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Vickers Warwick - United Kingdom, 1939

Detailing the development and operational history of the Vickers Warwick Multirole Heavy Bomber Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 6/17/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Vickers Warwick  
Picture of Vickers Warwick

Though developed as a heavy bomber, the twin-engine Vickers Warwick saw more time in other roles during World War 2.

The Vickers Warwick became a further evolution of the Type 271 design which was intended to fulfill the earlier Specification B.9/32. The new aircraft was arranged around Specification B.1/35 of 1935 to serve as a heavy bomber despite its reliance on a twin-engine configuration (heavies of the period generally carried four or more engines). For the requirement Vickers formulated the Type 284 and outfitted the design with Bristol Hercules radial piston engines, one nacelle fitted to either wing mainplane. The mainplanes were mid-mounted along the deep fuselage which sported a stepped cockpit arrangement, the nose glazed some for vision by the bombardier. The fuselage tapered at the rear to which a single vertical fin was featured with low-set horizontal planes. A tail-dragger undercarriage would be used for ground running and be made retractable in to the aircraft.

The Type 284 was one of eight aircraft designs submitted for review to the Air Ministry and became the first to be ordered in prototype form - two were ultimately completed. 1936 and 1937 saw formal revisions to the requirement as well as mounting delays with the intended engines (now Rolls-Royce "Vulture" inlines) and other issues including a commitment to other wartime programs on the part of Vickers. First flight was finally had on August 13th, 1939 and the second prototype followed with Bristol Centaurus engines - later changed to the Pratt & Whitney R2800 "Double Wasp" series due to limited Centaurus supplies. As with other large Vickers aircraft of the day, a geodesic "basket-weave" understructure was employed in the construction of the Warwick - adding a certain layer of manufacturing complexity while benefitting the design through strength and weight savings.

A first-order by the Royal Air Force (RAF) was for 150 of the Pratt & Whitney-engined bombers and a follow-on batch of 100 Centaurus-engined forms. This therefore produced the Warwick Mk I and Warwick Mk II production forms with the first delivered to the RAF inventory in July of 1942.

However, as much work as had been put into the Warwick to date, the air war had already saw such advances in bomber technology and performance that the Warwick was simply surpassed in its given role. As such, true bomber forms were actually available in limited numbers - just sixteen of the stock. The rest were pressed into service in a variety of critical roles such as Search and Rescue (SAR) platforms, maritime patrol aircraft (Anti-Submarine Warfare - ASW), and general transports. A total of 842 aircraft were produced.

In all there were five major marks - Mk I, II, III, V and VI - with several subvariants following. Mk I marked 150 bomber models ordered and this stock saw subvariants take on bomber, transport, SAR and passenger air service roles. Mk II was used in the ASW role as well as reconnaissance. Mk III followed as a transport version and Mk V became another ASW entry (Bristol Centaurus engines). Mk VI relied on PW Double Wasp engines and served as the final Warwick form for the SAR role - these entered service in the last few months of the war (1945).

Bomber models (Mk I) were outfitted with up to 8 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns set within three turrets (two guns in the nose, two in a dorsal position, and four at the tail). Performance included a maximum speed of 225 miles per hour, a range out to 2,300 miles and a service ceiling of 21,500 feet. Power was from 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800 "Double Wasp" radials outputting 1,850 horsepower each. The operating crew numbered six.

Beyond service with over twenty RAF squadrons, the type soldiered on for the Polish government-in-exile and for squadrons No. 17 and 27 of the South African Air Force (SAAF).

Vickers Warwick ASR.Mk I Specifications

Service Year: 1939
Type: Multirole Heavy Bomber Aircraft
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer(s): Vickers-Armstrong - United Kingdom
Total Production: 842

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 6
Overall Length: 72.18 feet (22 meters)
Overall Width: 96.78 feet (29.50 meters)
Overall Height: 18.37 feet (5.60 meters)

Weight (Empty): 28,219 lb (12,800 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 45,096 lb (20,455 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800 / S.1A4-G "Double Wasp" radial piston engines developing 1,850 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 194 knots (224 mph; 360 kph)
Maximum Range: 1,998 nautical miles (2,299 miles; 3,700 km)
Service Ceiling: 21,490 feet (6,550 meters; 4.07 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 660 feet-per-minute (201 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

B.Mk I:
2 x 7.7mm machine guns in nose turret
2 x 7.7mm machine guns in dorsal turret
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in tail turret

Internal capability of up to 6,000lb of conventional drop bombs, torpedoes, depth charges, or naval mines.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

Poland; South Africa; United Kingdom

Model Variants

Warwick - Base Series Name
Warwick Mk I - Initial production mark
Warwick B.Mk I - Bomber model; 16 completed as such out of 150 ordered.
Warwick C.Mk I (Type 456) - Passenger transport for British Overseas Airway Corporation (BOAC) for Mediterranean service; 14 examples.
Warwick B/ASR.Mk I - B.Mk I bomber conversions as Search and Rescue (SAR) aircraft; 40 examples.
Warwick ASR(A) - B.Mk I bomber conversions as SAR aircraft; 10 examples
Warwick ASR(B) - B.Mk I bomber conversions as SAR aircraft; 20 examples
Warwick ASR.Mk I (Type 462) - SAR variant; 2 x Pratt & Whitney R2800-S1A4G Double Wasp radial engines of 1,850 fitted; 205 examples.
Warwick Mk II - Second production mark
Warwick B.Mk II (Type 413) - Prototype bomber form; single example based on B.Mk I
Warwick GR.Mk II (Type 469) - Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) / Reconnaissance form; support for torpedo armament; fitted with 2 x Bristol Centaurus VI radials of 2,500 horsepower each; 118 examples.
Warwick GR.Mk II (MET) - Meteorological research platform based on GR.Mk II model; 14 examples completed.
Warwick Mk III - Third major production mark
Warwick C.Mk III (Type 460) - General transport model; revised ventral fuselage; 45,000lb cargo-carrying capability; 100 examples.
Warwick Mk V - Forth major production mark
Warwick GR.Mk V (Type 474) - ASW / Reconnaissance form; 2 x Bristol Centaurus VII series radial engines fitted; Leigh spotlight installed; torpedo armament support; 210 examples.
Warwick Mk VI - Fifth major production mark
Warwick ASR.Mk VI (Type 485) - SAR variant; 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-2SBG Double Wasp engines fitted; 94 examples completed.

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