Definitions

General Auckinleck

Bristol Bombay

The Bristol Bombay was a British medium bomber and troop transport aircraft flown by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II.

Development

The Bombay was built to Air Ministry Specification C.26/31 for a monoplane aircraft capable of carrying bombs or 24 troops. Bristol's early experience with monoplanes was dismal — both the 1922 racer prototype and the 1927 Bristol Bagshot fighter suffered from lack of torsional rigidity in the wings. Based on this experience, Bristol over-engineered the Bombay's wing to include no less than seven spars made from high-strength steel. Not surprisingly, the end product was a very heavy aeroplane.

The prototype Type 130 first flew on 23 June 1935 and an order for 80 was placed as the Bombay. As Bristol's Filton factory was busy building the more urgent Bristol Blenheim, the production aircraft were built by Short & Harland of Belfast. However, the complex nature of the Bombay's wing delayed production at Belfast, with the first Bombay not being delivered until 1939, and the last 30 being cancelled.

The Hele-Shaw controllable pitch propellers used on the Bombay were the first product of a Bristol-Rolls-Royce joint venture called Rotol, which would later go on to great success supplying propellers for fighter aircraft.

Operational history

Despite the all-metal, monoplane construction, the Bombay retained some features which were outdated at the time, such as its fixed undercarriage. Although it was outclassed for the European theatre, it saw some service ferrying supplies to the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940. In June 1940 French pilot Jean-Francois Demozay borrowed an abandoned Bombay to ferry himself and 15 troops from France to England, after which he became an ace with the RAF. Its main service was in the Middle East, replacing the Vickers Type 264 Valentia. The Bombay was capable of dropping 250 lb (113 kg) bombs held on external racks, and was also used to drop 20 lb (9 kg) anti-personnel mines, which were armed and thrown out of the cargo door by hand. The aircraft flew bombing sorties in Abyssinia, Italian Somaliland, Iraq, and Benghazi. Obsolete as a bomber by European standards, the Bombays were predominately used as transports, ferrying supplies and evacuating the wounded. One Bombay crew was credited with flying out 6,000 wounded troops. On 2 May 1941 Bombays of No. 216 Squadron RAF evacuated the Greek Royal Family from Crete to Egypt.

Five Bombay bombers were used by the fledgling SAS in their first official operation in the Middle East, a raid on five forward German aerodromes.

Lieutenant-General "Strafer" Gott, the highest ranking British Officer killed in the war, died when the Bombay in which he had hitched a ride was shot down in the Western African Desert. He was about to assume command from General Auckinleck. His death opened the way for General Montgomery to take over.

Variants

  • Type 130 : Prototype.
  • Type 130A Bombay Mk I : Twin-engined medium-bomber and troop transport aircraft. Original designation Type 130 Mark II.
  • Type 137 Proposed civil transport version. Unbuilt
  • Type 144 Unbuilt development with retractable undercarriage proposed for Specification B.4/34 (won by Handley Page Harrow)

Operators

Specifications (Bombay Mk.I)

See also

References

  • Mondey, D. (1982). The Hamyln concise guide to British aircraft of World War II. Hamlyn/Aerospace. ISBN 0-600-34951-9.

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