Vickers
Vernon

A twin-engine bomber-transport biplane, developed from the Vickers Vimy Commercial and Vimy Ambulance.
Vickers Vernon II 2 off at Hinaidi 1923 Two RAF Vickers Vernon II aircraft photographed at Hinaidi in 1923.
 
 
The Vickers Vernon was a twin-engine biplane bomber-transport aircraft, derived from the Vickers Vimy Commercial and Vimy Ambulance (which are discussed under the entry for Vickers Vi
my).
The Vernon was used by 45 Sqn and 70 Sqn Royal Air Force in the Middle East, entering service in 1921.
 
It was initially powered by two 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines;  in later aircraft (Vernon II & III), power was provided by 450 hp Napier Lion II or III engines. A total of fifty-five Vernon were built, together with the five earlier Vimy Ambulances that were converted to Vernon standard.
 
The first twenty aircraft (J6864 – 6883) were Vernon Mk Is with the Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII. These were followed by twenty-five Vernon IIs with serials (J6884 – 6893, J6976 – 6980, and J7133 – 7142) powered by the 450 hp Napier Lion I. The final ten aircraft (J7539 – 7548) were to Vernon III standard powered by the geared Napier Lion III and fitted with long range tanks.
 
Although originally intended as a troop transport, Vernon aircraft were converted in-service with under-wing bomb racks to deter local uprisings, particularly in Iraq.
 
The type also contributed to the opening of civil air routes in the area, with the setting up of a desert air route between Amman (Jordan) and Ramadi (in central Iraq). This led to RAF aircraft carrying civil mail along this route, from its inauguration.
 
Vickers Vernon with bomb racks at Hinaidi A Vickers Vernon showing the underwing bomb racks fitted to some aircraft .
 
To aid navigation over the desert, a so-called ‘Bradshaw track’ was ploughed in the desert. Emergency landing grounds were also created along the track marked with letters and numbers to aid navigation. The route became both reliable and successful with performance under the desert conditions being improved with the introduction of the Lion-powered Vernon II and III.
 
In February 1923, Vernons of Nos. 45 and 70 Squadrons RAF airlifted nearly 500 troops to Kirkuk, Iraq after the civilian area of that town had been overrun by Kurdish forces. This was the first-ever recorded strategic airlift of troops during conflict. Vernons were also used to evacuate troops suffering from dysentery from outlying detachments in Iraq, carrying them for treatment at hospitals in Baghdad. Some 161 patients were transported within fifteen months during 1924 – 25.
 
The Vernon II underwent trials in January 1922 and quickly became the standard production version of the type.
 
Other developments included the introduction of an oleo-sprung undercarriage and the final variant (Vernon III) could be easily distinguished by the elimination of the nosewheel fitted to the earlier marks. The Vernon was replaced in RAF service by the Vickers Victoria from 1927.
 

Variants & Numbers

 
Vernon I
Powered by Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII. 30 ordered, of which the last 10 were delivered as Vernon II
Vernon II
450 hp Napier Lion engines. A total of 25 aircraft (including the 10 originally ordered as Vernon I)
Vernon III
Powered by the geared Napier Lion III. 10 built.
Conversions
Five aircraft built as Vimy Ambulance, converted to Vernon
Total: 60 aircraft
20 Vernon I, 25 Vernon II, 10 Vernon III and 5 conversions from Vimy Ambulance
 

Specification (Vernon II)

 
Powerplant
Two 450 hp Napier Lion II engines
Span
68 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
12,500 lb
Capacity
Three crew and 11 troops
Maximum Speed
118 mph at sea level
Range
320 miles at 80 mph
 

Survivors

No examples of the Vickers Vernon survive.

Other information