Pilot inspects the damage to his Wellesley

Pilot Officer Walter Kennedy inspects the damage to his Vickers Wellesley in 1941.

Pilot Officer Walter Sinclair Kennedy, of 47 Squadron RAF, inspects the damage to his Vickers Wellesley in Eritrea, after being shot down by two Italian Fiat CR-42s.

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Sergeant Douglas German, Kennedy’s wireless operator and gunner, was unfortunately wounded in the incident, as can be seen by the bullet holes and strike marks, leading up to the wireless operator’s canopy.

The bullets hit the main fuel tank on the aircraft, causing it to ignite. Pushing the aircraft into a steep dive, Kennedy was able to extinguish the flames and return to his base, performing a difficult crash-landing.

The Vickers Wellesley, designed in part by the inventor Barnes Wallis, was known as one of the strongest, and most battle resistant aircraft structures in the world at the time. So much so, that the designers of the Wellington Bomber would take this into account when going through its preliminary tests and design phase.

Sergeant Douglas German sadly passed away in hospital the following day, March 26, 1941.

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