|A Hercules-powered Vickers-Armstrong Wellington|
There were essentially two different kinds of heavy bombers used by Great Britain during World War 2:
from 1939 to 1942, the British used twin-engined bombers like the Vickers Wellington, Handley Page Hampden,
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley or Avro Manchester.
From 1942 to 1945, they switched to a generation of four-engined bombers including the
Short Stirling, Handley Page Halifax or Avro Lancaster.
- Role: Long-range heavy bomber. Crew: 6.
- Conception: Sir Barnes Wallis
- Production: 11,461 planes built.
- First flight of prototype: June 15th, 1936
The most successful bomber of the first category was without any doubt the Vickers-Armstrong Wellington,
designed by Sir Barnes Wallis,
who became later famous for his "bouncing bomb" used by the Dambuster raids over the Ruhr.
Just like Sir Wallis' previous bomber, the Wellesley, the Wellington had a geodetic structure and was fabric-covered.
This kind of design, traditionally used for airships, made the Wellington light and exceptionally resistant to enemy fire.
Various engines were used on the Wellington, and its role switched slowly as war went on from a long-range bomber for
Bomber Command, to a reconnaissance and anti-submarine search plane for Coastal Command; several Wellingtons also finished
their career after World War II as transports.
Because it was fully fabric-covered, the Wellington was nicknamed the "Cloth bomber"; however for its crews, who really
appreciated this resistant and efficient bomber, it was simply the "Wimpy".
- The 1,050 hp Pegasus XVIII 9-cylinder radial engine powered the Wellington Mk.I; 3,048 planes of this version were built,
able to carry 4,500 lb (2,040 kg) of bombs. The defensive armament consisted of a nose and a tail turret, both armed
with two .303 machine guns. The Mk.IC also had two beam guns, and was the main British bomber in 1939-1940, with 2,685 planes
built of this subversion alone.
Vickers Wellington Mk.IC
Pegasus XVIII, 9-cylinder radial
empty: 8,417 kg (18,556 lb) - with full load: 11,703 kg (25,800 lb)
Two .303 cal guns in the nose turret, two in the tail turret, one beam gun on each side
4,500 lb (2,040 kg) of bombs
Max speed: 380 km/h (236 mph)
Ceiling: 5,791 m (19,000 ft)
- The Mk.II differed from the Mk.IC by its powerplant: the 1,145 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin liquid-cooled V12.
400 were built.
- The Mk.III was powered by 1,375 hp Hercules 14-cylinder radials;
the tail turret now had four guns. 1,519 were built; it was the main Bomber Command plane for 1941-1942.
- The Mk.IV was powered by 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radials. Only 220 were built, and operated by Polish squadrons.
- The Mk.V and Mk.VI were experimental high-altitude pressurized versions. The single Mk.VII was a weapons testbed.
- The Mk.VIII, based on the Mk.IC, was a Coastal Command reconnaissance version, equipped with radar, Leigh light, and
able to carry anti-submarine weapons, including torpedoes. It was also used to detonate floating mines.
- The single Mk.IX was an experimental version.
- The Mk.X was again a bomber, differing from the Mk.III by its 1,675 hp Hercules engines. 3,804 were built.
- Based on the Mk.X, the Mk.XI, Mk.XII, Mk.XIII and Mk.XIV were improved recon versions for Coastal Command,
differing only by their equipment, radomes and Leigh lights mountings. The Mk.XIV had wing rocket rails.
|A Coastal Command Wellington, with radar and Leigh light to search for submarines.|
- The Mk.XV and Mk.XVI were Mk.IA and Mk.IC unarmed and converted for use by Transport Command.
- The Mk.XVII and Mk.XVIII were Mk.XI and Mk.XII converted with a SCR 720AI radar, and used
as night fighter crew trainers.
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(Plane photo from "Le Fana de l'Aviation")