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Vickers Vespa

Army Co-Operation Aircraft

Vickers Vespa

Army Co-Operation Aircraft


Passed on by the British Royal Air Force, the Vickers Vespa was ordered by the governments of Bolivia and Ireland and operated until 1940.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United Kingdom
YEAR: 1928
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Vickers Limited - UK
OPERATORS: Bolivia; Ireland; United Kingdom (evaluated)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Vickers Vespa model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 32.97 feet (10.05 meters)
WIDTH: 50.03 feet (15.25 meters)
HEIGHT: 10.50 feet (3.2 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 2,888 pounds (1,310 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 4,409 pounds (2,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar VIC 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 490 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 140 miles-per-hour (225 kilometers-per-hour; 121 knots)
RANGE: 581 miles (935 kilometers; 505 nautical miles)
CEILING: 25,919 feet (7,900 meters; 4.91 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 935 feet-per-minute (285 meters-per-minute)

1 x 0.303 caliber (7.7mm) Vickers machine gun in fixed, forward-firing position.
1 x 0.303 caliber (7.7mm) Lewis machine gun on trainable Scarff round mounting in rear cockpit.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Series Model Variants
• Vespa - Base Series Name
• Type 113 "Vespa I" - Prototype; Bristol Jupiter IV or Jupiter VI engine.
• Type 119 "Vespa II" - Vespa I with metal wings
• Type 149 "Vespa III" - Bolivian export model; all-metal construction; Jupiter VI engine of 455 horsepower; six examples.
• Type 193 "Vespa IV" - Irish export model; Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar VIC engine of 490 horsepower; four examples.
• Type 208 "Vespa V" - Irish export model; aerodynamic Townend ring around cylinders; four examples.
• Type 210 "Vespa VI" - Chinese demonstrator model developed from first prototype airframe; not adopted.
• Type 250 "Vespa VII" - High-altitude performer built from Vespa VI demonstrator.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Vickers Vespa Army Co-Operation Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 3/19/2019. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Vickers "Vespa" biplane aircraft served from 1928 until 1940 and was intended for the "Army Cooperation" role. It was of British origin but primarily operated by the Irish Air Corps and the Bolivian Air Force (the Royal Air Force passed on this Vickers product). Several notable variants emerged though total production numbered just 15 units. In Bolivian service, they fought during the "Chaco War" (1932-1935).

Army Cooperation aircraft are lightweight designs intended for lightweight roles such as observation, artillery-spotting and liaison. They are reasonably powerful for their given role and intended for short-field / rough-field operation. Such aircraft are typically low-cost commitments and inherently rugged in their construction. The Vickers Vespa fit many of these qualities when it was first flown in 1925.

The Vespa emerged from Vickers Ltd by way of a private venture initiative targeting Specification 30/24 for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Specification 30/24 sought a two-seat reconnaissance-minded Army Cooperation platform and several other contenders were also in play for the contract- de Havilland arrived with their "Hyena" and Short Brothers pushed their "Chamois" (none of these saw adoption). "Vespa I" (company Type 113) marked the first available Vickers prototype and sported many characteristics of the period - biplane wing arrangement, open-air cockpit and fixed tail-dragger undercarriage. It was powered by a Bristol Jupiter IV series radial piston engine. Later, the Jupiter VI radial was installed.

Flying for the first time during September 1925, engine issues marred its evaluation with the RAF in June of 1926. After reconstruction of the damaged prototype (incorporating more modern attributes such as metal wings), the "Vespa II" (company Type 119) was born. While RAF authorities passed on the Vespa II, the aircraft was ordered by the Bolivian government as the "Vespa III" (company Type 149). This time, the product was an all-metal aircraft (fuselage included) and a Jupiter Vi engine of 455 horsepower output was fitted. Six of the mark were ordered and used in the Chaco Air War as long range bombers and reconnaissance platforms.

The Irish Air Corps took on a stock of four "Vespa IV" (company Type 193) aircraft in 1929 and these arrived with Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar VIC engines of 490 horsepower. Another four were ordered in 1930 as the "Vespa V" (company Type 208) and these differed by having a "Townend" ring set around the engine compartment (the ring was a tight cowling fitted over the exposed cylinders and used as an aerodynamic measure).

Beyond these military-minded marks, there existed the "Vespa VI" (company Type 210) for demonstration to the Chinese government (it was not adopted) and the "Vespa VII" (company Type 250) intended for high-altitude work (carrying a Bristol Pegasus S series engine). The Vespa VII was rebuilt from the Vespa VI Chinese demonstrator which, itself, was the a rebuilt version of the first Vespa prototype.

All Vespa aircraft were out of service - or reaching their useful existences - by the time of World War 2 (1939-1945).


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (140mph).

Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Vickers Vespa's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (15)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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