Bristol 105 Bulldog II assembly 1929
Bristol 105 Bulldog IIs in the erection hall in 1929, including J9572.

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 for Bristol Aeroplane Company by Frank Barnwell, the Bristol 105 Bulldog was an air-cooled Bristol 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.

Bristol 105 Bulldog II K1085 air to air
Air to air photograph of Bristol 105 Bulldog II K1085

A production order followed, with the main variants procured for the RAF being the Bristol 105 Bulldog II (92 built) and the  Bristol 105 Bulldog IIA, with an increased all-up weight and Bristol Jupiter VIIF engine (268 built). Eighteen Bristol 105 Bulldog IVA were built with long-chord engine cowlings, the majority being exported to Finland.

Unfortunately, the Bristol 105 Bulldog gained notoriety in 1931, when Group Captain Douglas Bader crashed his aircraft during unauthorised, low-level aerobatics at Woodley Aerodrome near Reading.  His injuries were so substantial that both his legs were amputated. Despite this, and unsatisfied with a desk job, Bader talked his way into the RAF and then famously played a major part in the Battle of Britain (as portrayed in the Rank blockbuster movie 'Reach for the Sky').

The Bristol 105 Bulldog never saw combat with the RAF however, being withdrawn from service in 1937 before the start of World War II. It did serve nevertheless, in the Sudan where it was used to reinforce the Middle East Command.  

In 1939, ten Bristol 105 Bulldogs of the Finnish Air Force also saw service during the Winter War against the Soviet Union, often pitted against more superior opposition.

Bristol Bulldog IVA BU-59 Finn Oct 34
Finnish Bulldog IVA BU59 in October 1934. This aircraft survives and is on display in Finland.

The Bristol 105 Bulldog was also exported to several countries, including Latvia, Australia, Siam, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Denmark. Additionally in Japan, 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 and a total of 441 Bristol 105 Bulldog aircraft were built at Filton.

Bristol 105 Bulldog IIA Sweden 5211
Swedish Air Force Bulldog IIA 5211

The type was extensively used as an engine test bed, including the Bristol Aquilla, Perseus and Mercury engines as well as the Gnome et Rhône 9ASB, the Napier Rapier, Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah X and Alvis Leonides among the alternative engines fitted.

Bristol Bulldog JSSF 701
The first of two Bulldogs built by Nakajima and known as the JSSF (Japanese Single Seat Fighter).


                Bulldog II Bulldog IIA Bulldog TM
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 Pilot Pilot and student
Armament Two fixed Vickers guns Nil
Maximum Speed 178 mph 178 mph 168 mph


Variants and number built

Bristol 105 Bulldog Mk I Single-seat fighter prototype, two built                                           
Bristol 105 Bulldog Mk II Initial production version, 92 built
Bristol 105 Bulldog Mk IIA Main production version, 268 built
Bristol 105 Bulldog Mk IIIA 2 only with Mercury IV and Townend ring cowling, one converted to Mk.IV
Bristol 105 Bulldog Mk IVA 18 built, 17 of these sold to Finland
Bristol 105 Bulldog TM Type 124; two seat trainer, 59 built
Bristol 105 Bulldog JSSF 2 aircraft licence-built by Nakajima in Japan



Bristol 105 Bulldog IIA      
RAF Museum Hendon painted as K2227. Last flying example, crashed at Farnborough in 1964 and restored as a static exhibit

Bristol 105 Bulldog IVA (BU-59) Hallinportti Aviation Museum, Kuorevesi, Jämsä, Finland



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