The Bristol Buckingham was originally designed as a replacement for the earlier Bristol Blenheim. It was one of many British aircraft projects delayed by a unfortunate choice of engines (in this case the Bristol companies own Centaurus radial engine) but the main problem for the Buckingham was that by the time it was ready for service the de Havilland Mosquito was already doing the same job.
The Buckingham could carry a 4,000lb bomb load at a maximum speed of 330mph and had a maximum range of 3,180 miles. The bomber version was heavily armed for a light bomber, with four .303in machine guns firing forward, four more in a ventral turret and two more in a ventral cupola, firing into the vulnerable position behind and below the aircraft. Changes to the design and problems with the Centaurus engine delayed the first flight of the Buckingham prototype to 4 February 1943, and the first flight of a production aircraft to 12 February 1944. By then the Mosquito B.Mk XVI had been in service for two months, and was capable of carrying the same 4,000lb bomb load at least as far as Berlin, and at 408mph.
Production of the Buckingham continued because of its longer range, seen as potentially valuable in the Far East. Fifty four were completed as bombers out of an original order of 400. Another 65 were completed as a fast transport aircraft, but the Buckingham was really too small for this job, and could only carry four passengers. In the post-war period the RAF had hundreds of aircraft better suited to the transport role, and the Buckingham was soon phased out. More successful were the 110 Buckinghams that were completed as Bristol Buckmaster advanced trainers, and the closely related Bristol Brigand, designed as a torpedo bomber.
Engine: Bristol Centaurus VII or XI
Horsepower: 2,520hp each
Span: 71ft 10in
Length: 46ft 10in
Max Speed: 330mph at 12,000 ft
Cruising Speed: 285mph
Range: 3,180 miles
Ceiling: 25,000 feet
Bomb load: 4,000lb