Employing the efficient geodetic lattice structure, the twin-engine Vickers Wellington continued in service with Bomber Command until 1943, far longer than its contemporaries, the Handley Page Hampden and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley. Designed to meet a 1932 requirement, the Wellington first flew on 15 June 1936 and in its Wellington Mk I form with Pegasus radials joined the RAF (No. 9 Squadron) in October 1938. The Wellington Mk IA (with Nash and Thompson nose and tail gun turrets) and the Wellington Mk 1C (with lateral guns in place of the ventral turret) followed, together with the Merlin-powered Wellington Mk II and Hercules III- or XI-powered Wellington Mk III, and at the begming of the war six squadrons were flying the Wellington. Early daylight raids resulted in heavy losses owing to the Wellington's large defenceless arcs and in 1940 the aircraft joined the night bombing force. On 1 April 1941 a Wellington dropped the RAF's first 1814-kg (4,000-lb) bomb. Subsequent bomber versions included the Twin Wasppowered Wellington Mk IV, and Wellington Mk V and Mk VI high-altitude aircraft with pressure cabins and Hercules or Merlin engines respectively; these latter versions did not see combat service. The Wellington Mk X with Hercules XVIIIs was the final bomber version, and the last raid by Bomber Command Wellingtons took place on 8-9 October 1943. In the meantime Wellingtons had been flying on maritime duties, the Wellington DW. Mk I with large mine-exploding hoops having operated in 1940 and Wellington Mk 1C minelayers soon after this, Coastal Command versions included the Wellington GR.Mk VIII with Pegasus engines and ASV radar, the Wellington GR.Mks XI, XII and XIV with Hercules, Leigh Light and provision for two torpedoes; the Wellington T. Mks XVII and XVIII were trainers, and many Mk Xs were converted to 'flying classrooms'. Wellingtons were also used as test-beds for early jet engines. The Wellington C.Mks XV and XVI were transport conversions of the Mk 1C. A total of 11,461 aircraft was produced.
Specification Vickers Wellington Mk III
Type: six-crew night medium bomber
Powerplant: two 1119-kW (1,500-hp) Bristol Hercules XI radial piston engines
Performance: maximum speed 411 km/h (255 mph) at 3810 m (12,500 ft); initial climb 283 m (930 ft) per minute; service ceiling 5790 m (19,000 ft); range with 2041-kg (4,500 Ib) bombload 2478 km (1,540 miles)
Weights: empty 8605 kg (18,970 lb); maximum take-off 15422 kg (34,000 lb)
Dimensions: span 26.26 m (86 ft 2 in); length 19.68 m (64 ft 7 in); height 5 m (17 ft 5 in); wing area 78.04 m2 (840.0 sq ft)
Armament: two 7.7-mm (0.303-m) machine-guns in nose turret, four 7.7 mm (0.303-in) guns in tail turret, and two 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-guns in beam positions, plus a maximum bombload of 2041 kg (4,500 lb)