Aircraft of the Month
The Bristol Bombay stemmed from Air Ministry Specification C26/31 which called for a transport aircraft also capable of being use as a bomber. The prototype Bristol 130 first flew on 23rd June 1935 and an order was placed shortly there after for 50 machines to be known as the Bombay under Specification 47/36. For a variety of reasons, production was delayed and it was not until October 1939 that the aircraft entered service with No 216 Squadron in Egypt.
Powered by 2 x Bristol Pegasus XXII radial engines of 1,010 hp, the Bombay had a fixed undercarriage and was woefully lacking in armament with but a single .303 in Vickers K machine gun in each of the nose and tail turrets. It could accommodate 24 troops or 10 stretchers or, alternatively, carry a load of 8 x 250 lb bombs held on fuselage racks. It was also used for deploying 20 lb anti-personnel mines, armed and tossed out of the cargo door by hand.
No 216 Squadron operated the Bombay as a bomber in the Libyan Campaign of 1940 and thereafter as a transport. Two other Middle East units, Nos 267 and 117 Squadrons used the aircraft in the air transport and casualty evacuation roles at various times between 1940 and 1943. Of note is that on 2nd May 1941, No 216 Squadron evacuated the Greek Royal Family from Crete to Egypt and in July 1943 a single Bombay crew was credited with flying 6,000 wounded troops out of Sicily. No 1 Air Ambulance Unit of the Royal Australian Air Force also operated the aircraft in the Mediterranean Theatre. The only UK-based unit to operate the Bombay was No 271 squadron, reformed to assist in the evacuation of British troops from France between May and June 1940.
The Bristol Bombay was retired in 1944. A total of 50 machines were built and there are no known survivors.