Vickers Warwick B.Mk.1: A Shaky Start to a Forgotten Legend

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Introduction: Among the British aircraft of the Second World War, one tends to think of the Spitfire, the Hurricane and the Lancaster. Maybe the Mosquito and Typhoon, if one is a bit more in the know. But the Vickers Warwick is, more often than not, forgotten by most, despite its significant importance to the War Effort. In fact, the aircraft was almost doomed from the start. It was outdated before it even flew, it had been overtaken by new developments and the Air Ministry wasn’t so keen on funding it any more. Indeed, this aircraft had much to go against before it could even fly, and it could have remained on the drawing board. Even though it did fly, the RAF didn’t want it. But, the aircraft was built, and did enter service, and became an integral part in the War against Germany, but not in the way it was intended. That however, is for another time, this is the story of how the Warwick was spawned.

Development History: Designed to Specification B.1/35, the Warwick was intended as a heavier follow-up for the Wellington, from which it was derived. The specification was ordered after the Director of Technical Development visited the US and determined that it was necessary to implement the newest accomplishments, in particular the latest advancements in engine development, on bombers, to create a truly modern bomber, fit for the 1940’s. The requirement was released on the 29th of May, 1935, and a Tender Design Conference was held to analyse eight projects, which had been submitted. The Tender Design Conference gave first place to Vickers, for their project designated “284”, however, Armstrong Whitworth, Handley Page and Boulton Paul were ordered to build prototypes of their designs. Boulton Paul was omitted from the list, and AWA and HP cancelled the production of theirs before construction began, due to constraints with other programs and thought it was best to work on more modern aircraft, leaving only Vickers.

Arising Problems: Work was slow and protracted, partly because of work on the B.9/32 (later known as Wellington), and partly because it was eclipsed by other, more modern projects. On 13th August, 1939, the prototype Warwick, K8178, took to the air for the first time, powered by Rolls-Royce Vultures. The second prototype, L9704, flew on the 7th April, 1940, powered by Bristol Centaurus units. When it was found that the Centaurus was in short supply, L9704 flew with P&W Twin Wasps, although it was found that these gave inferior performance. Nevertheless, 250 were ordered. In this configuration, the A&AEE deemed it a failure. Later production versions would revert to the Centaurus. The Air Ministry only continued with its development because it wished to have a larger version of the Wellington, due to the assumption of common parts (although the number of parts in common was much lower than hoped for).

R.S. Sorley, ACAS(T), to the Secretary of State for Air about the Warwick B.Mk.1:
“The Warwick is of no operational value because it has such an unsatisfactory power to weight ratio that it has no ability to fly on one engine with any useful load. This is a basic failing of heavy-twin engined aircraft and is no more attributable to the fact that it is the Warwick than in any other similar sized aircraft. In summary the Warwick fails because it is an old design founded on an unsound basis, i.e. heavy twin-engined aircraft.”

Failings, Competitors and Eventual Uses: The above quote from Sorley sums up the general opinion within the upper echelons of the RAF regarding Warwick B.Mk.1. Intended as a Wellington replacement, it soon competed with the Avro Manchester, and was quickly overtaken as a bomber by newer four-engined bombers like the Lancaster, Halifax and Stirling, which Bomber Command viewed as the future. The Warwick entered production in 1942, and lingered around as a heavy bomber, until other uses were found for it. Despite the negative start, the Warwick soon filled a niche in the RAF, as a transport for both Transport Command and BOAC, as an Air-Sea Rescue aircraft, and as a maritime patrol aircraft, which will be covered soon.

Performance:

Spoiler
Span: 96ft 9in (29.49m)
Length: 72ft 3in (22.02m)
Wing Area: 1,006sq.ft (93.46sq.m)
All-Up Weight: 45,000lb (20,412kg)
Powerplant: 2x 1,850hp (1,380kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp
Max. Speed 224mph (360km/h)
Armament: 6,000lb (2,722kg) bombs,

8x .303in machine guns|

Conclusion: I believe that the Warwick is different enough from the Wellington to place it in the British Bomber line as its own aircraft. However, It could also be added into the folder with the Wellingtons as well.

Sources:

Spoiler

Main Source:

“British Secret Projects 4: Bombers 1935 - 1950” by Tony Buttler (Information and Performance)

Supplementary Sources:

Vickers Warwick (Images and information)

Vickers Warwick - Aircraft - Fighting the U-boats - uboat.net (Information)

https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/vickers-warwick (Information and Images)

David Welch Collection - ABPic: Vickers Warwick B.Mk. 1, BV346, Royal Air Force : ABPic (images)

Joe Barr Collection - ABPic: Vickers Warwick B.Mk. 1, L9704, Royal Air Force : ABPic (Images)

I cannot stress or express enough gratitude to the last two sources, as this suggestion would not have been possible without them.

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Shame that some interesting oddballs like this don’t get the traction they deserve. This would make an interesting lower-tier event aircraft in my opinion - nothing overpowered, just unique and interesting :)

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I would love to see the Warwick get some recognition - 800+ built, 20+ squadrons yet many have never even heard of it.

Tbh I think the Centaur powered Mk.II variants would be a better fit for the game. They were faster and more survivable, as well as having a larger and more varied bomb load. It could stand alone in the tree instead of being foldered with the late Wellingtons.

If you want truly exotic I would vote for the 2nd B.I prototype L9074. It tested unmanned barbettes in the rear of the engine nacelles similar to the manned types in the Bv238 and Pe-8. - https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/vickers-warwick

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Even though I massively prefer to see the GR.V, the B.Mk.1 would still be a welcome addition none the less

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+1 Would be nice to have ingame.

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