Aircraft Type Photo
BELOW: A Bristol Blenheim Mk I bomber in flight.
Photo: [pre-1949] Taken by a member of the Canadian armed forces. Now, in the public domain.
BELOW: A Bristol Bolingbroke.
('Bolingbroke' was the name given to the Canadian-built variant of the Blenheim).
Note the longer nose on this variant, compared to the Mk I variant above. This longer nose was a feature of both the Canadian-built Bolingbrokes and the British-built Blenheim Mk IV's.
Photo: [pre-1949] Original source unknown.
Aircraft Type and Background
RCAF Bristol 142M Blenheim IV / V5433, coded EE-F
Ordered and funded initially by Lord Rothermere, the civilian Bristol Type 142 was designed to meet this tycoon's requirements for a private 'executive' aircraft. However, it proved so successful in trials that the Air Ministry requested the use of this aircraft for further evaluation.
Lord Rothermere donated his aircraft (named, 'Britain First') to the nation, whereupon the RAF immediately began extensive trials with this type. Ultimately, Lord Rothermere's Type 142 was to become the Bristol Type 142M (Military) and designated the 'Blenheim.'
The Bristol Type 142 had first flown in 1935. The Type 142M ('M' for 'Military' version) entered service with the RAF in 1937.
By the time war broke out, most of the Mk I Blenheims had been replaced by Mk IV variants (and later the Mk V). The Mks IV and V were essentially the same airframe, but equipped with two Bristol Mercury XV radial engines (or later in the Mk V). The Mk IV also had an extended nose and some other modifications.
The bomber was equipped with one 7.7mm / 0.303in Browning machine gun (port wing), and one 7.7mm / 0.303in Vickers machine gun (dorsal turret). It had an internal bomb capacity of 454kg / 1,000lb.
Unfortunately, the Blenheim was no match for the fast Luftwaffe fighters. Despite heroic attempts by the RAF to help avert shipping losses in the North Sea, many of these Blenheim bombers were lost in combat.
BELOW: A Bristol Blenheim Mk IV cockpit on display at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
Photo: 2005 Mark Murphy. Released by the author to the public domain. (More details at Wikipedia)
Aircraft Accident Details
Bristol Blenheim V5433 of 404 (RCAF) Squadron Coastal Command had taken off from RAF Sumburgh in the Shetland Isles for a reconnaissance operation over Norway. However, on the return journey, the aircraft came under attack, sustaining damage both to the airframe and to the aircraft's radio system. The pilot, however, did manage to transmit a distress signal to Flying Control, and later also to RAF Sumburgh.
Unfortunately, the aircraft was too badly damaged to make it back to the RAF base at Sumburgh. Therefore, the pilot—Flt Sgt Charles Brown—decided to attempt a forced landing at Grunay in the Out Skerries archipelago, north-east of Shetland. This small island was closer to hand.
On landing, however, a fire broke out destroying the aircraft with the exception of the rear fuselage and tail. This part of the airframe remained undamaged by fire. Subsequent examination of this section revealed that a number of bullets had struck the aircraft.
All on board died in the crash.
Aircraft Crew Casualties
Those who died in this accident were:
Pilot: Fl/Sgt. Charles Douglas Grant Brown R/67587 R.C.A.F. Age 24. Killed
Obs: Fl/Sgt. James Henry Oliver R/64236 R.C.A.F. Age 26. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. Thomas William Coy 992775 R.A.F.V.R. Age 21. Killed- See more at: http://aircrewremembered.com/brown-charles.html#sthash.4TP0jy1V.dpuf
See more at Aircrew Remembered.
(Please click on the hyperlinked names above for further details at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.)
BELOW: The Cross of Sacrifice at Lerwick Cemetery.
Photo: © 2006-2013 David Earl
BELOW: Flt Sgt Charles Brown's grave at Lerwick New Cemetery.
Photo: © 2006-2013 David Earl
Crash Date / Site
Accident Date: 21 Feb 1942
Grunay Island, Out Skerries.
Region: Shetland Isles.
Nearest village or hamlet: on Bruray Island (NW).
Nearest larger town:
Lerwick, Shetland (SW).
(By boat from Grunay Island to Bruray Island; then by air from Bruray airstrip, or by ferry from Bruray pier, to Lerwick (limited service)).
OS Grid Ref. N/A
GPS Ref: N/A
Present Condition: Wreckage status unknown.
RAF / RCAF and Related Links
404 Squadron (RCAF) January and February 1942. (Includes report of the accident recorded on this page.)
RAF Bristol Blenheim (History)
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The Bristol Blenheim: A complete history (2nd edition, hardcover)
Author: Graham Warner
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Bristol Blenheim V5433
Grunay Island, Out Skerries, Shetland