Vickers Wellington serial numbers

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules

Hey 33K in the air and Geoffrey Sinclair,

This is what I have in my notes re T2545 and W5352. If my notes are correct they were not the same airframe.

T2545 built as IC, pulled from Mk IC order before delivery and converted to/delivered as Mk II to fill special order(?). The airframe was intended for use as Type 430 with Merlin XX engines (modifications were begun but not fully carried out). Subsequently modified and used for flight testing of Merlin 60 engines.

W5352 built as Mk II, but converted to Mk IC before delivery to backfill the Mk IC order that originally included T2545.

Geoffrey Sinclair is the better source, since he has access to more of the relevant data, but looking at the Form 78 Aircraft Movement Cards, it does seem like these were two different airframes which swapped serial numbers.

The T2545 card has that number crossed off and W5352 written above, Wellington Ic crossed off and II written above, and the contract number 38600/39 crossed off and 71441/40 written above. There is a note written in the top left stating, "This aircraft became W5352 Mark II".

The W5352 card has that number crossed off and T2545 written above. Wellington Ic is the type and is unchanged, and the contract number 71441/40 crossed off and 38600/39 written above.
Geoffrey Sinclair is the better source, since he has access to more of the relevant data, but looking at the Form 78 Aircraft Movement Cards, it does seem like these were two different airframes which swapped serial numbers.
Thanks but like all sources there are limitations and in this case looking at what is out there it is likely they were two airframes that swapped RAF serials, making total production 14,462. As you note their movement cards to not agree, beyond both being at 44 MU in April 1942 where T2545 first appears, despite being built in 1940, it then goes to the Overseas Aircraft Preparation Unit at Kemble, then 1443 Ferry Training Flight and by the looks of the card went missing on the ferry flight on 28 August. So far no search has turned up a report on what happened, the reinforcements to Middle East report says 25 Wellingtons sent to Gibraltar week ending 28 August 1942, 1 landed in Portugal, 1 failed to arrive. Aircraft 1942 - Portugal 1939-1945 has HD967 arriving 27 August.

Up until September 1938 the US openly published US military aircraft production, and continued to publish detailed export and civil production figures into 1941, any axis air force that was surprised by the size of US airpower was because they chose to. It meant the US had a production tracking system beyond the military that included military production. As far as I can tell the British were not publishing military production data by the mid 1930's at least, if they ever did. Tracking seems to have stayed in the Air Ministry and no regular monthly/yearly reports were made. It looks like early in the war production statistics were prepared for the previous several years, back to maybe 1933, by going through the RAF Contract Cards, writing the appropriate 3 letter month abbreviations against the individual serial numbers and totalling them to give monthly figures, exports to Dominions are included in the figures from January 1936 onwards and all exports from January 1937 onwards (Though excluding unarmed trainers like Tiger Moths). It means the production figures for Britain match the contract cards almost exactly to August 1939, then this relation breaks down. This seems to have been a once off exercise and any errors in the cards or by the people compiling the figures had little chance of being noticed, for example much of February and March 1936 production of Gauntlet, Heyford, Overstrand, Wallace, Hardy, Shark, Singapore, Osprey (Stainless Steel Airframe), Walrus, Anson, Audax, Tutor and Hart Trainer are missing from the figures. Prototypes are not included at any stage.

Then the wartime figures had multiple reasons for excluding production aircraft, including crucially here for ones sent straight for experimental work and this was more than those used as and known to be prototypes. Clearly T2545 ex W5352 was mainly used for such work until 1942. While W5352 ex T2545 was initially an experimental type, so it also has a chance of not being included. Both aircraft have what look like two delivery dates, 6 October 1940 and 13 April 1942. Without the aircraft card information it is really easy to merge the two.

W.R. Chorley wrote the Bomber Command Losses series, including training units, so a long and deep investigation, his comments on the loss of Wellington II W5352 on 19 April 1943 includes "Built as the first Wellington in a batch of 200 mark II aircraft, delivered between October 1940 and July 1941, this particular example had been intended as a mark Ic with the serial T2545. However, another airframe was constructed and numbered T2545, though over the years this has lead to some confusion when reporting on such matters."

Contract B38600/39 was for 300 Ic, delivered as 294 Ic and 6 VIII, these are the T2458 to T3000 batch of serials, Contract P71441/40 was initially for 400 Ic and 400 II, the serial batches between W5352 to W5735, Z8328 to Z9114 and AD589 to AD653. The mark II being the W serials to W5611 and the Z serials to Z8662, total 400 II and 400 Ic reported delivered. The numbers require the system to swap the airframes that became T2545 and W5352 between the contracts. Relevant cards provided for comment.

Contract cards mark Ic type 423, Weybridge production, Z8861 (August 1941), Z8947, Z8949, Z8963 to Z8971 (9), Z8973, Z8975, Z8977, Z8980, Z8982, Z8985 (October 1941), total 18, nothing more to February 1942, but there are plenty of Ic contract cards missing.


  • Scan_1319.jpg
    606.7 KB · Views: 24
  • Scan_0900.jpg
    449.3 KB · Views: 25
  • Scan_0493.jpg
    793.8 KB · Views: 21
  • Scan_0518.jpg
    765.8 KB · Views: 24

Users who are viewing this thread