Bristol Blenheims of 21 Squadron RAF Color Photographs

Press Day at RAF Watton in Norfolk, Summer of 1941. These are Blenheim IVs of 21 Squadron, the photographer is Robert Capa. Another photographer can be seen squatting in the background. V5580 is seen warming up her engines for take off.
V5580 again from a different angle. This aircraft and crew were lost on 21OCT41.
Last minute discussions before boarding YH-D. There is a great difference in the manner of the personnel in these photos compared to the staged poses of many aircraft being “serviced”.
A second photo of the same scene. Note the color shift compared to the previous photo. Photographers often carried more than one camera and used different film in each, which is one of many factors which may account for the difference.
Boarding the aircraft. Note the cowling colors in these photographs.
Another scene of a crew boarding, this time the aircraft is YH-L, serial V6436. She was shot down by flak over Rotterdam on 28AUG41, all crew were lost.
Details of the dorsal turret are visible here. I believe this is V5580, also seen in the first two photographs.
A scene repeated on airfields the world over as ground crew await the return from the mission.
The crash truck standing by with a rescuer in his asbestos suit. Note the pattern of the suspenders on the man on the right. The truck is a Crossley FE1 Crash Tender.
A series of photographs of a Blenheim IV which was hit by flak on 04JUL41 during a raid on an electrical power station near Bethune, France. She suffered damage to her engines and had lost her hydraulics which prevented her undercarriage from being lowered. She made a successful belly landing upon her return. Fire fighting foam has been applied liberally. “Suspenders man” is standing at the center with his back to the camera.
The same scene from a slightly different angle. I believe Capa is taking these pictures while standing on the crash truck seen previously. Uniforms from several services can be seen in the crowd to the right.
Steam is rising from the engine as firefighters work two foam hoses. This is slightly earlier in the sequence before the crowd gathered. The open canopy over the cockpit indicates the crew is already out. The pilot was American-born RCAF Sergeant Lawrence Maguire.
A cropped shot of the previous photo, enhanced to reveal the Blenheim’s serial. When I was researching these photographs I found three different serials associated with this crash, but here it can be seen the correct serial is Z7432. Squadron codes are YH-J.
A view from the port side of the aircraft as foam is being applied. Photographs showing the same scene from various angles are rare, doubly so if they are in color. Inspiration for an ambitious diorama modeler!
Z7432 lost her port propeller, here a Chilean officer is seen inspecting the damage.

8 thoughts on “Bristol Blenheims of 21 Squadron RAF Color Photographs

    1. This was in the Channel Stop period when they were engaged in anti-shipping operations, the scheme is generally thought to be the Temperate Sea Scheme of Extra Dark Sea Grey and Dark Slate Grey over Sky. There are also those who say Dark Green and Dark Sea Grey over Sky. Either is relatively rare for a Blenheim. I haven’t gone down that rabbit hole yet myself.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul! It’s still a rare and great thing if you can find a set of the same subject from different angles. Surviving photos are often scattered in different collections, unattributed, and with missing or erroneous captions.

      Liked by 1 person

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