Corgi AA34809 RAF Vickers Wellington Mk. IA Medium Bomber - 'R for Robert', Restored at Brooklands Museum, United Kingdom (1:72 Scale)
"Why should we have a navy at all? There are no enemies for it to fight except apparently the Army Air Force."
- General Carl Spaatz, Commander of the US 8th Army Air Force, after WWII
The twin-engine Wellington was the mainstay of Bomber Command until 1942, when the four-engine heavy bombers entered service. The Wellington prototype took to the air for the first time in June 1936 and production models entered service with the Royal Air Force in October 1938. By September 1939 Bomber Command had eight Wellington squadrons, which increased to 21 by the beginning of 1942. It was widely nicknamed the "Wimpey" after the character in the Popeye cartoon strip, J. Wellington Wimpey.
Wellingtons were the first bombers used to attack Germany in September 1939, but like all British bombers of the war they were lightly armed and suffered heavily from attacks by German fighters. In 1940 the Wellington squadrons were switched to night raids. The unique geodetic latticework construction of the Wellington made it particularly robust - able to sustain remarkable amounts of flak damage and yet still keep flying. The last Wellingtons were withdrawn from service over Germany and occupied Europe in 1943 but continued to serve in the Mediterranean theatre and over Burma until the end of the war. The Wellington proved a versatile aircraft and was also employed as a maritime patrol aircraft, a minelayer, and a transport. In all, 11,461 Wellingtons were built during the war, making it the numerous multi-engine aircraft produced by Britain.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a RAF Vickers Wellington Mk. IA medium bomber known as 'R for Robert'. Features rotating gun turrets, clear canopies, working bomb doors with authentic bomb load and fully detailed crew.
Wingspan: 14.5 inches
Length: 10.25 inches
Release Date: June 2009
Historical Account: 'R for Robert' - In the history of underwater research there is unlikely to be such an unusual and exciting story as the recovery in 1985 of a World War II Vickers Wellington bomber from the depths of Loch Ness. The professional underwater recovery experts involved likened it to "lifting a cobweb with a bulldozer!".
'R' for 'Robert' was ditched on Loch Ness on 31st December 1940 following the failure of its starboard engine during a training flight. Its presence, 220ft deep in the loch, was discovered by members of a research team of Klein Associates Inc., USA, whilst looking for the remains of aquatic animals. Their sonar image was seen by Mr Robin Holmes of Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, who having identified the image as a Wellington became determined to raise it; the driving factor being that as far as was known this was the only Wellington bomber left to have dropped bombs on enemy territory.
The task of raising the aircraft was daunting, requiring the knowledge of ex-Wellington engineers from the Vickers factory at Brooklands, Weybridge. From scant evidence - some underwater photographs and a few small items retrieved - those engineers gave a 50/50 chance of a successful recovery, following which they were asked to design and build a lift frame. This work was done within the cloak of the embryo Brooklands museum, then under the patronage of the Elmbridge Council.
The specialist skills of underwater recovery were supplied by the divers of Oceaneering International in Aberdeen, and J.W. Automarine of Holt in Norfolk who supplied and operated the air bag lifting systems. The combined team worked under the project management of the Institute of Offshore Engineering, associated with Heriot Watt University.
The recovery work on Loch Ness lasted a little short of three weeks. The team assembled on September 8th, 1985, the large front section was lifted out of the loch on September 21st, and the dismantled aircraft departed the Loch Ness area on several large road transporters on September 25th.
During recovery, often hampered by bad weather and rough water, nearly 80 hours of deep diving was required to locate, survey and attach the lifting gear to the Wellington. Because the loch bed suction had been underestimated, and the uncertainty of the structural strength around the chosen attachment points, the first lift attempt resulted in failure and the lift frame was broken beyond repair, but a new welded steel frame was built by Cromarty Firth of Invergordon in less than 24 hours. With this, the second lift attempt, during the night of the 20th and 21st of September, was successful.
The fact that 'R' for 'Robert' was recovered at all was due to the generosity of many companies, acknowledged elsewhere in this hangar, and many hours of voluntary work and expense by individuals, both during the preparation period and on Loch Ness itself.