Vickers Wellington in the Mediterranean

The Vickers Wellington served in the Mediterranean theatre from September 1940 until March 1945, remaining in use as a front line bomber for that entire period. The entry of Italy into the war in the summer of 1940 found the Desert Air Force very vulnerable. It had a small number of aircraft, and those of obsolete or obsolescent types. The main bomber in use was the Blenheim.

The first Wellingtons reached No. 70 Squadron in Egypt in September 1940. Two more Squadrons, Nos. 37 and 38 joined it in November, while No. 148 Squadron was based on Malta from December 1940 to March 1941. No. 108 Squadron arrived in August 1941. The Wellington played two roles in the desert war – direct attacks on Axis positions and supply dumps and attacks on the Axis supply route across the Mediterranean. In this role the Mk VIII torpedo bomber was important.

These five squadrons provided bombers for the campaigns in the western desert, the failed attempt to defend Crete and the crushing of a pro-Axis uprising in Iraqi. As the war in Africa turned in the Allies’ favour, the Wellington squadrons following the retreating Germans west.

 Nos. 37, 70 and 142 Squadrons retained their Wellingtons during the invasion of Italy. Most units transferred to more modern aircraft after September 1944, but the last Wellington raid in Italy took place on 13 March 1945, as the fighting moved into northern Italy.

Alone I Fly - A Wellington Pilot's Desert War, Bill Bailey. Wider ranging than the title would suggest, Bailey served as a Wellington pilot in North Africa and from Malta, an airfield controller on Malta and as an instructor in the UK, all after surviving a fairly disastrous first mission in the desert. An engaging and wide ranging autobiography that gives an unusual view of the RAF at war. [read full review]
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Wellington in Action, Ron Mackay. A well illustrated guide to the development and service career of this classic British bomber. Mackay looks at the early development of the Wellington and the unusual geodetic frame that gave it great strength, the period when the Wellington was the mainstay of Bomber Command and the many uses found for the aircraft after it was replaced in the main bomber stream.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 June 2007), Vickers Wellington in the Mediterranean, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_wellington_mediterranean.html

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