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Bristol Blenheim Mk. I

by Pablo Calcaterra


Bristol Blenheim Mk. I


Classic Airframes' 1/48 scale Blenheim Mk. I is available online from Squadron.com




62 Sqn. RAF – Malaya 1941

The Bristol Blenheim was faster than any fighter in service in the Royal Air Force when it was first designed. Such was the impact in the top brass of the RAF that the plane was ordered into production even when the Hurricane and other faster single winged fighters were ordered as well, leaving the Blenheim behind in speed and other flying characteristics.

The short nosed version, the Mk 1, was totally outclassed in the west, but was in strength in some squadrons in the Far East when war broke out in that region in 1941. Soon almost all the planes in the squadrons were destroyed.

On Dec 9, a full strength attack was to be carried out by 12 planes made of the remains of 2 different squadrons, led by Sqn. Leader John “Pongo” Scarf. Seconds after he took off from Alor Star in the Malay Peninsula, while circling the field to wait for the rest of the planes, he saw that they were caught unaware on the ground by a surprise attack by the JAAF. No plane survived this attack, but instead of turning back, Scarf decided to carry on with the mission alone.

On the trip to the Japanese held aerodrome, he was attacked several times by fighters. He bombed the parked planes while his rear gunner machine gunned them. Now, on the trip back, things got hotter and the Japanese pilots carried their attacks with more stamina. With his left arm almost severed from his body (he was left handed) and his back riddled by bullets (his seat was not armoured), helped by his crew, he made a wheels up forced landing in British territory, thus saving his men’s lives and avoiding being taken prisoners by the Japanese (which almost inevitably ended in death).

Shortly after being admitted to the hospital, he died of secondary shock. Coincidentally, his wife was a nurse in that hospital and gave blood for the surgery that never took place.

With all the Far East records lost in the retreat, it was not until 1946 that Scarf’s sacrifice was known and he was awarded the Victoria Cross. By doing so, the RAF also wanted to recognize all the unknown sacrifices made by several of the fighter and bomber crews in those desperate years of retreat.



Building Classic Airframes' Blenheim Mk. I


I started by painting the entire interior (including the wheel bays) with green. The back of the cockpit is made of resin and needed a lot of filling to decrease it’s width in order to let the fuselage halves close.

The cockpit floor instructions are vague and differ from one step to another in the booklet. Therefore, using some photo references I was able to place it almost in between the places shown in the instructions.
Both nose halves were glued together. I used them to align the cockpit walls. With stretched plastic I build the 3 support of the seat for the bomb aimer.

Apart from the position of the floor and the alignment of the walls, the rest of the cockpit just falls in place quite easily. I added a rudimentary gun sight for the pilot using a plastic hair of a brush.

Once the cockpit was ready, I attached the transparent nose. A lot of sanding and putty was required to get a smooth union of the external walls in this zone.

The wheel bays needed a lot of filling as stated in several publications, and I also had to trim the inside of the upper wing halves to get a decent fit. The landing gear was assembled and placed in its’ place to help with the alignment of the bays inside the wing halves.

The turret structure was glued in place before doing the same with its cover. The union of the cover with the fuselage must be merged using sandpaper and putty. The border of the ring that is close to the tail has two little scalloped form which I proceeded to do using a file and sand paper.

Both wings were glued in place. The horizontal surfaces of the tail were trimmed for them to have the correct angle with the fuselage.

The engines proved to be tricky as well, as the following areas had to be corrected:

  • Addition of push rods made of brushed of an old tooth brush, glued in place with cyano and painted silver.

  • Trimming of the borders of the engine to help the nacelles halves close around it

  • The exhaust cylinders are wrong in shape and half of them are missing. Therefore I built them using thick wire.

With everything painted and glued, I added 3 struts that support the collector ring, again using wire. The small “window” in front of the pilot view was also added.



Painting and Markings


With all sanded and checked, and all the transparent pieces covered as required with Tamiya masking tape, I started painting the plane in this order:

  • Interior green for all the cockpit and gun turret,

  • black undersides,

  • dark brown and green upper surfaces.

  • The collector ring and exhaust were painted in copper and then drybrushed with Humbrol 113

  • The tropical air filters were painted light grey.

A generous amount of clear varnish was applied after all the moveable surfaces were marked with a much sharpened black pencil, and the bomb bay doors were highlighted scrapping the paint on the edges using a pin.

Decals were applied and, once dried, given a matt coat of varnish.

Other pieces that were glued at this step were the tail wheel, a semicircular protection for the back of the turret (see picture), the gun with a little modification to its mount, the pitot and antenna and the landing gear doors.


Landing and position lights were painted, as were the two little windows behind the cockpit and the left wing machine gun cover.

As I believe that the turret sits too low if you want to hide a gap between it and the fuselage, I added a small band of photoetched tree to the bottom of the Plexiglas. This allowed me to put the turret in its correct high attitude, while avoiding the mentioned gap.

The final touch was a couple of little pieces of wire that made the retainers for the tropical filter.





With a lot of patience and some scratch building (gunsight, modifications to the turret zone, tropical filters, etc), I finally had a long awaited Blenheim that rendered my tribute to the valiant wings that flew and fought against the wall in 1941/2 in the Far East.






  • Air VCs – Chaz Bowyer

  • Bristol Blenheim – Theo Boiten

  • Valiant Wings – Norman Franks

  • Blenheim Squadrons – Jon Lake – Osprey

  • Bombers of WWII – Edited by David Donald



  • Steve Murray

  • David Yodens

  • Juan Carlos Ostolaza


Additional Images


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Model, Images and Article Copyright © 2002 by Pablo Calcaterra
Page Created 30 March 2002
Last updated 04 June 2007

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