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Vickers 286 Vildebeeste / Vildebeest

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The Vickers Vildebeeste first flew in 1928 as a torpedo bomber and entered RAF squadron service in Mk.I form in 1933. The aircraft type was christened Vildebeeste in 1928 but amended to Vildebeest in 1934. Powered by a 462kW Bristol Pegasus IM3 engine, the pilot occupying an open cockpit below the leading edge of the upper wing and the observer aft of the wings in a shallower and lower section of the fuselage. A prone bombing position was provided below the pilot's seat. Armament comprised one fixed Vickers gun firing through the propeller and one Lewis gun on a Scarff ring over the back cockpit. The crutch for the 450mm torpedo or bomb rack was under the fuselage between the two legs of the landing gear.

The Mk.I was followed into service by the Mks.II to IV, powered by 484kW Pegasus IIM3 and 603kW Bristol Perseus VIII engines. The final variant - the Mk. IV - was built between December 1936 and November 1937. The Mk.IV featured an electric starter, replacing the previous model’s inertia starter. Eighteen went into service with the RAFs No. 42 Squadron in 1937 until replaced by Bristol Beauforts in mid-1940. The distinguishing feature of the Mk. IV was its Perseus sleeve-valve engine, clad in a long chord low drag cowling and driving a three blade variable pitch Rotol propellor. The Mk. IV, the ultimate example of the Vildebeeste, was obsolescent even by 1936 standards.

Total production for the RAF was just over 200, about half of which were still operational at the outbreak of World War II. Two RAF squadrons of Mk.III Vildebeest were based in Singapore in 1941 and went into action against the Japanese with total loss of aircraft. In addition the Vildebeest was adopted by the Spanish Ministry of Marine as a standard torpedo-carrying seaplane and a batch of about 27 were ordered from the Spanish CASA firm, which had acquired a manufacturing licence. These were powered by 443kW Hispano-Suiza 12Nbr engines.

The RNZAF, having order eight Mk. Is in 1933, stayed with the original spelling. With four more ordered the following year the Vildebeeste was to re-equip the soon to be formed (April 1937) RNZAF with two bomber-reconnaisance flights.

 

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Twenty seven more Vildebeestes were taken on charge by the RNZAF in 1940-1 and of these twelve were Mk. Vs. Eight arrived by ship at Hobsonville in October 1940 and four in April 1941. In December 1940 the first two Mk. Vs were delivered to No.1 General Reconnaisance (GR) Squadron at Whenuapai to join the Pegasus-powered Mk. IIIs already on strength. All eight of the first shipment appear to have served with this unit, being joined by three of the final four — after delayed assembly — in October 1941.

 

Gallery

 

Vildebeeste II
Engine: Bristol Pegasus IIM-3, 660 hp
Prop: 2 blade

Vildebeeste III

Engine: Bristol Pegasus IIM-3, 660 hp
Prop: 2 blade
Max speed: 143 mph
ROC: 630 fpm

Vickers 286 Vildebeest Mk. IV
Engine : Bristol Perseus VIII, 814 hp
Length : 37.664 ft / 11.48 m
Height : 14.665 ft / 4.47 m
Wingspan : 49.016 ft / 14.94 m
Wing area : 727.969 sq.ft / 67.63 sq.m
Max take off weight : 8502.5 lb / 3856.0 kg
Weight empty : 4725.3 lb / 2143.0 kg
Max. speed : 136 kts / 251 km/h
Service ceiling : 18996 ft / 5790 m
Wing load : 11.69 lb/sq.ft / 57.0 kg/sq.m
Range : 1412 nm / 2615 km
Crew : 2-3
Armament : 2x cal.303 MG (7,7mm), 1x Torp. 18in / 1000kg Bomb

Vildebeeste IV
Engine: Bristol Pegasus VIII, 825 hp
Prop: 3 blade
Wingspan: 14.94 m / 49 ft 0 in
Length: 11.48 m / 38 ft 8 in
Height: 4.47 m / 15 ft 8 in
Wing area: 67.63 sq.m / 727.96 sq ft
Empty weight: 2143 kg / 4725 lb
Max take-off weight: 3856 kg / 8501 lb
Max speed: 156 mph / 251 km/h
ROC: 840 fpm.
Ceiling: 5180 m / 17000 ft
Range: 1014 km / 630 miles
Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1 x 457mm torpedo or 450kg of bombs

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Vickers Vildebeest


 

 


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