Vickers
Type 163

Four engine military transport and night bomber prototype
Vickers Type 163 tail view The Vickers Type 163 O-2 prior to the 1931 Hendon Air Display.
 
The Vickers Type 163 was a biplane bomber designed against Specification C.16/28, which sought a military troop transport aircraft capable of operating in an alternative role as a night bomber.
 
Vickers had already been working on a bomber design against Specification B.19/27 (the Type 150, which is described separately). The Type 163 was clearly derived from the Type 150, resembling a four-engine version of that design.
 
The Type 163 was a large (90ft span) biplane with four 480hp Rolls-Royce F.XIVS engines mounted in push-pull pairings set mid-way between the wings. The square section fuselage was designed to accommodate up to ten soldiers, together with their equipment, to be carried over a design range of 1,200 miles.
 
In the bomber role, the design load was twelve 250 lb bombs and four 20 lb bombs to be used for sighting or practice purposes.
 
Vickers Type 163 front This view of the Type 163 shows the clean engine installation and its under-fuselage bomb carriage.
 
 Vickers decided to proceed with building a prototype on a private venture basis with a view to it also being considered against the B.19/27 requirement (although its bomb load significantly exceeded that required).
 
The prototype carried SBAC markings (O-2) and was painted in a standard night-bomber colour scheme.
 
The Air Ministry ultimately decided that the Type 163 would not be selected for a contract against C.16/28 and, although prototype contracts were placed with Gloster and Handley Page, these were not followed by full production contracts.
 
Although a private venture, the Air Ministry agreed to provide four Rolls-Royce F.XIVS engines to Vickers and these were used when the Type 163 made its first flight on 12th January 1931. Towards the end of its flying career, these engines were changed to Rolls-Royce Kestrel IIIA power units, the Kestrel engine having been developed from the Rolls-Royce F Series.
 
Vickers Type 163 stbd side The Vickers Type 163 at the 1932 Hendon Air Display showing its large wheel spats.
 
The company conducted a series of trials from Brooklands, prior to fitting evaporative coolers to the engines. This however caused some delays and it was February 1932 before the aircraft was actually flown to Martlesham Heath for official trials. During said trials the aircraft suffered from stability and handling difficulties, particularly in respect of directional control. These same issues had also been encountered on the earlier twin-engine Type 150 design against B.19/27, where changes in sweep and dihedral had been required to improve matters.
 
By now, Specification C.16/28 had been abandoned and orders had been placed for the winning B.19/27 designs and consequently Vickers had little interest in further investment in the design. This was compounded by the handling difficulties as well as the same continual trouble with engine cooling that had also been experienced with the Type 150. The test programme was abandoned and the aircraft was broken up in mid-1934, having only completed some 40 flying hours.
 

Variants & Numbers

One only carrying the SBAC marking O-2.

Specification 

 
Powerplant
Four 480 hp Rolls-Royce F.XIVS engines (later Kestrel III)
Span
90 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
25,700 lb
Capacity
Four crew and up to 10 fully equipped troops; twelve 250 lb and four 20 lb bombs, two Lewis guns in nose and tail stations to provide defensive armament
Maximum Speed
160 mph at 6,500 ft
Range
1,150 miles at 140 mph

Survivors

No examples of the Vickers Type 163 survive.

Other information

www.brooklandsmuseum.com