- Vickers Virginia
name = Virginia
type = heavy night-bomber
first flight =
introduced = 1924
retired = 1941
number built = 124
unit cost =
primary user =
Royal Air Force
more users =
developed from =
variants with their own articles =
VickersVirginia was a biplane heavy bomberof the British Royal Air Force, developed from the Vickers Vimy.
Design and development
The work on the Virginia was started in 1921 as a replacement to the Vimy. The Virginia was similar to the Vimy, but notably had a lowered front gunner's pulpit to allow the pilot a greater field of view, 20 feet (6 meter) greater wingspan, and a 9 ft (2.7 m) longer fuselage. The Virginia was powered by twin
Napier Lionengines. The Virginia flew for the first time on 24 November 1922. Andrews and Morgan 1989, p.131]
At the Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Martlesham, the Virginia prototype underwent type trials. One of the first modifications was to replace the original two-bladed propellers with a four-bladed example. An unusual set of "fighting top" turrets were added to the top wings but were later deleted from production aircraft. Sturvivant 1985, p. 849.]
The Marks I-VI had straight wings, whereas the Mark VII introduced swept outer wings. Starting with the Mark III the Virginia mounted a rear fuselage gunner, who was moved into a tail turret in the Mark VII.
The Mark X was introduced in late 1924 and featured a
duraluminand steel structure covered in fabric, aluminum, and wood.
A total of 124 Virginias were built, of which 50 were Mark X variants.
The first squadron of Mark I Virginias was assembled in 1924. Despite mediocre performance the aircraft served frontline units until 1938, when it was replaced by the newer Wellingtons, Hampdens and Whitleys. Newer designs such as the
Fairey Hendonand Handley Page Heyfordsupplemented rather than replaced the Virginia.
The final almost all-metal Virginia Mark X were the most numerous RAF bombers until the ascendance of the Heyford in 1934. After its technical obsolescence as a bomber it was used for photography and for parachute training, with jump platforms installed behind the engine nacelles. On
26 June 1940, a committee discussing the need for airborne cannon for use against invasion tanks included the suggestion of equipping Virginias with the equally antiquated 37mm Coventry Ordnance Works gun. This was not acted on.
In the 1930s the Virginias were used in some of the first tests of midair refuelling, although they were never used in this role outside of tests.
The Virginia was developed in parallel with the
Vickers Victoriafreighter, and the two aircraft had much in common, notably sharing the same design of wing.
The Virginias were highly accident prone, with 81 lost in this manner. Despite their obsolete status, Virginias continued to soldier on in support roles with the Parachute Test Flight at
Henlowuntil December 1941.
; Type 57 Virginia Mk I: Initial prototype for the RAF, powered by two 450-hp (336-kW)
Napier Lionpiston engines. One prototype only.; Type 96 Virginia Mk I: The first type 57 Virginia prototype was re-engined with two 650-hp (485-kW) Rolls-Royce Condorpiston engines. One prototype only.; Type 115 Virginia Mk VIII: The Type 96 Virginia prototype was fitted with a lengthened fuselage, new forward fuselage and gun positions. One prototype only.; Type 129 Virginia Mk VII: The Type 115 Virginia was converted into the Virginia VII prototpye. One prototype only. ; Type 76 Virginia Mk II: Second Virginia prototype, powered by two Napier lion piston engines, fitted with lengthened nose. One built.; Type 79 Virginia Mk III: Twin-engined heavy night bomber biplane for the RAF, powered by two 468-hp (349-kW) Napier Lion II piston engines, equipped with dual -controls. Six built.; Type 99 Virginia Mk IV: Twin-engined heavy night-bomber biplane. Similar to the Virginia Mk II, but with additional equipment.; Type 100 Virginia Mk V: Twin-engined heavy night-bomber biplane, equipped with a third (central) rudder in the tail unit. 22 built. ; Type 108 Virginia Mk VI: Twin-engined heavy night-bomber biplane. This version introducted revisiions in wing folding and rigging. 25 built.; Type 112 Virginia Mk VII: Twin-engined heavy night-bomber biplane. This version had a redesigned nose, lengthened rear fuselage and sweepback wings. 11 built and 38 conversions.; Type 128 Virginia Mk IX: Twin-engined heavy night-bomber biplane. This version introduced automatic slats, wheel breaks and a tail gunner's postion. Eight built and 27 conversions.; Type 139 Virginia Mk X: Twin-engined heavy night-bomber biplane. this version incorporated an all-metal structure. 50 built and 53 conversions.
Royal Air Force
No. 7 Squadron RAF
No. 9 Squadron RAF
No. 10 Squadron RAF
No. 51 Squadron RAF
No. 58 Squadron RAF
No. 75 Squadron RAF
No. 97 Squadron RAF
No. 214 Squadron RAF
No. 215 Squadron RAF
No. 500 Squadron RAF
No. 502 Squadron RAF
pecifications (Virginia X)
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop
ref= The British Bomber since 1914 Mason 1994, p.145.]
length main=52 ft 3 in
length alt=15.93 m
span main=87 ft 8 in
span alt=26.77 m
height main=18 ft 2 in
height alt=5.54 m
area main=2,178 ft²
area alt=202.4 m²
empty weight main=9,650 lb
empty weight alt=4,377 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main=17,620 lb
max takeoff weight alt=7,993 kg
type of prop= inline piston
number of props=2
power main=580 hp
power alt=433 kW
max speed main=108 mph
max speed alt=173 km/h
max speed more=at 5,000 ft (1,520 m)
range main=985 miles
range alt=1,585 km
ceiling main=13,800 ft
ceiling alt=4,210 m
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
more performance= *Climb to 5,000ft (1,520 m): 10 min
guns= 3× .303
Vickers machine guns
bombs= 3,000 lb (1,360 kg) of bombs
List of aircraft of the RAF
* Andrews, C.F. and Morgan, E.B. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London:Putnam, 1989. ISBN 0 85177 851 1.
* Mason, Francis K. "The British Bomber since 1914". London:Putnam, 1994. ISBN 0 85177 861 5.
* Sturivant, Ray. "Vickers Virginia X J6856." "Aviation News" Vol. 13, No. 22, 22 March- 4 April, 1985.
* Winchester, Jim. "Bombers of the 20th Century". London: Airlife Publishing Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-84037-386-5.
* [http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/exhibitions/not-quite-extinct/vickers-virginia.cfm RAF museum photographs]
* [http://www.britishaircraft.co.uk/aircraftpage.php?ID=333 British Aircraft Directory]
* [http://avia.russian.ee/air/england/vickers_virginia.php avia.russian.ee]
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