Vickers Warwick

Introduction and Development
Variants
Type Numbers
Squadrons
Statistics

Introduction and Development

The Vickers Warwick was one of many examples of promising aircraft whose development was delayed by the choice of engines. It was originally designed as a twin-engined heavy bomber, and like the Avro Manchester was to use the Rolls Royce Vulture. When the Vulture failed to live up to expectations Avro installed four Merlin engines in the Manchester, to produce the excellent Avro Lancaster, but Vickers decided to keep the twin-engined design, and searched for more powerful engines. Eventually over 800 Warwicks would be produced, powered by either the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp or the Bristol Centaurus.

The Vickers Warwick was developed as a twin-engined heavy bomber to satisfy specification B.1/35. This was a thoroughly un-ambitious specification, calling for an aircraft powered by two 1,000hp engines and capable of carrying 2,000lb of bombs over 1,500 miles at a speed of 195mph – by the time it entered service the Wellington medium bomber could carry twice the bomb load, had a range of 2,550 miles and a speed of 235mph, and the Wellington was powered by two 1,050hp Bristol Pegasus engines, giving it only 100hp more than envisaged for the B.1/35.

Undercarriage of Vickers Warwick
Undercarriage of
Vickers Warwick

The Warwick was developed alongside the final version of the Wellington. Although the specification for the Wellington had been issued in 1932 (B.9/32), it had taken four years for the first prototype to make its maiden flight (15 June 1936). This early version of the aircraft was then virtually abandoned, and a complete redesign was begun. The redesigned B.9/32 became the Vickers Type 285, while the prototype of the Warwick was the Type 284. Structurally the Wellington was essentially a cut-down version of the Warwick. As a result the two aircraft had many components in common, especially in the geodesic members.

The first Vickers design, of July 1935, was powered by two Bristol Hercules HEISM engines. The company was awarded a contract to produce one prototype on 7 October 1935. This prototype (serial number K8178) would not make its maiden flight until 13 August 1939. By this point the aircraft was powered by Rolls Royce Vulture engines, a complex piece of machinery that merged two inline V engines and failed to produce as much power as had been hoped, while also proving very unreliable.

A second prototype was ordered on 2 July 1937 (serial number L9704). This aircraft eventually made its maiden flight in April 1940, by which time it was powered by a pair of Bristol Centaurus engines. It had been hoped to use the Napier Sabre, but that engine failed to materialise in time, and when it did become available was reserved for fighter aircraft.

By the time the second prototype took to the air, the Warwick was no longer needed as a heavy bomber, that role having been taken by the new four-engined heavies. Despite that, on 3 January 1941 Vickers was given a contract to produce 150 Warwick Mk Is, powered by the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp and 100 Warwick Mk IIs, powered by the Centaurus. Only 16 Mk. Is and 1 Mk. II were ever completed.

Vickers Warwick Mk.I of No.293 Squadron
Vickers Warwick Mk.I of No.293 Squadron

The Warwick was eventually produced in significant numbers. In January 1943 it was decided to turn it into an air-sea rescue aircraft. A total of 369 ASR Warwicks were produced. Another 328 Warwicks were produced as general reconnaissance aircraft for Coastal Command, but only a handful were ever used in combat. Another 114 were produced as transport aircraft, and by the time production finished 845 had been built.

Variants

Warwick B. Mk I

On 3 January 1941 150 Warwick B. Mk Is, powered by the Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-S1A4-G engine were ordered. Of these aircraft only sixteen were completed as bombers, for by the time the Warwick was ready in the spring of 1942 the need for it no longer existed – the Avro Lancaster had already begun to enter service. Some of the Warwick B. Mk Is were used for service tests during the second half of 1942, before most were converted to the ASR/ Bomber role.

Warwick C. Mk I

The first transport aircraft produced from the Warwick were fourteen C. Mk Is produced for BOAC during 1942-43. They were created by removing all military equipment from some of the B. Mk Is already under construction, and installing cabin windows, a freight floor and extra fuel tanks. The fourteen C. Mk Is were powered by two Double Wasp R-2800-S1A4-G engines, and could carry up to 9,600lb of cargo. They were used by BOAC in the Middle East for a short time, before returning to the RAF, where they were used by Nos 167 and 525 Squadrons.

Warwick ASR

The most important use of the Warwick was as an air-sea rescue aircraft. It was decided to equip these aircraft with Lindholme rescue gear and with air-droppable lifeboats. The ASR Warwick entered service in small numbers late in 1943, and appeared in large numbers in 1944, operating from bases around the British coast, on Iceland, in the Mediterranean and over the Bay of Bengal.

The earliest ASR aircraft were conversions that were equipped to carry two sets of Lindholme rescue equipment, a set of ten boxes that carried life rafts and supplies. In this configuration the aircraft was given the designation Warwick Bomber/ASR. 40 or 50 were produced, some by converting the existing B. Mk Is.

Next came ten ASR Stage A aircraft. These could carry the airborne lifeboat Mk I, designed to be dropped directly into the sea and two sets of Lindholme gear.

Next came twenty ASR Stage B aircraft. These carried the lifeboat, two sets of Lindholme gear and were equipped with ASV radar.

Finally 204 ASR Stage C or Mk I aircraft were built. These could operate in four different configurations – Lindholme gear only; Lifeboat Mk I and Lindholme gear; the heavier Lifeboat Mk II only; or long range with extra fuel.

Warwick B. Mk II

The B. Mk II was the designation given to 100 Warwicks ordered on 3 January 1941, and that were to be powered by the Bristol Centaurus engine. In the event only one prototype B. Mk II would be produced, and although the aircraft to be converted was chosen on 16 October 1941, the Mk II did not make its first flight until the summer of 1943. The Centaurus IV engines used on the prototype gave it a top speed of 290mph at 20,000ft.

Warwick GR. Mk II

The Centaurus powered Warwick was revived during 1943 as the GR. Mk II, a general reconnaissance aircraft intended for use by Coastal Command. Originally the GR. Mk II was to be built in two versions – one capable of carrying with 12,250lb of bombs, three 18-in or two 24-in torpedoes, and one capable of carrying 15,250lb of bombs and a Leigh light. The Leigh light version was cancelled in May 1943, while the ability to carry depth charges or rockets was added to some machines. 118 were produced. The GR. Mk II was used by the Operational Training Units, and did not enter combat.

Warwick GR. Mk II Met

Ninety more GR. Mk IIs were ordered for meteorological duties, although only fourteen were ever built. As with the GR. Mk II, the meteorological version never entered squadron service. The fourteen aircraft had their nose gun removed and replaced with a wide-vision glass nose, all bombing gear was removed to reduce weight and an oxygen system was installed.

Warwick B. Mk III

For a short period the B. Mk III designation was allocated to the four-engined version of the Warwick, which would eventually be developed as the Windsor. The Type 433 Warwick III was ordered on 15 July 1941 as a pressure-cabin equipped version of the Warwick, powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 engines. The new aircraft was dramatically different from the Warwick, and so a new name was quickly chosen.

Warwick C. Mk III

The second main use for the Warwick (after air-sea rescue) was as a transport aircraft. Tests in August 1942 proved that the Warwick would make a better transport than the Wellington X, capable of carrying nearly three times as many troops over longer distances. Accordingly a specification was issued for a version of the Warwick capable of carrying 26 fully equipped solders, 20 paratroops, aircraft engines, normal cargo, six stretcher patients and two medical staff or of acting as a glider tug. It was to have a range of 2,500 miles.

The C. Mk III was producing by removing all of the armament and armour from the B. Mk I. A paratroop exit replaced the ventral turret, while a freight pannier replaced the bomb bay. A small number of squadrons received the C. Mk III, starting in June 1944. 100 C. Mk IIIs were completed. The type had a short service life, and had been withdrawn by March 1946.

Warwick C. Mk IV

The C. Mk IV was a transport aircraft, similar to the C. Mk III but powered by two Centaurus engines.

Warwick GR. Mk V

The GR. Mk V was the second general reconnaissance version of the Warwick, and was the most satisfactory version of the aircraft to be developed. It was similar to the GR. Mk II, but with the mid-upper gun turret replaced by two beam 0.50in beam guns. A dorsal fin was added during the development of the GR.Mk V, solving the directional instability that had plagued the Warwick throughout its career. A total of 210 GR. Mk Vs were built, making it (by a narrow margin) the most numerous version of the Warwick.

The GR. Mk V had a very short service life. It was only used in its intended role by No. 179 Squadron, which used it on anti-submarine patrols over the Bay of Biscay from the spring of 1945. No.621 Squadron and No.27 Squadron, SAAF, both used the GR. Mk V for air sea rescue duties and No.17 Squadron, SAAF, was in the process of converting to the type at the end of the war.

Warwick ASR. Mk VI

The ASR. Mk IV was powered by the Pratt & Whitney Dougle Wasp R-2800-2SBG engines, but was otherwise similar to the standard ASR. Mk. I. 94 were built, but only two of them ever reached squadron service.

Type Numbers
284 – B.1/35 prototype (K8178)
400 – Prototype with Sabre engines, cancelled
401 – Prototype with Centaurus CEISM engines (L9704)
411 – Prototype with two Vulture engines (design only)
413 – Prototype with Bristol Centaurus engine
422 – B. Mk I with Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines
427 – Warwick I with Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp engines (L9704)
433 – Warwick Mk III, becomes Windsor with four Merlin engines
456 – Warwick C Mk I
460 – Warwick C Mk III
462 – Warwick IA ASR design
468 – Warwick I with Douple Wasp engines
469 – Warwick GR. Mk II
472 – Warwick C Mk I with Double Wasps
473 – Warwick GR. Mk II with Centaurus engines
474 – Warwick GR. Mk V
484 – Warwick C IV with Centaurus engines – prototype
485 – Warwick ASR VI with Double Wasp engines – production
497 – Warwick T.3
600 – Warwick with Centaurus 12 engines, two aircraft used as test beds
605 – Warwick with two Centaurus engines as post-war trainer
606 – Experiments in in-flight refuelling
611 – Warwick GR II Met

Squadrons


Sqn

Types

Dates

Notes

38

ASR

July 1945-November 1946

Malta

167

C.I and C.III

November 1944-February 1946

UK based transport

179

GR.V

November 1944-May 1946

Anti-submarine over Bay of Biscay

251

ASR

August-October 1945

ASR, Iceland

269

ASR

October 1944-March 1946

ASR, Azores

276

ASR

April-October 1944

ASR, English Channel

277

ASR

November 1944-February 1945

ASR, English Channel

279

ASR

November 1944-September 1945

ASR, Northern Scotland

280

ASR

October 1943-June 1946

ASR, British coast

281

ASR

November 1943-October 1945

ASR, British coast

282

ASR

February 1944-July 1945

ASR, South West England

283

ASR

March 1944-March 1945

ASR, Malta with some anti-submarine

284

ASR

March 1944-September 1945

ASR, Mediterranean

292

ASR

April-December 1944

ASR, Bay of Bengal

293

ASR

November 1943-April 1946

ASR, North Africa

294

ASR

November 1944-April 1946

ASR, Eastern Mediterranean

301

C.III

May 1945-January 1946

Transport, Britain

304

C.III

July 1945-May 1946

Transport

353

C.III

November 1944-March 1945

Transport

520

ASR

August 1945-April 1946

ASR, Malta

525

C.I and C.III

September 1943-September 1944

Transport

621

GR.V

November 1945-August 1946

ASR, Egypt

17 SAAF

GR.V

May 1945-March 1946

Non-operational

27 SAAF

GR.V

March-December 1945

ASR, Eastern Mediterranean

Statistics

 

Mk II

ASR Mk I

Type

413

462

Engine

Bristol Centaurus IV

Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-S1A4-G

Power

2,000hp each

1,850hp each

Span

96ft 8.5in

96ft 8.5in

Length

70ft

72ft 3in

Height

18ft 6in

18ft 6in

Empty Weight

 

28,154lb

Gross Weight

45,000lb

45,000lb

Max speed

300mph at 20,000ft

224mph at 3,600ft

Service ceiling

28,200ft

21,500ft

Range

2,075 miles at 185mph

2,300 miles at 150mph

Armament

Front and mid-upper turrets with two guns each, plus four-gun rear turret

Pay load

8,000lb

Life saving equipment

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (24 October 2008), Vickers Warwick, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_vickers_warwick.html

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