The Vickers Vincent was a version of the Vildebeest torpedo bomber modified to operate as a general purpose aeroplane, a role that combined army-cooperation, ground attack and light bombing functions and was designed for Imperial policing. Air Ministry G.4/31 called for a new aircraft to replace the Westland Wapitis and Fairey IIIFs that had been carrying out the role.
Rex Pierson of Vickers decided to convert one of the first nine Vildebeest Is (S1714) to the new role. The torpedo was replaced by an external fuel tank carried in the same position between the wheels, tropical gear was added as was a message pick-up hook. The modified aircraft left for a tour of the RAF in the Middle East and East Africa on 21 December 1932, visiting every airbase in the area. The Vincent passed this test, impressing especially with its range – with a full fuel load it had a range of 1,250 miles, nearly four times that of the Wapiti. On 8 December 1933 Vickers received an order for 51 production aircraft. Later in December the name Vincent was officially adopted, probably to commemorate the British victory in the battle of Cape St. Vincent.
A total of 197 Vincents were produced. The first 51 had been ordered as Vildebeest Mk IIs, but the contract was altered before the aircraft had been completed, while the remaining aircraft were ordered under two further contracts, one of 1934 and one of 1935. The last Vincents were delivered in October 1936. The first of the production aircraft was produced by converting a completed Vildebeest II, and this aircraft appeared at the RAF Display of 1935. By then the Vincent had already entered squadron service, joining No.8 Squadron at Aden. It was eventually used in by Nos.8, 45, 47, 55, 84, 207, 223 and 244 squadrons, spending all of its active service career on overseas bases.
By the start of the Second World War only No.8 squadron at Aden and No.47 Squadron in the Sudan were still operating the Vincent, although a new squadron, No.244 in Iraq, was formed around the aircraft in 1940. The Vincent was used in the fighting in Italian East Africa in 1940-41, and during the rebellion in Iraq in 1941. Even against the Italians in East Africa it was somewhat outdated, but every aircraft was invaluable. No.244 Squadron was the last to operate the Vincent, retaining a number of aircraft into 1943.
Engine: Bristol Pegasus IIM.3 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
Crew: Three (Pilot, observer, gunner)
Span: 49ft 0in
Length: 36ft 8in
Height: 17ft 9in
Empty Weight: 4,229lb
All-up weight: 8,100lb
Max Speed: 142mph at 5,000ft
Normal Range: 625 miles
Maximum Range: 1,250 miles at 133mph
Armament: One 0.303in Vickers Mk II in nose, one Lewis gun in rear cockpit
Bomb load: Eight 112lb and eight 20lb bombs, total 1,056lb