Bristol Blenheim – the Ski Savvy Bomber – Ark Models/Eastern Express 1/72

The Bristol Blenheim came from a civil contest to create the worlds fastest airliner. It was designed for grace and speed. At it’s time it definitely succeeded. With a roaring 30s design and engines that purr, the Blenheim was a defining moment for Bristol. Though the aircraft itself may not be the most loved it did serve as the basis for the Beaufort and later the Beaufighter.

Outside of Britain, it’s first export customer was Finland. Politically Finland was not a threat to Britain, but was crucial in preventing the spread of the USSR. Both Britain and Germany (with captured Yugoslavian models) supplied Finland with examples of the Blenheim – in both MK1 and 4 configurations (the 4 had a longer nose most definingly).

Eastern Express produced a Blenheim reflecting the model in Finnish service. Finland had adapted the model to more accurately suite it’s needs. One of these modifications was experimentation with retractable ski undercarriage. Yes – you read that right. Though this wasn’t widespread this is an interesting adjustment to be sure.

I originally had the Eastern Express boxing, however after losing this moving house I re-acquired the Ark Models version which I believe is just a direct re-print (complete with really mediocre instructions). My boxing didn’t even have the aerial included that you can clearly see was present on the real deal – so it definitely has parts missing from the mould.

Construction was super straight forward. Surprisingly the fit was almost perfect too. I was extremely shocked at this. I had expected the model to be low quality and have a questionable fit perfect to use up my modelling putty. The fact that I didn’t really need to do anything was a revelation.

Painting was also straightforward. A combination of 2 Revell Aquacolors – Olivgrun Olive Green 381 and Grau Grey 57. The grey only covered the bottom surface of the wing and the front of the radials was a brown colour, I believe I used Lederbrown Leather Brown 84. The propellers I went black and yellow – but I’m unsure if these are even accurate but they were on the RAF models and I know the initial Finnish deliveries kept the RAF basic colours/features. Either way it helps it pop off!

The skis were a bit irritating to fit. You have the option of wheels or skiis though which is nice. Though why you’d bother with the wheels when you have this divine alternative (the skis I mean) I’ve no idea. The struts, however, were so awkward. They just have no integrity and take so long and a fair amount of cement to stay effective. But once they’re in? God damn, they look so nice.

Buy or Fly?

This kit cost me around €15. They seem to pop up here and there and I’ve no idea how easily accessible they are in Eastern Europe/Russia/Rest of World. I’d say this is absolutely a buy. Considering Airfix’s older versions tend to cost the same amount and you could buy decals to make this any MK1 version? It’s totally worth it.

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