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Blenheim file photo [3273]


CountryUnited Kingdom
ManufacturerBristol Aeroplane Company
Primary RoleMedium Bomber
Maiden Flight12 April 1935


ww2dbaseThe Blenheim aircraft were originally designed as a civilian aircraft aimed to break speed records set by German counterparts in order to promote British aviation. As the prototype aircraft designated Type 142 took flight in Apr 1935, it was realized that the prototype flew faster than any Royal Air Force fighter in service at the time. The Air Ministry, which at the time was in search of a fast light bomber, submitted a specification to Bristol for a military version of the aircraft. The resulting line of bombers were the first RAF aircraft to have all-metal stressed skin construction and one of the first to utilize retractable landing gear, flaps, powered gun turret, and variable-pitch propellers. The military version was almost as fast as the civilian Type 142, achieved by keeping the fuselage very small. The pilot's cabin was so cramped as the result that the yoke blocked the view of flight instruments, while engine instruments blocked the forward view on landings. Because there was no room for propeller pitch controls, they were actually placed behind the pilots' seats where the pilots would operate them by feel. They entered service in Mar 1937 with the RAF and they also subsequently served with the air forces of Finland, Yugoslavia, Canada, South Africa, Romania, Greece, and Turkey.

ww2dbaseDuring WW2, the Free French Armée de l'Air used Blenheim as light bombers in North Africa. Because of improved German fighter technology by the time the European War started, the RAF relegated Blenheim light bombers' duties to coast patrol only at first. Later variants of them, however, were used heavily in the war as night fighters. The night fighter variants of Blenheim aircraft had an additional four Browning machine guns installed. In the German night bombing raid on London on 18 Jun 1940, they accounted for five German bombers, and kills continued to accumulate through the Battle of Britain. In Asia, British units used a ground attack variant of the Blenheim design in Burma; these variants featured four Browning machine guns installed in the noses of the aircraft and armored pilot cabins. With the introduction of the Beaufighter design, Blenheim aircraft were slowly relegated to training duties or less-intensive theaters such as the Middle East.

ww2dbaseAt the end of the design's production life, 4,422 aircraft were built.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Apr 2007

Blenheim Timeline

22 Jul 1940 During the day, German Luftwaffe flew only reconnaissance missions over the English Channel, launching no attacks despite of the good weather; British Hurricane fighters of No. 145 Squadron shot down a lone Do 17 bomber off Selsey Bill, West Sussex in southern England, United Kingdom. After sundown, many small German raids bombed coastal towns or lay naval mines off the coast. A radar-equipped Blenheim Mark 1F nightfighter of the British RAF Fighter Command shot down a German aircraft, possibly a Do 17 bomber, in combat over Britain; it was the first victory for this aircraft type.


MachineryTwo Bristol Mercury XV radial engines rated at 920hp each
Armament1x7.7mm Vickers K machine gun in nose, 4x7.7mm Browning machine guns in two turrets, 340kg bombs internally, 18kg of bombs externally
Span17.17 m
Length12.98 m
Height3.91 m
Wing Area43.60 m²
Weight, Empty4,440 kg
Weight, Loaded6,530 kg
Speed, Maximum428 km/h
Rate of Climb7.60 m/s
Service Ceiling9,600 m
Range, Normal3,140 km


Blenheim Mk I aircraft in flight, date unknownThree Blenheim aircraft in flight, date unknown
See all 11 photographs of Blenheim Medium Bomber

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Hobilar says:
26 Aug 2007 02:01:10 AM

The heading picture is actually a Blenheim IV light Bomber. The other two photographs are (correctly) Fighters

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Blenheim Medium Bomber Photo Gallery
Blenheim Mk I aircraft in flight, date unknownThree Blenheim aircraft in flight, date unknown
See all 11 photographs of Blenheim Medium Bomber

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