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Great Britain's Blackburn Botha reconnaissance

Photos

Blackburn Botha I reconnaissance:
Great Britain's Blackburn Botha I reconnaissance
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Blackburn Botha I reconnaissance:
Great Britain's Blackburn Botha I reconnaissance
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook

Design

The Blackburn Botha was designed to meet a 1935 Royal Air Force Coastal Command specification for a general reconnaissance torpedo bomber.1 The Botha's competition was the Bristol Beaufighter.1 Like the Beaufighter the Botha was ordered straight from the drawing board with a prototype being developed.1

First Flight

The Botha first flew on December 20, 1938.1 Many problems were discovered and would plague the Botha throughout their career.1 Even with a more powerful engine the Botha wasn't able to live up to its intended role.1

Prototype

No prototype.1

Production

The first deliveries were in May 1940.1

  • Total: 5801

Many of the Bothas that were constructed were left in storage until they were scrapped.1

Variants

  • Botha Mk I: Used Bristol Perseus engines.1
  • Botha Mk II: Was to use the Bristol Hercules engines, but the Beaufighter had priority for those.1 None were built.1

Usage

Only Squadron

The No 608 Squadron was the only one to be equipped with Bothas.1 By September 1940 they were withdrawn from frontline service.1

Not One Torpedo

It is reported that the Botha never carried a torpedo while in frontline service.1

Changed Duties

Since the Botha wouldn't be used in its intended role, it was decided to use it for navigation and gunnery training.1

In August 1943 the Botha was declared obsolete.1 A few planes were still used until 1944.1

Accident Prone

From May 1940 until July 1943 there were 169 aircraft destroyed in training accidents out of 473 used for training.1

Specifications

  Blackburn Botha
Type Reconnaissance1,2, Torpedo bomber1,2
Crew 41
Engine (Type) 2: Bristol Perseus2
2: Bristol Perseus X1
OR 2: Bristol Perseus XA1
Cylinders Radial2, Radial 91
Cooling Air2
HP Perseus: 930 each2
X: 880 each1
XA: 930 each1
Propeller blades 3 each1
Dimensions  
Span 59'1,2
17.98 m1
Length 51' 0.5"1, 51' 2"2
15.55 m1
Height 14' 7"2, 14' 7.5"1
4.46 m1
Wing area  
Weight  
Empty 12,036 lb1
5,460 kg1
Loaded 18,450 lb1
8,370 kg1
Performance  
Speed @ sea level 209 mph1
336 kph1
Speed @ 15,000' /
4,570 m
253 mph1
407 kph1
Cruising speed 212 mph1
340 kph1
Climb 820'/minute1
250 m/minute1
Climb to 15,000' /
4,570 m
24.1 minutes1
Service ceiling 23,600'1
7,193 m1
Range 1,270 miles1
2,044 km1
Armament 1: 0.303" MG1
Dorsal turret 2: 0.303" MG1
Torpedo or bomb load 2,000 lb1
907 kg1
2: Torpedoes2

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site