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Duration: 1 hour

One autumn weekend, early in WWII at an aircraft factory at Broughton in North Wales, a group of British workers, men and women, set out to smash a world record for building a bomber from scratch. They managed to build a Wellington Bomber in 23 hours and 50 minutes. They worked so quickly that the test pilot had to be turfed out of bed to take it into the air, 24 hours and 48 minutes after the first part of the airframe had been laid.

So who were the men and women who made this record-breaking Wellington? Britain's propaganda machine made a 12-minute film about the attempt and Peter Williams Television has traced six of them, one of whom, Bill Anderson, was only 14 years old. Their story of the excitement of the attempt is the heart of this documentary.

The Wellington was a special aircraft, as historian Sir Max Hastings says. It was held in great affection by those who flew it, mostly because its geodetic construction enabled it to survive enormous damage, as Flt Lt 'Tiny' Cooling remembers. He flew 67 missions in Wellingtons.

More Wellingtons were built during WWII than any other British aircraft, except the Spitfire and the Hurricane, the stars of the Battle of Britain. And, unwittingly, the Wellington, Britain's main strike bomber, played an important role in the Battle of Britain, as this documentary reveals.

Last on

Sat 12 Oct 2013 22:55 BBC Four

  • Photo: Building the Wellington Bomber

    Photo: Building the Wellington Bomber

    A Wellington Bomber pictured under construction in the Vickers-Armstrongs factory during World War II.

  • Photo: The Vickers-Armstrongs factory

    Photo: The Vickers-Armstrongs factory

    The Broughton, North Wales aircraft factory pictured in the late 1930s.

  • BBC History

    BBC History

    Explore the key events of the Battle of Britain with clips from over 50 years of BBC television and radio programmes.

    BBC History: The Battle of Britain
  • The Battle of Britain Season

    The Battle of Britain Season

    This programme is part of a season marking the 70th anniversary of The Battle Of Britain across BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four.

    Go to The Battle of Britain Season site

Credits

Producer
Peter Williams
Director
Peter Williams

Broadcasts

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