Bristol Blenheim
(Bristol Bolingbroke)


The first civilian Bristol Type 142 civil transport flew on 12 April, 1935. It was intended as a corporate aircraft for Lord Rothermore. The first Type 142M a military version flew on 25 June, 1936. Deliveries of the aircraft were received by the RAF in March 1937 and in July for the Air Ministry. By this time the aircraft was named the Blenheim Mk 1. Constructed of all metal the Blenheim was fitted with retractable landing gear, and accomodations for a pilot, a navigator/bomb aimer, and an air gunner/radio operator. Early models had a blunt, glazed nose, but the Mk.IV featured an elongated 'stepped' nose with an assymetric shape, and the nose of the Mk.V was even longer. Blenheim Mk.IV was a standard light bomber, Mk. I a fighter, Mk.IF nightfighter and Mk.IVF an attack/fighter aircraft.

The Bolingbroke was a Canadian version of the Bristol Blenheim IV light bomber. Although begun in England, the Bolingbroke name was dropped, except in Canada where they were built at Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. There were three versions made, including a floatplane (only one was built). Total number built 4,422

The Fleet Air Arm received 88 Blenheim Mk I and IVs which had been transferred from the RAF for Fleet Requirement training. Total: 16 Mk I , Mk IV 55. The first was delivered  to the RN at TOC Donisbristle in January 1941 (L1210), that same month 771 squadron was equipped at Hatston with the Blenheim (eg L1210). The aircraft saw service primarily with 771, 780, 772, and 787 squadrons. It ended its FAA career in November 1944 with 787 squadron.

With RAF, FAA, Air Ministry, Finland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Romania, RCAF, French Free air force, South African air force, Greece, Luftwaffe, Italy.

            Type 142 : prototype
            Type 143 : Aquila engine
            Type 142M : military version of the Type 142
            Blenheim Mk I : all-metal construction
            Blenheim Mk IV : Mercury VIII engines, increased fuel capacity, lengthened fuselage nose
            Blenheim Mk IF : Al (Airborne Interception) radar
            Blenheim Mk II : extra tankage
            Type 149 : reconnaissance version
            Bolingbroke Mk I : Canadian built Type 149s
            Bolingbroke Mk IV : Mercury XV engines
            Bolingbroke Mk IV W : 1,200-hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines
            Bolingbroke Mk IV T : multi-purpose trainers
            Blenheim Mk IVF : conversions similar to the Mk IF
            Blenheim Mk V (Type 160 Bisley) : low-altitude close-support bomber, changed fuselage nose, updated

         Fleet Air Arm history

         Total FAA 1939-1945:          88
         First delivered to RN:           1941
         First squadron 1939-1945:     1.41 to 771 sqdn at Hatston (L1210)
         Operational squadron:            None
         Last serving with RN            787 sqdn at Burscough 11.44 Z5951

Aircraft Type:
Bristol Blenheim
Primary Role:
Light Bomber and Fleet Requirements training
First Flight: 
First flights 
Type 142  12.4.1935 
142M Blenheim 25.6.1936
Date operating with FAA squadrons:
Bristol Aeroplane Company, Weston-super-Mare
Two 920 hp Bristol Mercury XX engines
 Wing Span: Length: Height: Wing Area: 
Wingspan: 17.17 m
Length: 13.13 m
Empty Weight: Max.Weight:
Max wt 6,531 kg



Weight: 6550 kg
Max. speed: 475 km/h 
Ceiling: 9550 m
Range: 3120 km
Eight 7.7mm machine gun; in weapons bay 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs, if necessary, under wings two 500 lb. 
748,759,762,770,771,772,775,776,780,787, 788,798
Battle honours:
None with FAA
Additional references and notes:

Battle Honours and Operational History

None with the FAA. The type made many wartime  'firsts' with the RAF. The aircraft was the first on September 3, 1939 to fly a reconnaissance mission over German territory, and the first to bomb German targets the next day.

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RAF Blenheim Z-WM

Surviving aircraft and relics
Thirteen Blenheims are known to be in museum collections around the world, and one is airworthy. None are known to be former FAA aircraft. The single airworthy Blenheim in the world is at the British Aerial Museum, Duxford (UK), Fairchild Bolingbroke IV T 9893 Mk.IVT G-BPIV 'Q-VC'

Restored Bristol Blenheim "WM-Z"

Blenheim MkIV L8756/10001RCAF Preserved at the RAF Museum (UK)

Blenheim IVT C preserved in the UK

Bristol Blenheim BL-200 is storaged in Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo in Tikkakoski (Finland)

Associations and reunions
            The Blenheim Society
            Hon Sec
            High Gables
            Portfield Gate
            Nr Haverfordwest
            Pembrokeshire SA62 3LS
Constable general aircraft history of the Blenheim General history. Profiles of all the fighter aircraft used by the Fleet Air Arm in 1939-1945.
Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS  An A-Z of Aircraft Profiles by FAUCONBERG AEROGRAPHICS includingBRISTOL BLENHEIM Mk.IVF, 248 Squadron, Royal Air Force, North Coates, Lincolnshire, March 1940
 Sturtivant, R. & Burrow, M (1995) Fleet Air Arm Aircraft 1939 to1945'  Published by Air Britain (Historians) Ltd, 1995 ISBN: 0 85130 232 7 
Olivier warbirds, Le site sur l'aviation de la Seconde guerre mondiale  Details of the Blenheim [in french]
Created 3-4-1999, Modified 3-4-2000


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