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Early Vickers Wellington Plans

In the early stages of World War 2, many innovative designs for aircraft were proposed to the ministry. However, as files have been uncovered, only recently has the extent of some of those designs been discovered: one such plan was the work of a Consultant Engineer at Vickers, Professor Basil L. S. ERWAN.

As Air Vice-Marshal Brian LAWLESS insisted on a greater and greater number of bombers on a single operation, ERWAN and his crack team of fellow boffins were worried about the increased risk of mid-air collision.

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ERWAN, a firm believer in nurturing young talent, took this photo in his "ideas factory" circa 1939.
Photo: (ERWAN Foundation image courtesy of the Bob Simmons landlord of the Dog and Duck, East Grinstead - Private Collection)
Professor Basil L. S. ERWAN.

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The breakthrough came just after Breakfast one morning when ERWAN realised that when you have a lot of planes all in one place, their wings got in the way. He initially worked on the idea of actually getting rid of the wings but, for some reason, found problems getting to the planes to fly.

He decided that if he put the wings going vertically instead of horizontally, they could get more planes in the available sky.
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Early rough sketches by Prof. ERWAN of his vertical plane, nicknamed the "Wellington to Boot"
Photo (UK Govt image courtesy of the Library RUI (ridiculous unworkable ideas) National Archives Kew).
His early work on the plan was discovered in the RUI file at the National Archives at Kew. They clearly show that Professor ERWAN remained convinced that his idea was good. Even though the planes kept falling over like dominoes on the runway, they had to balance on one wheel, and when carrying out a bombing run, it had an annoying habit of losing the lower wing.
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Image: The officers of the War Plane Ideas Division worked diligently pointing at plans of ERWAN's idea t with pencils 
(US Army image courtesy of the Library of Congress).