||When it first entered service early in 1937, the Bristol Blenheim light bomber was the fastest aircraft in Britain's Royal Air Force. Because of the potential benefit offered by its envisaged top speed, it had been ordered before a prototype had even flown. By the start of the Second World War, however, aircraft design, particularly of fighters had caught up with the Blenheim. Blenheim-equipped squadrons suffered heavily during the fighting for France in June 1940, and that for Malaya in December 1941. In the less intensive operational environment of the Middle East, Blenheims carried out some useful work, but still suffered relatively heavy casualties. Limited numbers of the aircraft were also employed as night-fighters and torpedo-bombers in the airspace over Britain and its approaches. Most Blenheims had been retired by the end of 1943. In all, 6,354 Blenheims were produced, including ten in Finland and 676 in Canada.