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The Bristol Blenheim
A Detailed Guide to the RAF's First Modern Monoplane Bomber

by Richard A. Franks

Valiant Wings Publishing
Airframe Album No.5

S u m m a r y

Publisher and Title: Valiant Wings Publishing – Airframe Album No.5
T he Bristol Blenheim – A Detailed Guide to the RAF's First Modern Monoplane Bomber
ISBN: 978-0-9575866-5-9
Media: Soft-cover A4 format; 130 pages; black and white and colour drawings and photographs
Price: £16.95 plus postage available online from Valiant Wings
Review Type: First Read
Advantages: Comprehensive coverage of this important World War II aircraft, including informative text and high-quality illustrations.
Disadvantages:  
Conclusion: Anyone modelling the Bristol Blenheim will find this book extremely useful – highly recommended.


Reviewed by Brad Fallen



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FirstRead

 

I have read and enjoyed a number of Valiant Wings’ Airframe and Miniature publications, but this book on the Bristol Blenheim is the first of the more concise Airframe Albums I’ve had a chance to look at.  While the two series are clearly from the same stable, the Albums focus more closely on a technical examination of the subject aircraft.  However as I discovered the Blenheim Album is more than just an airframe walkaround – it’s a comprehensive snapshot that provides just about all you need to know about this important and somewhat maligned aircraft.

 

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  • Valiant Wings Blenheim Book Review: Image
  • Valiant Wings Blenheim Book Review: Image
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Author Richard A. Franks has broken down this information as follows:

Preface

This title is a bit of a misnomer in that the section is actually a detailed, 12-page summary of the Blenheim’s development, from Frank Barnwell’s initial 1933 sketches to the final Canadian Bolingbrokes.  There is an overview of the Blenheim’s extensive wartime service along with two full pages of airframe, performance and ordnance specifications.


 

Chapter 1: Technical Description

At nearly 60 pages this chapter is the meat of the book.  It’s arranged according to the sub-headings of fuselage, undercarriage, tail, wings, engines, weaponry, electrical and miscellaneous (for example, access panels and emergency equipment).  Each sub-heading is explored through black and white period photos, schematic drawings (also black and white) and full-colour photos of surviving airframes.  This combination delivers a pretty complete picture of what the Blenheim looks like and is, I suspect, the most comprehensive walkaround of the type published to date.  Captioning is thorough and Franks is careful to point out the differences between variants that can trap modellers, for example the evolution of the bomb bay in Finnish Blenheims.


 

Chapter 2:  Prototype, Production and Projected Variants

These differences are fully explored in this chapter, courtesy of 42 full-aircraft line drawings and nine further partial or scrap drawings.  The distinguishing features of each variant are described with arrows used to indicate relevant parts of the airframe.  In addition to main production variants, the drawings also include fascinating one-offs such as the (likely) Mk.IV re-built by the Indonesians with Nakajima Sakae engines and the Mk.I electric car!

Chapter 3:  Camouflage and markings.  Here Franks takes a detailed look at the wide range of paint schemes and markings worn by Blenheims in RAF and foreign service.  19 pages of text are backed up by numerous period photos and full-colour profiles.  Also in colour is a double-page spread showing RAF and Finnish topside camouflage and, particularly usefully, nine different lower camouflage schemes used by the RAF between 1937 and 1941.


 

Chapter 4:  Production

At two pages this is the book’s shortest chapter, but again the information is gold – a breakdown of Blenheim production by manufacturer, version, RAF serial (where appropriate) and quantity.  The data here will be very useful for modellers interested in identifying production information for specific aircraft.

 

 

Four short appendices follow the main text, listing Blenheim kit, accessory and decal releases to date (including the recent Airfix 1/72 kits) as well as a bibliography for further reading.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Anyone modelling the Bristol Blenheim will find this book extremely useful. I know this from my own recent experience because I received the review sample mid-way through my build of Airfix's new-tool 1/72 Blenheim Mk.I kit.  Before the sample arrived I was struggling to find decent reference photos for the build; once I had it I only needed to look further than the book on one or two occasions.  Highly recommended.

Thanks to Valiant Wings Publishing for the sample.


Review Copyright 2016 by Brad Fallen
This Page Created on 11 January, 2016
Last updated 11 January, 2016

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