The Mystery Airplane
Fairchild (Bristol) Bolingbroke Mk. IVT
January 1, 2019
The Bolingbroke was a Canadian license production Bristol Blenheim. In an effort to build Canadian aircraft manufacturing capability, the RCAF chose the Bristol Model 149 for production by Fairchild Aircraft of Longueuil, Quebec. The initial contract was awarded in November 1937, and the first aircraft, RCAF 702, made its maiden flight on 14 September 1939, flown by J. H. "Red" Lymburner. Powered by two Bristol Mercury nine-cylinder radials and carrying a 1000 pound bomb load, the Bolingbroke was obsolescent even as it left the factory. In all, Fairchild built 676 Bolingbrokes, one, RCAF 717, was mounted on a pair of Edo floats. Combined production of Blenheims and Bolingbrokes was over 6300, with manufacture by Fairchild (Canada), Bristol, Avro, Rootes, Ikarus (Yugoslavia), and VLT (Finland).
Service with Eastern and Western Air Commands was primarily on anti-U-boat patrol. No. 8 Squadron, however, was assigned duty with American units in Alaska and the Aleutians on patrol and strafing missions against the Japanese. With the arrival of more suitable aircraft, the Bolingbroke was "retired" to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan for pilot, gunnery, navigation, and bombing training, serving until the BCATP was shut down in March 1945. After the war, Bolingbrokes were struck off charge by the fall of 1946, some being sold surplus by the War Assets Administration to farmers for the tires, hydraulic systems, and fuel remaining in the tanks. Derelict airframes now form the basis of restorations.
This June 2002 photo shows a composite Bolingbroke Mk. IVT under restoration at the Canadian Warplane Heritage at Hamilton, Ontario. Registered C-GBLY, the airframe consists of parts primarily from RCAF 10040 and RCAF 10117, both of which served with No. 2 Training Command in Manitoba.