Sunday, May 15, 2016

An Inter-War Eyesore

With this installment of TWW, we continue a series that we like to call 'So Ugly Only a Mother Could Love It', or, 'That Thing Flies?'.

The Vickers Wellesley is hardly what anyone would call 'beautiful'. To be quite honest, in your blogmeister's opinion, it's pretty freakin' ugly. We here at TWW can't imagine that anyone actually designed this thing to look as it did, so here's our take on how the Wellesley came to be:

One day in 1934 a Vickers design engineer was sitting in the back garden, partaking in some tea and crumpets, or... whatever... just enjoying a day off, when his rambunctious little pain in the arse son came outside with a dozen different model planes he'd built and proceeded to blow 'em all to smithereens with firecrackers, utterly shattering the idyllic atmosphere that his father was so blissfully taking in. As the startled and irked father was about to suggest to the beastly little brat that he clear off, the kid began assembling all the unscathed bits and pieces together to make a totally new and different airplane. He then handed it to his father, said, "make a real one, daddy", and skipped away with his eye on the neighbor's cat. Totally dumbfounded by the unexpected creativity demonstrated by his son, the Vickers dude sat back, lit a pipe, and said in a half-whisper to himself, "By jove... cracking, my boy."

Well, the actual circumstances were undoubtedly somewhat different. But when you look at the following photos you should be able to see how it could have happened that way.

Anyhoo, by the time war erupted in Europe in 1939, the Wellesley was beyond obsolete even though it was just a few years old. It had been replaced in the RAF's home-based squadrons by newer and more capable types, but was still soldiering on in quieter areas such as the Middle East, and indeed took active part in the East African Campaign against the Italians, suffering some losses to Italian fighters. The last role played by the Wellesley before finally being retired for good in September of 1942 was that of maritime reconnaissance over the Red Sea.


A pair of 14 Squadron Wellesley Mk.Is over Palestine, 1939.

Imperial War Museum

May 15th, 1941... seventy-five years ago to the day... a Wellesley kicks up a trail of dust during takeoff from an Ethiopian airfield.

The Atlantic

A lineup of 45 Squadron Wellesley Is at Helwan, Egypt in 1938.

Project 914 Archives

Fade to Black...

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