The Wellington was the most important British bomber of the initial war period. Designed to meet the requirements of Air Ministry specification B.9/32, the prototype first flew in June 1936. Deliveries to RAF bomber squadrons began in 1939. Commonly named Wimpy by its crews (after J. Wellington Wimpy, Popeye’s friend), the Wellington remained in service as a land bomber for five and a half years, its first operation being an attack on German warships at Wilhelmshaven on the day after war declared, its last raid on Previsio in Northern Italy in April 1945. During war period it operated from bases in Great Britain, India, the Middle East, North Africa and Italy.
Although fairly modern by its looks, technologically the Wellington was very much a product of an era past. By 1942 slow speed, limited ceiling, and a small bomb load made the Wellington obsolete in the European theatre of operations. It flew its last offensive sorties against Hannover on October 8, 1943. Although once it had been supplanted from the European theatre Lancasters and Halifaxes it flew until the war’s end in other roles and in other theatres. In particular, it had been used by RAF. as trainer until 1953.
A total of 11,461 Wellington’s of all variants were built – the most of any British bomber design.