The Vickers corporation, founded as the Vickers Company in 1828, was a British manufacturer, primarily of military equipment. The name Vickers has lasted through until the 20st Century, albeit by a series of takeovers and mergers.
Vickers produced the Vickers machine gun, well remembered by thousands of British machine gunners.
The company was also known for its tank designs, starting with the widely used Vickers 6-Ton. They also produced the influential if never actually produced Independent A1E1 tank. One of their designs was the Valentine, produced in the thousands in World War II.
Recently, a tank carrying the Vickers' name is the British Challenger II.
1955 saw the separation of the company, then named Vickers-Armstrongs, into three groups, including Vickers Aircraft and the company that would become Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. The aircraft design and manufacturing parts of Vickers were merged with the Bristol, English Electric and Hunting aircraft firms into the British Aircraft Corporation in 1960.
Vickers acquired the Swedish ship engineering company Kamewa in 1986. The 1990s saw Vickers Shipbuilding enter a period of diversification, notably with the �340m ($609m) acquisition of Ulstein, the Norwegian shipbuilding group in December 1998.
Vickers was acquired by Rolls-Royce plc in 1999 for �576m ($1.03Bn.) The marine propulsion portfolio of Vickers made it particularly suited to Rolls-Royce, transforming the group into the global leader in marine power systems.
In 2002 Vickers Defence Systems (which excluded the marine business) was bought by Alvis plc, and became a subsidiary, Alvis Vickers Ltd. In March 2004 the board of Alvis plc approved a �309m takeover bid by a direct competitor in the field of military vehicles, the American General Dynamics. However, on June 4, 2004 BAE Systems outbid the American company, offering �355m, following which the board withdrew its recommendation in favour of the General Dynamics bid. BAE already owned almost twenty-nine percent of Alvis Vickers, and its last minute bid was seen as an attempt to prevent a strong rival from gaining a significant foothold in its home market. Following regulatory and majority shareholder approval the BAE offer was declared unconditional on 17th August.
Though the company was split in 1955 today almost all of these disparate groups are now parts of BAE Systems.
- Vickers aircraft became part of the British Aircraft Corporation which then became British Aerospace and finally BAE Systems.
- Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd became part of the nationalised British Shipbuilders but was the first to return to the private sector. GEC's Marconi Electronic Systems acquired VSEL in 1995 and this group joined British Aerospace in 1999 to form BAE Systems.
- The remaining parts of Vickers were acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1999, which retained the marine propulsion business. Vickers Defence was sold to Alvis, becoming Alvis-Vickers. Alvis Vickers was acquired by BAE Systems in 2004.
Shipbuilding Timeline of the Vickers name
- 1897: Vickers Sons & Maxim Limited bought The Barrow Shipbuilding Company Ltd
- 1911: Name change of the company to Vickers Limited
- 1927: afte merger with Armstrongs, Vickers Armstrongs Limited
- 1955: the shipbuilding side was called Vickers Armstrongs Shipbuilders & Vickers Armstrongs Engineers
- 1968: Name change to Vickers Limited Shipbuilding Group
- 1977: Vickers shipbuilding was nationalised as the Vickers Shipbuilding Group, a member Company of British Shipbuilders, by 1981 it was Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering Limited, still nationalised.
- 1986 Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltdas a subsidiary of British Shipbuilders. Then from 1986 shortened to VSEL, and by 1999 the name had completely disappeared as part of BAE Systems joined again with the descendant of the original parent company.
Vickers Sons and Maxim began work on a rigid airship for the British Admiralty in mid 1909 in a dock at Walney Island, Cumbria, sadly it disintegrated upon its second trip out of a floating hangar on the evening of 23 September, 1911. Further designs and difficulties followed although non-rigid machines including Sea Scouts (popularly called blimps) proved generally less troublesome than the larger rigid examples. Some models featured floating cars slung beneath them. Much experience in mooring techniques and swivelling motors was gathered despite the pressures of wartime. The last airship built at the Walney Island dock was a small non-rigid reconnaissance machine for the Japanese government that first flew on 27 April, 1921. A subsidiary called the Airship Guarantee Company Limited was formed under Sir Dennis Burney from 29 November 1923 (lasting until 30 November 1935) specifically to participate in the building of a massive six-engined commercial airship, the R100 in competition withe ill-fated R101. Their buildings were at Howden in Yorkshire. The R100 flew initially on 16 December, 1929 and achieved some trans-Atlantic flights before scrapping in November 1931 by Elton, Levy and Company.
Vickers produced one of the first aircraft designed to carry a machine gun, the FB5 (fighting biplane) Gun Bus. It also built the first aircraft to cross the Atlantic Ocean non-stop, a converted World War I RAF Vickers Vimy bomber. (See 1919 in aviation.)
In 1928 Vickers Aviation took over Supermarine, later to be creators of the Spitfire
Vickers was a pioneer in producing airliners, early examples being converted from Vimy bombers, and went on to manufacture the piston-engined Vickers VC.1 Viking airliner and Varsity military crew trainer, the Viscount and Vanguard turboprop airliners, and the stylish though noisy VC-10 jet airliner, which remains in RAF service as an aerial refuelling tanker. The Valiant V bomber was another Vickers design. The company later shifted its focus to military vehicles and weapons.
- Vickers Valentia
- Vickers Valetta
- Vickers Valiant
- Vickers Varsity
- Vickers VC-10
- Vickers Vernon
- Vickers Victoria
- Vickers Vildebeest
- Vickers Vimy
- Vickers Viking
- Vickers Vincent
- Vickers Virginia
- Vickers Warwick
- Vickers Wellesley
- Vickers Wellington
- Vickers company website
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