Bristol Blenheim Picture Gallery

Bristol Blenheim Picture Gallery


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Bristol Blenheim Mk IV

One of the main drawbacks of the Blenheim Mk I was its very cramped navigator's compartment. A new nose with improved accomodation was one of the principal improvements offered by the Mk IV, which replaced the Mk I in production from late 1938.

All but the first 80 Mk IVs had more powerful engines and additional fuel tanks in the wings, which improved their range. Deliveries to RAF squadrons started in March 1939, and after World War II began some were fitted with rear-firing machine guns in a remotely controlled turret under the nose. A fighter variant had a four gun pack under the fuselage.

Blenheim Mk IVs carried out the RAF's first bombing raid of the war and from late 1940 flew many missions over Germany. There was also a Mk V (briefly known as the Bisley) which was even slower than the earlier models but was used by 10 RAF squadrons in North Africa and Far East.

Mark IVs were built under license in Finland, and more than 600 were produced in Canada under the name Bolingbroke. Most were completed as navigation and gunnery trainers others could be fitted with ski landing gear and used for maritime reconnaissance duties.

Its performance was startling in the early 1930s, but the Blenheim proved inadequate for the demands of World War II combat. By 1941, the bomber was clearly obsolescent, but it had been designated a 'super-priority' type nad thousands more were built. The Mk IV remained in service for a further two years with Bomber Command, and survived even longer in North Africa and the Far East. More than 600 were built in Canada, mainly for training.


BRISTOL BLENHEIM

When it first flew on 12th April 1935, the civilian Bristol Type 142 proved to be faster than any fighter then in service with the RAF and this quickly led to an Air Ministry specification for a bomber version. The resulting Type 142M carried a crew of three – pilot, navigator/bomb aimer and gunner – and was powered by two Bristol Mercury VIII radial engines each of 860hp. Armament comprised a forward firing .303 in Browning machine gun and either one or two .303 in machine guns mounted in a dorsal turret firing to the rear. The internal bomb bay was capable of carrying a 1,000 lb load.

The aircraft had a very small fuselage cross-section. The pilot’s cockpit area was so cramped that the control column obscured the flight instruments and such essential items as the propeller pitch control were positioned behind the pilot to be operated by feel alone. The bomb bay doors were secured in the closed position by cords and opened under the weight of released bombs – it was quite impossible to forecast how long it would take for the doors to open and the bombs to fall and hence bombing accuracy was poor.

The Type 142M soon became known as the Blenheim and entered RAF service with No114 Squadron in March 1937. Various modifications were incorporated to provide enhanced performance but by the outbreak of war in September 1939, the aircraft was essentially obsolescent, largely due to its light defensive armament and susceptibility to flak. Nevertheless, it was used extensively during the Battle of Britain albeit incurring heavy losses indeed a casualty rate approaching 100% was experienced on some raids as exemplified on 13th August 1940 when, during a 12 aircraft operation against Aalborg in Denmark, one machine returned early and the remaining eleven were shot down.

The Blenheim achieved some success as a night fighter equipped with a Mk III AI radar and fuselage-mounted gun pack carrying 4 x .303 in Brownings. A special Fighter Interception Unit was formed at RAF Tangmere in April 1940 in order to train crews in intercept techniques and it was on the night of 22nd/23rd July that one of its aircraft achieved the first ever AI radar assisted ‘kill’. Whilst on patrol south of Selsey Bill, ground radar vectored the pilot on to an enemy formation whereupon the AI operator acquired a ‘blip’ and controlled an intercept through to visual range. The target, a Dornier 17, was duly dispatched and crashed into the sea an estimated 5 miles south of Bognor Regis.

The Blenheim was operated by the air arms of 12 other countries. A version known as the Bolingbroke was built in Canada and served with the RCAF mainly in training roles. A total of 4,422 machines were built, a number of which survive as static display aircraft at museums around the world. The one remaining flying example in recent years crashed in 2003 and is now being restored to airworthiness by the Aircraft Restoration Company, Duxford.


If there are any features of this vehicle that sets it apart from other vehicles in its class, then mention those unique attributes here.

This section should include information on the interior's design, build quality, ergonomics, space (head and legroom, front and rear), features, stowage compartments and overall comfort and livability. Add pictures wherever applicable and keep information in a third-person point of view.


Space

Space projects started in the Guided Weapons department of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in the early 1960's with Skylark, the high altitude sounding rocket, and the Anglo-American UK1 and UK2 university science satellites. In 1968 work began at Bristol on the design and manufacture of the structure for the UK's Black Arrow technology satellite X3, which was launched as Prospero in 1971. It was and still is the only all UK satellite and launch vehicle combination.

Also in 1968 a prime contract was won by BAC Bristol from the Science Research Council for UK4. This was the first time that an industrial company had been awarded a spacecraft Prime Contract in the UK. In 1971 the Filton-built UK4 (also known as Ariel 4) spacecraft was successfully launched on the US West Coast.

Intelsat IV F-4 (one of the Hughes family of communication satellites) was built and erected in Bristol on behalf of the Comsat Corporation of the USA. It was the first to be launched into synchronous orbit over the Pacific Ocean - sending back live TV pictures of President Nixon's visit to China in February 1972. Intelsat contracts led to dedicated Space buildings at Filton and to the construction of six complete satellites plus subsystems for eight more between 1971 and 1978.

Prime contracts from ESRO resulted in the scientific satellites GEOS and GIOTTO. GIOTTO intercepted Halley's Comet during the night of 14th March 1986, and survived. Four years later it was steered to within 200km of Comet Grigg-Skjellerup. Other major contracts were for two sets of solar array panels for the Hubble space telescope.

The final major contract for Filton Space, before closure, was for Envisat, the Earth resources satellite.

The Filton site has had a long association with road transport, from the earlier family businesses in electric trams, taxis and buses, to the car and bus body building in the early 1920s.

At the end of the Second World War, the Bristol Aeroplane Company took over Fraser Nash, and set up a car department in the factory. The first production car, the Bristol 400, was based on pre-war BMW designs, but with much higher performance, thanks the the manufacturing techniques of the aviation industry. From this followed the streamline 401 and the convertible 402. The company become world famous for the quality of their luxury cars.

Bristol also developed a series of racing cars, the most famous being the Bristol 450, which took first, second and third in the both 1954 and 1955 Le Mans 24-hour races. Tragically 94 spectators were killed when a Mercedes-Benz crashed during the 1955 race, and the Bristol team donated their prize money to the disaster fund. Later that year the racing department was closed down.

Following the consolidation of the aircraft companies in 1959/60, the Bristol Car Division became an independent company in 1960. Shortly after, with the introduction of the 407, Chrysler V8 engines were used instead of Bristol engines.

In 1980 the company switched from numbered types to names, based on earlier Bristol aircraft. First was the Beaufighter, followed by the Britannia, Brigand, Blenheim and finally the two seat V10-powered Fighter sports car. The company went into administration in 2011, but was rescued by Frazer-Nash Group, and is currently developing a new car.


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Contents

The classic three-box two-door saloon was replaced by a considerably more streamlined design with a much larger and more curved rear window. The manufacturer pointed out that the new car had more head, leg and shoulder room than any previous Bristol. [1] The outdated style of door handle was updated.

The original 603 was offered in two versions, largely owing to the energy crisis which increased fuel prices so that affordability of fuel was no longer a certainty for those who could afford such expensive cars. The 603E has a 5,211 cc V8 petrol engine, whereas the 603S had a larger 5.9-litre unit, from Chrysler. The 603 saw improvements over previous models in its fuel consumption, being able to achieve as much as 22 miles per imperial gallon (13 L/100 km 18 mpg‑US) at around 100 km/h (62 mph) compared with the 411's 17 miles per imperial gallon (17 L/100 km 14 mpg‑US) – for comparison, as good as the Jaguar XJS. Both retained the same transmission and suspension as the 411, but the cabin had become more luxurious with the provision of electrically adjustable seats and air conditioning.

As the energy crisis eased, all Bristols received a standard 5.9-litre Chrysler unit that was to be used for all subsequent editions of the car. The headlamp clusters were also set in a new grille. This model is called the 603 S2.

The third series of 603, introduced in 1982 and continuing until 1994, saw Bristol adopt for the first time the names of the famous Bristol Aeroplane Company models for its cars. With this series of 603, there was a smaller radiator grille and more modern rear vision mirrors. The headlamps were the rectangular units from the Volkswagen Scirocco II. [2] The tail-lights, borrowed from the Bedford CF2 van, were also mounted directly vertically, whereas on previous versions of the 603 the reversing lights were separate from the rear turn indicators and brake lights.

The Bristol Britannia was the standard version, whilst the Bristol Brigand had a Rotomaster turbocharger added to the Chrysler V8 engine and a torque converter originally used on the 440 V8 to cope with the extra performance, which saw the Brigand capable of 150 mph (241 km/h). The Brigand could be distinguished from the Britannia by the bulge in the bonnet needed to accommodate the turbocharger, and also had alloy wheels as standard equipment.

There were a number of minor changes to the appearance of both models during their 12-year production run, especially at the front.

With the Blenheim, Bristol further refined the 603, in particular modernising the mechanicals of the car through the introduction of multi-port fuel injection, which improved both performance and fuel consumption. Turbocharging was no longer available, but the Blenheim Series 1 still had the same level of performance as the Brigand.

There was a significant change in frontal and rear-end styling with the introduction of the Blenheim. The headlights were paired and mounted considerably inboard from the extreme front of the car. The bonnet was also modified with the fitting of gas struts to hold it up when open for the first time, and featured a fully rectangular hinge for the first time in Bristol's history.

Since that time the Blenheim has gone through two additional series, the Bristol Blenheim Series 2, made from January 1998 to the end of 1999, featured for the first time a four-speed overdrive automatic transmission, which significantly improved fuel consumption. Bristol also responded to complaints about lacking power and reworked the engine, which now produced approximately 260 hp (194 kW). The front was reworked with larger headlamps and grille opening, accentuated by a single central chrome strip. The track was widened, while other modifications shrunk the rather large turning circle to 11.9 m (39 ft).

The Blenheim 3 which went on sale in 2000 (shown in October 1999) saw the abandonment of the vertically mounted Bedford tail-lights in favor of the split units from the Opel Senator B and a much revised interior layout with completely new gear selector and improved instrumentation. Also, the engine saw significant improvements: higher compression along with reworked camshafts, heads, and a new engine management system gave what Bristol referred to as "significantly increased" power. Period publications estimate it to 360 hp (268 kW). As of early 2002 there was also a sportier model with blacked out trim, called the Blenheim 3S. A new manifold and bigger valves, along with a reworked engine management system which allowed another 500 rpm of engine speed, meant that about 400 hp (298 kW) was now on tap. Bristol themselves declined to offer official power figures, as usual, but simply stated that the engine provided "muscular authority." [3] The suspension was firmed up and aluminium wheels were fitted. Four-pot brakes were included up front and the rear track was widened by 60 mm (2.4 in), which required the rear fenders to be reworked. At the rear end, four exhaust pipes were fitted. [3]

In the spring of 2009, Bristol finished a car referred to as the Blenheim 4S/G at the request of a customer. This revived the 603 body, albeit with the taillights of a 2000-2004 Audi A4 Avant (B6), and with new doorhandles replacing the usual Vauxhall units. It is not immediately apparent, but every single body panel is changed, even the roof, as the roof gutters were replaced with more modern, integrated roof gulleys. [4] Series production seems to have been under consideration but the car remains a one-off.


IPMS/USA Reviews

In the late thirties, the British Royal Air Force was in the process of re-equipping its bomber units with new, high performance monoplanes. The goal was to outperform existing fixed gear fighter biplanes, such as the Hawker Fury and Gloster Gladiator. Bristol contributed a design for a twin engine monoplane called "Britain First". This airplane was privately financed by Lord Rothmore, and was intended primarily as a business executive plane. The RAF tested the type, and was impressed, so after considerable redesign, the type emerged as the Type 142 bomber. Tests were completed by 1936, and full production was ordered under the name Blenheim Mk. I.

Deliveries started in 1937, and as many as 16 units had converted to the type by 1939. The aircraft featured a short nose, and some Mk. I's were completed as fighters, Mk. 1F, with a gun enclosure replacing the bomb bay. Some of these were equipped with early radar units, and were used to intercept German bombers attacking England at night, but they really weren't fast enough to be effective, and were eventually replaced by Beaufighters and Mosquitos. A photo reconnaissance version was also developed, as the Blenheim PR Mk. 1 and Mk. II. In service, however, the type was disappointing, as its performance had been overtaken by such types as the Messerschmitt Bf-109. Many units continued to use the Mk. 1 into 1942, when they were replaced by an improved version, the Mk. IV. The Mk. IV featured an extended nose, with more room for the bombardier/navigator, who sat on a small stool to the right of the pilot.

Blenheims operating over Europe suffered heavy casualties, and had to have fighter escorts to survive. They were more useful escorting convoys over the English Channel, and many were shipped to the Middle East, where Italian opposition was not so effective, and some were also shipped to the Far East.. A Mk. V was also built in small numbers, used primarily for low level ground attack in the Western Desert. It was decided to produce the Blenheim in Canada under the name Bolingbroke Mk. I. This was similar to the Mk. IV. These had American engines and equipment, and were mainly used for training by the RCAF in Canada. The Airfix kit represents the Mk. I, and can be built in both the bomber and fighter versions.

The Kit

The kit comes in a large red box, and contains 6 sprues of light grey plastic, ( 152 parts, one clear sprue,(6 parts), and decals for two aircraft. The parts are well molded, with only a little flash, and provide detailed engines, props, cockpit interior, and land gear detail. Parts are provided for the bomber version, including an open bomb bay and doors, and the radar required for the Mk.IF night fighter version. Even tropical air filters are included. Landing gear can be either retracted or lowered, and flaps are provided in the up and down positions. More on this later. Not all of the parts will be used, but the extras could be useful in upgrading a Frog kit.

Instructions

The instructions consist of 12 letter-sized sheets, including 2 pages of history and assembly instructions in 5 and 12 languages respectively, 8 pages of exploded view assembly drawings, and two pages illustrating the two suggested color schemes and markings provided in the decal sheet. The instructions are clear, and should be followed in sequence or assembly could be quite difficult. Problems with the instructions include no sprue diagram, and a lack of color information unless you have access to a Humbrol color chart. I had to go on line to get this, as the only colors given were exterior colors on the color four view drawings. There are many extra parts, as Airfix apparently plans to issue a Mk. IV version, which has an entirely different nose, and some of these parts are on the Mk. I sprues. The kit has good sidewall and cockpit detail, and the molding is generally good.

References

There is quite a bit of information available on the Blenheim, including some sources with interior views. Profiles No. 93 and 218 provide some good information, and the Squadron In-Action booklet is also very useful. The Camouflage and Markings No. 7 publication also gives a good general account of markings and color schemes for the Blenheim. In addition, a real life aircraft can be examined at the Pima Air Museum, in Tucson, AZ. It, however, is a Canadian Bolingbroke. It is really important to study the published photos of the aircraft carefully, as there are a few issues of accuracy, especially on the PE parts.

Assembly

First, be sure to follow the steps in sequence as described in the instructions. This is especially important if you are using the Eduard PE aftermarket parts, as once some of the components are joined, you'll have a tough time getting the little metal parts into place. The wing goes together first, and includes two main spars and only a top and bottom part, giving the proper dihedral angle. Interior gear parts, E-20 and 21, need to go in before the wing halves are joined. The fuselage halves, along with an interior bulkhead, go together next, and these can then be joined with the wing to get the major airframe started. Be sure to paint all interior sections with British Interior Green before joining the major parts. If you are going to install the gear retracted, the gear units need to be installed before the wing halves are joined.

After the major airframe is assembled, it is time for the detailed parts, including the cockpit and the landing gear. The cockpit has fairly good detail, and the PE parts really add to the realism. The cockpit halves allow considerable detail to be included, and with the clear plastic windows, this can be seen after the model is complete. After the cockpit halves are completed, they need to be joined together and attached to the forward fuselage. Then the top window can be slid into place. Fit is pretty good, but some filler may be needed. The engineering on the cockpit unit, by the way, is exceptional, as you can detail the pieces to your heart's content, and they almost snap together.

At this point, the tail units, elevators and rudder, can be attached, along with the ailerons and flaps . I put the flaps in the "up" position, and I will explain later why I did this.

The engines can then be assembled. These units consist of the engine itself, some exhaust parts behind the engine, two exhaust stacks, three sections of cowling, and a cowling front. In front of the engine is a small three-pronged engine gearbox, in which a very tiny shaft goes. This shaft is used to mount the propeller so it will spin, but it wasn't quite round and didn't fit, so I used a small piece of plastic rod. My models are all in glass cases, so nobody will be spinning the props anyway, at least while I'm still around. The engine assembly is a rather sticky process, and the front sections do not fit too well, and had to be trimmed. Part of the problem is that the whole thing fits inside the rear portion of the cowling, which fits very well on to the front of the engine nacelle. I have a suspicion that the whole shebang would go together easier if it didn't have to be painted first, but since the engine and rear exhaust section are black, the front gearbox silver, and the cowling, on my night fighter at least, was entirely black, it was better to paint everything first, especially since the front cowling and exhaust stacks are a bronze color. I know that the instructions say to paint them gunmetal grey, but my sources all say bronze.

Painting and Finishing

I decided to do the all-black night fighter version, a Mk. IF from No. 54 Operational Training Unit, RAF Church Fenton, flying out of North Yorkshire in December, 1940. After masking off all of the clear glass areas (the Eduard Masking Set saved a LOT of time), I sprayed the entire aircraft matt black. After installing the landing gear, I painted the exhaust stacks and cowling ring dark bronze, attached them to the completed engine, and did a little bit of touch up in some places that I had missed. Believe it or not, black is a color that you need a lot of to completely cover a model. I left the props and the radar units off for the time being.

At this point, I installed all of the Eduard Exterior PE parts that I could, using dots of superglue, and then repainted those areas with matte black. After final retouch, I gave the model a coat of clear lacquer. I used to use Testors' Glosscote, but since this no longer seems to be available, locally at least, I use plain clear gloss lacquer from Model Master, which accomplished the same purpose.

Flap Installation

For some reason, model producers want to include as much detail as possible when producing a kit or accessories. This is generally a good idea, but sometimes it becomes an overkill issue. This is true with the installation of extended flaps on most airplanes, and why the model builder should always familiarize himself or herself with what these airplanes actually looked like when they were in service. When I reviewed the new Airfix Wildcat recently, the Eduard PE parts included two sets of flaps, one for wings extended and one for wings folded. On my next trip to the airport, I looked around on the tiedown area and noticed that EVERY plane had its flaps up. Watching aircraft taking off and landing, you'll notice that the flaps are extended immediately before takeoff, and retracted usually even before the airplane leaves the runway. On the ground, they make good airbrakes, but that's about all. Most checklists bear this out. When I checked the references on the Blenheim, I came across only a couple of photos of the type with the flaps down, one while the airplane was taking off, another on final approach in the air, and several where the plane had crash landed or had wound up on its back. One "flaps-down" Blenheim was photographed years after landing in the desert. In short, unless you are planning to model the airplane in flight, or on the ground with the engines running, it is highly unlikely that the flaps would be down. Flaps are highly vulnerable to damage from rocks or other debris kicked up by the propellers, or by people on the ground walking into them.

So, when modeling an aircraft, check the photos of the plane and see how many you can find with flaps down and then engines off. True, some planes, notably p-51's, had hydraulic flaps, and after sitting for a while, the fluid would lose pressure, and the flaps and doors would come down, but for most aircraft, flaps were generally up on the ground. I've talked to airline and military pilots about this, and they seem to agree. The same goes for warbird pilots. The first thing you do after landing is to retract the flaps. It's on every checklist I've seen on airplanes I've flown. So, my flaps on this model are up.

Decals

The decals do not really need trimming, and go on quite easily, although there were a couple of places where I needed a decal softening solution to go around some curved surfaces, especially along the trailing edges of the wing roots. After they were set and dried, I gave the model another coat of clear lacquer, followed by some Testors' Dullcote, as RAF aircraft from this time period were usually finished in matte colors. The last step was to install the decals, rear machine gun and turret, radar antennas, and the LF antenna wire. I didn't do much "wear and tear" weathering, as these aircraft, being operated by an OUT, would have probably been in fairly good condition.

Recommendations

This kit basically replaces the Frog Blenheim Mk. I, which is, I understand, still available although not in current production. The Frog kit, being at least 40 years old, is outdated, although I recently built one for comparison with this kit, and found that it still builds up into a nice model, although not with the detail of the Airfix kit. Aside from a few problems, such as the engine cowlings, this is an excellent kit, and with a little work, can be the definitive Blenheim Mk. I kit. I am anxious to see what they did to upgrade their Mk. IV kit, as from the materials on the sprue, the Mk. IV has to be coming soon. Highly recommended.


Along with the Bristol 410, a quantity of spares that were in poor condition or not worth the cost of shipping and storing were also sent for scrap, including several dead V8 engines and gearboxes (but no parts for the desirable and valuable 2-litre cars).

Bizarrely, some of the parts that were sent for scrap had actually been scrapped once before, when the factory originally closed in 2010. They were sold as scrap but then found their way to a new Bristol specialist who took on several of the former factory employees.

When that enterprise later closed down, Bristol Cars bought its stock of parts and cars, and found that it had bought back some of its own scrap!


Watch the video: 2001 Bristol Blenheim S3