Bristol Blenheim Mk IVT – Bolingbroke – Canadian Reconnaissance and Trainer Aircraft


Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016

History

The Bristol Bolingbroke was a twin-engined maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft used during World War II. Developed from the Bristol Blenheim light bomber, the Bolingbroke served primarily with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) Coastal Command. It was built under licence by the Fairchild company in Canada.

The Bolingbroke was adapted from the British Blenheim Mk IV bomber and featured modifications to suit its maritime reconnaissance role. It was equipped with specialized radar and sonar equipment for detecting and tracking enemy submarines, along with additional crew positions for operating these systems. The nose was lengthened to provide more room for the bombardier, with the upper left surface of the nose being scooped out to maintain pilot visibility during takeoff and landing.

Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016
Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016
Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016
Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016

Entering service in 1939, the Bolingbroke played a crucial role in patrolling the Atlantic Ocean and protecting Allied shipping convoys from German U-boats. Its long-range capabilities and advanced detection equipment made it well-suited for anti-submarine warfare operations. One of the most significant contributions of the Bolingbroke was its involvement in the Battle of the Atlantic, the prolonged campaign to protect Allied shipping routes from German U-boat attacks. Bolingbrokes conducted regular patrols over the Atlantic, providing escort and anti-submarine protection to convoys, and engaging enemy submarines when encountered.

In addition to its maritime reconnaissance role, the Bolingbroke was also used for general reconnaissance, convoy escort duties, and maritime search and rescue operations. Its versatility and reliability made it a valuable asset for Coastal Command throughout the war. Despite its effectiveness in maritime operations, the Bolingbroke was gradually phased out of frontline service as newer, more advanced aircraft became available. By the end of World War II, most Bolingbrokes had been replaced by more modern aircraft designs.

Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016
Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016
Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – Photo 2016

Although not as well-known as some other aircraft of the era, the Bristol Bolingbroke played a significant role in protecting Allied shipping and securing victory in the Battle of the Atlantic. Its contributions to maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare operations helped to safeguard vital supply lines and ensure the success of Allied military campaigns during World War II.

Technical specifications

The Bolingbroke had a crew of 3 and with its wingspan of 17,17 meters it flew 2990 kilometers with a cruise speed of 320 km/h (maximum speed 463 km/h). It carried one forward firing .303 Browning machine gun and one or two .303 Browning machine guns in a dorsal turret depending on the version. It had a bomb load of 460 kilograms (1000 lb) – two 500 pounder or four 250 pounder bombs.

This particular aircraft is a Fairchild Bolingbroke and was built in Quebec Canada, a trainer version. The trainer version was a Mark 4 – Mk IVT. In total 457 trainer versions were built during the war. This plane has serial number 9940 but has the wings originally belonging to the Bristol Bolingbroke 9059. After the war it was bought by the musuem at an auction in 1981 and restored afterwards.

Me 163B-1a Komet
Messerschmitt Me 163B-1a Komet, a rocket-powered interceptor aircraft, in front of a Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT – photo 2016


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