Bristol Blenheim

Warpaint Series No. 26
Andrew Thomas
Hall Park Books, © 2000
36 pages
Available from Hall Park Books for £9.50

Reviewed by Chris Banyai-Riepl

The Blenheim is a familiar shape to World War Two enthusiasts as it is the first in a long line of successful Bristol twins. Eventually ending up as the Beaufighter, the Blenheim started out as a twin-engined light transport capable of carrying six passengers. Originally backed by Lord Rothmere, the Type 142 prototype first took to the air in April of 1935 and quickly demonstrated a top speed much faster than the current RAF fighters. This of course interested the RAF a great deal and once Lord Rothmere found out he donated his transport to the RAF, thus starting the Blenheim line.

The blunt nose of the Blenheim Mk.I was a distinct feature of the plane, but the visibility offered wasn't the best for the bombardier. This resulted in an elongated nose with a curved clear section on the top, allowing for excellent pilot visibility while giving the bombardier and improved view as well. This version, the Blenheim Mk.IV, went on to serve on all fronts throughout the entire Second World War. A final version, the Mk.V, came about after noticing the German use of close support aircraft. Fitted with a solid nose, the Blenheim Mk.V (also known as the Bisley) marked the beginnings of RAF close support aircraft.

This latest Warpaint title does a great job of covering the life of the Blenheim. As one of the main medium bombers of the RAF at the beginning of the Second World War, the Blenheim quickly found its way into combat, including several VC missions. Foreign operators of the Blenheim are included in this title, with plenty of great photos both in color and in black & white. The usual flat illustrations are present and do a good job of showing the different camouflages carried by the Blenheim throughout its varied career.

With the release of an injection 1/48 Blenheim this book is a timely release. If you want a one-book source on the Blenheim, this is an excellent choice.

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