The Bristol Bulldog Mk.I first flew in May 1927, the production version had some structural changes and was known as the Bulldog Mk.II, it first flew on the 21st of January 1928, entering RAF service during the following eighteen months, gradually replacing their older aircraft and becoming their standard fighter. The Bulldog Mk. IIA was almost the same as the Mk. II but fitted with a new and more powerful Jupiter engine which necessitated some strengthening of the airframe.
Over three hundred Bulldogs were produced and it is of note that Douglas Bader, the celebrated WW2 fighter ace, lost both of his legs when his Bristol Bulldog crashed while performing unauthorised low level acrobatics in December 1931 (aerobatics below 500ft were not allowed in the Bulldog by the RAF due to the aircrafts tendency to lose altitude rapidly in aerobatics compared to other fighters).
The Bristol Bulldog remained in service with the RAF until 1937 when they began to be replaced with the Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire.
During the Spanish Civil War a number of ex- Latvian MkIIA's were purchased by the Republicans to formed part of the so called “Krone Circus” who specialised in strafing the Western front lines. The Swedish Air Force purchased eleven Bristol Bulldog Mk IIA's and eventually donated them to the Finnish Air-Force who used the Bulldogs in MkIV form against the Russians during the Winter War of 1939, other Bristol Bulldogs saw service with the Air-Forces of Australia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Japan, Latvia, Siam.
Bristol Bulldog Mk. IIA Armament:
- Twin 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine guns
- Four 20 lb bombs