Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bristol Bulldog in Finnish service

The Finnish Air Force signed an agreement on 24 March 1934 for the purchase of seventeen Bristol Bulldog Mk.IVA fighters. The aircraft were to be used as front-line fighters and were delivered to the country in February 1935. After the outbreak of the Winter War, the Swedish State donated two Bulldog Mk.IIAs,, which were received on 15 December 1939 and coded BU-214 and BU-216. The Swedish Air Force called the Bulldog for J7 (J=jaktflygplan which means fighter) and used twelve between 1931 and 1940. Several Bulldogs were lost when the Swedish Air Force conducted dive bombing trials in the 1930s.

The Bristol Bulldog was the first British fighter designed as an interceptor. When designed, it was thought to be fast enough to be able to catch up with the bombers of the late 1920s instead of defending own airspace by simply patrolling. The Bulldog was also equipped with both a transmitter and receiver, although the shortwave radio sets of the 1930s were heavy and of limited use. Many users of the Bulldog removed the radio sets, instead relying on hand signals of yesteryear.

During the Winter War Finnish Air Force claimed 2 victories with Bulldogs, and one Bulldog was lost in combat. The full story of the Bristol Bulldog in Finnish service can be found here:

This Airfix kit is built to represent one of the two Bulldogs donated by Sweden to Finland. The kit is from the 1970s, but it was fairly easy to build. The cockpit was scratch-built, and the front skis came from an I-153 kit, while the tail ski also was scratch-built. The rigging consists of stretched clear sprue and the small 25lb bombs that came with the kit were replaced by resin bombs. The standing pilot - admittedly quite a tall fellow for 1/72 scale - came from the spares box. The CD that the aircraft is mounted on is painted to represent a frozen lake somewhere in Finland with a snow drift to the right of the Bulldog.

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