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Vickers Wellington Medium Bomber Aircraft

The Vickers Wellington was the primary medium bomber of the Royal Air Force at the start of World War 2.

 Updated: 6/15/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

The Vickers Wellington was the primary bomber of the Royal Air Force at the start of World War 2, serving up until late 1943 when it was relegated to second line roles. The Wellington saw production numbers exceed 11,400 and found its mark as a night bomber. Outlasting many of its 1930s-designed contemporaries, the Wellington proved a vital and successful additional to the Royal Air Force's offensive reach early in the war.

The Wellington was designed as early as 1932 to meet a RAF requirement for a medium-class, two-engined bomber. The resulting prototype first flew in 1936 and joined Bomber Command in production form for 1938 - in time for the opening phases of World War 2. Still utilizing construction and design technology that would prove obsolescent by the middle years of the war, the Wellington nonetheless soldiered on. The series would go on to be powered by a mix of Hercules, Pegasus and Merlin engines throughout her career, these powerplants mounted on the monoplane wings which straddled the streamlined fuselage. The whole crew complement reached up to six personnel. An internal bomb load capacity was limited to 4,500 lb of conventional drop ordnance while defensive armament became a mix of 7.7mm machine guns - two fitted to a forward turret, four at a rear turret, and an additional two machine guns mounted at beam (waist) positions. Despite the defensive-minded network of machine guns, this array was soon found to be inadequate as Wellingtons suffered from large defenseless angles about her design. As such, early daylight bombing raids proved disastrous for the type.

It would not be until the Wellington was featured as a night time bomber that the aircraft shined. Wellingtons would go on to form a powerful addition to Bomber Command plans going forward, the primary mission being to derail German war capabilities during hard-to-defend, low-light hours. As much as the Wellington progressed throughout its time in the war, it was nonetheless becoming outclassed by the addition of new bombers to the Allied cause along with new Axis fighters used in interception sorties. The Wellington would fly its last offensive mission in October of 1943. Even so the type would go on to serve in other forms such as that of maritime patrol - this version armed with two torpedoes and specialized equipment. Other Wellingtons served in the dedicated transport role, as crew trainers, and even as research platforms concerning development of turbojets.

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Vickers Wellington Mk III Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1938
Type: Medium Bomber Aircraft
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer(s): Vickers - UK
Production Total: 11,461

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 5 or 6
Overall Length: 64.57 feet (19.68 meters)
Overall Width: 86.15 feet (26.26 meters)
Overall Height: 16.40 feet (5.00 meters)

Weight (Empty): 18,971 lb (8,605 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 34,000 lb (15,422 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 2 x Bristol Hercules XI radial piston engines developing 1,500 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 255 mph (411 kph; 222 knots)
Maximum Range: 1,540 miles (2,478 km)
Service Ceiling: 18,996 feet (5,790 meters; 3.60 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 930 feet-per-minute (283 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

2 x 7.7mm machine guns in nose turret
4 x 7.7mm machine guns in tail turret
2 x 7.7mm machine guns in beam positions

Up to 4,500 lb of internally-held conventional drop bombs.

Global Operators / Customers

Australia; Canada; Czechoslovakia; France (Free French); Nazi Germany; Greece; New Zealand; Poland; Portugal; South Africa; United Kingdom

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

Mk I - Initial Production Model Series; fitted with Pegasus radial engines.
Mk IA - Fitted with Nash & Thompson type nose and tail turrets.
Mk IC - Ventral turret replaced by lateral position guns.
Mk II - Fitted with Merlin powerplants.
Mk III - Fitted with either Hercules III or Hercules XI type powerplants.
Mk IV - Fitted with Twin Wasp powerplants.
Mk V - Pressurized cabins for high-altitude operation; fitted with Hercules powerplant; did not see combat service.
Mk VI - Pressurized cabins for high-altitude operation; fitted with Merlin powerplant; did not see combat service.
Mk X - Fitted with Hercules XVIII; final production version of bomber type; last flown in 1943.
DW.Mk I - Maritime Variant; anti-mine equipment
DW.Mk IC - Dedicated Mine Layer
GR.Mk VIII - Fitted with ASV radar system and Pegasus powerplant.
GR.Mk XI - Torpedo Bomber; fitted with Hercules engines.
GR.Mk XII - Torpedo Bomber; fitted with Hercules engines.
GR.Mk XIV - Torpedo Bomber; fitted with Hercules engines.
T.Mk XVII - Trainer Variant
T.Mk XVIII - Trainer Variant
C.Mk XV - Transport Conversion Models of the Mk IC model.
C.Mk XVI - Transport Conversion Models of the Mk IC model.