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Bristol Type 149 Bolingbroke

 The Bristol Fairchild Bolingbroke is a maritime patrol aircraft and trainer used by the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

Produced by Fairchild-Canada, it was a license-built version of the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV bomber.

In 1935, the British Air Ministry issued Specification G.24/35 to procure a coastal reconnaissance/light bomber to replace the Avro Anson.

Bristol proposed the Type 149, based on its Blenheim Mk I, with Bristol Aquila engines to give greater range.

While the Air Ministry rejected this proposal, a Blenheim Mk I, retaining its Mercury VIII engines, was converted as a Type 149 (Blenheim Mk III) for the general reconnaissance role.

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 take-off and landing.

The longer range also fulfilled a Canadian requirement for a maritime patrol aircraft.

Consequently, Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. (Canada) of Quebec started production of the Blenheim Mk IV as the Bolingbroke (the originally intended name for the Blenheim IV).

This type was nicknamed the “Bolly”.

After a small run of aircraft constructed to British specifications, as the Bolingbroke Mk I, Fairchild switched production to the Bolingbroke Mk IV with Canadian and American instruments and equipment.

These versions also included anti-icing boots and a dinghy.

One of the early Mk IV variants was the Bolingbroke Mk IVW which was powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney SB4G Twin Wasp Junior engines.

Incapable of maintaining altitude on one engine, the normal bomb load was reduced to 500 pounds on these aircraft to compensate for the low engine power.

The most-produced variant was the Bolingbroke Mk IVT trainer, of which 457 were completed.

A total of 626 Bolingbroke’s were produced.


Bolingbroke Mk I

Twin-engine maritime patrol bomber aircraft, powered by two Bristol Mercury VIII radial piston engines, with British equipment, 18 built.

Bolingbroke Mk II

Conversion of 5th Mk I with US equipment – prototype of Mk IV.

Bolingbroke Mk III

Floatplane conversion of sixteenth Bolingbroke Mk I, with two Edo floats.

Bolingbroke Mk IV

Twin-engine maritime patrol bomber aircraft, equipped with anti-icing boots and a dinghy, also fitted with American and Canadian instruments and equipment, powered by two Bristol Mercury XV radial piston engines, 134 built.

Bolingbroke Mk IVW

Sub-version of Mk IV powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney SB4G Twin Wasp Junior radial piston engines as contingency against possible shortages of Mercury engines.

The Mk IVW’s performance was below that of the Mk IV and the supply of the British engines was maintained so production returned to the Mk IV after only 15 aircraft were built.

Bolingbroke Mk IVC

Version of Mk IV with 900 hp (671 kW) Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines not requiring high octane fuel. One built.

Bolingbroke Mk IVT

Multi-purpose trainer aircraft.

A total of 350 built powered by Mercury XV engines, followed by a further 107 powered by the low-octane fuel Mercury XX* engine, giving a total of 457 built, with a further 51 cancelled.

Six Mk IVT were converted to dual controls.

A further 89 were converted to Mk IVTT Target Tug with the addition of winching gear in the rear cabin and target drogue storage in the bomb bay.





42 ft 9 in (13.03 m)


56 ft 4 in (17.17 m)


9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)

Wing area

469 sq ft (43.6 m2)



RAF-28 (18%)


RAF-28 (10%)

Empty weight

9,835 lb (4,461 kg)

Gross weight

13,750 lb (6,237 kg)

Max take-off weight

14,500 lb (6,577 kg)


2 × Bristol Mercury XV 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines,

920 hp (690 kW) each at 9,250 ft (2,819 m)


3-bladed variable-pitch propellers


Maximum speed

288 mph (463 km/h, 250 kn)

Cruise speed

200 mph (320 km/h, 170 kn)


1,860 mi (2,990 km, 1,620 nmi)

Service ceiling

27,000 ft (8,200 m)

Rate of climb

1,480 ft/min (7.5 m/s)

Wing loading

29.3 lb/sq ft (143 kg/m2)


0.1338 hp/lb (0.2200 kW/kg)



1× fixed forward firing .303 in Browning machine gun


1 x .303 in Browning machine gun in power operated dorsal turret,

Alternately in the IVT, two Browning machine guns in a Bristol Type B1 Mk IV turret


2× 500 lb (230 kg)


4 × 250 lb (114 kg) bombs.

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