Vickers
Vixen

A two-seat biplane built in several variants, with eighteen aircraft exported to Chile.
Vickers Type 71 Vixen I G-EBEC stbd front Brooklands 1923 The Vickers Type 71 Vixen I at Brooklands as originally flown in February 1923.
 
The Vickers Type 71 Vixen I two-seat military biplane, built as a private venture with an eye to offering a general-purpose replacement for the Bristol Fighter and the Airco DH9A. The Vixen was designed around the powerful and reliable 450 hp Napier Lion engine and was first flown in February 1923.  
 
Although the Vixen I did not enter production, the design was extensively developed over the years and was the direct ancestor of several other Vickers types, including the Valparaiso, Venture, Vivid and Valiant, each of which are described separately.
 
During the period shortly after the end of the First World War, there was little official interest in the procurement of new military types for the much-reduced Royal Air Force. However, the war had clearly demonstrated the value of air power and the Vixen was aimed at attracting sales from nations that were developing their own embryonic air forces.
 
As a result, the Vixen attracted widespread foreign interest with European inquiries from Denmark, Greece, Portugal, Russia and Serbia; South American interest from Peru and Chile, and also from Australia.
 
Following official trials, the Vixen I received its Certificate of Airworthiness and was placed on the register (G-EBEC). The performance demonstrated by the Vixen I was superior to that of other general-purpose types in service and the Air Ministry suggested that the type be adapted for use as a Day-Bomber.
 
This was duly done by the modification of the prototype which was fitted with equipment suitable for the role such as a revised engine installation (with a ventral radiator) and a three-foot longer fuselage. With the changes it was designated as the Vickers Type 87 Vixen II although it retained the same registration. To increase the range, two additional fuel tanks were introduced, faired into the lower surface of the upper wing.
 
Vickers Type 87 Vixen II G-EBEC port front G-EBEC as the Vickers Type 87 Vixen II with revised engine installation and other changes. .
 
The Vickers Vixen II was flown for the first time on 13th August 1923 and was onward delivered to Martlesham Heath for official trials in February 1924. The trials were sufficiently positive enough that the Air Ministry ordered a further 'revised' variant against Specification 45/23 for use in the reconnaissance role. This resulted in the Vickers Type 94 Venture, which is described separately.
 
The next development was the Vickers Type 91 Vixen III, built as a private venture and allocated a civil registration (G-EBIP).
 
This aircraft retained all the improvements of the Vixen II together with a rudder aerodynamic balance at a 45 degree angle, as had been introduced on the Type 94 Venture. The wing area was also increased by 18 sq ft and rounded wingtips were fitted, with a one-and-a-half degrees of dihedral being introduced on the upper wing.
 
Vickers Type 91 Vixen III G-EBIP port front view Type 91 Vixen III G-EBIP at Brooklands with Chilean aviation mission representatives.
 
A higher compression Napier Lion II engine was installed and it was flown for the first time in April 1924. Entered into the 1924 King’s Cup Air Races, the Vixen III was placed fifth.
 
Later in 1924, it was converted to a 'Seaplane configuration' for initial testing at Hamble, before completing official trials at RNAS Felixstowe.
 
Vickers Type 91 Vixen III G-EBIP floatplane port at Felixstowe The Vickers Type 91 Vixen III G-EBIP floatplane at Felixstowe for trials in March 1926.
 
Converted back to landplane configuration, the Vixen III competed in the 1925, 1926 and 1927 King’s Cup Races, being fitted with a Lion V engine for the 1926 race where it was placed second on handicap.
 
In 1927, it started from scratch and was placed third on handicap, completing the race at an average speed of 141.6 mph.
 
In parallel with these endeavours, the original prototype (G-EBEC) was modified by the fitting of a 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III engine, becoming the Type 107 Vixen IV. Intended for use as a night-fighter, the aircraft showed some improvement in performance but it was not deemed to be a sufficient advance over the Vixen III.
 
The next and most important version was the Type 116 Vixen V.
 
Chile had already purchased the related Vickers Type 93 Valparaiso (described separately) and were said to be very satisfied with the type. As a result, in May 1925 an order was place for 12 Vixen V General Purpose aircraft, based on the Vixen III. This order was later increased to 18 aircraft.
 
Vickers Type 116 Vixen V port front view Chile One of the 18 Vickers Type 116 Vixen V aircraft supplied to Chile photographed at Brooklands.
 
The Vixen V was very similar to the Vixen III apart from a cambered fin (to reduce rudder pedal loads) and a reduced rudder chord. Power was provided by a 500 hp Napier Lion V engine with a view to maximising the climb rate to clear the high Cordillera mountains that dominate the nation’s terrain. The Chilean Vixens all gave excellent service in demanding, difficult conditions and probably paved the way for the subsequent Chilean purchase of Vickers Wibault Scouts.
 
The final variant was the Vickers Type 126 Vixen VI.
 
This was yet another incarnation of the original prototype (G-EBEC) fitted with a geared Rolls-Royce Condor III engine. Modifications were adopted from other related aircraft including the wing area and upper-wing dihedral of the Vixen III. In addition, it had an enlarged rudder and elevator area plus fuel system modifications derived from Venture and Vixen III. The Vixen VI had the highest performance of the family, climbing at 1,000 ft/min to 20,000 ft. Despite this sadly, it failed to attract any orders.
 
Vickers Type 126 Vixen VI EBEC side view The prototype Vixen G-EBEC in its final guise as the Condor-powered Type 126 Vixen VI.

 

Variants & Numbers

 
Type 71 Vixen I
 
Powered by Napier Lion I. One only G-EBEC. Later modified as Vixen II, Vixen IV and Vixen VI
Type 83 Vixen II
One only, G-EBEC with several modifications following official trials.
Type 91 Vixen III
One only G-EBIP with Lion II, increased wing area and revised tail surfaces. Later modified to Vickers Type 130 Vivid G-EBPY
Type 107 Vixen IV
One only G-EBEC with direct drive Rolls-Royce Condor III
Type 116 Vixen V
18 aircraft for Chile, based on Vixen III with 500 hp Lion V engine
Type 126 Vixen VI
Rebuilt G-EBEC with geared high compression Rolls-Royce Condor engine
Total: 20 aircraft
Two prototypes (G-EBEC, G-EBIP), plus eighteen production aircraft for Chile

 

Specifications

 
 
Vixen I
Vixen V
Vixen VI
Powerplant
One 450 hp Napier Lion I
One 500 hp Lion V
One 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor
Span
40 ft 0 in
44 ft 0 in
44 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
4,720 lb
5,080 lb
5,080 lb
Capacity
Two crew pilot and gunner; two fixed forward firing Vickers guns and Lewis gun on Scarff ring in rear cockpit
Maximum Speed
137 mph at 10,000 ft
134 mph at sea level
126 mph at 10,000 ft
Range
 
 
764 miles

 

Survivors

 

No examples of the Vickers Vixen survive.

Other information

www.brooklandsmuseum.com