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  • Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport

    Developed to a medium bomber requirement, changes to British needs limited the Bristol Buckingham to fewer than 119 examples during World War 2.

     Updated: 4/30/2015; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    In the lead-up to World War 2, British authorities sought to shore up key limitations in their arsenal and this meant consideration of many new products. A medium bombing platform was eventually requested under Specification B.7/40 to replace the aging Bristol Blenheim and, to help speed development and production, an aircraft based on an existing design was preferred. Maximum speed was to reach 300 miles per hour with a bomb load of 1,000 pounds. The aircraft would fulfill the medium bomber, general battlefield support, and dive bombing roles in service. Bristol Aeroplane Company moved in to secure the requirement, eventually producing the Type 61 before this evolved to become the Type 162 "Beaumont" design.

    Bristol engineers retained the aft section (including tail unit) of the Bristol Baufighter, originally a two-seat, heavy twin-engine fighter which saw its first flight in July of 1939. The forward fuselage section, wings, and engines were all revised for the medium bomber role. Defensive armament included a machine gun-armed dorsal turret, rear-facing machine gun emplacement, and fixed, forward-firing machine guns. The British Air Ministry was interested in the design enough to order additional work on the type which would include three flyable prototypes. By this point, Britain was fully committed to the new World War in Europe - requiring any and all war-making goods as quickly as possible.

    Due to the fluid nature of the war and ever-changing requirements heading into 1941, the Type 162 was reworked to become the Type 163 with the name of "Buckingham" to satisfy a revised request in Specification B.2/41. The airframe was no longer required for the dive bombing role, a role which added all manner of stress to the structure, and would instead concentrate primarily on the level bombing role. Additionally, authorities were aware of the quick-changing direction of the war and needed a more modern platform with more impressive performance capabilities. It was now envisioned that the new medium bomber carry up to 4,000 pounds of ordnance (internally) out to ranges of 1,600 miles at speeds reaching 360 miles per hour.

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    Bristol Buckingham Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1943
    Type: Medium Bomber / Fast Transport
    National Origin: United Kingdom
    Manufacturer(s): Bristol Aeroplane Company - UK
    Production Total: 119

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 4
    Length: 46.92 feet (14.3 meters)
    Width: 71.85 feet (21.90 meters)
    Height: 17.39 feet (5.30 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 24,030 lb (10,900 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 33,069 lb (15,000 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Bristol Centaurus VII air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,520 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 336 mph (540 kph; 292 knots)
    Maximum Range: 2,299 miles (3,700 km)
    Service Ceiling: 27,887 feet (8,500 meters; 5.28 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 2,000 feet-per-minute (610 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    4 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in fixed, forward-firing positions at forward fuselage.
    4 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in dorsal turret
    2 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in ventral gondola position

    Up to 4,000 lb of conventional drop ordnance held in an internal bay.

    Global Operators / Customers

    United Kingdom

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Type 163 Buckingham - Prototype model; fitting 2 x Centaurus IV series engines; four examples produced.

    Type 163 Buckingham B1 - Initial Production Model; fitted with Centaurus VI or IX series engines; 54 examples completed.

    Type 163 Buckingham C1 - Later batch production completed as mail/passenger transport; 64 examples completed.

    Type 164 Brigand - Wartime torpedo bomber utilizing the wings and tail unit of the Buckingham.

    Type 166 Buckmaster - Trainer variant of the Buckingham production model.

    Type 169 - Proposed photo-reconnaissance platform; never adopted nor produced.