The Hardwick Wimpy

One of our larger exhibits, now carefully cleaned and preserved within our museum, is a Bristol Hercules engine recovered from the wreck of the Vickers Wellington bomber which crashed tragically at Hardwick, just 2 miles from the Aerodrome.

Bristol Hercules engine

The Hercules is a 14 cylinder 1600 horsepower double row radial. Two of these engines powered the Wellington, and it was a catastrophic fire in the engine that resulted in this particular aircraft's loss.

Vickers Wellington 3-view

Whilst flying with 26 Operational Training Unit based at RAF Wing near Leighton Buzzard in Buckinghamshire during March 1944, this Wellington was en route to the Otmore bombing ranges when the fire broke out. Signs of the fire are still visible on the rear section of the engine.

Unfortunately the entire crew were killed in the crash, which took place within sight of the aerodrome where so many Wellingtons had been completed and test-flown.

Vickers Wellington

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The Vickers Wellington

The Vickers Wellington was a twin-engined medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R.K. Pierson. The Wellington was popularly known as the 'Wimpy' by service personnel, after J. Wellington Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons.

Wellington prototype

The Wellington used a unique geodetic construction designed by Barnes Wallis (who would later become famous for his work on the bouncing bombs used in the legendary Dambusters raid). A large network of steel beams gave the aircraft tremendous strength and resilience to damage.

Wellington production line

The Wellington formed the backbone of Bomber Command until late 1941 when it began to be increasingly replaced by superior four-engined types such as the Avro Lancaster. 18 different Marks were produced from 1936 to 1945, with a total production run of over 11,000.

Just two complete Wellingtons remain in existence - a post-war T.10 trainer preserved at the RAF Museum at Hendon, and a Mk.1 recovered from a Scottish Lock in 1985, now preserved at the Brooklands Museum in Surrey.