Vickers 290 Wellington Mk1A
1939, Wellington Pavilion, On long term display
Developed from the Wellesley, the Wellington prototype first flew at Brooklands in 1936. Its fabric-covered geodetic structure was able to absorb heavy damage, and it was the only British bomber to be used throughout World War Two, serving with Bomber, Coastal, Transport and Training Commands. Altogether 11,461 Wellingtons were produced, 2,515 of these at Brooklands.
N2980 is the only known surviving Brooklands-built Wellington. First flown on 16/11/1939 by Vickers’ Chief Test Pilot ‘Mutt’ Summers, N2980 was first issued to 149 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall and allocated the squadron code letter ‘R’ for ‘Robert’. It took part in the infamous Heligoland Bight raid of 18/12/1939, during which over half of the force of twenty-two Wellingtons were shot down by German fighters. The same aeroplane later served with 37 Squadron at RAF Feltwell, taking part in fourteen operations including day and night raids.
On 31/12/1940, while on a training flight over Scotland with 20 Operational Training Unit at RAF Lossiemouth, N2980 developed engine trouble and ditched in Loch Ness. All eight men on board escaped, but the rear gunner unfortunately died when his parachute failed to deploy.
In 1976 the Wellington was located in the Loch by a team of American Loch Ness Monster hunters and was successfully salvaged on 21/9/85 by the Loch Ness Wellington Association assisted by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Despite nearly forty-five years underwater, the aeroplane was remarkably well preserved. The tail lights still worked when connected to a modern battery and many of the crew’s personal effects remained in the fuselage.
Delivered to Brooklands Museum by British Aerospace on 27/9/85, N2980 is now one of only two surviving Wellingtons but is the only one which saw action as a bomber in operational service.
Engine: Two 1,050hp Bristol Pegasus Mk XVIII engines
Wing span: 86ft 2ins (28.3m)
Length: 64ft 7ins (19.6m)
Height: 17ft 5ins (5.3m)
Weight: (empty) 18,556lb (8,435kg); (gross) 28,500lb (12,900kg)
Max. speed: 235mph at 15,500ft
Service ceiling: 18,000ft
Armament: four Browning 0.303in machine-guns in two twin turrets at nose and tail; two 0.303in machine-guns could also be carried in a ventral turret; bomb load 4,500lb (2,045kg)