Vickers 285 Wellington
The Wellington was designed to meet an Air Ministry requirement for a long-range medium bomber under Specification B.9/32 and evolved as a mid-wing monoplane with a fuselage of oval cross-section. Both of these major structures were of the geodetic construction which Barnes Wallis had introduced in the Wellesley. But experience with the latter and development of the geodetic concept made it possible for the individual components (which were built up into the 'basket-weave' structure) to be smaller and lighter in weight without any loss of structuial integrity by comparison with the Wellesley. Wings, fuselage and tail unit were fabric-covered; power plant comprised two wing-mounted engines; and the tailwheel-type landing-gear units were hydraulically retractable.
'Heavy' defensive armament - comprising five machine-guns in nose and tail turrets and a ventral dustbin - would, it was believed, enable a flight of these aircraft to put up such a curtain of fire that fighter escort would be superfluous. Those who held such beliefs (as for the Boeing B-17 Fortress developed in America) were to discover their error very quickly.
Though it had been planned to fit Rolls-Royce Goshawk inlines or Bristol Mercury radials the engine selected was the Pegasus. The prototype Wellington made its first flight on 15 June 1936, but it was not until October 1938 that production aircraft began to enter RAF service. The variant that entered service with No. 99 Squadron in October 1938 was the Wellington Mk I, of which 181 were built with Pegasus XX radials. By the outbreak of war Bomber Command had six operational Wellington squadrons.
Less than one year later (on 4 September 1939) Wellingtons were in action against targets in Germany. Wellingtons and Blenheims shared the honour of being the first Royal Air Force aircraft to attack Germany when they bombed ships at Brunsbüttel on 4 September 1939. Early deployment on daylight raids showed that these and other British bomber aircraft were extremely vulnerable to fighter attack. Following the loss of ten Wellingtons from a force of 24 despatched on an armed reconnaissance of Wilhelmshaven on 18 December 1939, the type was withdrawn from daylight operations. As a night bomber, however, the Wellington proved an invaluable weapon during the early years of Bomber Command's offensive against Germany.
Wellington production was to total 11,461 aircraft and embraced many versions. These included Mk I bombers (782kW Bristol Pegasus XVIIIs) and the DWI with degaussing ring to trigger magnetic mines. Other variants developed before the war were the Mk IA with a Nash and Thompson turret, the Mk IC with the ventral turret replaced by beam guns. Differing engines distinguished the 853kW Rolls-Royce Merlin X-powered Mk II; 1,021kW Bristol Hercules XI Mk III; and Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Mk IV. The Wellington Mk V was a high-altitude aircraft with pressurised cabin, no nose turret and increased wing span, followed by the high-altitude Mk VI with 1,192kW Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 or 62 R6SM engines. Mk VII was designated an experimental model and Mk VIII was the first of many reconnaissance versions. Mk IX aircraft were Mk Is modified as troop carriers. The Mk X with Hercules VI or XVI engines was the last bomber. Wellingtons Mk XI, XII and XIII were ASV radar-equipped aircraft for Coastal Command. The Mk XIV with Hercules XVII engines was the final reconnaissance version. In addition to these specific versions there were many variants, and Wellingtons were also used for training and transport.
The last Wellingtons produced, Mk X RP590 being delivered from Squires Gate on October 13, 1945.
The Vickers Wellington bomber provided the mainstay of Bomber Command's night attacks on Germany in the early stages of the Second World War. To the extent that at one period it equipped no fewer than 21 squadrons, and when the first 1,000-bomber raid was mounted against Cologne, in May 1942, more than half of the aircraft involved were Wellingtons.
Wellingtons dropped 42,440 tons of bombs on sorties from Britain, including the first 4,000 lb (900 kg) block-busters.
Designed as a bomber, it became an effective torpedo carrier and submarine killer in Coastal Command before going on to Transport and Training Commands.
Engines: 2 x Bristol Pegasus, 1050 hp
Wingspan: 86 ft
Length: 61 ft 3 in
Height: 17 ft 6 in
MAUW: 31,500 lb
Type: five/six-seat long-range medium night bomber
Engines: 2 x Bristol Pegasus XVIII, 746kW (1,000 hp)
Span: 26.26m (86ft 2in)
Length: 19.68m (64ft 7in)
Armament: 6 x 7.7-mm 0.303-in) machine-guns
Bombload: 2041 kg (4,500 lb) internally
MTOW: 12928 kg (28,500 lb)
Max speed: 235 mph at 15,500ft
Operational range: 2,550 miles
406 Mk II
Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Merlin X, 853-kW (1,145-hp)
Engines: 2 x Bristol Hercules III, 1025-kW (1,375-hp)
Length: 64.6 ft. (19.7 m)
Wing span: 86.1 ft. (26.2 m.)
Weight empty: 15,887 lb. (7,233 kg.)
Armament: 8 mg
Max. bomb load: 4,500 lb. (2,000 kg.)
Max. Speed: 255 m.p.h. (410 km.p.h.)
Ceiling: 22,000 ft. (6,700 m.) fully loaded
Range: 1,470 miles (2,365 km.)
Engines: 2 x Bristol Hercules XI, 1535 hp
Wellington Mk X
Engines: 2 x Bristol Hercules XI, 1119kW
Max take-off weight: 13381 kg / 29500 lb
Empty weight: 8417 kg / 18556 lb
Wingspan: 26.26 m / 86 ft 2 in
Length: 18.54 m / 61 ft 10 in
Height: 5.31 m / 17 ft 5 in
Wing area: 70.0 sq.m / 753.47 sq ft
Max. speed: 410 km/h / 255 mph
Ceiling: 5790 m / 19000 ft
Range w/max.payload: 2478 km / 1540 miles
Armament: 8 x 7.7mm machine-guns