The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum of Hamilton, Ontario, is in the process of restoring a Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IVT to flying condition. A variant of the Bristol Blenheim built under license by Fairchild-Canada, the Bolingbroke entered service with the Royal Canadian Air Force’s Coastal Command squadrons on anti submarine patrols, over both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, though most Bolingbrokes ended up being used as trainers for the bombing and gunnery schools of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
As pre-war designs, Bollingbrokes were antiquated by war’s end and were quickly phased out of service in 1945. Most were broken-up for scrap, or bought by farmers who would use the planes as their own on-site hardware store, slowly dismantling the warbirds piece by piece, finding alternative uses for the components of these planes, installing the wheels on farm equipment, making use of the sheet metal in constructing outbuildings, and taking advantage of the near-limitless supply of wire, tubing and other small hardware items that could be picked-off the carcasses as needed.
The most numerous Bolingbroke was the Mk. IV, which mirrored the British Blenheim Mk IV, fitted with the same Bristol Mercury XV engines, though with Canadian/American instruments and equipment, rather than British-spec items. The Mk. IVT was the trainer version of the Mk IV. A total of 626 Bristol Bolingbrokes and 4,422 Blenheims were produced though only a handful remain intact, and as of this writing none are airworthy. Two previous restorations to flying condition of Blenheims in the UK, restored with the assistance of Bolingbroke parts from Canada, had short careers as air show attractions, both ending in crashes, though one is in the midst of the long process of being made airworthy again at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, UK.
The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Bolingbroke is being pieced together from the remains of eight separate planes salvaged from farms in Manitoba in the mid 1980s. When the long restoration process is complete, the aircraft will be painted in the colours and markings of RCAF No. 119 “City of Hamilton.” At this point in time, the main fuselage has come together, including the plane’s unusual and unusually intricate nose glazing and efforts are concentrating on assembling the wings’ spar booms and preparation of the wings for their re-skinning.
The museum already operates an extensive collection of historic airworthy warbirds, including one of only two examples of the Avro Lancaster still flying in the world. The museum also hosts the Annual Hamilton Ontario Air Show, as well as campaigning their planes to air shows around Canada and to air shows in the Northeast and Midwestern United States, offering the public flight experiences in many of their venerable craft. Also under restoration to flying condition at the museum is a General Motors-built Grumman Avenger and a de Havilland Canada-built Grumman S-2 Tracker.