Bristol Bulldog MkIIA (K2227)  [@ RAF Hendon]

In September 1926 the Air Ministry issued a requirement for a new single-seat day and night fighter to be powered by a radial air-cooled engine and armed with two Vickers machine guns. Bristol was the successful manufacturer and its prototype flew for the first time on 17 May 1927 as the Bulldog Mk I. After some structural modifications the type re-emerged as the Bulldog Mk II, and 25 production aircraft were ordered to equip Nos 3 and 17 Squadrons. The Bulldog eventually equipped 10 of the 13 RAF home defence squadrons, the main version being the Mk IIA. The Bulldog also served in small numbers with the air forces of Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Siam and Sweden, 456 being built in total.

K2227 was built in 1930 by the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Filton as a company demonstrator and appeared at many air shows until around 1935. It was then used as a test bed for the Aquila I engine, and carried the 'B' class registration R-11. Testing was completed by September 1935 and it was placed in storage at Filton. With Blenheim IV production in full flow, the Bulldog was offered to the Science Museum in order to make space in the factory. In February 1938 it was put on display at South Kensington in London, where it remained for several years, apart from a period during World War II when it was placed in storage in a warehouse at Wapping. In 1955 it was loaned to Pinewood Studios for the film "Reach For The Sky", as it was a Bristol Bulldog in which Douglas Bader lost his legs. This stirred interest in the aircraft, and in 1957 it returned to Filton, to be restored to airworthy condition for the Shuttleworth Collection. The airframe itself was sound, but most of the time was taken in finding and restoring a Jupiter engine for it. Its first post restoration flight was on 23rd June 1961 at Filton, in its original silver colour scheme. Before being handed over to the Shuttleworth Collection in September, it was resprayed in the colours of 56 Squadron RAF, with the serial of another Bulldog, K2227. On 11th June the next year, it was damaged in a landing accident at North Weald, when it nosed over, receiving damage to the tail, wings and prop. It returned to Filton for repairs, and flew again on 7th August 1962. It appeared at several displays over the next two years, until the SBAC Farnborough Air Show of September 1964, when it suffered engine failure and landed heavily, wrecking the airframe. The remains were placed in storage and finally in 1994 the museum placed a contract to restore the aircraft to static condition. The restoration was completed five years later and it was handed over to the RAF Museum in March 1999 in the markings of 56 Squadron.