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Vickers Wellington

The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long-range medium bomber.

It was designed during the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey.

A key feature of the aircraft is its geodetic airframe fuselage structure, which was principally designed by Barnes Wallis.

Development had been started in response to Air Ministry Specification B.9/32, issued in the middle of 1932, for a bomber for the Royal Air Force.

This specification called for a twin-engined day bomber capable of delivering higher performance than any previous design.

Other aircraft developed to the same specification include the Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and the Handley Page Hampden.

During the development process, performance requirements such as for the tare weight changed substantially, and the engine used was not the one originally intended.

The Wellington was used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, performing as one of the principal bombers used by Bomber Command.

During 1943, it started to be superseded as a bomber by the larger four-engined “heavies” such as the Avro Lancaster.

The Wellington continued to serve throughout the war in other duties, particularly as an anti-submarine aircraft.

It holds the distinction of having been the only British bomber that was produced for the duration of the war, and of having been produced in a greater quantity than any other British-built bomber.

The Wellington remained as first-line equipment when the war ended, although it had been increasingly relegated to secondary roles.

The Wellington was one of two bombers named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, the other being the Vickers Wellesley.

A larger heavy bomber aircraft designed to Specification B.1/35, the Vickers Warwick, was developed in parallel with the Wellington; the two aircraft shared around 85% of their structural components.

Many elements of the Wellington were also re-used in a civil derivative, the Vickers VC.1 Viking.


Type 271

The first Wellington bomber prototype.

Type 285 Wellington Mark I

One pre-production prototype.

Powered by two Bristol Pegasus X radial piston engines.

Type 290 Wellington Mark I

The first production version.

Powered by two 1,000 hp (750 kW) Bristol Pegasus XVIII radial piston engines.

Fitted with Vickers gun turrets, 183 built at Weybridge and Chester.

Type 408 Wellington Mark IA

Production version built to B Mark II specifications with provision for either Pegasus or Rolls-Royce Merlin engines, although only 1,000 hp (750 kW) Pegasus XVIII engines were used in practice.

Main landing gear moved forward 3 in (8 cm).

Fitted with Nash & Thompson gun turrets.

187 built at Weybridge and Chester.

Type 416 Wellington Mark IC

The first main production variant was the Mark IC which added waist guns to the Mark IA.

A total of 2,685 were produced.

The Mark IC had a crew of six: a pilot, radio operator, navigator/bomb aimer, observer/nose gunner, tail gunner and waist gunner.

A total of 2,685 were built at Weybridge, Chester and Blackpool.

Type 406 Wellington Mark II

The B Mark II was identical to the Mark IC with the exception of the powerplant, using the 1,145 hp (855 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin X engine instead.

A total of 401 were produced at Weybridge.

Type 417 Wellington B Mark III

The next significant variant was the B Mark III which featured the 1,375 hp (1,205 kW) Bristol Hercules III or XI engine and a four-gun tail turret, instead of two-gun.

A total of 1,519 Mark IIIs was built and became mainstays of Bomber Command through 1941.

A total of 1,517 were built at Chester and Blackpool.

Type 424 Wellington B Mark IV

The 220 B Mark IV Wellingtons used the 1,200 hp (900 kW) Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp engine and were flown by two Polish and two RAAF squadrons.

A total of 220 were built at Chester.

Type 442 Wellington B Mark VI

Pressurised with a long wingspan and 1,600 hp (1,190 kW) Merlin R6SM (60-series, two-stage) engines, 63 were produced and were operated by 109 Squadron and as Gee radio navigation trainers.

A total of 63 were built at Weybridge.

The B. VI’s high-altitude fuselage design optimised for pressurisation had a solid, bullet-like nose with no nose turret, and a cockpit with a Canberra-like bubble canopy.

This is the aircraft that spurred Rolls-Royce into developing the two-stage supercharged Merlin 60-series engine.

Type 440 Wellington B Mark X

The most widely produced variant of which 3,804 were built.

It was similar to the Mark III except for the 1,675 hp (1,250 kW) Hercules XVIII powerplant.

The Mark X was the basis for a number of Coastal Command versions.

A total of 3,803 were built at Chester and Blackpool.

Coastal Command variants

Type 429 Wellington GR Mark VIII

Mark IC conversion for Coastal Command service. Roles included reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-shipping attack.

A Coastal Command Wellington was the first aircraft to be fitted with the anti-submarine Leigh light.

A total of 307 were built at Weybridge, 58 fitted with the Leigh Light.

Type 458 Wellington GR Mark XI

Maritime version of B Mark X with an ordinary nose turret and mast radar ASV Mark II radar instead of chin radome, no waist guns, 180 built at Weybridge and Blackpool.

Type 455 Wellington GR Mark XII

Maritime version of B Mark X armed with torpedoes and with a chin radome housing the ASV Mark III radar, single nose machine gun, 58 built at Weybridge and Chester.

Type 466 Wellington GR Mark XIII

Maritime version of B Mark X with an ordinary nose turret and mast radar ASV Mark II instead of chin radome, no waist guns, 844 built Weybridge and Blackpool.

Type 467 Wellington GR Mark XIV

Maritime version of B Mark X with a chin radome housing the ASV Mark III radar and RP-3 explosive rocket rails under the wings. 841 built at Weybridge, Chester and Blackpool.

Transport variants

Wellington C Mark XV

Service conversions of the Wellington Mark IA into unarmed transport aircraft; able to carry up to 18 troops.

Wellington C Mark XVI

Service conversions of the Wellington Mark IC into unarmed transport aircraft; able to carry up to 18 troops.

Trainer variants

Type 487 Wellington T Mark XVII

Service conversions of the Wellington bomber into training aircraft with Air Intercept radar; powered by two Bristol Hercules XVII radial piston engines.

Type 490 Wellington T Mark XVIII

Production version.

Powered by two Bristol Hercules XVI radial piston engines.

A total of 80 were built at Blackpool, plus some conversions.

Wellington T Mark XIX

Service conversions of the Wellington Mark X used for navigation training; remained in use as a trainer until 1953.

Type 619 Wellington T Mark X

Post war conversions of the Wellington Bomber into training aircraft by Boulton Paul in Wolverhampton.

For navigation training the front turret was removed and replaced by a fairing and the interior re-equipped.

Some were sold to France and Greece.

Experimental and conversion variants

Type 298 Wellington Mark II prototype

One aircraft L4250; powered by two 1,145 hp (854 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin inline piston engines.

Type 299 Wellington Mark III prototype

Two only built.

Type 410 Wellington Mark IV prototype

Serial R1220; powered by two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial piston engines.

Type 416 Wellington (II)

The original Wellington II prototype was converted with the installation of a 40 mm (1.57 in) Vickers S gun in the dorsal position.

Type 418 Wellington DWI Mark I

Conversion of four Wellington Mark IAs to minesweeping aircraft.

Fitted with Ford V-8 petrol engine and Mawdsley electrical generator to induce magnetic field in a 48 ft (15 m) diameter loop mounted under fuselage.

They had a solid nose with a bracket supporting the loop, which was also supported under the rear fuselage and the wings, outboard of the engines.

DWI stood for “Directional Wireless Installation” – a cover story for the true purpose of the loop.

Type 419 Wellington DWI Mark II

DWI Mark I aircraft upgraded by installation of de Havilland Gipsy Six engine for increased generation power.

At least 11 further aircraft converted to this standard.

Type 407 and Type 421 Wellington Mark V

Second and first prototypes respectively: three were built, designed for pressurized, high-altitude operations using turbocharged Hercules VIII engines.

Wellington Mark VI

One Wellington Mark V with Merlin 60-series engines, high-altitude prototype only.

Type 449 Wellington Mark VIG

Production version of Type 431, Two aircraft were only built.

Wellington Mark VII

Single aircraft, built as a testbed for the 40 mm Vickers S gun turret.

Type 435 Wellington Mark IC

Conversion of one Wellington to test Turbinlite.

Type 437 Wellington Mark IX

One Mark IC conversion for troop transport.

Type 439 Wellington Mark II

One Wellington Mark II was converted with the installation of a 40 mm Vickers S gun in the nose.

Type 443 Wellington Mark V

One Wellington was used to test the Bristol Hercules VIII engine.

Type 445 Wellington 

One Wellington was used to test the Whittle W2B/23 turbojet engine, the engine was fitted in the tail of the aircraft.

Type 454 and Type 459 Wellington Mark IX

Prototypes with ASV Mark II, ASV Mark III radars, and powered by two Bristol Hercules VI and XVI radial piston engines.

Type 470 and Type 486 Wellington

This designation covers two Wellington Mark II aircraft fitted with the Whittle W2B and W2/700 respectively.

Type 478 Wellington Mark X

One Wellington was used to test the Bristol Hercules 100 engine.

Type 602 Wellington Mark X

One Wellington was fitted with two Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines.

Wellington Mark III

One Wellington was used as a glider tug.



Five or six


64 ft 7 in (19.69 m)


86 ft 2 in (26.26 m)


17 ft 5 in (5.31 m)

Wing area

840 sq ft (78 m2)

Empty weight

18,556 lb (8,417 kg)

Max take-off weight

28,500 lb (12,927 kg)


2 × Bristol Pegasus Mark XVIII radial engines,

1,050 hp (780 kW) each


Maximum speed

235 mph (378 km/h, 204 kn) at 15,500 ft (4,700 m)


2,550 mi (4,100 km, 2,220 nmi)

Service ceiling

18,000 ft (5,500 m)

Rate of climb

1,120 ft/min (5.7 m/s)



6–8 .303 Browning machine guns

2× in nose turret

2× in tail turret

2× in waist positions


4,500 lb (2,000 kg) bombs.



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