Posted: Fri 23rd Jun 2023

Airbus Broughton celebrates 80 years since Vickers Wellington Bomber’s record-breaking 24-hour assembly

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Jun 23rd, 2023

In the summer of 1943, Broughton factory workers made history by assembling a Vickers Wellington Bomber in less than 24 hours.

Breaking previous construction records, the high-speed assembly bolstered morale on the British homefront and helped to garner allied support from abroad.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of this incredible feat in aerospace manufacturing.

The Vickers Wellington (LN514) was a long range, twin-engine bomber produced by Vickers-Armstrong Limited during the Second World War.

Known for its superior durability, it was the most mass-produced bomber in the UK.

The aircraft’s revolutionary geodetic design, characterised by its diagonal latticed construction, was the innovative creation of Sir Barnes Wallis, also known for inventing the ‘bouncing bomb’.

The design, inspired by Wallis’s earlier work on airships, created an exceptionally durable yet lightweight airframe without the need for internal bracing.

During this time, approximately 6,000 people built an average of 28 Wellingtons per week at Vickers-Armstrongs’ shadow factory in Broughton, now owned by Airbus.

The site currently produces commercial aircraft wings for Airbus A350, A330 and A320 family aircraft that fly half of the world’s passengers.

Airbus Head of Broughton site Jerome Blandin says, “Eighty years on, this milestone remains a central part of our Broughton history. A real point of pride in this legacy is that roughly half the workforce who built the Wellingtons were women.

“Given we don’t have an exact date of when the record was set, it’s only fitting we celebrate this achievement on International Women in Engineering Day to allow the story to inspire the next generation of female engineers in Broughton and in British aerospace more widely.”

BAE Systems Air Chief Operating Officer Ian Muldowney says, “The story of the incredible women who worked at Vickers-Armstrong building Wellington bombers at Broughton is one of many inspirational stories woven into the fabric of British aviation.

“The biggest tribute our industry can pay to these remarkable women is to champion the generations of women who are at the heart of our business today and in the future and that’s why we are committed to providing opportunities for all across BAE Systems.”

By pre-assembling certain parts of the aircraft, Broughton workers built the Wellington in just 23 hours and 48 minutes, smashing through a target time of 30 hours to become the subject of a popular Ministry of Information newsreel in October of 1943.

This adaptive approach to manufacturing continues to influence Broughton’s success in the sector today with the plant remaining the most advanced wing production site in the world.

Its teams employ the best of digital and manufacturing techniques and composite materials to support activity from single-aisle aircraft production ramp-up to Wing of Tomorrow programme research which explores the industrialisation of novel wing concepts that improve fuel efficiency and drive decarbonisation.

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