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Wellington N2887

Vickers Wellington N2887[1] after conversion to XV transport standard for Transport Command service[2]

The Vickers Wellington was a British bomber and anti-submarine aircraft used by the RAF, RAAF, Fleet Air Arm, and Polish Air Force in WWII.

An immensely strong warplane capable of surviving crippling battle damage, the Vickers Wellington was the Royal Air Force's most advanced bomber at the outbreak of World War II and was at the forefront of the British bomber effort for the first half of the war. It first flew on 15 June 1936 and entered military service in October of 1938. This aircraft was not retired until March of 1953. Production was from 1936 to 1945 with a total of 11,461 built.

HistoryEdit

The Wellington bomber was developed from a proposal for an aircraft utilising geodetic structure, submitted by Vickers in response to Air Ministry Specification B.9/32. This called for an aircraft capable of carrying 1,000 lbs (454 kg) of bombs over a distance of 720 miles (1,159 km), as opposed to the proposal from Vickers, which could carry 4,500 lbs of bombs and had a range of 2,800 miles (4,506 km).

The prototype B.9/32, with two 915-hp (682—kW) Bristol Pegasus X engines and a Supermarine Stranraer fin and rudder assembly, was completed at Weybridgc in May 1936. It Was first flown by Vickers chief test pilof. ‘Mutt’ Summers, on 15 June. Later that month, it was exhibited at the 1936 Hendon Air Display, with nose and tail cupolas covered to prevent details of its still-secret construction method being revealed. After initial manufacturer’s testing the aircraft was flown to the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath for official trials. The prototype crashed near there, with tests almost concluded, on 19 April 1937 after elevator overbalance in a high—speed dive resulted in inversion and structural failure.[2]

Significant ordersEdit

On 15 August 1936, however, the Air Ministry had placed an order for 180 Wellington Mk Is to Specification B29/36. These were required to have a re-designed and slightly more angular fuselage, a revised tail unit, and hydraulically-operated Vickers nose, ventral and tail turrets. The first production Wellington Mk I was flown on 23 December 1937, powered by Pegasus X engines. In April 1938, however, the 1,050-hp (783—kW) Pegasus XVIII became standard for the ofher 3,052 Mk Is of all variants built at Weybfidge, or at the Blackpool and Chester facfories which were established to keep pace with orders. Initial Mk ls tofalled 181, of which three were built at Chester. These were followed by 187 Mk IAs with Nash and Thompson turrets and strengthened landing gear with larger main wheels. Except for 17 Chester-built aircraft, all were manufactured at Weybddge.

The most numerous of the Mk I variants was tlle Mk IC, which had Vickers ‘K’ or Browning machine-guns in beam positions (these replacing the ventral turret), improved hydraulics and a strengthened bomb bay beam to allow a 4,000—lb (1814-kg) bomb to be carried. Of this version 2,685 were built (1,052 at Weybridge, 50 at Blackpool and 1,583 at Chester), 138 of them being delivered as torpedo-bombers after successful trials at the Torpedo Development Unit, Gosport. Many of the improvements incorporated in the Mks IA and IC were developed for the Mk II, powered by 1,145—hp (854-kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin X engines as an insurance against Pegasus supply problems. The prototype was a conversion of the 38th Mk I, and made its first flight on 3 March 1939 at Brooklands. Although range was reduced slightly, the Wellington Mk II offered improvements in speed, service ceiling and maximum weight, the last rising from the 24,850 lb (11272 kg) of the basic Mk I to 33,000 lb (14969 kg). Weybridge built 401 of this version.

With the Wellington Mk III, a switch was made to Bristol Hercules engines, the prototype being the 39th Mk I airframe with Hercules HEISMs, two-stage superchargers and de Havilland propellers. After initial problems with this installation, a Mk IC was converted to take two 1,425-hp (1063-kW) Hercules III engines driving Rofol propellers. Production Mk IIIs had 1,590-hp (1186—kW) Hercules Xls, and later aircraft were fitted with f0ur—gun FN.2OA tail turrets, doubling the firepower of the installation in earlier marks. Two were completed at Weybridge, 780 at Blackpool and 737 at Chester.[2]

American enginesEdit

The availability of a number of 1,050-hp (783-kW) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp 11-1830-S3C4—G engines, ordered by but not delivered to France, led to development of the Wellington Mk IV. The prototype was one of 220 Mk IVs built at Chester, but on its delivery flight to Weybridge, carburettor icing caused both engines to fail on the approach to Brooklands, and the aircraft made a forced landing at Addlestone. The original Hamilton Standard propellers proved very noisy and were replaced by Curtiss propellers.

The fourth production Wellington Mk I was the first to reach an operational squadron, arriving at Mildenhall in October 1938 for No. 99 Squadron. Six squadrons of N0. 3 Group (Nos 9, 37, 38, 99, 115 and 149) were equipped by the outbreak of war, and among units Working up was the New Zealand Flight at Marham, Norfolk, where training was in progress in preparation for delivery to New Zealand of 30 Wellington Mk Is. The flight later became No. 75 (NZ) Squadron, the first Dominion squadron to be formed in World War ll. Sergeant James Warcl of No. 75 later became the only recipient of the Vicforia Cross while serving on Wellingtons, the decoration being awarded for crawling out on to the wing in flight to extinguish a fire, during a sortie made on 7 July 1941.

On 4 September 1939, the second day of the war, Wellingtons of Nos 9 and 149 Squadrons bombed German shipping at Brunsbuttel. Wellingtons in tight formation were reckoned to have such outstanding defensive firepower as to be almost impregnable, but after maulings at the hands of pilots of the Luftwaffe’s JG 1, during raids on the Sehillig Roads on 14 and 18 December, some lessons were learned. Self-sealing tanks were essential, and the Wellington’s vulnerability to beam attacks from above led to the introduction of beam gun positions. Most significantly, operations switched to nights.[2]

Raid on BerlinEdit

Wellingtons of Nos 99 and 149 Squadrons were among aircraft dispatched in Bomber Command’s first attack on Berlin, which took place on 25-26 August 1940; and on 1 April 1941, a Weflington of No. 149 Squadron dropped the first 4,000-lb (1814-kg) ‘block-buster’ bomb during a raid on Emden. Of 1,046 aircraft which took part in the Cologne raid during the night of 30 May 1942, 599 were Wellingtons. The last operational sortie by Bomber Command Wellingtons was flown on 8-9 October 1943 [2]

VariantsEdit

Prototypes and productionEdit

  • Type 271: initial prototype flown on 15 June 1936
  • Type 285 Wellington MK I: pre-production prototype with Pegasus X engines flown 23 December 1937
  • Type 290 Wellington Mk I: initial production version (183 built) with 1,000-hp (746-kW) Pegasus XVIII engines, Vickers turrets and ‘dustbin’
  • Type 408 Wellington Mk IA: production version (187 built) with Pegasus XVIII engines, Nash & Thompson turrets and ‘dustbin’
  • Type 416 Wellington Mk IC: production version, 2,685 built;
  • Type 423 covered conversion of all bombers to carry 4,000-lb (1814-kg) bombs; beam guns and no ‘dustbin‘
  • Type 298 Wellington Mk ll: prototype with 1,145-hp (854-kW) Merlin X engines, first flown 3 March 1939
  • Type 406 Wellington B.Mk ll: production version with Merlin X engines; 400 built
  • Type 299 Wellington Mk Ill: two prototypes, one with Hercules HE1.SM and one with Hercules Ill engines
  • Type 417 Wellington B.Mk Ill: production version (1,517 built) with 1,500-hp (1119-kW) Hercules XI engines
  • Type 410 Wellington Mk IV: prototype with Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radials
  • Type 424 Wellington B.Mk IV: production version; 220 built with Twin Wasps
  • Type 421 Wellington Mk V: high-altitude prototype with Hercules III engines
  • Type 407 Wellington Mk V: high-altitude prototype with Hercules VIII engines
  • Type 432 Wellington Mk VI: prototype with various Rolls-Royce Merlins
  • Type 442 Wellington B.Mk VI: production version (63 built) with Sperry bomb sight;
  • Type 449 covered two production Wellington Mk VIG
  • Type 429 Wellington GR.Mk Vlll: production version (397 built) with Pegasus XVIll engines; 58 with Leigh Light; provision for AS weapons, some with provision for torpedoes
  • Type 437 Wellington IX: single transport prototype, conversion of Mk IA with Hercules XVI engines
  • Type 440 Wellington B.Mk X: production version (3,803 built) with Hercules Vl or XVI engines; Type 619 covered post-war conversion to Wellington T.Mk 10; some sold to France and six to Royal Hellenic air force in 1946
  • Type 454 Wellington Mk IX: prototype with ASV.Mk ll radar and Hercules VI/XVI engines; Type 459 with ASV Mk III radar
  • Type 458 Wellington GR.Mk XI: production version (180 built) with ASV Mk Ill and Hercules VI/XVI engines
  • Type 455 Wellington GR.Mk XII: production version (58 built) with Leigh Light, ASV,Mk Ill and Hercules VI/XVI engines; some sold to France in 1946
  • Type 466 Wellington GR.Mk XIII: production version (844 built) with Hercules XVI engines
  • Type 467 Wellington GR.Mk XIV: production version (841 built) Hercules XVI engines; many supplied to France during 1944-45, and some sold to France in 1946.[3]

ConversionsEdit

  • Wellington C.Mk XV: service conversions of Wellington Mk lAs as transports for 18 troops
  • Wellington C.Mk XVI: service conversions of Wellington Mk lCs as transports for 18 troops
  • Type 487 Wellington T.Mk XVII: service conversions to trainers using Vickers kits; Mosquito-type AI radar arid Hercules XVII engines
  • Type 490 Wellington T.Mk XVIII: production version (80 built) plus some conversions of Wellington Mk Xls; Hercules XVI engines
  • Wellington T.Mk XIX: service conversions of Wellington Mk X to trainer.[3]

ExperimentalEdit

  • Type 416 Wellington (ll): experimental installation of 40-mm Vickers gun in dorsal position applied to original Wellington Mk ll prototype and modified with twin fins
  • Type 418 Wellington DWI.Mk I: conversion of one aircraft for mine detonation; Ford auxiliary power unit
  • Type 419 Wellington DWI.Mk ll: conversion of one aircraft for mine detonation; Gipsy Six auxiliary power unit
  • Type 435 Wellington Mk IC: conversion of one aircraft to evaluate Turbinlite
  • Type 439 Wellington Mk ll: experimental installation in Wellington Mk ll of Vickers 40-mm gun in nose
  • Type 443 Wellington Mk V: one aircraft converted to Hercules VIII testbed
  • Type 445 Wellington (ll): testbed for Whittle W2 B/23 turbojet in tail; Type 470 and Type 486 covered Wellington Mk ll with Whittle W28 and W2/700 respectively
  • Type 478 Wellington Mk X: one aircraft with trial installation of Hercules 100
  • Type 602 Wellington Mk X: one aircraft as testbed with Rolls»Royce Dart turboprops
  • Wellington Mk III: one aircraft with glider-towing clearance for Hadrian, Hotspur and Horsa.[3]

SpecificationsEdit

(Vickers Mk IC Wellington)

  • Crew: Six
  • Length: 64 ft 7 in (19.69 m)
  • Wingspan: 86 ft 2 in (26.27 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 5 in (5.31 m)
  • Wing area: 840 ft² (78.1 m²)
  • Empty weight: 18,556 lb (8,435 kg)
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 28,500 lb (12,955 kg)
  • Powerplant: Twin Bristol Pegasus Mk XVIII radial engines, rated at 1,050 hp (783 kW) each
  • Maximum speed: 235 mph (378 km/h) at 15,500 ft (4,730 m)
  • Range: 2,550 mi (2,217 nmi, 4,106 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,490 m)
  • Climb rate: 1,120 ft/min (5.7 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 34 lb/ft² (168 kg/m²)
  • Power to mass ratio: 0.08 hp/lb (0.13 kW/kg)
  • Gun armament: Six to eight 0.303 caliber Browning MGs, comprising two in the nose turret, two in the tail turret and two in the waist positions
  • Bombload: Can carry up to 4,500 lb (2,041 kg) of unguided bombs

NotesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Flickr (tormentor4555)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 281 Sheet 1 (World Military Aircraft:Vickers Wellington - Bomber variants)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 WAIF File 910 Sheet 3 (A-Z of Aircraft: - Vickers Type 271 Wellington (continued) to Vickers Type 667 Valiant)


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