Bristol 142 Britain First
|PASSENGER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Bristol|
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.