Vickers Virginia

What was it?

A mainstay of the interwar RAF heavy night-bombing force, the stately Virginia served, in several versions, with front line units from June 1924 to 1938 and in support roles until 1941.

The prototype first flew from Brooklands in November 1922, and production continued until December 1932. A total of 124 were delivered, 50 of them being new-build final variants, an all-metal structured, fabric covered, 87ft 8 inch span, 108mph Virginia X. This variant was introduced to service in January 1928 and could carry a useful 3.000lb bomb load.

Earlier all-wood structured marks were frequently rebuilt and updated and those serving with No.7 Squadron were the first bombers with automatic pilots. For years their 'melodious but unsynchronised drone' could be heard at dusk over the United Kingdom during night exercises.

Their particular 'party piece' was the low-level attack on giant skittles using 8lb practice bombs at the Hendon Air Pageants. The last front-line Virginias were still flying with one flight of No.51 Squadron at Boscombe Down in February 1938.