Bristol Blenheim Mk V

The Blenheim Mk V was first proposed in early 1940 as a heavily armoured ground attack aircraft. As originally designed, it replaced the normal Mk IV nose with a solid “ducks bill” nose, containing four .303in machine guns. It would use engines optimised for low altitudes, and carry 600lbs of armour.

The need for a ground attack aircraft quickly disappeared in 1940 after the collapse of France. Work continued on the Mk V, under the name Bristol Bisley, but now with a navigator/ bomb aimers position located in the new nose. This was not an ideal compromise – the new nose was so cramped that the navigator had to be given a footwell, just in front of the rear-firing Frazer-Nash turret, hidden inside the turret fairing.

The Mk V also carried a new Bristol BX dorsal turret, again with two .303in machine guns. The combined changes increased the all in weight of the Mk V to 17,000 lbs, but the type used the engines of the same power as the Mk IV, and so performance was reduced.

The Mk V saw service in North Africa during Operation Torch. As would be expected, the new aircraft was increasingly vulnerable to German fighters and suffered heavy losses. It also saw service in the Far East, attacking Japanese positions in Burma.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 June 2007), Bristol Blenheim Mk V, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bristol_blenheim_V.html

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