It is our great pleasure to announce that the Aircraft Restoration Company’s Bristol Blenheim Mk.I L6739 will be displaying at this year’s airshow on Saturday 6 June.
Manufactured in 1934 by the Bristol Aircraft Company, and initially intended to be operated as a small airliner, the Blenheim’s speed and handling capabilities made it well suited for military operations as a light bomber, and the aircraft underwent extensive modification before joining the RAF. The twin-engine Blenheim was the fastest light bomber of its time, with a top speed excelling that of the single-engine fighters of the era; Blenheims were manufactured in great numbers and for a time, towards the start of the war, the Blenheim was the most numerous aircraft in RAF service, with more than 1,000 on charge.
However, its light armament was eclipsed by the Luftwaffe fighters of the day, and Blenheims were no match for the Messerschmitt Me109 and Me110 fighters, suffering heavy losses during raids against the advancing German Army during the invasion of France and the Low Countries, and casualties continued during the Battle of Britain and beyond, when Blenheims were called on to bomb a multitude of enemy targets, including airfields and ports in northern Europe, as well as carrying out strategic reconnaissance over Germany itself. In RAF service, Blenheims fought across the globe, as far afield as India, Singapore and the Dutch East Indies.
But Blenheims and their crews are often overlooked and little credit is given to those who fought against tremendous odds to stem the tide of both Germany and Japan’s advances. The Aircraft Restoration Company’s (ARCo) Blenheim, which only took to the air for its first post-restoration flight in November of last year, will now serve as a flying memorial to the bomber crews who enjoyed little of the recognition and respect bestowed upon ‘The Few’ and the heavy bomber pilots and airmen of Bomber Command, and Throckmorton will be one of its first public appearances in 2015.
ARCo’s first Blenheim (G-MKIV) was recovered from Canada and underwent a 12 year restoration project by a small team, who brought the aircraft back to flight in May 1987. In a terrible incident for all involved, the Blenheim was badly damaged in a crash just one month after its first flight.
Harnessing all their determination to get a Blenheim back in the air, the same team of volunteers strove over to restore a second Blenheim, G-BPIV, and in June 1993, she took to the skies, before being rolled out in public at her IWM Duxford home. After a decade of successful operations, tragedy struck again when the Blenheim team suffered another crash, this time a landing accident at Duxford in 2003. The team behind the Blenheim’s upkeep did not, however, give in, and a trust was formed to protect the aircraft’s future in the UK. The ARCo was contracted to provide two full-time engineers to the restoration project undertaken by Blenheim Duxford Limited (and supported by The Blenheim Society) and she has been undergoing an extensive rebuild in IWM Duxford’s Hangar 3, and latterly in the ARCo’s facilities, which has seen the Blenheim converted to Mk.I standard with the earlier, shorter nose. On the 20th November 2014, to the delight of all concerned, she flew once again.
With Throckmorton Air Show taking place on the site of what was RAF Pershore, an airfield which played a significant role in World War 2, it is wholly fitting that the Bristol Blenheim joins a display line-up that already includes both the Lancaster and Vulcan, another two iconic bombers from the Royal Air Force’s history. We take great pride in confirming her appearance at the show and are very much looking forward to seeing the aircraft in June.
You can see her too – but don’t forget that entry to Throckmorton Air Show is by advance ticket ONLY – so if you haven’t yet purchased yours, click HERE now.