The Vickers Windsor, a four-engine heavy bomber, featured the now famous 'geodetic' structure and was a continuation of the Vickers Wellington and Vickers Warwick design philosophy.
Designed by Barnes Wallis and Rex Pierson at the Vickers Armstrongs factory at Brooklands, the type featured high-aspect ratio wings of elliptical planform and a span of 117ft 2in.
Having initially offered a four-engine design against Specification B.12/36 (the selected design being the Short Stirling), Vickers lead designer Rex Pierson later submitted a revised scheme based upon a four-engine development of the Vickers Warwick. It was submitted against air Ministry Specification B.5/41 which sought a high-altitude heavy bomber with a pressure cabin.
A contract was awarded for two prototypes (serial numbers DW506 and DW512) designated as the Vickers Type 433 Windsor, powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin 60 engines. Construction was carried out at the Vickers Experimental Works at nearby Foxwarren, between Weybridge and Wisley.
The Specification was subsequently changed (to B.3/42) eliminating the requirement for a pressure cabin and revising the powerplant to the Merlin 61 engine. The first prototype (DW506) was first flown at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough on 20th October 1943, although Merlin 65 engines were subsequently installed on this aircraft.
Uniquely, the Vickers Windsor was provided with four main undercarriage legs (one per engine nacelle). Another distinctive feature was a tall, high Aspect Ratio fin and rudder. The aircraft had a short life and was destroyed following a forced landing at Grove Airfield, near Wantage on 2nd March 1944.
The second prototype (DW512) featured Merlin 85 engines installed in revised ‘annular’ nacelles and these changes resulted in a revised Vickers Type number (Type 457), although the name Windsor was retained. This aircraft was first flown at Wisley on 15th February 1944, and other than the revised engine cowlings, it was externally identical to the first prototype. This second prototype was broken up in 1946.
Having initially been schemed with conventional defensive armament using 0.303 machine guns, the decision was taken in February 1943, that the Windsor should be fitted with a pair of remotely controlled turrets (or barbettes), one mounted at the rear of each outboard engine nacelle. Firepower was later increased significantly, with each barbette mounting two 20mm Hispano cannon. These guns were to be controlled from a tail-gunner station in the rear fuselage, and aided by radar directed gun laying equipment.
The introduction of these barbettes (which were initially trialed with a 0.5 inch version fitted to Vickers Warwick L9704) led to the decision to manufacture a third prototype (NX136) designated Vickers Type 461 Windsor. This aircraft was initially flown unarmed on 11th July 1944 and was fitted with the nacelle-mounted barbettes by April 1945.
300 Vickers Windsor aircraft were ordered in June 1943 but the Vickers Windsor programme was cancelled on 15th March 1946, with just one pre-production example (NN670) being nearly complete by that time.
Three prototypes only: Type 433 DW506, Type 457 DW512, Type 461 NX136.
|Powerplant||Four 1,635hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 65 engines|
|Maximum Weight||54,000 lb|
|Capacity & Armament||Pilot and 4/5 crew. Four 20mm Hispano cannon mounted in pairs in barbettes in the rear of each outer engine nacelle, bomb load up to 15,000lb.|
|Maximum Speed||317 mph at 23,000 ft|
|Range||2,890 miles with 8,000lb bomb load|
No examples of the Vickers Windsor survive.