Vickers Viking
Amphibians

A family of single engine amphibians with later versions named Vulture and Vanellus.
Vickers Viking III G-EAUK The Vickers Viking III G-EAUK beached by the side of the River Thames in 1921.
 
The Vickers (Aviation Department) Viking was a five-seat single engine amphibious flying boat. The first prototype (G-EAOV) was flown for the first time at Brooklands, Weybridge in late 1919, powered by a 275 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon III.
 
Tragically, this aircraft was later destroyed and its famous pilot Sir John Alcock, was killed. Alcock was attempting a forced landing in foggy conditions near Rouen on 18th December 1919, and the accident prematurely ended the life of the man who, with Arthur Whitten-Brown, had been the first to make a non-stop crossing of the Atlantic by air in June 1919.
 
The next example (G-EASC) was known as the Vickers Viking II and had an increased wing-span as well as a 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII motor. Other modifications included a wider track undercarriage and a third rudder behind the central fin. The bow shape was also altered to improve the aircraft’s take-off characteristics and this aircraft first flew at Cowes, in June 1920. Thereafter, the aircraft travelled around Europe and was adjudged as the winner of the Antwerp Seaplane Trials conducted in August 1920.
 
The Vickers Viking III machine (G-EAUK) featured a further increase of power with the adoption of the 450 hp Napier Lion engine as well as a longer nose and a revised water rudder. It was entered in the Air Ministry Competitions held at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath, and again at Felixstowe in September and October 1920, winning the first prize of £10,000 in the Amphibian class.
 
The Vickers Viking III subsequently undertook demonstration flights between London and Paris, landing on the Thames and Seine, in the heart of the cities. Naval trials were also conducted on the aircraft carrier HMS Argus for which purpose the Vickers Viking III received a military serial (N147).
 
Vickers Viking IV Amphibian F-ADBL The first Vickers Type 54 Viking IV F-ADBL prior to its delivery to France.
 
The successful operational characteristics of the Viking III led to the first production model, the Vickers Type 54 Viking IV.
 
This model incorporated further refinements including a further revision to the nose of the hull and an increase of one foot in the cabin width. The wing-span was also increased allowing a maximum take-off weight of 5,790 lb. Some examples of the Vickers Viking IV were provided with folding wings and power was provided either by a Napier Lion engine, or by a 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IX.
 
The Vickers Viking IV was an unqualified success. The first production aircraft (F-ADBL) was delivered to France in September 1921. It was configured as a commercial aircraft but it was also capable of conversion for military use.
 
Other export sales of the Vickers Viking IV included:
  •   8 x Type 55 for the Netherlands East Indies, plus two replacements for aircraft written off
  •   2 x Type 58 for the Japanese Navy and one for the US Government
  •   1 x Type 64 for the Russian Trade Delegation
  •   1 x Type 69 for Laurentide Air Services, Canada
  •   2 x Type 73 for the River Plate Aviation Co
  •   4 x Type 84 for the Argentine Navy
  •   2 x Type 85 for the Royal Canadian Air Force
Two civil aircraft (G-EBBZ and G-EBED) were sold in Britain although the first (G-EBBZ) was destroyed in a fatal accident on 13th April 1922.
 
The success of the aircraft in Canada led to six further aircraft being built under licence by Canadian Vickers in Montreal. Production of the Vickers Viking IV was therefore, 26 aircraft in the UK, with six additional Canadian examples.
 
The next version was the Vickers Viking V; two were built for the RAF (N156, N157) for service in Iraq and were fitted with specialised equipment for operation in desert conditions.
 
Vickers Vulture: This was a further development of the Vickers Viking with a redesigned wing structure (with a thicker wing section and a single bay configuration). Using the 450 hp Napier Lion, this was to have been designated the Vickers Viking VI (Vickers designation Type 78) but was eventually renamed the Vickers Vulture I (G-EBGO).
 
Vickers Viking VI Vulture II G-EBHO Brooklands The Vickers Vulture II (Viking VI) G-EBHO at Brooklands.
 
A second example with the 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IX became the Type 95 Vulture II (G-EBHO).
 
Both aircraft were used for an unsuccessful 'Around the World' attempt in 1924 after the Eagle engine of the Vickers Vulture II was replaced with a Lion. Thus modified, the aircraft (G-EBHO) set off from The Calshot Seaplane Base in March 1924, with the another aircraft (G-EBGO) being shipped to Tokyo as a spare machine.
 
The original aircraft crashed at Akyab where it was replaced by the spare on 25th June 1924. After encountering heavy fog on the Siberian side of the Bering Sea, the second aircraft also crashed and the attempt was abandoned.
 
Vickers Vanellus: The Vickers Type 83 Viking Mark VII (N169) was developed from the Vulture as a three-seat open-cockpit fleet spotter to Specification 46/22. Wing-span was reduced to 46 ft and a monoplane tail was fitted. This design was given the service name Vickers Vanellus and was evaluated for RAF use, but no orders were forthcoming.
 
Vickers Viking VII Vanellus N169 The sole Vickers Type 83 Vanellus (or Viking VII) N169 at Brooklands.
 

 

Variants & Number Built


Prototypes
Three aircraft: Vickers Viking I G-EBOV; Vickers Viking II G-EASC; Vickers Viking III G-EAUK
Vickers Viking IV
26 aircraft built in the UK and six in Canada, as detailed above
Vickers Viking V
Two aircraft for RAF use N156, N157
Vickers Vulture
Two aircraft: G-EBHO, G-EBGO
Vickers Vanellus
Single example N169
Total built
34 in UK (31 Viking, 2 Vulture, 1 Vanellus) plus 6 Viking in Canada
 

Specification (Vickers Type 55 Viking IV)


Powerplant
One 450 hp Napier Lion engine
Span
50 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
5,790 lb
Capacity
Pilot and four passengers
Maximum Speed
113 mph at sea level
Range
925 miles (maximum with long-range tanks)
 

Survivors


No original Viking Amphibians survive today although a full-size replica of G-EBED, built for the film 'The People That Time Forgot', is displayed at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.

More information