The Vickers Wellesley was a British 1930s medium bomber built by Vickers-Armstrongs at Brooklands near Weybridge, Surrey, for the Royal Air Force. While it was obsolete by the start of the Second World War and unsuited to the European air war, the Wellesley was operated in the desert theatres of East Africa, Egypt and the Middle East. It was one of two planes named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, the other being the Vickers Wellington.
The Wellesley was a single-engine monoplane which used the same geodetic design principles for the fuselage and had very high aspect ratio wings and a manually operated, retractable undercarriage. As it was not known how the geodetic structure could cope with being disrupted by a bomb bay, the Wellesley's bomb load was carried in two streamlined panniers under the wings. The Wellesley Mk I had two cockpits but this was slightly changed in what was unofficially dubbed the Wellesley Mk II, whose pilot's canopy was extended to cover the navigator/bomb aimer's position that had been buried in the fuselage. Only the pilot had flight controls. The gunner retained a separate canopy.
By the outbreak of the Second World War, the Wellesley had been phased out from home-based squadrons, with only four examples remaining in Britain, but they remained in service with three squadrons based in the Middle East. While the Wellesley was not a significant combat aircraft, the design principles that were tested in its construction were put to good use with the Wellington medium bomber, which became one of the mainstays of Bomber Command in the early years of the European war. In February 1940, three Wellesleys (K7728, K7735 and K8531) were sold to Egypt to serve in the Royal Egyptian Air Force.