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Thread: Wellington Mark numbers in dispute

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    Default Wellington Mark numbers in dispute

    Hi all,

    I have built a list of all Wellington Marks from various serial number sources, notably Robertson's serials book and the Andrews&Morgan "Vickers Aircraft" book, and have been cross-checking these with other sources, notably the Air Britain serial series (though my collection of these is far from complete, so only one of those below has been checked).

    There are a few aircraft whose identity does not match between difference sources, and I hope that some on this forum will be able to give a definitive answer to these - please tell me your information source if you can.

    The aircraft in question are as follows:

    AD589-AD653 (50 aircraft in total) - most sources have these as Mk.IIIs, one source has them as Mk.ICs (either is plausible)

    DF542 - most sources have this as a Mk.III, one source has it as an early Mk.X

    HX445 - Andrews&Morgan have this as a Mk.VIII, another source has it as a Mk.IC (this batch was a mixture of both Marks so either is plausible)

    LN459-LN468 (10 aircraft in total) - some sources have these aircraft, others omit them - were they built?

    LN633-LN634 (2 aircraft in total) - some sources have these aircraft, others omit them - were they built?

    NB772 - NC234 (291 aircraft in total) - Robertson and Andrews&Morgan have these as Mk.XIV, Air Britain have them as Mk.X

    NC420 disputed as a Mk.XIII or Mk.XIV (this batch was a mixture of both Marks so either is plausible)

    Thanks for any supporting evidence for the true Mark of any of these aircraft.

    Regards,


    Iain.

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    Default Wellington Mark numbers in dispute

    Hello Iain,

    From the AB Books that I have.

    AD589 to AD653 - Listed as Mk Ic's delivered from VA Weybridge between Dec41 & Jan42.

    DF542 - Listed as a Mk III delivered by VA Blackpool between Aug & Sept 42.
    DF686 - Built as a Mk X
    DF744 to DG197 Cancelled.

    HX445 - Listed as a Mk VIII, one of 300 Mk 1's and Mk VIII's delivered between Apl & Sept 42 by VA Weybridge.

    LN459 to LN468 - Listed a Mk X's delivered between Sept 43 & Jan 45 by VA Hawarden
    LN633 to LN634 - No a/c between LN622 and LN635.

    NB772 to NC234 - Listed as Mk X's (some converted to T Mk X's)delivered between Apl and Dec 44 by VA Hawarden.
    NC235 to NC408 were cancelled.
    NC420 - Listed as a Mk XIII from VA Squires Gate between June and Dec 44.

    All for now
    Alex

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    Dear Alex,

    Wow, ALL my questions answered in one go - fabulous!

    It all brings into question the relative reliability of various sources - I have found myself believing some sources for some aircraft, but overriding that source for other aircraft with information from another source that "looks better"! Some may have just slavishly copied other sources, of course (and not always accurately).

    The Air Britain sources are hard to deny due to the potted history they provide, but some of the mark numbers given (not for the aircraft here) do give rise to some suspicions.

    Thanks for taking the time to look these up for me - much appreciated.

    Regards,


    Iain.

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    Dear Alex,

    I've been digging on these registrations a bit more, and I'm happy to defer to your Air Britain volumes for the definitive answers ... apart from one of them ... NB772 to NC234 which AB is showing as Mk.Xs

    Googling all of the individual registrations in this block, I find several texts and photos of aircraft which are ALL Mk.XIVs (with the distinctive chin radome). These include:
    NB772 of 179 Sqdn
    NB799 and NB806 of 304 (Polish) Sqdn
    NB814 of 36 Sqdn
    NB829 of 14 Sqdn
    NB839 of 407 Sqdn
    NB888 of 458 Sqdn (supplied decals for a Trumpeter Mk.XIV kit)
    NC178 of 304 (Polish) Sqdn

    So it looks as though AB are wrong this time, and this block of aircraft were indeed Mk.XIVs - if you are able to check the aircraft above, do the squadron numbers agree? Mk.Xs wouldn't have been used by these Coastal Command squadrons.

    While I'm on, do you have any information for HZ488 and HZ489, please? Likely either Xs or XIs.

    Thanks again,


    Iain.
    Last edited by irmurray; 22nd February 2012 at 21:36.

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    I enter this debate with some trepidation, but is not unusual in mass production of aircraft and particularly in the large numbers ordered in WW2 for some basic types being originally ordered as one version, but by the time the later examples of this order are actually being delivered from the production line, changes in strategic realities (good or bad), developments in thinking on tactics, or actual technical progress in engines, weapons, or any other items of equipment mean that the specification of the later aircraft can be so different that they have to be given new mark numbers. You mention that some of "your" aircraft are called Mk. Ic's by one source, but Mk. X's by another. Both versions were of course standard models for Bomber Command, but the Mk. X (Hercules engines of 1,400 HP or more) replaced the earlier Pegasus models (typically 900 - 1,000 HP) as the front-line aircraft. The introduction of much more powerful and heavier engines (and slightly improved overall performance) mean greater weights, and usually a strengthened airframe. Some versions of the Wellington were converted to a different mark number after a certain amount of service (sometimes a lot of service) in an earlier guise, thus they served in RAF units under two (or sometimes more?) mark numbers, and both were correct for this aircraft at different times. I would hazard a guess that Wellingtons as a group were particularly affected by such goings on. It has to be borne in mind that Mark numbers were intended to describe the encapsulate the TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION of the aircraft in its entirety for engineering and operaitonal purposes. As I child I grew to be critical of RAF mark numbers as they seemed to often be useless for identification purposes, as in some different marks looking identical, whilst within a generic mark number there could be two or more major variations of outside appearance. However since becoming more familair with Air Publications, you can see why (well sometimes!) these decisions were made. I was also amazed that some very (visually and structually) similar aircraft could have completely new names, such as Vildebeest and Vincent, Hampden and Hereford, Tutor and Prefect, but this was of course a matter of the role the type was primarily designed to undertake, and the equipment it had to carry. Just my thoughts on this thorny topic.
    David D

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    Default Wellington Mark numbers in dispute

    Hello Iain and David,

    David, I welcome your input and agree with you.
    As I understand the information in the AB RAF Serial Number series of books is gleaned from the a/c documents held by the AHB and in ORB's for example.
    A fuller explanation can be read in the introduction's in each book J1 through to WZ999.
    In the main the info is 100% but as with everything there are bound to be a few typo mistakes and errors in copying from time to time. Also at the time of these Wellingtons we were at war so perhaps some were not as detailed in their recording data than others, Squadron Diaries show this, some being very detailed while others are vague. It depended on the indevidual recorder.

    Iain, as for HZ488 and 489. Zero.
    513 VA Wellington III, X's, XI's and XIII's delivered between Dec 42 and Aug 43 by VA Blackpool.
    HZ102 to HZ150
    HZ173 to HZ209
    HZ242 to HZ284
    HZ299 to HZ115
    HZ351 to HZ378
    HZ394 to HZ439
    HZ467 to HZ487
    HZ513 to HZ554
    HZ570 to HZ604
    HZ633 to HZ660
    HZ689 to HZ727
    HZ752 to HZ770
    HZ793 to HZ820
    HZ862 to HZ897
    HZ937 to HZ981
    Continued in batch beginning JA104.

    HX488 and HX489 however did exist
    488 recorded as a Mk Ic while 489 is recorded as a Mk VIII.
    HX488 - 1446 Flt / 1 OADU / 40 - Caught fire and abandoned near Wadi Natrun, 23.8.42
    HX489 - 7 OTU / 1443 Flt / 1 OADU - Missing between Gibraltar and Malta 24.7.42

    All for now
    Alex
    Last edited by Alex Smart; 23rd February 2012 at 00:12.

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    Whilst David is right in principle, it does not seem to have been as common as he suggests for RAF aircraft to change mark number. Mainly, I suggest, because the rapid turn over of aircraft in front-line and second-line service meant that older airframes were better used as trainers than expensively modified. There are of course enough examples of the reverse to argue until we are blue in the face! Hurricanes from Mk.I to Mk.II, Spitfires from Mk.II to Mk.V, and Wellingtons from bombers to transports. I don't know how many of the Coastal Wellingtons were converted from bombers or built as such new, but suspect at least some.

    However, some changes were not possible. The Mk.X was not a simple re-engining with some strengthening: the entire airframe was restressed with a new alloy. Thus one reason for the multiplicity of Wellington mark numbers was that they fell into three categories: Mk.I based, Mk.III based, and Mk.X based, and hence the same set of role modifications could result in three new sets of mark numbers. An earlier airframe could not be converted into any of the Mk.X-based variants, as this would require a total rebuild akin to some modern warbirds where, perhaps apochryphally, only the nameplate remains the same.

    This is something that fell from use with the increased use of role prefixes, so that we had the Halifax B Mk.V, GR Mk.V and GT Mk.V. Perhaps Vickers were a bit slow to catch onto this?

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    Dear David,

    Thanks for your comments, which are of course exactly right. The Vickers situation is even worse, in that aircraft were given different Type numbers too, and these may have differed a lot, or none at all, from other Types. e.g. Wellington Type 403 was a normal Mk.I but built for New Zealand. Some individual aircraft had more than one Type during their life, and some existed as more than one Mark.

    There appears to be little logic to this at all - sometimes a modification gives a new number, another time a larger modification does not - although a change of engine is usually enough to give a new Mark number.

    And then there were aircraft "converted on the production line" which most books seem to count as a true conversion, but I'm reluctant to follow that trend!

    The aim of my exercise was simply to count the numbers of aircraft built as the various Marks, hence this thread was an attempt to resolve the true histories of the aircraft which appear differently in different sources.

    Some of these are quoted with different Mark numbers, and for a small number of aircraft, the problem is whether aircraft with those serials were actually built or not. The AB volumes can definitely resolve the latter if it gives a history for the aircraft, and their Mark numbers are usually good, but in the case of the NB and NC aircraft, I think the quoted Mk.X is defintely incorrect, as all those sampled from the batch have proven to be Mk.XIVs.

    Given the varied nature of the Wellingtons, and the large numbers of them, it's perhaps surprising that there aren't a lot more with shaky credentials!

    Thanks again,


    Iain.

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    Dear Alex,

    Thanks for the details on HZ488+9 - these were in the "were they/weren't they" built pile ... so it looks as though they weren't.

    > "HX488 and HX489 however did exist"

    Yes, these were in the middle of a mixed batch of ICs and VIIIs - thanks for the history.

    Regards,


    Iain.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Boak View Post
    The Mk.X was not a simple re-engining with some strengthening: the entire airframe was restressed with a new alloy.
    I have seen a source which suggests a III was converted to a X, but that's like converting your Megane into a Scenic!

    Quote Originally Posted by Graham Boak View Post
    This is something that fell from use with the increased use of role prefixes, so that we had the Halifax B Mk.V, GR Mk.V and GT Mk.V. Perhaps Vickers were a bit slow to catch onto this?
    I think this naming policy came from the Air Ministry, rather than being manufacturer's. Certainly the various Wellingtons are quoted with prefixes (some may have been applied retrospectively?) and the Warwicks various marks are also usually quoted with prefixes.

    Regards,

    Iain.

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