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Wellington Mark VII, WHY?


Tweener
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Recently, I've come across some photos of the Mark VII Wellington while doing some research for an upcoming build, and I have to ask... WHY? What was the train of thought behind putting a 40mm on the top of a Wellington? I have read before that some were fitted with the same gun in the nose in an abortive attempt to create an anti-shipping aircraft, just the same as some Australian Beaufighters, and that seems reasonable. Was the turret supposed to be used defensively? What were the performance penalties outside of reduced airflow over the vertical tail?

 

Any info and additional photos or plans would be most welcome. I plan to buy the Airfix Mark II as soon as it's available, and I think now that I will have to buy 2... We'll see.

 

Thanks, Tweener

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It was an experimental installation, not necessarily meant for the Wellington. 

 

Here's what William Green had to say:  “Among the many experimental Wellingtons used during the earlier stages of the war, one of the most interesting was the prototype Mk. II (L4250) which was fitted with a very large dorsal turret mounting a 40-mm Vickers “S” gun, automatic predictor sight, and offset cupola.  The turret had originally been designed for use by the Boulton Paul P.92 twin-engined fighter, and its flight trials in the Wellington were a part of the general development of the turret.  As first flown in 1941, this aircraft retained the standard single fin-and-rudder assembly, but a twin tail unit was fitted in January 1942 to improve the field of fire.  The twin fins and rudder were, in fact, the tips of two standard Wellington fin-and-rudder assemblies, and were mounted inboard on the tailplane and braced to the fuselage by a system of struts.  The Vickers type number 416 covered the design of this aircraft which was provisionally known as the Wellington VII.”

 

Green's book Famous Bombers of the Second World War (Macdonald & Co 1959) also carries a photograph of the later version, twin tails and yellow prototype undersurfaces.  A very different beast and it should be eye-catching among the standard bomber schemes on the shelf.

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IThe 40mm gun turret as mentioned was experimental and was part of ongoing investigation into large calibre turrets for bombers. There were plans for large bombers  (Armstrong Whitworth and Bristol amongst others) with turrets around the centres of gravity armed with up to four 20mm cannon. Either edition of Tony Buttler's 'British Secret Projects' series cover them. Trials of the turret designs showed them to be more trouble than they were worth. 

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