Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 3: The Second World War, Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke

Data current to 18 Nov 2019.

 (RCAF Photo)

Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT (Serial No. 9896).  (RCAF Photo)

The Bristol Fairchild Bolingbroke was a maritime patrol aircraft and trainer flown by the RCAF during the Second World War.  Built by Fairchild-Canada, it was a license-built version of the Bristol Blenheim Mk. IV bomber.  The Bolingbroke had a distinctive shape compared to the Blenheim.  The nose was lengthened to provide more room for the bombardier, with the upper left surface of the nose being scooped out to maintain pilot visibility during takeoff and landing.

The Bolingbroke had a longer range than the Blenheim and also fulfilled a Canadian requirement for a maritime patrol aircraft. Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. (Canada), based in  Quebec, started production of the Blenheim Mk. IV as the Bolingbroke (the originally intended name for the Blenheim IV).  This aircraft was nicknamed the "Bolly".  After a small run of aircraft constructed to British specifications, as the Bolingbroke Mk. I, Fairchild switched production to the Bolingbroke Mk. IV with Canadian and American instruments and equipment.  These versions also included anti-icing boots and a dinghy.  One of the early Mk.. IV variants was the Bolingbroke Mk IVW which was powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney SB4G Twin Wasp Junior engines.  The Bolingbroke was incapable of maintaining altitude on one engine, therefore the normal bomb load was reduced to 500 pounds on these aircraft to compensate for the low engine power.  The most-produced variant was the Bolingbroke Mk. IVT trainer A total of 626 Bolingbrokes were produced.  Most of the Mk. IVs built served in their intended role as patrol bombers on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Canada between 1940 and 1944.  Two squadrons of these aircraft also served in Alaska during the Aleutians campaign The Mk. IVT trainers saw extensive use in the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP).

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. I, powered by two Bristol Mercury VIII radial piston engines, with British equipment (18), (Serial Nos. 702-719), Mk. II, conversion of fifth Mk. I with US equipment.  It served as the prototype of the Mk IV, (1), (Serial No. 705), Mk. III, floatplane conversion of sixteenth Bolingbroke Mk. I, with two Edo floats, (1), (Serial No. 717), Mk. IV, equipped with anti-icing boots and a dinghy, also fitted with American and Canadian instruments and equipment, powered by two Bristol Mercury XV radial piston engines, (185), (Serial Nos. 9001-9004, 9006-9009, 9024-9073, 9075-9201), Mk. IVW, Sub-version of Mk IV powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney SB4G Twin Wasp Junior radial piston engines as contingency against possible shortages of Mercury engines.  The Mk. IVW's performance was below that of the Mk. IV and the supply of the British engines was maintained so production returned to the Mk. IV after only 15 aircraft were built, (15), (Serial Nos. 9005, 9010-9023), Mk. IVC, Version of Mk IV with 900 hp (671 kW) Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines not requiring high octane fuel, (1), (Serial No. 9074), Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, multi-purpose trainer aircraft.  A total of 350 built powered by Mercury XV engines, followed by a further 107 powered by the low-octane fuel Mercury XX* engine, giving a total of 457 built, with a further 51 cancelled.  Six Mk. IVT were converted to dual controls.  A further 89 were converted to Mk. IVTT Target Tug with the addition of winching gear in the rear cabin and target drogue storage in the bomb bay.  Another source records (407), (Serial Nos. 9850-10256), for a total of 626 aircraft.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3602838)

Bristol 142M Blenheim Mk. IV, RAF (Serial No. DJ702). 

(RCAF Photo)

Bristol Type 142M Blenheim Mk. I in RCAF service. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3325145)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. I (1), (Serial No. K7072), taken on strength with the RCAF on  15 Nov 1939.  S/L Wray signing the book after trial with the first Bristol Bolingbroke in the RCAF, RCAF Station Ottawa, 1939. 

 (RCAF Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. III floatplane, RCAF (Serial No. 717). 

(RCAF Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. III floatplane, RCAF (Serial No. 717),  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199782)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. III floatplane, RCAF (Serial No. 717), 8 Oct 1940.  

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo,  MIKAN No. 3726439)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. III floatplane, RCAF (Serial No. 717), Dartmouth, NS, 1941. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199783)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke cockpit, 29 Apr 1942. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643707)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke cockpit

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4302115)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke with an RCAF Sgt pilot at the controls, 28 March 1943. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3521026)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 702), 22 Nov 1939. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3199833)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. I, RCAF (Serial No. 702). 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650410)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9065), 1942. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582238)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVC, RCAF (Serial No. 9074), 5 Aug 1942. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3582239)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVC, RCAF (Serial No. 9074), 5 Aug 1942. 

   (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3523316)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9099), Rockcliffe, Ontario, 16 Sep 1942. 

 (DND Photo via Chris Charland)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9903) from No. 8 Bombing & Gunnery School, Lethbridge, Alberta, landed halfway down the runway on 2 Feb 1943.  It overshot the end of the runway and nosed up in deep snow.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650413)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9182), 1944. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3583131)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke with Mk. III turret, 28 Jan 1944. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 4292626)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke, RCAF rear Gunner with his .303-inch machine-gun. 

(Mike Kaehler Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9892). CA&SM. 

(Mike Kaehler Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9892). CA&SM. 

(RCAF Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9892). CA&SM. 

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650412)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10203), 1944. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3650411)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10203), 1944. 

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke survivors:

 (Mike Kaehler Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9944), Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba, on display next to the Comfort Inn, Trans-Canada Highway.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9059), Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba.

Bristol 149 Bolingbroke Mk. IV (Serial No. 9883), Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba.

 (Bzuk Photo)

Bristol 149 Bolingbroke Mk. IV (Serial No. 10107), Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum, Brandon, Manitoba.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9869), Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV (Serial No. 9887).  MacDonald, Manitoba.

 (RCAF Photo via Mike Kaehler)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9892), coded YO-X, Canada Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.  This Bolingbroke was manufactured by Fairchild Aircraft Limited for the RCAF in June 1942, and was briefly listed with No. 1 Training Command in Toronto before going to No. 2 Training Command in Winnipeg in July.  In June 1944, it was put in storage and in September 1945 it was sold as war surplus to George A. Maude.  Maude moved the Bolingbroke to his property on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.  In 1962, he agreed to donate the aircraft to the RCAF.  A Calgary company disassembled and trucked it to Alberta for restoration in May 1963.  It was finished in the markings of an aircraft of No. 8 Squadron RCAF, which had used Bolingbroke IVs operationally on both coasts from 1941 to 1943.  The aircraft was transported to Rockcliffe airport and officially handed over to the RCAF by Maude in an Air Force Day ceremony on 6 June 1964.  The aircraft was later transferred to the Museum. 

 (National Bomber Command Museum Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9987), Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta.

Bristol (Fairchild) 149 Bolingbroke Mk. 4 (Serial No. 9041), restored, Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta.

Bristol (Fairchild) 149 Bolingbroke Mk. 4 (Serial No. 9978), hulk, stored, Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta.

Bristol (Fairchild) 149 Bolingbroke Mk. 4 (Serial No. 9897), Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9997), being restored at the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum, CFB Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

 (Bzuk Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, composite of two aircraft, RCAF (Serial No. 9093) and RCAF (Serial No. 10163), painted to represent RCAF (Serial No. 9104), C/N 11-880-107, coded BK-L, an aircraft flown by No. 3 Operational Training Unit (OTU) based at Patricia Bay during the Second World War, British Columbia Aviation Museum, Victoria, British Columbia.

 (Author artwork)

 (JustSomePics Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10117), to be painted as RCAF (Serial No. 714), No. 119 Squadron, Reg. No. C-GBLY.   This aircraft is being rebuilt from the remains of eight aircraft salvaged from Manitoba in the mid 1980s.  When the restoration is complete, the aircraft will be painted in the colours and markings of RCAF No. 119 "City of Hamilton" Squadron.  Some of the parts for this aircraft came from (Serial No. 9949), (Serial No. 10040), and (Serial No. 10117).  626 Bristol Bolingbrokes were manufactured in Canada between 1939 and 1943.  This aircraft is being restored to ground running condition at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Mount Hope, Ontario.

 (Bull-Dozer Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. unknown), being restored at the Canadian Aviation Heritage Centre, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Macdonald Campus, McGill University, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Quebec.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVTT, RCAF (Serial No. 10121), painted to represent RCAF (Serial No. 9120).  Québec Aerospace Museum (QAM), Musée de l’aérospatiale du Québec, 4625 rue Leckie, St. Hubert, Québec.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9887), recovered from a farm in 2013 and being restored at 17 Wing, CFB Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9904), being restored at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT (Serial No. 9990), unrestored, at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT (Serial No. 10120), unrestored, at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

Overseas:

 (Alan Wilson Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT (Serial No. 9895), c/n 11-880-207, and parts from (Serial No. 10038).  This Bolingbroke is a composite restoration mostly using parts from (Serial No. 9895) and (Serial No. 10038), which was briefly airworthy in the UK in 1987 as Reg. No. G-MKIV.  9895 has been part of the museum since it was rescued from Canada in 1971, but restoration was only completed in 1996 once the additional components of 10038 became available.  The aircraft is painted to represent Blenheim (Serial No. L9416), coded XD-A of RAF No. 139 Squadron, which crash landed near Hoepertingen, Belgium while on a mission to Maastricht on 12 May 1940.  The squadron lost seven aircraft on this mission. She is now displayed at the Musee Royal de l'Armee et d'Histoire Militaire (Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and of Military History) in Brussels, Belgium.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9048), being restored at Aerospace Bristol, Filton, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.

 (Ad Meskens Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IV, RCAF (Serial No. 9940), with the outer wings of (Serial No. 9059), National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, East Lothian, being restored at Aerospace Bristol, Filton, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom.

 (Hugh Llewelyn Photo)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10001), restored as a Blenheim, painted as (Serial No. L8756), coded XD-E, of 139 Squadron RAF, on display in RAF Museum London, Hendon, United Kingdom.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10038), damaged in a crash on 21 June 1987, this aircraft is in storage at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10201), Reg. No. G-BPIV, airworthy with the Aircraft Restoration Company, at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 9983), c/n 11-880-203, Reg. No. N4260C, in storage at Fantasy of Flight, Polk City, Florida.

 (Gillfoto Photos)

Bristol (Fairchild) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT, RCAF (Serial No. 10076), previously painted as (Serial No. Z9592), currently painted as (Serial No. 9118).  This Canadian-built aircraft had an RAF North Africa paint scheme.  It has been repainted in the colours of BK-V, an aircraft that flew with RCAF No. 115 Squadron, based at Patricia Bay, British Columbia during the war. It is on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona.