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Bristol Buckingham


Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft


United Kingdom | 1943



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



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 09/04/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft.
2 x Bristol Centaurus VII air-cooled radial piston engines developing 2,520 horsepower each.
Propulsion
336 mph
540 kph | 292 kts
Max Speed
27,887 ft
8,500 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
2,299 miles
3,700 km | 1,998 nm
Operational Range
2,000 ft/min
610 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft.
4
(MANNED)
Crew
46.9 ft
14.30 m
O/A Length
71.9 ft
(21.90 m)
O/A Width
17.4 ft
(5.30 m)
O/A Height
24,030 lb
(10,900 kg)
Empty Weight
33,069 lb
(15,000 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft .
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
Notable series variants as part of the Bristol Buckingham family line.
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.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Bristol Buckingham. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 119 Units

Contractor(s): Bristol Aeroplane Company - UK
National flag of the United Kingdom

[ United Kingdom ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (336mph).

Graph Average of 300 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
119
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
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WWII
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Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Bristol Buckingham
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
TRANSPORT
TRAINING
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Bristol Buckingham Medium Bomber / Fast Transport Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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