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The Bristol Blenheim

The Bristol Blenheim Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review December 2014 Title The Bristol Blenheim
Author Richard A. Franks Publisher Valiant Wings Publishing
Published 2014 ISBN 978-0-9575866-5-9
Format 130 pages, softbound MSRP (BP) £16.95


Wow!  Here's the perfect reference for Airfix's new 1:72-scale Blenheim kit.

Or FROG's ancient effort.  Or Airfix's equally early antecedent.  Or Classic Airframes' 1:48 rarities.

The Bristol Blenheim – fifth installment in Valiant Wings' popular "Airframe Album" series – details "The RAF's First Modern Monoplane Bomber" in absolutely astonishing depth.

Author Richard A. Franks traverses the total tale in just 130 pithy pages:

  • technical description
  • prototype, production and projected variants
  • camouflage & markings
  • production list

The lavishly illustrated effort sports hundreds of drawings, color & B&W photos, and technical manual extracts.

Surprises abound.  Did you know that Hungary operated one example?  Or that one glass panel ahead of the pilot was regularly painted over?  Or that fighter versions sported two different ventral gun pack designs?  Or that the very last Blenheim "variant" was a Mk I electric car???

I didn't, either!

Along the way, you also experience – among many fascinating facts – Blenheim design development, the convoluted evolution of the Mk IV's extended nose, and the aircraft's fascinating operational service.

Franks' detailed camouflage chapter superbly summarizes the sweep of Blenheim schemes.  In fact, it's a great stand-alone summary of early WWII RAF colors & markings.  It concludes with a country-by-country survey of international Blenheim livery.  And it precedes nine pages of superb color profiles by Richard J. Caruana.  That yellow Romanian fuselage band, by the way, should measure 500mm – not 500m.

Specifications, extended captions and glossary supplement the study.  Four appendices conclude contents:

  • scale model kits
  • accessories
  • decals
  • selected bibliography

I love the Blenheim.  And this magnificent monograph carries my highest recommendation.  If you buy it directly from Valiant Wings, "£1.00 will be donated to The Blenheim Society to help support the example at Duxford that is being restored to fly again."

I just wish the publisher included US Federal Standard matches for those BS381C colors!

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for this review copy.