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.
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|
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|