a base to mount bombing attacks on the fortress at Amba Alagi. After capitulation of this fortress
The Vickers PVO-9 or Type 246, the prototype which was to lead to the later Wellesley, is seen here at Brooklands in June 1935 with open cockpits, no markings and covered wheel wells and temporary fixed main undercarriage
a month later, No. 47 continued to operate over Ethiopia and dropping supplies to Allied troops at
The same PVO-9 (and carrying this as a Class B registration, strictly-speaking only '0-9', on the rear fuselage) later in 1935 with pilot's canopy and bomb carriers added and the Vickers-designed main undercarriage in fully retractable state. The port wing has a rack for three 4.5kg bombs outboard of the single 110kg bomb
Dabarach until the final battle of the East African Campaign at Gondar on November 28, 1941. For
The photo shows the prototype PVO-9 on July 25, 1935, which suffered a main undercarriage leg malfunction and resulted in a successful emergency landing at Brooklands. The 110kg dummy bomb is still securely in position under the starboard wing
most of the period, this was the only R.A.F. Squadron in the area; all other units being
Following the Brooklands' undercarriage incident, the PVO-9 was repaired and modified to become the Type 281 or pre-production Wellesley; now having exchanged the Class B registration lor the RAF serial K7556. The fixed-pitch three-blade metal propeller fitted at this time was a Fairey-Reed unit now more readily associated with the Fairey Swordfish.
those of the South African Air Force.
After final surrender by the Italians, No. 47 Squadron sent a
With K7556's Bristol Pegasus throttled well back to formate on the slower photographic aircraft, the shape ol the Fairey-Reed metal propeller blades are clearly visible. By any standards, the radio aerial mast appears to be massively out of proportion to the otherwise slimly compact lines ol the pre-production Wellesley
flight of Wellesleys up to British Mandated Palestine at the end of the year. On April 16,1942,
The photograph was taken at Weybridge/Brooklands after the A&AEE tests when K7556 was modified to Type 287 production standard with Pegasus XX and bigger cowling with absence of cylinder head 'blisters'. The mainplane is also to production standard without the former quadruple rovers to the aileron actuator arms
this flight became known as "47 Squadron Air Echelon" and went on to operate sea navigation, reconnaissance
The photograph shows HM King Edward VIII on his first and only official visit to A&AEE, Martlesham Heath in 1936. He wears the new-style forage cap. In the background is the prototype Fairey Battle (K4303) and the tail of a Bristol Blenheim.
and anti-submarine patrols in the Eastern Mediterranean-first from Burgh-el-Arab, Egypt, and later from Shandur and St. Jean.
Final assembly shop at Weybridge in 1937. In the foreground are K7744, K7746 and K7747
The four Wellesleys in the squadron at this time each carried four 113kg depth-charges (two in each
K7713 was the first production Type 287 Wellesley to Air Ministry Specification 22/35 (which superseded specification G.4/31), and was delivered to A&AEE for evaluation trials on March 4,1937. As yet, the smooth cowling is unpainted
underwing bomb-container) and operated sorties of about seven hours duration. The Echelon was eventually disbanded in February
At Weybridge, K7721, the ninth production Wellesley is photographed on April 29, 1937, just inside the shed and showing olian unpainted DH/Hamilton Standard v-p. propeller unit. K7721 ultimately went to No. 148 (Bomber) Squadron and was written-off by crashing into a haystack on final approach, December 76, 1937
No. 223 Squadron, which operated Wellesleys from June 1938 to April 1941, also took part in the
Study in cloudscapes. Previously illustrated in the shed, K7721 now displays the production-standard bomb containers providing space for two 225kg or four 110kg bombs in each pannier.
East African Campaign from its bases at Summit and Wadi Cazouza, Sudan - notably bombing Cura airfield
During June 1937, this 14th early production Wellesley (K7726) was photographed over southern England. The black 'blobs' on the wing are footprints for ground-staff to use when walking on the geodetic ('basket-weave') surface
on June 11, 1940; then Addis Ababa from Perim Island on October 18, 1940; and making numerous
LRDU's L2639, L2680 and L2638 before the record-breaking flight
night-bombing raids in the area - until the fall of Asmara whence it moved to Egypt to
Preparations for the record flight at Ismailia
re-equip with Martin Marylands.
From Wellesley to the Immortal Wellington
Efficient in concept and in action, and well-liked by
Compass swinging L2638 (No.1 aircraft) at Ismailia
its crews, the Vickers Wellesley proved to be for the Royal Air Force a key stepping stone
K7772, the 60th production Wellesley was delivered to the Bristol Aeroplane Co. at Filton, August 24, 1937, under the Vickers nomenclature of Type 289. As an engine flying test-bed, the Type 289 was used to evaluate the sleeve-valve Bristol HE15 two-row radial
into the monoplane era. However, when the Italians in East Africa finally capitulated in May 1941, and
Overseas posting! Groundcrew working on a Wellesley of No.14 (Bomber) Squadron, RAF Amman in 1939
the bombing offensive became such a dominant factor in the war in Europe, the bigger and more
Success! From left to right, L2680, L2639 and L2638 of the LRDU at Darwin, at the completion ol their record-breaking flight from Egypt to Australia in November 1938
effective two-motor Wellington was well-established in production at Weybridge.
The Wellington went on to take the unique Wallis-geodetic
An exceptionally fine air-to-air of Wellesleys of No.14 (Bomber) Squadron flying over the Dead Sea in 1939
structural concept, so well demonstrated in the Wellesley, to become the mainstay of R.A.F. Bomber Command in the critical years of World War Two and on to immortality.