Vickers Windsor

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Vickers Windsor.jpg
Role Heavy bomber
Manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs (Aircraft) Ltd.
First flight 23 October 1943
Status Prototype
Primary user Royal Air Force
Produced 1943-1944
Number built 3

The Vickers Windsor was a Second World War British four-engine heavy bomber, designed by Barnes Wallis and Rex Pierson at the Vickers-Armstrongs factory at Brooklands in World War II.

Design and development[edit]

The Windsor was designed to Air Ministry Specification B.5/41 (later modified to Spec. B.3/42) for a high-altitude heavy bomber with a pressurised crew compartment, and an ability to fly at 345 miles per hour (555 km/h) at 31,000 feet (9,400 m).[1] Notable features of the Windsor included its pressurised crew compartment, four mainwheel struts (one extending from each of the engine nacelles and carrying a single balloon-tyred wheel), elliptical planform high aspect ratio wings, and guns mounted in barbettes at the rear of each (outboard) nacelle, which were to be remotely operated by a gunner in a pressurised compartment in the extreme tail.

The Windsor used Wallis's geodetic body and wing structure that Vickers had previously used in the Wellesley, Wellington and Warwick bombers. Instead of doped Irish linen however, a stiff and light skin was used on the Windsor, made with woven steel wires and very thin (1/1000 inch thickness) stainless steel ribbons, doped with PVC or other plastic, specially designed to avoid ballooning. To properly fit the skin to the frame, a tuning fork had to be used.

The wings' structure had no spars. Instead, it was a single hollow geodetic tube from tip to tip, passing through the fuselage truss. To better resist the compression and tension efforts, the elements were assembled at 16 degrees next to the root, reverting to the more conventional ninety degrees on the tips, longitudinal elements locking everything in place. The elements' thickness was also reduced towards the tips. No two joints had the same angle on the wing, an authentic production engineer's nightmare.

The wing was designed so that the tips had a noticeable droop on the ground, but was straight in flight, so the skin had to be fitted tighter on top than on the bottom to be evenly tight in flight.

Operational history[edit]

Only three examples (the original plus successive prototypes Type 457 and Type 461) were built in total. This was due to refinements in the existing Lancaster bomber, rendering it suitable for the role for which the Windsor had been designed. The first prototype flew on 23 October 1943, second on 15 February 1944, third on 11 July 1944 and all three were built at Vickers secret dispersed Foxwarren Experimental Department between Brooklands and nearby Cobham. The two latter prototypes were tested till the end of the Second World War, when further development and production were cancelled.


Type 447
First prototype, serialled DW506, powered by four 1,315 horsepower (981 kW) Rolls-Royce Merlin 65 engines.
Type 457
Second prototype, serialled DW512, powered by four 1,635 horsepower (1,219 kW) Merlin 85 engines.
Type 461
Third prototype, serialled NK136, powered by four 1,635 horsepower (1,219 kW) Merlin 85 engines, armed with four 20mm guns in remote-controlled barbettes in rear of outer engine nacelles (a pair in each) aimed from the unarmed tail position.


 United Kingdom

Specifications (Vickers Windsor Type 447)[edit]

Data from Vickers Aircraft since 1908[2]

General characteristics



  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm cannon in remote controlled barbettes firing to rear[3]
  • Bombs: about 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of bombs[3]

See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1988, pp. 387–388.
  2. ^ Andrews and Morgan 1988, p. 394.
  3. ^ a b c Mason 1994, p.353.


  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-815-1.
  • Bridgman, Leonard, ed. Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 1945-1946. London: Samson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd., 1946.
  • Goulding, James and Philip Moyes. RAF Bomber Command and its Aircraft, 1941-1945. Shepperton, Surrey, UK: Ian Allan Ltd., 1978. ISBN 0-7110-0788-8.
  • Mason, Francis K. The British Bomber since 1914. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1994. ISBN 0-85177-861-5.
  • Murray, Dr. Iain Bouncing-Bomb Man: The Science of Sir Barnes Wallis. Haynes. ISBN 978-1-84425-588-7.
  • Swanborough, Gordon. British Aircraft at War, 1939-1945. Saint Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, UK: HPC Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-9531421-0-8.