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Bristol Bulldog

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Entering service in May 1929 the Bulldog would spend eight years in front line service with the Royal Air Force before being replaced. During its time with the RAF a Bulldog Mk I would make an attempt on the climb-to-height records. Exported abroad the Bristol Bulldog would be used by a number of air forces worldwide and would see action during the Winter War with the Finnish Air Force.

Quick Facts
Bristol Bulldog side profile image
First flight
17th May 1927
Entered service
May 1929
Total built

Front view
Bulldog front view photo
Side view
Bulldog side view photo
Rear view
Sorry, no view photo available

During 1926 the Air Ministry were looking to replace their Gloster Gamecock and Armstrong Whitworth Siskin fighters so issued Specification F.9/26. The requirements for this single-seater fighter were armament was to consist of twin Vickers machine-guns, its power supplied by a radial air-cooled engine and performance comparable to the two-seater Fairey Fox bomber. Out of all the submissions received the Bristol Bulldog came out on top.

The Bulldog was designed by Frank Barnwell and the first Bulldog Mk I made its maiden flight on the 17th May 1927 and in June 1927 arrived at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment for testing. This was followed by a second prototype with the Bulldog Mk I progressing no further than these two aircraft, but not before a modified Bulldog Mk I had made an attempt on the altitude and climb-to-height records with large span wings.

It was the Bulldog Mk II, which had its fuselage lengthened, which would be the main production variant and the first to enter Royal Air Force service, with test pilot Cyril Uwins flying the first production Bulldog Mk II on the 21st January 1928. Powered by the Bristol Jupiter VII engine the aircraft had a top speed of 174 mph, range of 300 miles and a service ceiling of 27,000 ft. Armament was two Vickers machine-guns and four 20lb bombs.

The first Royal Air Force squadron to receive the type was No. 3 Squadron, RAF Upavon during May 1929 with the aircraft replacing their Gamecock Mk Is. No. 17 Squadron would become the second squadron to be equipped with the Bulldog when the aircraft replaced their Siskin IIIAs. In total 312 Bristol Bulldogs would see service with the RAF before they were phased out during July 1937.

The Finish Air Force brought seventeen Bulldog Mk IVs and some of these would see combat during the Winter War (1939 - 1940). Two were built by Nakajima in Japan under licence which were known as the Japanese Single Seat Fighter (JSSF) and the Bulldog was also used by other air forces including the Royal Australian Air Force, who began to receive theirs in February 1930, and the Swedish Air Force.

In total 443 Bristol Bulldogs were built.

Technical Details

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Top Speed Range Service Ceiling Armament
Bulldog Mk I Two prototypes built under this designation.
Bulldog Mk II 174 mph 300 miles 27,000 ft two Vickers machine-guns
four 20lb bombs
Bulldog Mk II side profile image
Bulldog Mk III Only two examples built and second one became a Mk IV prototype.
Bulldog Mk IV Eighteen aircraft built with Finland buying seventeen.
Bulldog Mk TM Training aircraft.
Bulldog JSSF Two examples built in Japan under Licence.


Click on a photo to view a larger version.
Bulldog Mk IIA

See This Aircraft

(C) = Cockpit only exhibit. (F) = Fuselage only exhibit. (R) = Remains of an aircraft.

Bulldog Mk IIA Royal Air Force Museum, London

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