Coastal Command Bristol Blenheims in World War Two

Blenheims saw considerable service on long-range shipping protection sorties, as Andrew Thomas outlines

A brief way to describe the Blenheim’s RAF career would be ‘all theatres, all roles’. Born as a bomber, it quickly became a fighter and went on to carry out a wide range of training and support duties. Often forgotten amid the type’s incredible achievements, the Blenheim carved out an important niche with Coastal Command.

No 143 Sqn replaced its Beaufighters with Blenheims in 1943.
No 143 Sqn replaced its Beaufighters with Blenheims in 1943. Via J D R Rawlings

Pending the formation of dedicated shipping protection units, the Hudson-equipped 233 Squadron formed a fighter flight with the Blenheim Mk.If in October 1939. Based at Leuchars, Scotland, a trio of Blenheims from the stopgap outfit took off eastwards on the 18th for an offensive patrol. Their objective was a point some 90 miles (144km) east of Leuchars – in machines lacking wireless and floatation gear.

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