The prototype Bristol Type 105 Bulldog was built as a private venture with an eye on Air Ministry specification F.9/26 and flown (unmarked) by Cyril Unwins on 17th May 1927.
Designed by Frank Barnwell, the Bulldog was a air-cooled Jupiter-powered single-bay biplane, with a lower wing having reduced chord and span compared with the upper. The overall structure was all-metal with a fabric covering with a semi-circular cut out on the upper wing to provide a maximum field of vision. Armament was provided by twin synchronised Vickers guns. The Air Ministry ordered a single Bulldog Mk II J9480 for trials against the F.9/26 requirement.
A production order followed, the main variants procured for the RAF being the Bulldog II (92 built) and the Bulldog IIA with increased all up weight and Jupiter VIIF (268 built). 18 Bulldog IVA were built with long-chord engine cowlings, the majority being exported to Finland.
Unfortnately, the Bulldog gained notoriaty in 1931 when Douglas Bader crashed his aircraft during unauthorised low-level aerobatics at Woodley Aerodrome near Reading. His injuries were substantial and both his legs were amputated. Despite this and unsatisfied with a desk job, Bader taled his way into the RAF and played a major part in the Battle of Britain (as portrayed in the Rank blockbuster 'Reach for the Sky').
The aircraft never saw combat with the RAF, being withdrawn from service in 1937 although it did serve in the Sudan to reinforce the Middle East Command. In 1939, ten Bulldogs of the Finnish Air Force saw service during the Winter War against the Soviet Union, often pitted against more superior opposition.
The type was also exported to several countries, including Latvia, Australia, Siam, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Japan, where two examples were manufactured under licence by Nakajima as the JSSF (Japanese Single Seat Fighter). 59 examples of a two seat trainer variant, known as the Bulldog TM were also procured.
A total of 441 Bulldog were built at Filton.
The type was extensively used as an engine test bed, including the Bristol Aquilla, Perseus and Mercury, Gnome Rhone 9ASB, Napier Rapier, AS Cheetah X and Alvis Leonides among the engines fitted. The Specifications below relate to the main UK production models, the Bulldog II, IIA and TM.
|Specifications||Bulldog II||Bulldog IIA||Bulldog TM|
|Powerplant||One 440 hp Bristol Jupiter VII||One 440 hp Bristol Jupiter VIIF||One 450 hp Bristol Jupiter VIFH|
|Span||33 ft 10 in||34 ft 2 in|
|Maximum Weight||3,490 lb||3,660 lb||4,500 lb|
|Capacity||Pilot and gunner||Pilot and gunner||Pilot and student|
|Armament||Two fixed Vickers guns||Nil|
|Maximum Speed||178 mph||178 mph||168 mph|
Variants and number built
|Bulldog Mk. I||Single-seat fighter prototype, two built|
|Bulldog Mk. II||Initial production version, 92 built|
|Bulldog Mk. IIA||Main production version, 268 built|
|Bulldog Mk. IIIA||2 only with Mercury IV and Townend ring cowling, one converted to Mk.IV|
|Bulldog Mk. IVA||18 built, 17 of these sold to Finland|
|Bulldog TM||Type 124; two seat trainer, 59 built|
|Bulldog JSSF||2 aircraft licence-built by Nakajima in Japan|
|G-ABBB Bulldog IIA||RAF Museum Hendon painted as K2227. Last flying example, crashed at Farnborough in 1964 and restored as a static exhibit|
|BU-59 Bulldog IVA||Hallinportti Aviation Museum, Kuorevesi, Jämsä, Finland|