UH AC Vickers Wellesley

A Wellesley in flight, showing the under wing bomb containers[1]

The Vickers Type 287 Wellesley was a general purpose bomber used by Great Britain during World War 2


The Type 287 was originally built by the company as a private venture, in order to replace the humdrum biplane they had originally submitted to meet Specification G.4/31,[2] with the monoplane employing an alternative design of monoplane configuration based on extensive use of light alloy geodetic construction developed by Barnes N. Wallis. When tested by the RAF, the monoplane proved far superior to the biplane and, as a result, in September 1935 an initial order was placed for 96 of these monoplanes with the name Type 281 Wellesley.

When production of the definitive Type 287 Wellesley Mk I ended in May 1938 a total of 176 had been built, and the type first entered RAF service with No. 76 Sqn in April 1937. The Wellesley became well known in 1938 when, used by the RAF Long-Range Development Flight, two of three Type 292 aircraft (Pegasus XXII) led by Squadron Leader R. Kellett completed successfully a nonstop 7,158.40-mile (11520.40 km) flight from lsmailia, Egypt, to Darwin, Australia; this established a world absolute distance record that remained unbroken until 1945.

By the outbreak of World War ll some 100 Wellesleys remained in RAF service in the Middle East, being used operationally against Italian forces at a later stage and remaining in use for maritime patrol until 1941. Other Wellesley models were the Type 289 testbed for the Hercules HE15 radial, the Type 291 blind-flying model, the Type 294 with strengthened wing and Type 402 experimental three-seater.[3]

Vickers Wellesley Mk I SpecificationEdit

  • Type: two-seat medium bomber
  • Powerplant: one 925-hp (690-kW) Bristol Pegasus XX radial piston engine
  • Performance: maximum speed 228 mph (367 km/h) at 19,700 ft 16005 m); service ceiling 33,000 ft 110060 m); range with maximum payload 1,110 miles (1786 km)
  • Weights: empty 6,369 lb (2889 kg); maximum take-off 11.100 lb 15035 kg]
  • Dimensions: wingspan 74 ft 7 in (22.73 m); length 39 ft 3 in (11.96 m); height 12 ft 4 in (3.76 m); wing area 630.0 sq ft (58.53 m2)
  • Armament: one forward-firing 0.303-in (7.7-mm) Vickers machine gun and one Vickers ‘K’ gun on a trainable mount in rear position, plus up to 2.000 1111907 kg) of bombs in underwing panniers


  1. RAF Upper Heyford website Aircraft page
  2. Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated Directory of Fighting Aircraft of World War II. Salamander Books Ltd. 1988. ISBN 0 86101 390 5 Page 473
  3. World Aircraft Information Files Aviation Partwork. Midsummer Books Ltd. File 910 Sheet 2 (A-Z of Aircraft:V - Vickers F.B. 27 Vimy, Vimy Commercial and Vernon to Vickers Type 271 Wellington)