Vickers Wellesley

The Vickers Wellesley was a medium bomber that was designed and produced by the British aircraft manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs at Brooklands near Weybridge, Surrey. It was one of two aircraft to be named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, the other being the Vickers Wellington.

The Wellesley was developed during the early 1930s in response to Specification G.4/31. The biplane Vickers Type 253 was effectively an early incarnation of the aircraft, sharing its radical geodesic airframe and many other features. The Type 253 was determined to be the best submission received by the Air Ministry, thus an order for 150 production aircraft was issued. As a private venture, Vickers has also developed the monoplane Type 256; following flight testing of this aircraft, the order placed for the Type 253 was converted for the Type 256 instead.

The vast majority of the Wellesley's production run were supplied to the Royal Air Force (RAF), a total of six squadrons under RAF Bomber Command operated the type at its peak. A high-profile demonstration of the aircraft's capabilities was conducted during early November 1938 via a flight of three Wellesleys that flew non-stop for two days from Ismailia, Egypt to Darwin, Australia, a distance of 7,162 miles (11,526 km), setting a world distance record in the process. While the type was considered to be obsolete by the start of the Second World War and thus unsuited to the European air war, the Wellesley was operated overseas in the desert theatres of East Africa, Egypt and the Middle East. The final Wellesley-equipped unit, 47 Squadron, ended its use of the type as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft, during September 1942.