The Vickers Varsity was designed as a two-engine crew trainer designed to replace the Wellington T.10. It was procured against Specification T.13/48. It was in essence, a tricycle undercarriage development of the ValettaT3 & T4.
Having said that, the design changes included an increase in fuselage length of 55 inches and an increase in span of 6 ft 5 in. Another readily distinguishable feature was the introduction of a large belly pannier to allow bomb-aiming training. The rear of this pannier provided a compartment for the carriage of up to twenty-four 25 lb practice bombs.
The Varsity was used for heavy aircraft crew training, including pilots, navigators and bomb-aimers and as such, the equipment fit included both radar and radio-navigation equipment. The engines were housed in large nacelles with clean lines, equipped with clam-shell engine cowling doors providing excellent access for maintenance.
The first prototype Varsity (VX828) made its first flight from Wisley on 17th July 1949 in the hands of Joseph 'Mutt' Summers and Jock Bryce with a second prototype (VX835) following on 29th January 1950. The second aircraft was subsequently used as a test-bed for the Napier Eland engine.
The first production Varsity T.Mk 1 flew on 21st May 1951.
Deliveries to the RAF began in October 1951 and the type remained in RAF service until May 1976, being replaced by the Handley Page Jetstream and the HS125 Dominie. One aircraft (WL679) remained on long-standing trials duties with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) until its retirement in 1992, being subsequently put on display at the RAF Museum, Cosford.
A total of two prototypes and 161 production examples were built, with production split between Weybridge (17) and Hurn (146).
The Swedish Air Force operated a single Varsity for over 20 years (1953-73) which was siad to have been utilised for 'Electronic Intellegence Missions'.
Variants & Numbers
|Varsity T. Mk 1||160 production aircraft for the RAF; 1 aircraft supplied to Royal Swedish Air Force designated Tp82 serial 82001|
|Powerplants||Two 1,950 hp Bristol Hercules 364 engines|
|Span||95 ft 8 in|
|Maximum Weight||37,500 lb|
|Capacity and armament||Pilots, students and instructor; carriage of up to 600 lb of practice bombs in under-fuselage pannier|
|Maximum Speed||288 mph at 10.000 ft|
|Cruising Speed||239 mph|
|Range||2,648 miles (max) at 239 mph|
|Tp 82 82001||Swedish Air Force Museum in Linköping|
|Varsity T. Mk 1 WF369||
Newark Air Museum in Newark, Nottinghamshire
|Varsity T. Mk 1 WF372||
Brooklands Museum, Weybridge, Surrey
|Varsity T. Mk 1 WJ945||
Cornwal Aviation Heritage Centre, Newquay Airport
|Varsity T. Mk 1 WL626||East Midlands Airport Aeropark, Castle Donington, Leicestershire http://www.eastmidlandsaeropark.org/|
|Varsity T. Mk 1 WL679||
Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Shropshire