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Energy efficiency of Vickers Vimy plane

Published 05 November, 2020; last updated 10 December, 2020

The Vickers Vimy:

  • flew around 0.025—0.050 m/kJ
  • and moved mass at around 0.081 – 0.25 kg.m/J


The Vickers Vimy was a 1917 British WWI bomber.1 It was used in the first non-stop transatlantic flight.


According to Wikipedia2:

  • Empty weight: 7,104 lb (3,222 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 10,884 lb (4,937 kg)

We use the range 3,222—4,937 kg, since we do not know at what weight in that range the relevant speeds were measured.

Energy use per second

We also have:

  • Power: 360 horsepower = 270 kW3
  • Efficiency of use of energy from fuel: we did not find data on this, so use an estimate of 15%-30%, based on what we know about the energy efficiency of the Wright Flyer.

From these we can calculate:

Energy use per second
= power of engine x 1/efficiency in converting energy to engine power
= 270kJ/s / .15—270kJ/s / .30
= 900—1800 kJ/s

Distance per second

Wikipedia gives us:

  • Maximum speed: 100 mph (160 km/h, 87 kn)4

Note that the figures for power do not obviously correspond to the highest measured speed. This is a rough estimate.

Distance per Joule

We now have (from above):

  • speed = 100 miles/h = 44.7m/s
  • energy use = 900—1800 kJ/s

Thus, on average each second the plane flies 44.7 m and uses 900—1800 kJ, for 0.025—0.050 m/kJ.

Mass.distance per Joule

We have:

  • Distance per kilojoule: 0.025—0.050 m/kJ
  • Mass: 3,222—4,937 kg

This gives us a range of 0.081 – 0.25 kg.m/J

Primary author: Ronny Fernandez


  1. “The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft developed and manufactured by Vickers Limited. Developed during the latter stages of the First World War to equip the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the Vimy was designed by Reginald Kirshaw “Rex” Pierson, Vickers’ chief designer…On 16 August 1917 Vickers was issued with a contract for three prototype aircraft…  the manufacture of the three prototypes was completed within four months.”

    “Vickers Vimy.” In Wikipedia, October 27, 2020.

  2. “Vickers Vimy.” In Wikipedia, October 27, 2020.
  3. Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII water-cooled V12 engines, 360 hp (270 kW) each”

    “Vickers Vimy.” In Wikipedia, October 27, 2020.
  4. “Wright Model B.” In Wikipedia, September 16, 2020.
power_of_evolution/evolution_engineering_comparison/energy_efficiency_of_vickers_vimy_plane.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/21 07:37 (external edit)