Vickers Windsor B.Mk.I: Britain's Superfortress (sort of)

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Introduction: Despite being one of the largest aircraft constructed during the War, as well as the United Kingdom’s last indigenous piston-engine heavy bomber, the Vickers Windsor is rarely mentioned when discussing late-War British aircraft development. It represented the peak of the technologies that had gone into making the Wellington and Warwick, as well as being at the cutting edge of technology in various regards. However, the end of the War spelt an end to this promising aircraft.

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Description: The Windsor story began with the merger of two requirements. Prior to this, Vickers had been working on two separate aircraft; one a twin-engine medium bomber to replace the Wellington, the other being a four-engine derivative of the Warwick, with a new, pressurised nose. The latter had had a contract already written around it for the construction of two prototypes, and a mock-up was constructed. Much of the work was re-used by the new type, now designated Type 447, though the fuselage was completely redesigned and was of geodetic construction, much like the Wellington. Orders were placed for two additional prototypes, which was eventually followed by a mock-up conference. The aircraft was eventually christened “Windsor B.Mk.I”, and more aircraft were ordered, prior to its first flight on 23rd October, 1943.

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The Windsor’s defensive armament was the subject of intense debate and study. The initial scheme consisted of two fixed .303in (7.7mm) machine guns in the nose, and two 20mm cannon in a tail position. However, the latter was dispensed with by February 1943, with the tail position being used as a sighting station for two remote-controlled barbettes which were mounted on each of the two outermost engines. These were to be fitted with two 20mm cannons each. The system was tested on Warwick L9704 in 1944, though that system used .50 cal (12.7mm) machine guns. These were to be fitted onto the fourth aircraft, but they were instead brought forward to the third prototype, NK136; the only aircraft to be fitted with armament, the last to fly after the initial two aircraft, and was much close to the production standard. This aircraft was also redesignated by Vickers as the Type 461, but retained the “Windsor” name. The barbettes were fitted in 1945, with tests continuing into the following year. There was however, some worry in regards to the centre of gravity, and a new, extended nose was designed, based off of that of the Lancaster. It was assumed that the Windsor would have an initial weight greater than that of the Lincoln, which would allow for some growth potential over that aircraft. The Windsor was also 10-20mph (16-32km/h) faster than the Lincoln, and possessed a range excess of 490 miles (789km). In 1944, in anticipation of the shift of operations to the Pacific, Vickers put forward a proposal to extend the range even further, though this came at the sacrifice of armour and some of the material from the self-sealing fuel tanks. In April 1944, it was expected that production would begin in 1945, with thirty squadrons expected by 1947. However there were delays due to the armament layout, in addition to other problems, which meant that the aircraft was nowhere near ready for production by the end of 1944. It was decided to cut the order from 300 aircraft to 100, with a further amendment to 40 later on. On November 23rd, the entire program was cancelled, with all work ceasing on the unfinished aircraft, although testing continued until 1946.

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The Windsor was intended as a replacement for the Wellington, and would have significantly strengthened the capabilities of Bomber Command once it matured, serving alongside the Halifax, Lancaster and Lincoln, with a life cycle much longer than any of those types. The Windsor turned out to be a fast, comparatively lightly-armed and heavily-armoured night bomber, with a focus on the European theatre. However, the shift to the Pacific raised questions over whether it was suitable for that operating environment. It was not a mature platform, and the Air Staff were worried about using such a new platform in such a challenging environment, when it was not even proven in the European environment. It was a decent aircraft, that just came too late.

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Performance:

Spoiler
Wing Span: 117ft 2in (35.71m)
Length: 76ft 10in (23.42m)
Wing Area: 1,248 sq ft (115.94 sq m)
All-Up-Weight: 72,000lb (32,659kg)
Powerplant: 4x 1,750hp (1,305kW)
Max. Speed/Height: 360mph (579km/h) at 21,000ft (6,401m)
Armament: 12,000lb (5,443kg) bombs
4x 20mm cannons

Conclusion: I think that the Windsor would make for a good high-tier prop bomber, with decent armour and armament, as well as high speed. It would bring light to a forgotten aircraft that should prove decent in game.

Sources:

Spoiler

“British Secret Projects 4: Bombers 1935 to 1950” by Tony Buttler

Vickers Windsor | Secret Projects Forum

https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/vickers-windsor

https://www.key.aero/article/failed-vickers-windsor

The Vickers Windsor; Wimpey’s Big Brother - Forgotten Aircraft - Military Matters

Vickers Windsor : Vickers

Vickers Windsor - Destination's Journey

Vickers-Armstrongs 447 Windsor - Weapons and Warfare

6 Likes

Would love to see this but I feel like it would be forgotten about like the Lincoln or Shackleton. Seriously? Does anyone even play these aircraft? (Except for me playing the shack)

+1 Bomberbros rise up

2 Likes

+1. A very beautiful, and well armed bomber.

1 Like

+1 big dakka on a british bomber? YES PLEASE!

1 Like

Almost no one plays Lincoln or Shack it seems. When I do see them they stand out because of their rarity. Not only higher BR where fighters are more capable but also limited to 1000lb bombs. The Shackleton also lacks defensively and is very vulnerable at the lower, rear where many will occur. Hopefully a Windsor would be different and more usable.

FYI on my bug/request list I am considering a report fo a Lincoln 4000lb to give it more bang. Also a Shackleton GR1 (prototype MR1 #1/2) which flew with essentially a Lincoln rear turret amongst it’s changes.

Tonnes of us bomber mains play them.

1 Like

be a interesting bomber, would be a pain to intercept from the rear

1 Like

I um… I actually use it as a fighter… was I not meant to do that?

Yeah, the bomber mains play them, but how many do you see?

Shackleton cannons do probably work much better if you ignore the rules and fling the million rivet formation around the sky, they just suck if trying to fly straight towards a bombing target. Tbh it’s vulnerable belly isn’t such a issue in real life because like it’s seaplane predecessors it was intended to fly low and slow where fighters shouldn’t be.

I play mostly Naval and I think I’ve seen maybe 1 Lincoln in total, and 1 shack a month. The 1k bombs just aren’t worth the risk as AA is deadly at their BR and most prefer types with bigger boom options you can drop from much further out.

To be fair on both types most large bombers past 4.3 (ie Pe-8) are in a bad place. Can still be masochistic fun at times though if you are willing to suffer the grind and I would love to add both the Windsor and rather more successful but very much forgotten Warwick to my lineups.

1 Like