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Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV - may 1940

Picture of the Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV which became operational in 1939. It was the standard British work-horse as it came to the tactical component of the RAF. It was however too weak and vulnerable when war broke out, causing it's operators to endure massive offers. Nonetheless the British continued to build and use the type until well into WWII.

The Blenheim MK.IV was a light bomber - although refered to as a medium bomber by the RAF. It was capable of a modest internal pay-load of 450 kg of bombs a scarcely used option to add another 150 kg payload (in 40 lbs bombs) on the wings. It was armed with three or four machineguns for self-defence.

In comparison to for example the much older Dutch Fokker C-X, a simple bi-plane type light bomber, the Blenheim could carry the same payload (with exception of added external pay load) and wasn't much quicker either, whereas the C-X on its part was much more agile when it came to manoeuvring, reason why they often escaped much more capable Bf-109's or Bf-110's.

The Blenheim MK.IV was usually flown by a crew of three, whilst the Mk.I (fighter cruiser) was manned by a two-men crew. The top speed was 418 km/hr, without payload. The cruising speed was below 300 km/hr, which was much too slow for its era.

As we said before the Blenheim was all but a competitive plane in the skies over the European and Asian fronts, yet no less than 5,500 would be built to serve in the RAF or Commonwealth airforces. It is quite surprising how much the RAF continued to rely on this plane, since it was utterly powerless against German - and later Japanese - fighters. Large numbers of the Blenheim Mk.1 [fighter cruiser] and Mk.IV [light bomber] were shot down over Dutch, Belgian and French soil. With them numerous men perished. Those taking off in a Blenheim, particulalry when it had come apparent how weak it actually was, were extremely brave and loyal to those they served. They earnt our deepest respect.

Category Gallery / Armament and equipment (69 images)