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Wimpy Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review December 2014 Title Wimpy
Author Steve Bond Publisher Grub Street Publishing
Published 2014 ISBN 9781909808140
Format 256 pages, hardbound MSRP (USD) $49.95


Steve Bond beautifully blends reliable research with oral accounts for solid study of a classic World War II combatant, the Vickers Wellington.

It's the ripping read from Grub Street Publishing – Wimpy: A Detailed Illustrated History of the Vickers Wellington In Service 1938-1953.

Wellington statistics tell the tale.  "Total production was 11,462," author Bond reveals, "which far outstripped both the Avro Lancaster (7,366) and the Handley Page Halifax (6,176)".  It comprised the bulk of 1942's spectacular, 1,000-bomber raids against German's heartland.  And it served in every major war zone.

Affectionately dubbed Wimpy – after the Popeye cartoon character J. Wellington Wimpy – Wellingtons were also the only RAF bomber type "to serve in its original role from the first year of the war to the last".

Over 256 pages, Bond chronologically courses from Wellington design and development through deployment and disposition:

  • Early Bomber Command operations
  • Main Force actions
  • Mediterranean operations
  • Maritime use
  • African, Middle East and Southeast Asia service
  • "Other Roles"
  • Postwar and retirement

Absorbing anecdotes liberally lace the well illustrated effort.  Bond's account of Sgt James Ward – the sole Victoria Cross recipient among thousands of Wellington crew – alone justifies the price of admission.  And how about Plt Off Laithwaite's rather "extended" ferry flight to Egypt?  Talk about a tale for one's grandchildren!

Appendices recap Wellington variants, production, units, and the Vickers-Armstrong Warwick derivative.  Dozens of B&W photos season the survey.  And references, abbreviations list and multiple indices wrap things up.

With its tough, geodesic construction, Vickers' aircraft proved rugged and reliable in every role.  And the last "pre-planned" Wellington bombing raid occurred less than two months before V-E Day – 13 March 1945.  That's when six 40 Sqn survivors joined Consolidated Liberators attacking Traviso, Italy marshaling yards.

Overshadowed by more glamorous stablemates, the Wellington earned the eternal affection of thousands who flew and attended her.  Steve Bond's enthralling account pays apt homage to the old girl.  Get Wimpy.

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!