Military Wiki
Role military trainer
Manufacturer Vickers-Armstrongs
First flight 17 July 1949[1]
Introduction 1951
Primary user RAF
Number built 160
Developed from Vickers VC.1 Viking

The Vickers Varsity was a British twin-engine crew trainer operated by the Royal Air Force for 25 years from 1951.

Design and development

Varsity T1 on display at the Newark Air Museum

Varsity T1 on display at the Newark Air Museum

The Varsity was developed by Vickers and based on the Viking and Valetta to meet Air Ministry Specification T.13/48 for a twin-engined training aircraft to replace the Wellington T10 and the Valetta T3 and T4.[2] The main differences were the wider-span wings, longer fuselage and tricycle undercarriage; and a ventral pannier to allow a trainee bomb aimer to be in a prone position and a bomb bay with a capacity for 24 x 25 lb smoke & flash bombs.[2] The prototype Type 668 first flew from Wisley on 17 July 1949.[2]

A civil version the VC.3 was planned but with the success of the VC.2 Viscount the idea was abandoned.[2]

Operational history

The Varsity was introduced to replace the Wellington T10 trainer, following deliveries to trials units the first production aircraft were delivered for operational use in 1951 to No. 201 Advanced Flying School at RAF Swinderby, where it was used to train pilots in flying multiple-engined aircraft. It also equipped two Air Navigator Schools, in 1952, and the Bomber Command Bombing school, with the job of training crews for RAF Bomber-Commands V-bomber crews.[3]

The Swedish Air Force operated a single Varsity from January 1953 to 1973 mainly for electronic intelligence missions. The Swedish military designation was Tp 82.

The Varsity was withdrawn from service with the RAF in May 1976, its role as a pilot and navigation trainer being taken over by the Scottish Aviation Jetstream T1.

The last flying example (Serial WL679) was operated by the Royal Aircraft Establishment; it was retired into preservation at the RAF Museum in 1992.


 United Kingdom



On display
  • Royal Air Force Varsity T1 WF382 at the Allied Museum, Berlin-Tegel.


On display

United Kingdom

On display

United States

Stored or under restoration
  • Varsity T1 N65558 the former WJ948 is in external storage at El Paso, Texas - Horizon Airport still in Royal Air Force colour scheme. Severely damaged in landing accident.

Specifications (T Mk 1)

Data from Vickers Aircraft since 1908 [9]

General characteristics

  • Crew: four
  • Length: 67 ft 6 in (20.57 m)
  • Wingspan: 95 ft 7 in (29.13 m)
  • Height: 23 ft 11 in (7.29 m)
  • Wing area: 974 ft² (90.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 27,040 lb (12 265 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 37,500 lb (17,010 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Hercules 264 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,950 hp (1,455 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 250 kn (288 mph, 464 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
  • Range: 2,302 nmi (2,648 mi, 4,263 km)
  • Service ceiling: 28,700 ft (8,750 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,400 ft/min (426.72 m/min)


  • Bombs: 600 lb (272 kg) practice bombs in an external pannier

See also



  1. Thetford 1957, p. 448.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Martin 1975, p. 9.
  3. Rawlings 1971, pp. 172–173.
  4. Ellis 2008, p. 170.
  5. Ellis 2008, p. 207.
  6. Ellis 2008, p. 22.
  7. Ellis 2008, p. 129.
  8. Ellis 2008, p. 175.
  9. Andrews and Morgan 1988, p. 416.


  • Andrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London: Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-815-1.
  • Ellis, Ken. Wrecks & Relics. Manchester, UK: Crécy Publishing, 21st edition, 2008. ISBN 978-0-85979-134-2.
  • Martin, Bernard. The Viking, Valetta and Varsity. Tonbridge, Kent, UK: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd., 1975. ISBN 0851300383.
  • Rawlings, J.D.R. "Vickers Varsity". Air Pictorial, Vol. 33, No. 5, May 1971, pp. 172–176.
  • Thetford, Owen. Aircraft of the Royal Aircraft 1918-57. London: Putnam, 1st edition, 1957.

External links

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