The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long range medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, England, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R. K. Pierson. It was widely used as a night-time bomber in the early years of World War II, before being displaced as a bomber by the larger four-engine "heavies" such as the Avro Lancaster.
The Wellington continued to serve throughout the war in other duties, particularly as an anti-submarine aircraft. It was the only British bomber to be produced for the entire duration of the war. The Wellington was popularly known as the Wimpy by service personnel, after J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons and a Wellington "B for Bertie" had a starring role in the 1942 propaganda film One of Our Aircraft Is Missing.
The Wellington used a geodesic construction method, which had been devised by Barnes Wallis inspired by his work on airships, and had previously been used to build the single-engine Vickers Wellesley bomber. The fuselage was built up from a number of aluminum alloy (duralumin) channel-beams that were formed into a large framework. Wooden battens were screwed onto the aluminum, and these were covered with Irish linen, which, once treated with many layers of dope, formed the outer skin of the aircraft.
The metal lattice gave the structure tremendous strength because
any one of the stringers could support some of the weight from
even the opposite side of the aircraft. Blowing out one side's
beams would still leave the aircraft as a whole, intact. As a
result, Wellingtons with huge areas of framework missing continued
home when other types would not have survived.
The Geodetic structure also gave a very strong but light structure for its large size, which gave the Wellington a load and range per horsepower advantage over similar aircraft without sacrificing robustness or protective devices such as armor plate or self-sealing fuel tanks with which this aircraft was fitted.
However, the construction system also had some distinct disadvantages in that it took considerably longer to complete a Wellington than other designs using monocoque construction techniques. Also, it was difficult to cut holes into the fuselage to provide additional access or equipment fixtures. The Leigh light, for instance, was deployed through the mounting for the absent FN9 ventral turret. Nevertheless, in the late 1930’s Vickers succeeded in building Wellingtons at a rate of one per day at Weybridge and 50 per month at Chester. Peak wartime production in 1942 saw monthly rates of 70 achieved at Weybridge, 130 at Chester and 102 at Blackpool.
It was my privilege to be employed by Vickers Armstrong at the Weybridge, Surrey factory, which is where I served my engineering apprenticeship as an airframe fitter/erector in the 1960’s. I spent a lot of time in the fuselage and wing shops working on airplane construction, exactly where the Wellington was constructed 25 years earlier.
In that vein I was able to access and use Vickers material during my apprentice school training, and the photos used during this review are an assortment of Vickers Armstrong’s photos, military-aircraft.org material, Emoscopes for the geodetic example and use of my license in the UK issued by the government department of information.
Thank you also to my colleague David B Hack for his contribution of screenshots taken on FSX using his purchased CD-Rom of the Wellington running in Vista.
Installation and Documentation
Installation was as easy as loading the CD into my CD drive and
letting it automatically load. I directed it to my FSX installation
directory and afterwards, to my FS2004 installation directory where
it installed faultlessly and even included RAF Driffield in East
Yorkshire as a base airfield from which to fly in both FS formats.
The CD also included two missions for the Wellington, but for FSX
only. It is claimed that more missions are available from the First
Class Simulations website for the Wellington but during this review
I could not find
The extract is a useful guide to the cockpit panels and confirms that the simulated cockpit is a very faithful reproduction of the real Wellington cockpit in every respect, but there is not enough detail for someone who is really enthusiastic. Crécy Publishing Limited have comprehensive sets of pilots notes for over 60 aircraft of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s which can be purchased at reasonable prices. I have purchased several sets from them and they are extremely useful reference guides. The Wellington set was used for this review.
The external views of the Vickers Wellington are very nicely produced with colour schemes and details neatly finished and detailed to the extent that after my recent viewing the Wellington in the museum at RAF Hendon in the UK, I was able to confirm the authenticity of the simulated aircraft. Even to the visible signs of the geodetic construction in the fuselage and the fabric covered control surfaces, the gun turrets and machine guns, as well as the detailed landing gear and grass surface tyres.
Such is the detail that the tyres even display creep marks, as do the wheel rims, and even the Dunlop tire markings are evident, although they are actually produced back to front on very close inspection. Apart from that small error, the whole aircraft is one of the nicest and detailed that I have seen for a while. Even the Bomb Bay doors open correctly when selected.
Four versions of the Vickers Wellington are available and a total of six beautifully painted and finished aircraft are waiting to be flown, including a Coastal Command version complete with opening bomb bay doors and very closely copied versions of the cockpit. A comparison with the Pilots notes reveals that the instrument panel and side panels are incredibly accurate, and in flight everything works as it should, which is very nice to see and even better to use. The six aircraft are shown below.
FS9 Version of the Wellington
Can you spot the differences? No? neither could I. The quality is equally good in either version although the detail is more enhanced in FSX but the operation is the same and the views are too.
A Wellington on display at the RAF museum Hendon England and one of the few left in the World preserved forever
Wellington in Microsoft Vista
My friend Dave Hack (Retired Aircraft Engineer) contacted me just as I was starting this review to say that he had purchased the Wellington and had I seen how spectacular the external views were. I asked him to send me a couple of screenshots, as I hadn’t at that stage. I have included these for the benefit of Vista users to demonstrate just how good this simulation really is in any “Microsoft” operating system.
The instrumentation is very accurately reproduced in the simulation as can be verified by the Pilots Notes for the Wellington, and it all works very well indeed. Just look at the panel above and compare it with the VC shots. Very neat and tidy.
The sound team at First Class Simulations has done a great job on the Bristol Hercules sound set, and having heard a lot of Hercules engines over a period of time, in my opinion they have the sounds copied perfectly.
The Hercules starts in accordance with the start procedures perfectly and the engine smokes very nicely on startup, dissipating the cloud of pollutants quickly as the engine settles down in idle mode. All the engine controls work, including the instruments, of course, and it is very satisfying to see as well as use and hear them.
And so finally to the flying part of the review. Although I have never flown a Wellington, after the start up procedure and careful taxiing, it felt very comfortable to control. After reaching the active runway at RAF Driffield (1940’s) I lined up, ensured the flaps were set to 20 degrees down and powered the engines up. The book says that the aircraft may swing, and the use of rudder is acceptable, as is opening the starboard throttle slightly ahead of the port throttle, and that is what happened. The tail did eventually come up at about 85 knots, I pulled back on the column and we got airborne.
Climbing out at 130 Knots and raising the gear was without problem, and at about 800 to 1000 feet indicated, I retracted the flaps. After that I looked around and felt very comfortable with the view in and outside of the cockpit, the instrument readings and the control positions. Trimming is easy and made my cruise at 16,000 feet very relaxing.
Stalling is very pronounced with one wing dropping quite quickly, but as we heeled over the nose dropped below the horizon and it was easy to regain stability. Stalling clean or in dirty configuration was a straightforward operation without any problems.
Approach and landing is also very easy, although there is a pronounced nose-down attitude with the flaps and gear lowered, but I didn’t find it uncomfortable. On final approach, the power of the Hercules works well in helping get us on to the active, after which touchdown was a “piece of cake “. I found a curving approach was just as comfortable for a neat landing, with the view outside unrestricted. Even the side window can be opened to help if necessary.
FCS has included two missions on the CD for FSX users only and I decided to fly the first one of these to test the simulator, the Wellington, the mission profile and me.
The two missions are titled as follows:
Before embarking on the missions it is necessary to install the “RAF Driffield” scenery, only available for FSX and after that you can start a mission.
Mission 1.Coastal Command
The Wellington had a great role to play in defense of British shores, operating under the control of Coastal Command. The task is to perform a coastal patrol along the coastline of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire before making a landing at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.
On departure from RAF Driffield, head 090 towards the East coast and follow the coastline south, passing both the river Humber and the Wash. Once clear of the Wash, turn inland for a visual landing on runway 29 at Mildenhall to complete the mission.
Approximate completion time: 1 Hour
I completed this mission without problems and it was useful for getting comfortable with the Wellington's flight procedures.
When the Mission is started, a compass is displayed on the top left of the screen together with the elevation of the airfield and a distance to go counter in miles. As the miles roll by, a green “visual track indicator” looms in the sky ahead to guide you. Interestingly, I looked at the direction finder (DF Indicator) in the cockpit and tested it by deviating from track and the needle works very accurately, which was very satisfying.
During my Patrol nothing untoward occurred, nothing in the sea to keep me alert and all I did was monitor altitude, track and time with the occasional glance outside just to be sure there was nothing to cause a major alarm. As I was about to touch down at RAF Mildenhall, a “Mission Successful” flag appeared on the screen (still time to “prang” the Wimpy) but after I landed and cleared the active runway, I felt quite pleased to get a result. A good training exercise actually.
Mission 2 is more complicated, with driving snow and heavy winds
to contend with, and a tight limit of 80 minutes in which to complete
Summary / Closing Remarks
The First Class Simulations Wellington really is a first class product. The addition of bombs and other weapon loads could make it better, and it would be real fun to operate a gun turret or enter the bomb aimer’s area. But that is probably beyond the constraints of FSX, so I can only dream on.
This simulation is rich in content and detail. It has superb paint jobs and the addition of RAF Driffield is an added bonus, although only for FSX users. I have to recommend this simulation as one of the best I have reviewed and for the price it is a good quality product with a good choice of planes. No doubt some other Wellingtons will appear over time within the Avsim Linrary or the FCS website.
The only complaint I have is in the lack of documentation, which is fine if one has experience or researches for information on how to operate the aircraft. But for someone with less experience it could be very difficult to just hope in and go. Hopefully, FCS will realize this and put the operating manual into a PDF document for everybody to enjoy.
What I Like About The Wellington
What I Don't Like About The Wellington
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