Bristol Blenheim Mk.IVF- G-BPIV- Spirit of "Britain First" - Z5722 / WM-Z- Duxford Airfield- 28th May 1993
For an aircraft which occupies such a significant position in the history of British aviation, it is perhaps a little surprising that there is currently only one airworthy example of a Bristol Blenheim flying anywhere in the world. Indeed, for many years after the end of WWII, there was no example of the Blenheim to be found flying anywhere in the world, a situation which only changed in May 1987, following the completion of a meticulous 12 year restoration project. This resulted in a Blenheim taking to the skies for the first time in 40 years, to the delight of aviation enthusiasts across the globe. Unfortunately, exactly one month after making its historic first flight, the aircraft was destroyed following an accident at an Airshow in Buckinghamshire.
With the restoration team behind the world’s only airworthy Bristol Blenheim having to suffer the devastation of seeing their magnificent aircraft crashing at an Airshow in June 1987, only four weeks after making its first flight, you might think they would have struggled to find the resolve to start all over again. Thankfully, they were in no mood to accept defeat and almost immediately started a campaign to fund a second restoration, whilst at the same time scouring the world for the parts they would need. Using the wealth of experience they had gained during the initial restoration, this second project would be completed in around half the time and see a beautiful new Blenheim ready to make its first post restoration flight at Duxford in May 1993. Looking very different to the first aircraft, Blenheim G-BPIV was built as an all-black Mk.IVF nightfighter, with the serial Z5722 and wearing the codes WM-Z. This scheme was selected in honour of Wing Commander the Hon Max Aitken DSO, DFC, CZMC, as his personal aircraft during his time as the Commanding Officer of No.68 Squadron at RAF High Ercall during 1941. The aircraft also carried the name Spirit of ‘Britain First’ on its port side fuselage, in direct reference to the name carried by the first Blenheim ever to fly.
The aircraft modelled here is a representation of the second Blenheim restoration to take place in the UK, one which made its first post restoration flight only six years after the demise of the first aircraft. Although this Blenheim would fare much better than its predecessor and spend ten successful years on the UK Airshow circuit, it too would be lost in a landing accident on returning to Duxford following an Airshow appearance. The damaged airframe would form the basis of a third lengthy restoration project, one which resulted in a triumphant return to flight, again from Duxford airfield on 20th November 2014. This magnificent aircraft is still delighting Airshow audiences to this day as the only airworthy Bristol Blenheim in the world.