Bristol 142 Britain First
1935
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Bristol 142 Britain First

In 1934 Lord Rothermere, who was then proprietor of the Daily Mail, required for his personal use a fast and spacious private aeroplane, for this aviation-minded organisation had then appreciated the potential of what is today called the business or corporate aircraft. Lord Rothermere envisaged his requirements as a fast aircraft that would accommodate a crew of two and six passengers, and it just so happened that the Bristol Aeroplane Company had already drawn up the outline of a light transport in this category.

The brain-child of Frank Barnwell, the new aeroplane had been designed originally to be powered by two 373kW Bristol Aquila I engines which were then under development. Lord Rothermere's interest in a high-speed transport resulted in Barnwell's proposal to mount a couple of 485kW Bristol Mercury VIS engines in his embryo airframe and this resulted in the Bristol Type 142. First flown at Filton on 12 April 1935, it sparked off a hubbub of comment and excitement when during its initial trials it was found to be 48km/h faster than the prototype of the most-recently procured British fighter. Named Britain First, it was presented to the nation by Lord Rothermere after the Air Ministry had requested that it might retain it for a period of testing to evaluate its potential as a light bomber. This, then, was the sire of the Bristol Blenheim, which proved an important interim weapon at the beginning of World War II. The Aquila-engined Type 143 was similar, and first flew in January 1936. Only limited testing was undertaken, performance being severely curtailed by the non-availability of variable-pitch propellers.

Bristol 142 Britain First


Specification 
 MODEL142 Britain First
 CREW2
 PASSENGERS4
 ENGINE2 x 650hp Bristol Mercury VIS 2
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight4248 kg9365 lb
    Empty weight3097 kg6828 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan17.17 m56 ft 4 in
    Length12.12 m40 ft 9 in
    Height3.91 m13 ft 10 in
    Wing area43.57 m2468.98 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed494 km/h307 mph
    Range1610 km1000 miles

3-View 
Bristol 142 Britain FirstA three-view drawing (800 x 787)

Comments
George Galea, 03.12.2016

This forgotten, privately funded & 307mph, fighter-bomber flew past recently purchased biplane fighters (at the time) by 100 mph faster and made the British Air force crap themselves! Brilliant! Nice read thanks.

George Galea, 03.12.2016

This forgotten, privately funded & 307mph, fighter-bomber flew past recently purchased biplane fighters (at the time) by 100 mph faster and made the British Air force crap themselves! Brilliant! Nice read thanks.

Richard Brock, 26.06.2014

Hello

I have a B&W photo-postcard from my late father's collection of what I believe to be the 'Britain First', standing on grass, 3/4 front view. The wings are mounted near the bottom of the fuselage which I think distinguishes it from a Bristol Blenheim Mk1. I'd be happy to scan and send it if it is of interest.

Thanks for the informative article.

Best wishes
Richard

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