The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
"Victory Bomber" was a Second World War
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
design by Barnes Wallis
Sir Barnes Neville Wallis, CBE FRS, RDI, FRAeS , was an English scientist, engineer and inventor. He is best known for inventing the bouncing bomb used by the RAF in Operation Chastise to attack the dams of the Ruhr Valley during World War II...
at Vickers-Armstrongs at Brooklands
Brooklands was a motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England. It opened in 1907, and was the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue, as well as one of Britain's first airfields...
for a bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...
to carry his projected 22000 lb (9,979 kg) "earthquake bomb" to strategic targets in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...
BackgroundAircraft designer Barnes Wallis reasoned that by selectively destroying strategic infrastructure targets
Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in a total war with the goal of defeating an enemy nation-state by destroying its economic ability and public will to wage war rather than destroying its land or naval forces...
, the German capacity to make armaments could be reduced. In 1940 Barnes Wallis designed a 22400 lb (10,160.5 kg) "penetrating" bomb that was to bury itself in the ground before detonating. It was estimated that it could break dams like the Möhne
The Möhne Reservoir is an artificial lake in North Rhine-Westphalia, some 45 km east of Dortmund. The dam was built between 1908 and 1913 to help control floods, regulate water levels on the Ruhr river downstream, and generate hydropower. Today, the lake is also a tourist attraction...
if it exploded in the reservoirs within 150 ft (45.7 m) of the dam's face.
No existing Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...
(RAF) bomber could carry such a weapon, and he designed a huge six-engine bomber to drop the bomb from 40000 ft (12,192 m). Wallis was an expert on geodetic
Geodetic is an adjective meaning pertaining to geodesy, the science of measurement of the earth. See also:* Geodetic system* Geodetic airframe...
construction in aircraft, having previously used it in designs such as the Wellesley
The Vickers Wellesley was a British 1930s light bomber built by Vickers-Armstrongs at Brooklands near Weybridge, Surrey, for the Royal Air Force...
The Vickers Wellington was a British twin-engine, long range medium bomber designed in the mid-1930s at Brooklands in Weybridge, Surrey, by Vickers-Armstrongs' Chief Designer, R. K. Pierson. It was widely used as a night bomber in the early years of the Second World War, before being displaced as a...
(1935), and naturally used it again for the Victory Bomber; also, all existing Vickers tooling was for this construction method. His specification was for a 50 ton (45 tonne) bomber that could fly at high altitude, 45000 ft (13,716 m) being calculated to give the bomb maximum impact speed, at a speed of 320 mph (262.8 kn; 515 km/h) over a distance of 4000 mi (3,475.9 nmi; 6,437.4 km). It would carry a single 22400 lb (10,160.5 kg) "earthquake bomb". Defensive armament was minimal; speed and height would be its chief defence with one 4-gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...
in the tail position
A tail gunner or rear gunner is a crewman on a military aircraft who functions as a gunner defending against enemy fighter attacks from the rear, or "tail", of the plane. The tail gunner operates a flexible machine gun emplacement on either the top or tail end of the aircraft with a generally...
for any fighter aircraft that did attempt to reach it. The bomber would benefit by climbing to altitude while over Britain where fighter defences could protect it. The crew compartment was pressurized.
The limitation of the purpose of the aircraft to a single bomb did not endear it to the Air Ministry
The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964...
who required more flexibility of their aircraft, and the Air Staff rejected both the bomber and the bomb in May 1941, as the aircraft was unlikely to be completed before the war ended.
The earthquake bomb idea continued, initially as the smaller 12000 lb (5,443.1 kg) Tallboy bomb
The Tallboy or Bomb, Medium Capacity, 12,000 lb, was an earthquake bomb developed by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and deployed by the RAF in 1944...
, and then the larger 22000 lb (9,979 kg) Grand Slam bomb
Grand Slam bomb
The Grand Slam was a 22,000 lb earthquake bomb used by RAF Bomber Command against strategic targets during the Second World War.Known officially as the Bomb, Medium Capacity, 22,000 lb, it was a scaled up version of the Tallboy bomb and closer to the original size that the bombs' inventor,...
, the carrying aircraft being a modified Avro Lancaster
The Avro Lancaster is a British four-engined Second World War heavy bomber made initially by Avro for the Royal Air Force . It first saw active service in 1942, and together with the Handley Page Halifax it was one of the main heavy bombers of the RAF, the RCAF, and squadrons from other...
, whose performance improved during the war to the point where it could manage such a load.
There was further design work on large high flying bombers by the British during the war including 75 ton (68 tonne) and 100 ton (90 tonne) designs, but these did not progress either.