Outward Bound: 303 Squadron Vickers Wellington


Lutterworth, United Kingdom

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A product of the RAF’s modernisation scheme of the 1930’s the Wellington employed the geodetic structure developed by Dr Barnes Wallis for the Wellesly. This structure gave the Wellington enormous structural strength for low weight and the Wellington was to become legendary for the enormous amount of battle damage it could sustain. At the outbreak of war their were eight Wellington squadrons in RAF service growing to a peak of 21 home based bomber squadrons in 1941-42 before being supplanted by the various four engined heavies.

The Wellington was initially employed in the daylight bombing role, but aircraft losses were prohibitive with the Wellington, and Bomber Command as a whole being switched to night bombing. As a night bomber the Wellington was the mainstay of the British assault upon Germany and Wellingtons were the first allied bombers to attack Berlin in 1940.

From 1942 onwards the four engined heavy bombers were to replace the Wellington in the strategic bombing role, but the wellington was to remain in front line service for the duration of the Second World War in various roles, most importantly that of maritime reconnaissance. The Wellingtons final role within the RAF was as a flying classroom and was finally retired in 1953. In all 11,461 Wellingtons were produced making it the most prolific British bomber of the second world war, so it is surprising that only two airframes survive.

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