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Finish Air Force Bristol Blenheim's
In 1936, the Finnish Air Force ordered 18 Blenheim Mk Is from Britain and two years later, they obtained a manufacturing license for the aircraft. Before any aircraft could be manufactured at the Valtion lentokonetehdas (State Airplane Factory) in Finland, the Winter War broke out, forcing the Finns to order more aircraft from the UK. A further 24 British-manufactured Blenheims were ordered during the Winter War. After the Winter War, 55 Blenheims were constructed in Finland, bringing the total number to 97 aircraft (75 Mk Is and 22 Mk IVs).
The Finns also received 20 half-completed ex-Yugoslavian Mk IV Blenheims captured by Germany, together with manufacturing tools and production equipment, as well as a huge variety of spare parts. Yugoslavia had ceased production of the Mk I and commenced a production run of Mk IVs just prior to the April 1941 invasion. The Finnish Blenheims flew 423 missions during the Winter War, and close to 3,000 missions during the Continuation War and Lapland War. Blenheim machine gunners also shot down eight Soviet aircraft. Thirty-seven Blenheims were lost in combat during the wars.
After the war, Finland was prohibited from flying bomber aircraft. However, some of the Finnish Blenheims continued in service as target tugs until 1958.
Blenheim Codes (dates when relieved from factory or arrived in Finland)
- BL I (short-nose):
- Series I (26.7.1937 - 27.7.1938): BL-104 to 121 (Total number: 18 pcs)
- Series II (14.6.1941 - 9.1.1942): BL-146 to 160 (Total number: 15 Pcs)
- Series IV (26.2.1940): BL-134 to 145 (Total number: 12 pcs)
- Series V (19.7. - 26.11.1943): BL-161 to 190 (Total number: 30 pcs)
- BL IV (long-nose):
- Series III (21.1.1940): BL-122 to 133 (Total number: 12 pcs)
- Series VI (26.2. - 15.4.1944): BL-196 to 205 (Total number: 10 pcs)
- Total number: 97 pcs
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Editor for Asisbiz: Matthew Laird Acred
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