Vickers Varsity

The Vickers Varsity T.Mk 1 was a British twin-engined crew trainer operated by the Royal Air Force for 25 years from 1951. 

Vickers Varsity
Class Aircraft
Type Trainer
Manufacturer Vickers Limited
Origin United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain)
Country Name Origin Year
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1949
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Jordan View
Sweden View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) 1951 1976 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Vickers Limited 160 View

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. The main differences were the wider-span wings, longer fuselage and tricycle undercarriage.There was also a ventral pannier to allow a trainee bomb aimer to lie in a prone position and a bomb bay with a capacity for 24 x 25lb smoke & flash bombs. The prototype Type 668 first flew from Wisley on 17 July 1949.

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

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 they were used to train pilots to fly multi-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-Command's V-bomber crews.

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The Varsity was withdrawn from service with the RAF in May 1976, its role as a pilot and navigation trainer being taken over by the Scottish Aviation Jetstream T1.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

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

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 sq ft (90.5 m)
  • Empty weight: 27,040 lb (12 265 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 37,500 lb (17,010 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Bristol Hercules 264 14-cylinder radial engines, 1,950 hp (1,455 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 250 knots (288 mph, 464 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
  • Range: 2,302 NM (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)


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

End notes