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Bristol Bulldog Bi-Plane Fighter Aircraft (1929)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 2/2/2015

The Bristol Bulldog eventually made up about seventy percent of Britain's entire air defense force.

In 1926, the British Air Ministry put forth a specification for a radial-piston engine fighter design that could operate in daytime and nighttime with armed with twin Vickers-type machine guns and capable of engaging the top enemy bombers of the day. Bristol responded with the Bulldog I (Mk.I or Mark I) which was used as a developmental model to ultimately become the Bulldog II. The type would become one of Britain's most recognized aircraft creations in the years between both world wars serving with the host nation for some seven years as a frontline fighter. Some 443 examples were produced. The aircraft would serve in the Royal Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Finnish Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force among others.

In configuration, the Bulldog II sported an all-metal fuselage with a fabric skin covering. The wings were arranged in a typical biplane fashion, equal spanning units with single bays and a single pair of parallel support struts. Power was supplied through the Bristol Jupiter VII series radial piston engine of 440 horsepower. Armament consisted of 2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller via an interrupter gear. The undercarriage was fixed with a tail skid and both were designed with grass strip runways in mind. The pilot sat behind and underneath the upper wing assembly in an open air cockpit. The pilot was provided an oxygen supply for operations in high altitudes and even a short-wave two-way radio for communications. In many ways, these two additions were a glimpse into the future of military aviation and were noted collectively as quite the innovation. Optional armament included were 4 x 20lb bombs held under the wings.

The Bulldog II entered service in June of 1929 and effectively replaced the aging Gloster Gamecock and Armstrong Whitworth Siskin fighters then in frontline use. Bulldog II's would never see combat under the British banner but foreign users of the type fared well, particularly Finnish pilots using Bulldogs against their Soviet invaders in World War 2. Other foreign operators included Estonia, Siam (Thailand) and Denmark.

The Bristol Bulldog was inevitably replaced in RAF service by the Gloster Gauntlet. Designed of the Bulldog was headed up by Frank Barnwell, chief designer at Bristol. Other variants existed but were produced in limited numbers, the most notable among them were the two seat Bulldog TM trainer. Nakajima of Japan produced two examples of the Bulldog as the J.S.S.F.

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Specifications for the
Bristol Bulldog
Bi-Plane Fighter Aircraft

Focus Model: Bristol Bulldog II
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Bristol Aeroplane Company - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1929
Production: 443

Crew: 1

Length: 25.00 ft (7.62 m)
Width: 33.92 ft (10.34 m)
Height: 9.84ft (3.00 m)
Weight (Empty): 2,200 lb (998 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 3,490 lb (1,583 kg)

Powerplant: 1 x Bristol Jupiter VII Radial Piston Engine generating 440hp.

Maximum Speed: 174 mph (280 kmh; 151 kts)
Maximum Range: 275 miles (443 km)
Service Ceiling: 27,001 ft (8,230 m; 5.1 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,379 feet-per-minute (420 m/min)

Hardpoints: 4
Armament Suite:
2 x 7.7mm synchronized Vickers machine guns

4 x 20lb bombs

Bulldog I (MK.I) - Developmental Prototype Designation; 2 examples produced.

Bulldog II (Mk.II) - Main Production Model Designation; fitted with Bristol Jupiter VII engine of 440 horsepower; 92 examples produced.

Bulldog IIA (Mk.IIA) - Fitted with Bristol Jupiter VIIF engine of 490 horsepower; 268 examples produced.

Bulldog IIIA - (Mk.IIIA) Two examples produced.

Bulldog IVA - (Mk.IVA) Fitted with Bristol Mercury engine of 640 horsepower; 18 examples produced.

Bulldog TM (Type 124) - Two-Seat Trainer Model; 59 examples produced.

J.S.S.F - Nakajima license-production models; only 2 examples.

Australia; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; Japan; Latvia; Siam (Thailand); Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom.