Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engined, long-range medium
bomber. It was designed during the mid-1930s at
Weybridge, Surrey, led by Vickers-Armstrongs' chief designer Rex
Pierson; a key feature of the aircraft is its geodetic airframe
fuselage structure, principally designed by Barnes Wallis. Development
had been started in response to
Air Ministry Specification B.9/32;
issued in the middle of 1932, this 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
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley and the Handley Page Hampden. During the
development process, performance requirements such as for the tare
weight changed substantially, as well as the powerplant for the type
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 During 1943, it started to be superseded as a bomber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 being the only British bomber to be produced for the duration of
the war and of being 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
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 reused in a civil derivative, the
Vickers VC.1 Viking.
1.2 Prototype and design revision
1.4 Further development
3 Operational history
4.1 Bomber variants
Coastal Command variants
4.3 Transport variants
4.4 Trainer variants
4.5 Experimental and conversion variants
4.6 Total built
6 Aircraft on display
7 Specifications (Wellington Mark IC)
8 In popular culture
9 See also
11 External links
Wellingtons under construction, showing the geodesic airframe
RNZAF Wellington Mark I aircraft with the original turrets;
anticipating war, the
New Zealand government loaned these aircraft and
their aircrews to the RAF in August 1939
In October 1932, the British
Air Ministry invited Vickers to tender
for the recently issued Specification B.9/32, which sought a
twin-engine medium daylight bomber. In response, Vickers conducted a
design study, led by Chief Designer Rex Pierson Early on, Vickers'
chief structures designer
Barnes Wallis proposed the use of a geodesic
airframe, inspired by his previous work on airships and the
single-engined Wellesley light bomber. During structural testing
performed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, the
proposed structure demonstrated not only the required strength factor
of six, but reached 11 without any sign of failure, providing the
geodesic airframe to possess a strength far in excess of normal
levels. This strength allowed for the structure design to be
further developed to reduce the size of individual members and adopt
simplified standard sections of lighter construction.
Vickers studied and compared the performance of various air and
liquid-cooled engines to power the bomber, including the Bristol
Pegasus IS2, Pegasus IIS2, the Armstrong Siddeley Tiger, and the
Rolls-Royce Goshawk I. The Pegasus was selected as the engine for
air-cooled versions of the bomber, while the Goshawk engine was chosen
for the liquid-cooled engine variant. On 28 February 1933, two
versions of the aircraft, one with each of the selected powerplants,
were submitted to the tender. In September 1933, the Air Ministry
issued a pilot contract for the Goshawk-powered version. In August
1934, Vickers proposed to use either the Pegasus or Bristol Perseus
engines instead of Goshawk, which promised improvements in speed,
climb rate, ceiling, and single-engine flight capabilities without any
major increase in all-up weight; the
Air Ministry accepted the
Other refinements of the design had also been implemented and
approved, such as the adoption of variable-pitch propellers, and the
use of Vickers-produced gun turrets in the nose and tail positions.
By December 1936, the specification had been revised to include front,
rear, and midship wind-protected turret mountings. Other
specification changes included modified bomb undershields and the
inclusion of spring-loaded bomb bay doors. The proposal had also
been developed further, a mid-wing arrangement was adopted instead of
a shoulder-mounted wing for greater pilot visibility during formation
flight and improved aerodynamic performance, as well as a
substantially increased overall weight of the aircraft. Design
studies were also conducted on behalf of the
Air Ministry into the
adoption of the
Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.
In spite of a traditional preference of the establishment to strictly
adhere to the restrictive tare weight for the aircraft established in
the tender, both Pierson and Wallis firmly believed that their design
should adopt the most powerful engine available. Perhaps in
response to pressure from Vickers, the
Air Ministry overlooked, if not
openly accepted, the removal of the tare weight restriction, as
between the submission of the tender in 1933 and the flight of the
first prototype in 1936, the tare weight eventually rose from 6,300lb
to 11,508lb. The prescribed bomb load and range requirements were
routinely revised upwards by the Air Ministry; by November 1935,
figures within the Ministry were interested in the possibility of
operating the aircraft at an all-up weight of 30,500lb, which aviation
author C.F. Andrews stated to be "a very high figure for a medium
bomber of those days".
During the development phase of the aircraft, the political and
military situations in Europe drastically transformed. With the rise
of fascist dictatorships in
Germany and Italy, the British government
had become keen to reevaluate the capabilities of the nation's armed
forces, including the
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force (RAF). By 1936, the need for
a high priority to be placed on the creation of a large bomber force,
which would form the spearhead of British offensive power, had been
recognised; accordingly, a new command organisation within the RAF,
Bomber Command, was formed that year to deliver upon this
Prototype and design revision
In early 1936, an initial prototype, K4049, which was originally
designated as a Type 271, was assembled. The prototype could
accommodate a payload of nine 250lb or 500lb bombs, and both nose and
tail gun positions were fitted with hand-operated turrets furnished
with a single gun in each, provisions for a third retractable gun in a
dorsal position were also present. It had provisions for a crew of
four, along with a fifth position for performing special duties.
On 5 June 1936, the name Crecy was initially chosen for the type, and
it was publicly displayed as such. On 15 August 1936, the aircraft
was accepted for production. On 8 September 1936, the name Wellington
was adopted for the type; Pierson later explained that this was due to
Air Ministry nomenclature and also followed the tradition set by the
Vickers Wellesley of possessing names referring back to the Duke of
Wellington. On 12 December 1936, a corresponding works order was
issued for the Wellington.
On 15 June 1936, K4049 conducted its maiden flight from Brooklands.
Vickers chief test pilot
Joseph Summers flew K4049 on its first
flight, accompanied by Wallis and Trevor Westbrook. The aircraft
soon came to be largely regarded as being an advanced design for its
era and proved to have considerable merit during its flight
trials. On 19 April 1937, K4049 was destroyed by an accident
during a service test flight by Maurice Hare. The cause was the
failure of the elevator's horn balance due to excessive slipstream
exposure, leading to the aircraft inverting and rapidly descending
into terrain. It was completely destroyed in the crash, which also
resulted in the death of Smurthwaite the navigator. The horn
balances would later be deleted, and thus not feature on production
In addition to the prototype, refinement of the Wellington's design
was influenced by the issuing of Specifications B.1/35 and B.1/35, the
latter of which had led to the parallel development of a larger bomber
aircraft, the Vickers Warwick. According to Andrews, the
Wellington was practically redesigned to form the first production
model of the aircraft, during which extensive details attributed to
the Warwick were added, such as the deepening of the fuselage, the
lengthening of the nose, a reshaped horizontal tail unit, and an
increased crew complement for four to five members. Other changes
made included the adoption of a retractable tailwheel and
constant-speed propellers; the
Air Ministry also requested the
adoption of a Nash & Thompson-design ventral turret in place of
the Vickers design.
On 23 December 1937, the first production Wellington Mk I, L4212,
conducted its first flight; L4212 subsequently participated in an
intensive flight programme. Flight trials with L4212 confirmed the
aerodynamic stability initially encountered by K4049, but also
revealed the aircraft to be nose-heavy during dives, which was
attributed to the redesigned elevator. Accordingly, modifications,
including the interlinked of the flaps and the elevator trim tabs,
were successfully trialled on L4212 to resolve the issue.
A war time poster using a cutaway of a
Vickers Wellington to
illustrate how scrap and salvage was recycled for use in the
production of war material. The poster expands on how different
materials were used to make specific components of the bomber.
In August 1936, an initial order for 180 Wellington Mk I aircraft,
powered by a pair of 1,050 hp (780 kW) Bristol Pegasus
radial engines, was received by Vickers; it had been placed so rapidly
that the order occurred prior to the first meeting intended to decide
the details of the production aircraft. In October 1937, another
order for a further 100 Wellington Mk Is, produced by the Gloster
Aircraft Company, was issued; it was followed by an order for 100
Wellington Mk II aircraft, which were instead powered by a pair of
Rolls-Royce Merlin X V12 engines. Yet another order was placed for
64 Wellingtons produced by Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft. With this
flurry of order and production having been assured by the end of 1937,
Vickers set about simplifying the manufacturing process of the
aircraft and announced a target of building one Wellington per
Wellington Mark X HE239 of No.428 Sqn. RCAF. It completed its bomb run
despite losing the rear turret and then flew back home for a
successful landing with its bomb bay doors stuck open due to lack of
Construction took longer to build due to the geodesic fuselage in
comparison to other designs using monocoque approach, leading to
criticism of the Wellington. In particular, it was difficult to
cut holes in the fuselage for access or equipment fixtures; to aid
Leigh light was deployed through the mounting for
the absent FN9 ventral turret. In the late 1930s, Vickers built
Wellingtons at a rate of one per day at
Weybridge and 50 a month at
Broughton in North Wales. Many of the employees on the production
lines were only semi-skilled and new to aircraft construction.
Peak wartime production in 1942 saw monthly rates of 70 at Weybridge,
130 at Broughton and 102 at Blackpool. Shadow factories were set up to
produce parts for the Wellington all over the British Isles.
In October 1943, as a propaganda and morale-boosting exercise, workers
at Broughton gave up their weekend to build Wellington number LN514
rushed by the clock. The bomber was assembled in 23 hours 50 minutes,
and took off after 24 hours 48 minutes, beating the record of 48 hours
set by a factory in California. Each Wellington was usually built
within 60 hours. It was filmed for the Ministry of Information for a
newsreel Worker's Week-End, and was broadcast in both Britain and
America. It was the first time in the world that a British
aircraft manufacturer had attempted such a feat with a metal aircraft
of this scale.
A total of 180 Wellington Mk I aircraft were built; 150 for the RAF
and 30 for the Royal
New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) (which were
transferred to the RAF on the outbreak of war and used by 75
Squadron). In October 1938, the Mk I entered service with 9 Squadron.
The Wellington was initially outnumbered by the Handley Page Hampden
(also ordered by the Ministry to B.9/32) and the Armstrong Whitworth
Whitley (to B.34/3 for a 'night' bomber) but outlasted both rival
aircraft in service. The Wellington went on to be built in 16 separate
variants, in addition to two training conversions after the war. The
number of Wellingtons built totalled 11,461 of all versions, a greater
quantity produced than any other British bomber. On 13 October
1945, the last Wellington to be produced rolled out.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August
The Wellington Mk I was quickly superseded by several successive
variants featuring various improvements. Improvements to the turrets
and the strengthening of the undercarriage quickly resulted in the
Wellington Mk IA. According to Andrews, the IA model bore more
similarities to the later Wellington Mk II than to its Mk I
predecessor. Due to armament difficulties encountered that left the
Wellington with weaker than intended defenses, the Wellington Mk IB
was proposed for trials, but appears to have been unbuilt. Further
development of various aspects of the aircraft, such as the hydraulics
and electrical systems, along with a revision of the ventral turret
gun, led to the Wellington Mk IC.
In January 1938, design work on what would become the Wellington Mk II
formally commenced. The principal change on this model was the
adoption of the Merlin engine in place of the Pegasus XVIII; other
modifications included hydraulic and oxygen system revisions along
with the installation of cabin heating and an astrodome. On 3
March 1939, L4250, the prototype Mk II, performed its maiden flight;
this had been delayed due to production delays of its Merlin X
engines. Stability and balance issues were encountered during
flight tests of the prototype, resulting in further changes such as
the enlargement of the tailplane. By late 1939, the Mk II was capable
of delivering superior performance to the Mk IC, such as higher
cruising and top speeds, increased all-up weight or alternatively
greater range, and a raised ceiling.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (August
The tail turret of a Wellington, 1942
Vickers Wellington was a twin-engined long-range medium bomber,
initially powered by a pair of
Bristol Pegasus radial engines, which
drove a pair of de Havilland two-pitch propellers. Various different
engines and propeller configurations were used on different variants
of the aircraft, which included several models of both the Bristol
Hercules and the iconic
Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. Recognisable
characteristics of the Wellington include the high aspect ratio of its
tapered wing, the depth of its fuselage, and the use of a tall single
vertical stabiliser on its tail unit, which reportedly aided in
recognition of the type.
The Wellington typically had a crew of five. The bomb-aimer was
located within the aircraft's nose. The Wellington could be fitted
with dual flight controls, and specialised dual-control conversion
sets were developed for the purpose of performing training upon the
type. The cockpit also contained provisions for heating and
de-icing equipment, which was introduced on later models of the
Wellington. The Wellington Mk I had a maximum offensive bomb load
of 4,500 lb (2,000 kg), more than one-fifth of the overall
aircraft's 21,000 lb (9,500 kg) all-up weight. Additional
munitions and an expanded bombing capacity were a recurring change
made in many of the subsequent variants of the Wellington developed
during the war, including the carrying of ever-larger bombs.
A crew member inside a Wellington
Defensive armaments comprised the forward and tail turret gun
positions, along with a retractable revolving ventral turret. Due to
the high cruising speeds of the Wellington, it had been realised that
fully enclosed turrets, as opposed to semi-enclosed or exposed
turrets, would be necessary; the turrets were also power-operated in
order to traverse with the speed and manoeuvrability necessary to keep
up with the new generations of opposing fighter aircraft. Due to
the specialised nature of increasingly advanced turrets, these were
treated as ancillary equipment, being designed and supplied
independently and replacing Vickers' own turrets developed for the
aircraft. The turrets initially used a Nash & Thompson control
unit, while each position was equipped with a pair of .303 in
(7.7 mm) Browning machine guns. On many Wellington variants,
the Vickers-built ventral turret of the Mk I was replaced by a Nash
& Thompson-built counterpart as standard.
A key innovation of the Wellington was its geodesic construction,
devised by aircraft designer and inventor Barnes Wallis. The fuselage
was built from 1,650 elements, consisting of duralumin W-beams which
formed into a metal framework. Wooden battens were screwed to the
beams and were covered with Irish linen; the linen, treated with
layers of dope, formed the outer skin of the aircraft. The
construction proved to be compatible with significant adaptations and
alterations including greater all-up weight, larger bombs,
tropicalisation, and the addition of long-range fuel tanks.
The metal lattice gave the structure considerable strength, with any
single stringer able to support a portion of load from the opposite
side of the aircraft. Heavily damaged or destroyed beams on one side
could still leave the aircraft structure viable; as a result,
Wellingtons with huge areas of framework missing were often able to
return home when other types would not have survived, leading to
stories of the aircraft's 'invulnerability'. The effect was
enhanced by the fabric skin occasionally burning off leaving the naked
frames exposed. A further advantage of the geodesic construction of
the wings was its enabling of a unique method for housing the fuel,
with each wing containing three fuel tanks within the unobstructed
space provided between the front and rear spars outboard of the
engines. A disadvantage of the geodesic fuselage structure was its
insufficient lengthwise stiffness: when fitted with attachment for
towing cargo gliders, its structure "gave" and stretched slightly. So,
while the airframe continued to be structurally sound, the forces in
the long control runs of cables and push-pull rods to the empennage
grew considerably, affecting controllability of the airplane. This is
the reported reason why Wellingtons (and Warwicks for that matter)
were not used as glider tugs.
A Wellington DWI Mark II HX682 of No. 1 General Reconnaissance Unit.
Note the magnetic field generator to detonate naval mines at Ismailia,
On 3 September 1939, the eve of the outbreak of the Second World War,
No. 3 Group of Bomber Command comprised eight squadrons (No. 9, No.
37, No. 37 No. 38, No. 99, No. 115 and No. 149 Squadrons), alongside
two reserve squadrons (No. 214 and No. 215 squadrons), that were
equipped with a mixture of Wellington Mk I and Mk IA aircraft.
On 4 September 1939, less than 24 hours after the commencement of
hostility, a total of 14 Wellingtons of No. 9 and No. 149 Squadrons,
alongside a number of
Bristol Blenheim aircraft, performed the first
RAF bombing raid of the war, targeting German shipping at
Brunsbüttel. The bombing of the harbour itself had not been
permitted by the Chamberlain War Cabinet for fear of injuring
civilians. The effectiveness of the raid was diminished by a
combination of poor weather and high amounts of anti-aircraft fire.
During this opening raid, a pair of Wellingtons became the first
aircraft to be lost on the Western Front.
On 3 December 1939, 24 Wellingtons of No. 38, No. 115 and No. 147
Squadrons attacked the German fleet moored at Heligoland. The bombing
commenced from high altitude and, while results of the bombing itself
proved negligible in terms of damage, the ability of a formation of
Wellingtons to adequately penetrate strongly defended hostile airspace
was validated. On 14 December 1939, 12 Wellingtons of No. 99
Squadron conducted a low-level raid upon German shipping at the
Schillig Roads and Wilhelmshaven. Encountering enemy fire from
warships, flak, and Luftwaffe aircraft, the Wellington formation lost
five aircraft, along with another that crashed near its base, while
only one enemy fighter was downed.
On 18 December 1939, 24 Wellingtons of No. 9, No. 37 and No. 149
Squadrons participated in the Battle of the
Heligoland Bight against
the German fleet and naval bases in both the
Schillig Roads and
Wilhelmshaven. The Wellingtons were unable to deploy their bombs as
all vessels were in harbour, thus restrictions on endangering
civilians prevented their engagement. Having been alerted by
radar, Luftwaffe fighter aircraft intercepted the incoming bombers
Heligoland and continuously attacked the formation much of the
way home. In total, 12 of the bombers were destroyed and a further
three were badly damaged. Defensive fire from the turrets downed four
Wellington GR Mk XIII showing anti-submarine radar masts
The action at
Heligoland highlighted the Wellington's vulnerability to
attacking fighters, possessing neither self-sealing fuel tanks nor
sufficient defensive armament. In particular, while the nose and tail
turrets protected against attacks from the front and rear, the
Wellington had no defences against attacks from the beam and above, as
it had not been believed that such attacks were possible owing to the
high speed of aircraft involved. As a consequence of the
losses taken, the tactic of unescorted day bombing was abandoned, and
Bomber Command decided to use the Wellington force to attack German
communications and industrial targets instead.
Another key decision made was to switch the Wellington to night
operations; on 25 August 1940, the type participated in the first
night raid on Berlin. During the First 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne,
conducted on 30 May 1942, 599 out of 1,046 RAF aircraft dispatched
were Wellingtons; of these, 101 were flown by Polish aircrews. During
operations under Bomber Command, Wellingtons flew a total of 47,409
operations, dropped 41,823 tons (37,941 tonnes) of bombs and
lost 1,332 aircraft in action.
In one high-profile incident, a German Bf 110 night-fighter attacked a
Wellington returning from an attack on Münster, causing a fire at the
rear of the starboard engine. Co-pilot Sergeant James Allen Ward
climbed out of the fuselage, kicked holes in the doped fabric of the
wing for foot and hand holds to reach the starboard engine and
smothered the burning upper wing covering. He and the aircraft
returned home safely and Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross.
The Wellington was also adopted by Coastal Command, in which it
contributed to the Battle of the Atlantic. It was used to carry
out anti-submarine duties; on 6 July 1942, a Wellington sank its first
enemy vessel. Specialised DWI variants were developed fitted with a
48 ft (14.63 m) diameter metal hoop were used for exploding
enemy mines by generating a powerful magnetic field as it passed over
them. In 1944, Wellingtons of
Coastal Command were deployed to
Greece and performed various support duties during the British
intervention in the Greek Civil War. A few Wellingtons were operated
by the Hellenic Air Force.
A captured Wellington Mk.IC L7842 in Luftwaffe service, probably at
Rechlin-Lärz Airfield, circa 1941
While the Wellington was superseded in the European Theatre, it
remained in operational service for much of the war in the Middle East
and in 1942, Wellingtons based in
India became the RAF's first
long-range bomber operating in the Far East. It was particularly
effective with the
South African Air Force
South African Air Force in North Africa.[citation
needed] The Wellington also served in anti-submarine duties with 26
Squadron SAAF based in Takoradi, Gold Coast (now Ghana).
In late 1944, a radar-equipped Wellington XIV from 407 Sqn. RCAF was
modified for use by the RAF's
Fighter Interception Unit as what would
now be described as an airborne early warning and control
aircraft. It operated at an altitude of 4,000 ft
(1,219 m) over the
North Sea to control a de Havilland Mosquito
Bristol Beaufighter fighter intercepting
Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111 bombers
flying from Dutch airbases and carrying out airborne launches of the
V-1 flying bomb. The FIU operators on the Wellington would search for
the He-111 aircraft climbing to launch altitude, then direct the
Beaufighter to the bomber, while the Mosquito would attempt to
intercept the V-1 if launched.
The Wellington is listed in the appendix to the novel
KG 200 as one
flown by the German secret operations unit KG 200, which also tested,
evaluated and sometimes clandestinely operated captured enemy aircraft
during the Second World War.
Scale comparison diagram of the trio of British twin-engined medium
bombers at the outbreak of the Second World War: Wellington (blue),
Handley Page Hampden
Handley Page Hampden (yellow) and
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley (pink).
The first Wellington bomber prototype.
Type 285 Wellington Mark I
One pre-production prototype. Powered by two
Bristol Pegasus X radial
Type 290 Wellington Mark I
The first production version. Powered by two 1,000 hp
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 & Thomson gun turrets. 187 built at
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.
The Merlin-engined Wellington Mark II. This aircraft belongs to No.
104 Sqn. Notice the criss-cross geodesic construction through the
perspex fuselage panels.
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
were 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
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
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
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 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
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.
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.
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
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
Postwar 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
Type 410 Wellington Mark IV prototype
Serial R1220; powered by two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial
Type 416 Wellington (II)
The original Wellington II prototype was converted with the
installation of a 40 mm (1.57 in)
Vickers S gun
Vickers S gun in the
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 (14.63 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
Type 419 Wellington DWI Mark II
DWI Mark I aircraft upgraded by installation of De Havilland Gipsy
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 pressurised, high-altitude operations using turbocharged Hercules
Wellington Mark VI
One Wellington Mark V with Merlin 60-series engines, high-altitude
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
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
Vickers S gun
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 (I)
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 for glider tug, for glider clearance for
Hadrian, Hotspur and Horsa gliders.
A total number of 11,461 aircraft is most often quoted, notably by
Andrews & Morgan (1988); however, they appear to have totalled
incorrectly as, using their own data, the total is 11,462. There is
some question over several individual aircraft, so the actual total
may be a few either side of this figure. In combination, the
Wellingtons and 846 Warwicks represent over 75% of the total number of
aircraft built by the
Main article: List of
Vickers Wellington operators
Aircraft on display
Wellington IA N2980 on display at Brooklands
There are two complete surviving Vickers Wellingtons preserved in the
United Kingdom. Some other substantial parts also survive.
Wellington IA serial number N2980 is owned by
Brooklands Museum at
Brooklands, Surrey. Built at
Brooklands and first flown in November
1939, this aircraft took part in the RAF's daylight bombing raids on
Germany early in the Second World War but later lost power during a
training flight on 31 December 1940 and ditched in Loch Ness. All the
occupants survived except the rear gunner, who was killed when his
parachute failed to open. The aircraft was recovered from the bottom
Loch Ness in September 1985 and restored in the late 1980s and
1990s. A new Wellington exhibition featuring N2980 was officially
opened by Robin Holmes (who led the recovery team),
Penelope Keith (as
Brooklands Museum), Norman Parker (who worked for Vickers)
Ken Wallis (who flew Wellingtons operationally) on 15 June 2011,
the 75th anniversary of the first flight of the type's effective
prototype in 1936. On 15 September 2016, after having its outer wings
removed the day before, N2980 was towed from the Bellman hangar in
which it was restored and where it had been displayed for nearly 30
years. This move was the first time that 'R' for 'Robert' had moved on
its undercarriage since its last flight in 1940. The aircraft was
exhibited in a temporary building while the Bellman hangar was
relocated and restored until taken off display and moved back into the
latter building on 25 July 2017. The aeroplane is the centre-piece of
Brooklands Aircraft Factory' exhibition about the aircraft
industry at Brooklands, which was formally opened on 13 November
Wellington T.10 serial number MF628 is held by the Royal Air Force
Museum. It was delivered to RAF No.18 MU (Maintenance Unit) for
storage at RAF Tinwald Downs, Dumfries, as a Wellington B.X, on 11 May
1944. In March 1948 the front gun turret was removed in its
conversion to a T.10 for its role as a postwar aircrew trainer; the
RAF Museum later refitted the front gun turret in keeping with its
original build as a B.X (wartime mark numbers used Roman numerals,
Arabic numerals were adopted postwar). In Autumn 2010, this
aircraft was taken to the RAF Museum's site at Cosford for restoration
which is currently ongoing.
Specifications (Wellington Mark IC)
Orthographic projection of the Wellington Mark Ia, with profile views
of Mark I (Vickers turrets), Mark II (Merlin engines), Mark III
(Hercules engines, 4-gun tail turret), GR Mark VIII (maritime Mark Ic,
metric radar) and GR Mark XIV (maritime Mark X, centimetric radar)
Bomb bay of a Wellington bomber
Data from Vickers Aircraft since 1908, The
Vickers Wellington I
Length: 64 ft 7 in (19.69 m)
Wingspan: 86 ft 2 in (26.27 m)
Height: 17 ft 5 in (5.31 m)
Wing area: 840 ft² (78.1 m²)
Empty weight: 18,556 lb (8,435 kg)
Max. takeoff weight: 28,500 lb (12,955 kg)
Powerplant: 2 ×
Bristol Pegasus Mark XVIII radial engines, 1,050 hp
(783 kW) each
Maximum speed: 235 mph (378 km/h) at 15,500 ft (4,730 m)
Range: 2,550 mi (2,217 nmi, 4,106 km)
Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,490 m)
Rate of climb: 1,120 ft/min (5.7 m/s)
Wing loading: 34 lb/ft² (168 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.08 hp/lb (0.13 kW/kg)
Guns: 6–8× .303 Browning machine guns:
2× in nose turret
2× in tail turret[note 1]
2× in waist positions [note 2]
Bombs: 4,500 lb (2,041 kg) bombs
In popular culture
The Wellington was nicknamed the Wimpy by RAF personnel, after the
J. Wellington Wimpy character from the Popeye
Nebeští jezdci ("Riders in the Sky") (1968), about a Czechoslovakian
bomber crew in the RAF, based on the real operations of No. 311
Pastoral is a 1944 novel by the author
Nevil Shute about the crew of a
Target for Tonight
Target for Tonight (1941), a documentary about a Wellington on a raid
Worker's Week-End (1943), a documentary newsreel about the
Vickers Wellington LN514
Vickers Wellington LN514 in record time.
1942 Ruislip Wellington accident
Dumfries and Galloway Aviation Museum
Vickers VC.1 Viking
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
Armstrong Whitworth Whitley
Dornier Do 17
Douglas B-18 Bolo
Handley Page Hampden
Heinkel He 111
Junkers Ju 88
North American B-25 Mitchell
List of aircraft of the Royal Air Force
List of aircraft of the Royal
New Zealand Air Force and Royal New
List of aircraft of World War II
^ 4× from Mark III onwards
^ deleted from Mark III onwards
^ Andrews and Morgan 1988, p. 363.
^ Murray 2012,[page needed]
^ "Remembering Rex Pierson". Flight and Aircraft Engineer. LXII
(2287): 651. 21 November 1952. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
^ a b c d e f g Andrews 1967, p. 3.
^ a b c d e f Andrews 1967, p. 5.
^ a b c d e f Andrews 1967, p. 6.
^ a b Andrews 1967, pp. 5–6.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 3, 5–6.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Andrews 1967, p. 7.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 6–7.
^ a b c d Andrews 1967, p. 10.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 7, 10.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 10–11.
^ a b c d Andrews 1967, p. 11.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 3–4.
^ a b c d e f g h i Andrews 1967, p. 4.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 4–5.
^ "Building a bomber plane in just a day." BBC News Magazine, 13
^ "Workers weekend" "Workers weekend (video)"The National Archives.
Retrieved: 12 February 2014.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 11–12.
^ a b Andrews 1967, pp. 12–13.
^ Andrews 1967, p. 12.
^ a b c d e f Andrews 1967, p. 13.
^ Andrews 1967, pp. 13, 14.
^ a b c d e f Andrews 1967, p. 14.
^ a b Richards 1953, p. 46.
^ Richards 1995, p. 115.
^ Jackson 2007, p. 217.
^ R.H. Hamilton in Perkins, L.W., ed., Flight into Yesterday – A
Memory or Two from Members of the Wartime Aircrew Club of Kelowna,
L.P. Laserprint, Ltd., Kelowna, B.C., 2000, and 407 Squadron History
1941–1996 – a Narrative History, 407 Squadron, 1996
^ Gilman and Clive 1978, p. 314.
^ a b c d e Andrews 1967, p. 16.
^ Andrews 1970, pp. 44–56.
^ a b c d e f Simpson, Andrew. "
Vickers Wellington X MF628/9210M:
Museum Accession Number 69/A/17."[permanent dead link] Royal Air Force
Museum. Retrieved: 13 January 2008.
^ "Pewter Aircraft Wellington DWI page." Pewter Aircraft. Retrieved:
14 January 2008.
^ Murray, 2012, p. 39.
^ "Spectacular new
Brooklands Aircraft Factory and Flight Shed opened
by Prince Michael of Kent".
Brooklands Museum. Retrieved 3 February
^ a b "
Vickers Wellington X."[permanent dead link] Royal Air Force
Museum. Retrieved: 13 January 2008.
^ Andrews and Morgan 1988, p. 340.
^ Kucera, Pawel. "Recreating a Wimpy". Aeroplane Monthly, September
2001. pp. 72–75.
Andrews, C.F. The
Vickers Wellington I & II (Aircraft in Profile
125). Leatherhead, Surrey: Profile Publications Ltd., 1967. No ISBN.
Andrews, C.F and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London:
Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-815-1.
Bowman, Martin. Wellington, The Geodetic Giant. Shrewsbury, UK:
Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1989. ISBN 1-85310-076-5.
Bowyer, Chaz. Wellington at War. Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Ltd.,
1982. ISBN 0-7110-1220-2.
Bowyer, Chaz. Wellington Bomber. London: William Kimber & Co Ltd.,
1986. ISBN 0-7183-0619-8.
Cooksley, Peter G. Wellington, Mainstay of Bomber Command.
Wellingborough, Northamptonshire: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1987.
Crosby, Francis. The World Encyclopedia of Bombers. London: Anness
Publishing Ltd., 2007. ISBN 1-84477-511-9.
Delve, Ken. Vickers Armstrong Wellington. Ramsbury, Wiltshire, UK: The
Crowood Press Ltd., 1998. ISBN 1-86126-109-8.
Flintham, V. Air Wars and Aircraft: A Detailed Record of Air Combat,
1945 to the Present. New York: Facts on File, 1990.
Gilman J.D. and J. Clive. KG 200. London: Pan Books Ltd., 1978.
Hall, Alan W. Vickers Wellington, Warpaint Series No. 10. Husborne
Crawley, Berfordshire: Hall Park Books Ltd., 1997. No ISBN.
Jackson, Robert. Britain's Greatest Aircraft. Barnsley, UK: Pen &
Sword Books Ltd., 2007. ISBN 978-1-84415-383-1.
Jackson, Robert, ed. 101 Great Bombers. New York: Rosen Publishing
Group, 2010. ISBN 978-1-4358-3594-8.
Lihou, Maurice. Out of the Italian Night: Wellington Bomber Operations
1944–45. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003.
Lumsden, Alec. Wellington Special. Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Ltd.,
1974. ISBN 0-7110-0527-3.
Mackay, Ron. Wellington in Action, Aircraft Number 76. Carrollton,
Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1986.
Murray, Dr. Iain Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis.
Haynes, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84425-588-7.
Murray, Dr. Iain
Vickers Wellington Manual. Haynes, 2012.
Ovčáčík, Michal and Karel Susa.
Medium Bomber variants. Prague, Czech Republic: 4+ Publications, 2003.
Richards, Denis. The Hardest Victory:
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command in the Second
World War. London: Coronet Books, 1995. ISBN 0-340-61720-9.
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force 1939–1945: Volume I The Fight at
Odds. London: HMSO, 1953.
Tarring, Trevor and Mark Joseland. Archie Frazer-Nash .. Engineer.
London: The Frazer Nash Archives, 2011. ISBN 978-0-9570351-0-2.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vickers Wellington.
Early propaganda film on the Wellington bomber
A documentary on the design and operations of Wellington
Operational footage of the Wellington from a wartime movie
Video of various stages of the Wellington restoration performed at
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RAF – Vickers Wellington
Wellington Bomber Crews and Their Experiences
A Polish Wellington bomber pilot recalls his war
Cover Illustration August 1940 Popular Mechanics
"Cockpit Drills – Wellington Marks III & X" on YouTube
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