Vickers Vespa VII: The Ugly Swan.

The Vespa was a not very commercially successful British “army” biplane of the late 1920’s/early 1930’s. A good honest aircraft, but with its broad/squarish wings and “suspended” fuselage, not a beauty by any means. Looks apart, the Royal Air Force didn’t find it good enough for then, but a tiny numbers of them were acquired by the modest Irish Free State and Bolivia. With the latter it saw action during the Chaco War (1932-35).
The Vespa prototype after a previous iteration as a demonstrator for possible Chinese clients (Vespa VI) was further modified in order to set a world altitude record. The so-called Vespa VII got that record reaching a height of 43,976ft (13,407m) in September 1932.

Superbly clear photo of the record holder with its lovely Bristol Pegasus S, flimsy-looking ring cowling and huge wooden prop.

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