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Vickers Wellesley


Light Bomber Aircraft


United Kingdom | 1937



"Introduced in 1937, only 177 of the serviceable Vickers Wellesley bombers were produced - the line was given up as soon as 1944."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/19/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Vickers Wellesley was one of two aircraft submitted by the Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd company to fulfill Air Ministry Specification G.4/31 of 1931 calling for a multirole/general purpose torpedo bombing platform - the second being the Type 253 biplane. The Type 253 biplane was eventually realized as a flyable prototype form and 150 of the type were ordered. Vickers then proceeded to work as a private venture on the Type 246 which was more in line with the light bomber role against no standing requirement. A first flight followed on June 19th, 1935.

Due to the promising nature of the Type 246 design, the order for the Type 253 was reduced and ended with a sole example being completed. The Type 246 managed a better return with 96 being contracted for production set to begin in March 1937. Air Ministry Specification 22/35 of 1935 was written to satisfy the Type 246's procurement.

Adopted as the "Wellesley", the finalized aircraft was a gangly creature. It featured two separate cockpits for its crew of three, creating a "double-hump" shape along the fuselage spine. A radial piston engine was fitted to the front of the fuselage with a single-finned conventional tail unit held aft. The wing mainplanes were straight appendages, mounted low along the fuselage sides. The aircraft used a "geodetic" airframe construction approach (designed by Barnes Wallis) which was intended to promote a stronger airframe. The wheeled undercarriage (in "tail dragger" configuration) was retractable but only through a manual process. The bomb load was to be carried in panniers held under the wings so as to not disrupt the special construction of the fuselage.

Power was from a Bristol Pegasus XX serial radial piston engine of 925 horsepower. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 228 miles per hour, a range out to 1,220 miles, and a service ceiling of 25,500 feet. Cruising speeds were in the 180 miles per hour neighborhood.

Standard defensive armament was a single .303 caliber Vickers machine gun fitted to the starboard side wing in a fixed, forward-firing mount. A .303 caliber Vickers K machine gun was fitted on a trainable mount in the rear cockpit. The bomb load totaled 2,000 pounds.

The initial production models were known as Wellesley Mk I and these were delivered to the Royal Air Force's squadron No. 76 during April of 1937. By May of 1938, 177 total aircraft were delivered. Three specially-modified Wellesleys were used to set a world distance record on November 5th, 1938, traveling from Ismailia, Egypt to Darwin, Australia. The Wellesley Mk II differed only in that it had a single-piece cockpit canopy offering better streamlining.

Vickers delved into other related models that included the Type 289 serving as an engine testbed, the Type 291 as a "blind flying" model, the Type 292 which numbered three aircraft and were the ones used in the RAF's Long-Range Development Flight program mentioned above, the Type 294 for its reinforced wing elements, and the Type 402 experimental platform.

When Britain declared war on Germany in September of 1939, the Wellesley was still available in number though it was clear the aircraft was of an obsolete type. By this time, they were primarily based in the Middle East and ended up taking sorties over East Africa against Italian targets. Their range was an exceptional quality for bombing though the line was highly susceptible to Italian intercepting biplane fighters in the theater as the British bombers flew largely unescorted to this point in the war. The Wellesley maintained some value in raids and general reconnaissance work that continued into September of 1942. The line was retired in full during 1944. At least three Wellesleys were sold off to the Egyptian government to serve the local air force. Another notable operator became the South African Air Force.

Despite their limited production numbers, the Wellesley and her crews were able to provide some useful service in the early going of World War 2.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Vickers Wellesley Light Bomber Aircraft.
1 x Bristol Pegasus XX radial piston engine developing 925 horsepower.
Propulsion
230 mph
370 kph | 200 kts
Max Speed
25,509 ft
7,775 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
1,221 miles
1,965 km | 1,061 nm
Operational Range
845 ft/min
258 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Vickers Wellesley Light Bomber Aircraft.
3
(MANNED)
Crew
39.2 ft
11.95 m
O/A Length
74.6 ft
(22.75 m)
O/A Width
15.3 ft
(4.65 m)
O/A Height
6,757 lb
(3,065 kg)
Empty Weight
12,500 lb
(5,670 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Vickers Wellesley Light Bomber Aircraft .
STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm Vickers machine gun in fixed, forward-firing mount in starboard wing.
1 x 7.7mm Vickers K machine gun in rear cockpit position.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 2,000 lb of bombs held underwing.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Vickers Wellesley family line.
Wellesley - Base Series Name
Type 281 - Company model designation
Mk I (Type 287) - Initial production model with separated cockpits.
Mk II - Revised model with single-piece canopy
Type 289 - Engine test platform
Type 291 - Specialized "blind-flying" model
Type 292 - Long-range modification aircraft for record-setting.
Type 294 - Reinforced wing elements; prototype only.
Type 402 - Experimental model; three crew.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Vickers Wellesley. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 177 Units

Contractor(s): Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd - UK
National flag of Egypt National flag of South Africa National flag of the United Kingdom

[ Egypt; South Africa; United Kingdom ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (230mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
177
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Vickers Wellesley
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
ANTI-SHIP
RECONNAISSANCE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Vickers Wellesley Light Bomber Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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