© 2009 454 & 459 RAAF Squadrons

Blackburn B-26 Botha

The Blackburn Botha requirements were for a land-based general reconnaissance/torpedo-bomber. The 4-seat high-wing mono-plane powered by two 880 hp Perseus X engines. 

The first Blackburn Botha flew on December 28, 1938, and deliveries were completed by June 1941, later batches having the 930 hp Perseus XA engine. Armament comprised one forward-firing Vickers 0.303-in machine gun and two similar Lewis guns in a dorsal turret; internal loads could include one Mk XII or Mk XIV torpedo or up to 2,000-lb (908-kg) of bombs, plus provision for under-wing bomb racks. Deliveries began in May 1940 to No 608 (North Riding) Sqn and others served briefly with No 502 Sqn;No 608 operated the Blackburn Botha until November 1940 but it was seriously underpowered and was then assigned to second-line units, such as No 3 School of General Reconnaissance, No 11 Radio School and other training units until declared obsolete in 1944. A few served as target tugs, with winch gear replacing the dorsal turret.


Max speed, 220 mph (354 km/h) at 15,000ft (4,575 m).

Initial rate of climb, 355 ft/min (1.80 m/sec).

Service ceiling, 18,400ft (5,610 m).

Range, 1,270 mis (2,043 km).

Empty weight, 12,036 Ib (5,464 kg).

Gross weight, 18,450 Ib (8,376 kg).

Span, 59ft 0 in (17.98 m).

Length, 51 ft O'h in (15.56 m).

Wing area, 518 sqft (48.12 m2).


From the diary of John Simmonds - [RAF] RAAF 459 Squadron, he writes; "Actually it was a sound aeroplane, built for Coastal Command as a torpedo bomber but found less satisfactory for that purpose than the Beaufort. It was therefore, like the Defiant, relegated to Training Command.  It was a twin engined, high winged monoplane which could accommodate several A.S.V. sets and several pupils.  It was still a good safe aeroplane but the general unease about flying in it brought about the first thoughts in my mind that it wasn't only the Germans that were going to try to kill me and that I might do well to keep a wary eye on my own side".