Vickers 78 Vultue I / 95 Vulture
During 1918 Vickers designed a light amphibian with biplane wings and tail unit, its Consuta plywood hull being built by the company's S. E. Saunders subsidiary and incorporating an enclosed cabin seating four passengers. Its powerplant, a 205kW Rolls-Royce Falcon, was strut-mounted below the upper wing to drive a pusher propeller. Designated Vickers Viking, it was flown for the first time in late 1919. It was in a forced landing with this aircraft, on 18 December 1919, that the company's famous chief pilot, Sir John Alcock, was killed.
From this Viking I was developed a series of aircraft with progressive improvements, especially to the hull (some of which had open cockpits), and differing powerplant. They comprised the one-off Viking II (268kW Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII) and Viking III (336kW Napier Lion), followed by the production Type 54 Viking IV. Of the 26 that were sold, examples in several type numbers went to the armed services of Argentina, Canada, France, Japan and the Netherlands, and for civil use in Argentina, Canada, the Soviet Union and the USA. Ironically, Sir Ross Smith, knighted like Sir John Alcock for a Vickers Vimy pioneering flight, was killed in an accident with a Viking IV on 13 April 1922. The final version was the Viking V with Napier Lion engine, two built for service with the RAF in Iraq.
The aircraft that was to have been the Viking VI, with redesigned wing structure and single 450 HP Napier Lion engine with a four blade pusher propellor, was designated Type 78 Vulture I; a second example with a 268kW Rolls-Royce Eagle IX had the designation Type 95 Vulture II but was later re-engined with a Napier Lion. These two aircraft were used during 1924 in an unsuccessful round-the-world flight attempt.
The Vickers Type 95 Vulture, G-EBHO, was registered to Vickers Ltd on August 9, 1923. It was a three seat amphibian powered by a single 450 hp Napier Lion and was one of two designed by R. K. Pierson for Sqn Ldr A. C. S. MacLaren's round the world flight. This attempt began at Calshot on March 25, 1924, and ended with a take-off crash at Akyab, Burma.
On May 24 the other aircraft, G-EBGO, was shipped to Akyab from Tokyo, where it had been positioned earlier, to continue the flight. This also ended prematurely with a forced land-ing in heavy seas near the Aleutian Islands on August 2, 1924.
Last of the Viking series, at first designated Viking VII but later named Type 83 Vanellus, was a single aircraft for evaluation by the RAF as a three-seat (pilot, observer/gunner and gunner) open-cockpit fleet-spotter; it differed primarily from its predecessors by having a monoplane tail unit. The 15.24m span Viking IV with Napier Lion powerplant had a maximum speed of 182km/h at sea level.