|VC (Vickers Commercial)|
|VC-4||3-engine for Atlantic|
|VC-5||long range Valiant|
|VC-6||short range Valiant|
|VC-11||short range VC-10|
In 1868, Vickers began manufacturing marine shafts and four years later began casting marine propellers. The Vickers company produced their first armour plate in 1888 and their first artillery piece two years later. In 1897 they purchased The Barrow Shipbuilding Company and with it, its subsidiary the Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Company and the new company was renamed Vickers, Sons and Maxim. The shipyard at Barrow became known as the Naval Construction Yard, and it was here in 1901 that Vickers built and launched the Royal Navy’s first submarine, Holland 1. A year later, the company brought a half share in the famous Clyde shipyard, John Brown and Company.
Further diversification occurred in 1905 with the purchase of the car building activities of the Wolseley Sheep-Shearing Machine Company. Following a re-organisation in 1911, the company’s name changed again to Vickers Limited and they expanded into the new world of aeroplane manufacturing by forming Vickers Limited (Aviation Department) in the same year.
At the commencement of the Great War the Vickers Gun Bus (F.B. 5) was practically the only fighting aeroplane in existence. It was a pusher machine, the Vickers gun being mounted in the nose of the nacelle, from which position a very wide range of unobstructed fire could be obtained; and its arrival on the Western Front established for the time being the aerial supremacy of the Allies. The F.B. 7 was brought out in August, 1915, and was one of the first twin-engined machines to take the air. It is particularly interesting as being the prototype of the now famous 'Vimy Bomber.' In the experimental model of the F.B. 16 trouble developed owing to the weakness of the leading edge of the main planes. Investigation showed that this weakness resulted from an inadequate factor of safety for the high speed attained by this machine. After remedying this defect, the machine was tested officially and showed a performance better than that obtained by contemporary machines of a similar type.
The Vimy Bomber was remarkable for its small size when compared with its large lifting capacity. It is claimed that this machine is stable both longitudinally and laterally. The engines arc placed out on the wing structure directly over the landing chassis. The fore part of the fuselage is constructed of metal tube and the rear part of special wooden tube. This machine, as used for crossing the Atlantic, was noteworthy that with the fitting of additional fuel tanks only, it succeeded in accomplishing the first direct flight across the Atlantic. An exactly similar type machine accomplished the first flight to Australia.
In 1927 Vickers Limited merged with the Tyneside engineering company Armstrong Whitworth, and so became Vickers-Armstrong’s, Limited. The two companies had developed along very similar lines and therefore the integration of the two businesses was relatively easy. A year later the Aviation Department became Vickers (Aviation) Limited and very soon after that, they acquired Supermarine Aviation Works Limited. A further re-organisation occurred in 1938 and this saw the company being renamed again as Vickers-Armstrong’s (Aircraft) Limited.
In 1960, Vickers-Armstrong’s (Aircraft) Limited was merged with The Bristol Aeroplane Company, English Electric and Hunting Aircraft to form the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC). Under the 1977 Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act, BAC was nationalised and became part of British Aerospace. Under the same Act, Vickers Limited Shipbuilding Group were also nationalised as part of the British Shipbuilders Group. The company was eventually privatised in 1986 as Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited (VSEL). VSEL was acquired by GEC’s Marconi Marine Division in 1995.
In 1986 Vickers purchased the Royal Ordnance Factory in Leeds, this also included the Challenger 1 tank production line, and formed Vickers Defence Systems. Vickers remained independent until 1999 when the company was bought by Rolls Royce, however, Rolls didn’t require Vickers Defence Systems and this was sold to Alvis plc.
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