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Bristol Buckingham

United Kingdom (1943)
Picture of Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft

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


Detailing the development and operational history of the Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 9/4/2017. 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.

Bristol engineers returned with an aircraft given new wing main planes while powered by Bristol Centaurus engines. A dorsal turret was fitted that featured 4 x machine guns while the rear-facing emplacement used 2 x additional machine guns to protect the aircraft's more vulnerable "six". 4 x machine guns were set at the fuselage in fixed, forward-firing positions. The crew would include the pilot and bombardier, the latter of which would be situated in the middle of the aircraft, as well as dedicated gunners. A first flight of a completed Type 163 prototype was finally recorded on February 4th, 1943. This testing period forced other changes to be made due to stability issues encountered. Four prototypes were eventually built, these with Centaurus IV series engines.

Production of the Buckingham B.Mk 1 ramped up in 1943 and spanned into 1945, these completed with Centaurus VI or XI series engines. The initial order called for 400 aircraft but then this was reduced to 300 before becoming a the final request for 119. This swift move to limit numbers was owed largely to the restricted capabilities of the design when compared to contemporaries. The medium bomber role was also being well-handled by American-designed aircraft in British service while other, more capable mounts, were used in the night-bombing and intruder campaigns meant to keep the pressure on the German war machine. The Buckingham was too slow for the heavy fighter role and highly vulnerable for any daytime work while lacking the equipment and performance for low-light / night-time hours work. Additionally, its control problems continued even when it had reached operational service status.

Nevertheless, the commitment to the Buckingham had already been made. The initial 54 examples were completed to the medium bomber standard while the remainder of the overall production total were delivered as high-speed transports for courier service. The latter became the Buckingham C.Mk 1 and were stripped of their armament and armoring for speed while given larger fuel tanks for range and passenger seating for up to four. Production of C.Mk 1 aircraft numbered 64 in all.

Some bomber models were also "reimagined" as trainers under the Type 166 "Buckmaster" designation. The Type 169 was a proposed photographic-reconnaissance platform that fell to naught. The Type 164 "Brigand" was a torpedo bomber off-shoot of the Buckingham line, producing two major marks of its own (a bomber and trainer). These retained the Buckingham's wings and tail section but were given a new fuselage and battlefield role. Production of this type numbered 147 but introduction fell after the war in 1946.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (336mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Bristol Buckingham's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
119
119


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1943
Type: Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Bristol Aeroplane Company - UK
Production: 119
Global Operators:
United Kingdom
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Bristol Buckingham model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
46.92 ft


Meters
14.3 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
71.85 ft


Meters
21.9 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
17.39 ft


Meters
5.3 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
24,030 lb


Kilograms
10,900 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
33,069 lb


Kilograms
15,000 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Bristol Centaurus VII air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,520 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
336 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
540 kph


Knots
292 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
2,299 mi


Kilometers
3,700 km


Nautical Miles
1,998 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
27,887 ft


Meters
8,500 m


Miles
5.28 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,000 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
610 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
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

OPTIONAL:
Up to 4,000 lb of conventional drop ordnance held in an internal bay.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• 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.