The Bristol Blenheim Mk.I & Mk. IV

By Bob Pearson

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Bristol Blenheim Mk.1F L8372
No.29 Sqn RAF
Winter 1938-39

With the declining world situation RAF fighters were ordered into warpaint during September 1938. Henceforth the uppersurfaces would be brown/green, while the undersurfaces would become black and white divided on the centre line (the idea of the black white underside was to help the aircraft in cloudy sky). Additionally the roundels were changed to red/white on fuselage and wing uppersurfaces. YB-L shows all these changes and is thought to date from sometime between November 1938 and May 1939.

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Bristol Blenheim Mk.II BL-155
Finnish Air Force
Spring-Summer 1944

With the Blenheim entering RAF Service, Bristol looked to export the design to other nations. The first of which was Finland. Finland took delivery of twelve Mk.Is during 1938 and then acquired the right to license-build their own. The Finnish-built Blenheims differed from their British-built predecessors by having a bulged bomb-bay to accomodate a wider variety of bombs; a 7.7mm gun in each wing (as opposed to just one in the port wing); strengthened undercarriage; and 3" reduced wingspan due to internal structure changes. Conversations with Robert Karr lead me to believe these Finnish-built aircraft were designated Mk.II. Previously the Mk.II was thought to be a single British-built example that wasn't proceeded with, however Robert mentioned a Bristol document which termed the Finnish examples as Mk.IIs . . . .hence my belief they are the license-built airframes.

BL-155 is a typical Blenheim from the Finnish State Aircraft factory and is seen here in the late spring-early summer of 1944. Finish is in olive green and black-green uppersurfaces and RLM 65 light blue lower (when the Finns bought the Dornier Do17, they also acquired stocks of German paint). The serial is black. . except where it passes over black, there it is green. Yellow theatre markings are also carried.

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Bristol Blenheim Mk.I
Turkish Air Force
1938

Another country that purchased the Blenheim was Turkey. The 30 Turkish Mk.Is were finished in green uppersurfaces and light blue lowersurfaces.

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Blenheim Mk. IV V6028 flown by W/Cdr 'Hughie' Edwards of No. 105 Sqn RAF. Edwards was awarded the Victoria Cross for a 4 July 1941 raid on Bremen. Finished in the standard RAF colours of dark earth/dark green over sky.

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An unknown Blenheim Mk. IV of the Free French Air Force operating in the Western Desert during February 1942. Shown in dark earth/tan over azure lower surfaces.


References:

FIGHTING COLOURS - RAF FIGHTER CAMOUFLAGE 1937-1975: Bowyer, MJF; Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1975
Correspondence with Robert Karr
BLENHEIM IN ACTION: Mackay, Ron; Squadron/Signal Publications Inc., 1988
BRISTOL BLENHEIM Mk.I: Moyes, PJR; Profile Publications Ltd., 1966

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