK in return for a 20% share of the new company. However, when Dick Olver was appointed chairman in July 2004 he
ordered a review of the company's businesses which ruled out further European acquisitions or joint ventures and confirmed
a "strategic bias" for expansion and investment in the US. The review also confirmed the attractiveness of the land
systems sector and, with two acquisitions in 2004 and 2005, BAE moved from a limited land systems supplier to the second largest
such company in the world. Between 2008 and early 2011 BAE acquired five cyber security companies in a shift in strategy to
take account of reduced spending by governments on "traditional defence items such as warships and tanks”.
By October 2002, BAE Systems was "reviewing" its civil aerostructures business and considered it may put it up
for sale as it focused on its core systems integration activities. In January 2006 BAE announced that it had sold its Aerostructures
business unit to Spirit AeroSystems for £80 million. The remaining facilities at Prestwick reverted to BAE Systems Regional
Aircraft as a supplier of managed solutions for aircraft support services and engineering. In addition, Prestwick is the Type
Certificate holder for the Jetstream 31/32, Jetstream 41, ATP, HS.748 and BAe.146/Avro RJ families. With the sale in October
2006 of its stake in Airbus for £1.9 billion, BAE had pulled out of the civil sector completely. In 2008, Airbus sold
most of the component manufacturing activities on the Filton site to GKN Aerospace and BAE Systems closed the airfield for
business on 31 December 2012. The old Avro site at Woodford was also a victim of closure at this time, being sold by BAE Systems on 20 December 2011 with the other
ex-Avro site at Chadderton following in March 2012.
FOAS, or the Future Offensive Air System, was the name given to
a number of concept options being examined for the UK Ministry of Defence’s requirement to replace the capabilities
provided by the Tornado GR4 aircraft, with the aircraft and airborne systems intended to become operational around 2018. The
FOAS research program was ran in parallel to two major UK defence initiatives - the new future aircraft carrier (CVF) and
on the Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA), formerly known as the Future Carrier Borne Aircraft (FCBA), for which the STOVL
variant of the F-35 Lightning II was chosen in September 2002. BAE Systems examined the best combined force mix, comprising
manned aircraft, Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) and Conventional Air Launched Cruise Missiles. Options evaluated for the manned
aircraft included variants of developed aircraft such as the Eurofighter and the F-35 rather than dedicated new build aircraft.
The decision to move FOAS into the assessment phase was not taken and the project was closed down in June 2005, being replaced
by the Deep and Persistent Offensive Capability (DPOC) requirement, itself cancelled in the 2010 Strategic Defence Review.
In November 2010 it was announced that BAE Systems was in talks with France’s Dassault Aviation about collaborating
on the development of a future Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) programme and a potential
Unmanned Combat Aircraft System. In June 2011 this was officially revealed as Telemos, to be based, in particular, around
the Mantis programme, which first flew in 2009. The Telemos programme was abandoned in July 2012, as the new French socialist
government considered cooperating instead with other European partners on the EADS Talarion programme. In 2012 the FOAS/DPOC
program was revived when France signed an MoU to join the RAF's latest programme, now the unmanned Future Combat Air
System (FCAS), to build upon the BAE Systems Taranis and Dassault nEURON demonstrators. Under the terms of an Anglo-French
£120 million contract announced in 2014, the two-year FCAS Feasibility Phase programme would involve six industry partners
exploring concepts and options for the potential collaborative acquisition of a UCAS in the future. A 12-month £1.5
billion demonstrator stage of the FCAS effort was agreed by the French and UK governments in March 2016 ultimately leading
to a full-scale demonstrator development programme starting at the end of 2017. However, by early 2018 “political and
budgetary uncertainty” in London had left the launch of a demonstrator programme in doubt.
BAE Systems is the world's second-largest defence contractor and it employs around 36,400 people in the UK. The largest aerospace
related locations of BAE Systems are Warton, Samlesbury and Brough. The final assembly line for British Eurofighter Typhoons
is located at Warton, where flight test activity for all manned aircraft is undertaken and which is also the development centre
within BAE Systems for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), UCAVs and the Saudi Tornado upgrade programme. Samlesbury is the production
hub of the Military Air Solutions division of BAE Systems. Here, components for the Eurofighter Typhoon, the F35 Lightning
II, the Hawk, UAVs, UCAVs and Airbus aircraft get built. At Brough, the BAE Hawk gets produced and final assembled, flight
testing being done at Warton.
Aircraft, Ron Smith (Tempus, Vol.1 2002, Vol.2 2003, Vol.3 2004, Vol.4 2004, Vol.5 2005)
From the early
1980s, BAe Filton was primarily responsible for wing design across all Airbus products. In 2001 BAE transferred its UK Airbus
facilities, including Filton, to Airbus UK in return for a 20% share of the new company. In 2008, Airbus sold most of the
component manufacturing activities on the Filton site to GKN Aerospace, retaining its wing design centre. BAE Systems retained
the airfield itself but this was for business on 31 December 2012.
In March 2001 component manufacture at Prestwick bcame
part of the Aerostructures Group, which was sold to Spirit AeroSystems in 2006. The remaining facilities at Prestwick reverted
to BAE Systems Regional Aircraft as a supplier of managed solutions for aircraft support services and engineering.
BAe/BAE Systems Warton; for Type Numbers before P.98, see BAC.
Delta wing aircraft.
Tilt wing aircraft.
2S, 1E gunship.
Tit wing vectored thrust aircraft.
Tilt wing/tilt engine fighter.
Delta canard fighter.
Light combat aircraft for India.
1S, 1E fighter; swept wing, conventional
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Note: In the Production Summary, conversions are only listed where
they result in a change from one Type to another. Changes to sub-type or Mark Number are not shown in the summary. For details
of these, see the individual listings.