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Vickers FB.27 Vimy / Vimy Commercial


Design of the Vickers F.B.27 was initiated in 1917 to meet the requirement to provide bomber aircraft able to attack strategic targets in Germany from bases in Britain. The Vimy was one of three new-generation bombers with which the RAF planned to take the air war to Germany in 1919. Such aircraft as the de Havilland D.H.10 Amiens and Handley Page V/1500 were also built.

The F.B.27 was a three-bay biplane of conventional construction, with a biplane tail unit which had twin fins and rudders. The wing centre-section - almost one-third span - had the fuselage at its centre with large struts supporting the upper wing. At the outer ends of this centre-section the engines were mounted midway between the upper and lower wings. Two twin-wheel main landing-gear units were mounted beneath the lower wing, one directly below each engine. Outboard of this centre-section the wings had dihedral.

The largest aircraft then built by Vickers, it posed many construction problems; but despite this the first prototype, B9952, flew on 30 November 1917 - little more than four months after the design had been started. This aircraft was powered by two 149kW Hispano-Suiza engines (subsequently re-engined with 194kW Salmsons). Three further prototypes followed, powered respectively with 194kW Sunbeam Maoris, 223kW Fiat A-12s and 268kW Rolls-Royce Eagle VIIIs. It was the latter installation which was selected for production aircraft.


With the introduction of official aircraft names in 1918, the F.B.27 became the Vimy. But only a single example had been placed on an operational footing before the Armistice, which meant that none were used operationally in World War I.

The main production version was the Vimy Mk IV with Eagle VIII engines. Large contracts were cancelled at the end of the war but total Vimy Mk IV production amounted to 240, the last batch of 30 being ordered in 1925. The type entered service in July 1919 with No.58 Squadron in Egypt, home to another three squadrons; the type was retired from Middle Eastern service in August 1926 after operating the Cairo-Baghdad air mail service.

About 300 Vimy IVs of the standard production version were built, each with two 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. They carried a crew of three and 2476 lb of bombs, and were armed with twin Lewis machine-guns in nose and midships positions.

Five home-based squadrons operated the Vimy, which was replaced as a first-line bomber by the Virginia during 1924 and 1925 but remained operational with No. 502 Squadron until January 1929.

Conversions carried 10 passengers. A small number of commercial and ambulance aircraft were built, known simply as Commercial Vimys. The Commercial was fundamentally the same as the Vimy bomber, with the same wings, engine and tail, but had a rounded fuselage, capable of taking up to ten passengers - the two flying crew braving the elements in a high-set open cockpit in the nose. G-EAAV was the prototype Vimy Commercial, having first flown (as K-107) on April 13, 1919.


A number of Vimys were used for flying and parachute training duties. Revived as an advanced instructional aircraft for training pilots in multi-engined flying. For this purpose Jupiter VI or Jaguar engines were fitted in about 80 aircraft.


No. 4 FTS Armstrong-Siddeley Jaguar powered Vimy at Abu Sueir, Egypt, in 1930


The Vimy is remembered especially in aviation history for the post-war long-distance flights which pointed the way to the air lanes that would link the world. First was the flight by Capt John Alcock and Lt Arthur Whitten-Brown across the North Atlantic, from St John's, Newfoundland, to Clifden, Eire, during 14-15 June 1919 in a time of 16 hours 27 minutes. Next was the England-Australia flight of the brothers Capt Ross and Lt Keith Smith, together with Sgts Bennett and Shiers. Taking off from Hounslow (not far from today's Heathrow Airport) on 12 November 1919, they landed safely at Darwin on 10 December 1919 in an elapsed flying time of 135 hours 55 minutes. Last of the trio of great Vimy flights was an attempt by Lt-Col Pierre van Ryneveld and Sqn Ldr Christopher J. Q. Brand of the South African Air Force to link London and Cape Town. On 4 February 1920 they took off from Brooklands, unfortunately making a crash landing between Cairo and Khartoum. Loaned a second Vimy by an RAF unit in Egypt, they continued to Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, where they failed to get airborne because of 'hot and high' conditions. They finally completed their flight to Cape Town in a third borrowed aircraft (a de Havilland D.H.9), arriving at their destination on 20 March 1920. They, like Alcock and Brown and the Ross brothers, were awarded knighthoods for their achievement.



Vintage Aircraft & Flying Association Vimy

Engines: 2 x 360hp Rolls-Royce VIII
Length 43.5 ft (13.2 m)
Wing span 67.1 ft (20.5 m)
Height: 15 ft. 7.5 in
Wing area 1318 sq. ft
Weight loaded: 10885 lb
Weight empty 7,100 lb (3,220 kg)
Crew: 4
Armament: Two machine-guns, one each in nose and aft cockpits
Bomb load: 18 x 112 lb (50 kg) bombs 2 x 230 lb (104 kg) bombs
Max speed: 89 kts / 103 mph (166 kph)
Ceiling: 7,000 ft (2,100 m)
Range: 1,000 miles (1,600 km)
Range max. weight: 391 nm / 725 km
Initial climb rate: 295.28 ft/min / 1.5 m/s

Vimy Mk II
Engines: 2 x Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, 268kW
Max take-off weight: 4937 kg / 10884 lb
Empty weight: 3222 kg / 7103 lb
Wingspan: 20.75 m / 68 ft 1 in
Length: 13.27 m / 44 ft 6 in
Height: 4.76 m / 16 ft 7 in
Wing area: 122.44 sq.m / 1317.93 sq ft
Max. speed: 166 km/h / 103 mph
Ceiling: 2135 m / 7000 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 1448 km / 900 miles
Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns, 1123kg of bombs
Crew: 3

Vimy Mk IV
Type: three-seat heavy night bomber
Span: 20.75m (68 ft 1 in)
Length: 13.27m (43ft 6.5 in)
Powerplant: 2 x Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, 268kW (360 hp)
Armament: 2 x 7.7-mm (0.303-in) machine-guns
Bombload: 1123 kg (2,476 lb)
MTOW: 5647 kg (12,500 lb)
Max speed: 103 mph at 6,500 ft
Operational range: about 900 miles

Vickers F.B.27 Vimy



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