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Bristol 160 Blenheim V and Bisley

The last Blenheim variant with increased armament.

Bristol Bisley prototype AD657 showing its solid four-gun nose Bristol Bisley prototype AD657 showing its solid four-gun nose
 

The Bristol Type 160 Bisley I (initially designated Type 149CS) was a ground support variant of the Blenheim IV. It was initially designed with a solid nose section with four forward-firing Browning machine guns. Enhanced armour protection was fitted and the up-armoured dorsal turret was modified to fit two Browning guns and to allow firing through a full 360-degree arc.

 

After detailed changes to the design, the type was re-designated the Type 160 Blenheim V and entered production. It was intended for either direct support at low level, or for high level bombing. The first prototype AD657 flew for the first time on 24 February 1941 and was followed by a second aircraft AD661.

 

In the high-level role, the forward firing guns were replaced by a navigator / bomb aimer station and two rearward firing guns were fitted under the nose. Performance at its increased weight was lower than that of the Blenheim IV, but the aircraft had improved defensive armament and armour protection.

 

Bristol 160 Blenheim V showing the revised nose of the production aircraft Bristol 160 Blenheim V showing the revised nose of the production aircraft

 

942 Blenheim V were ordered to be produced by Rootes Securities at Speke. Operationally, the type, despite these improvements, was ineffective in the face of modern fighter opposition and was generally used on missions where a fighter escort could be provided.

 

13 and 18 Squadron RAF sustained very high losses in daylight operations, following the Operation Torch landings in North Africa, against Bf109F and Fw190 opposition.

 

Specification (Blenheim V)

 Powerplant  Two 950 hp Bristol Mercury 25 or 30
 Span  56 ft 1 in
 Maximum Weight  17,000 lb
 Capacity   Three crew (pilot, navigator / bomb aimer, gunner). Bisley: Four fixed forward  firing Browning guns in nose, twin Browning guns in dorsal turret. Blenheim V:  Dorsal turret plus two rearward firing guns in a blister under the nose. 
 Maximum Speed  260 mph
 Range  1,600 miles

Variants and number built

 Type 160 Bisley I  Two aircraft (AD657 & AD661)
 Type 160 Blenheim V  942 by Rootes Securities
 Blenheim VB  Bomber variant
 Blenheim VD  Tropical modifications for Desert operations

Survivors

No Blenheim V aircraft survive

Other information