Bristol F.2

The Bristol F.2 was developed as a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, but was able to assert itself after a difficult introduction after an improvement as a single-seat fighter.


Development and construction:

In the fall of 1915, the Royal Flying Corps demanded a replacement for the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, which dates back to pre-World War I times. Especially the performance should be increased and the defense against attacks from enemy fighter planes.

The Royal Aircraft Factory then submitted the draft R.E.8, the company Armstrong Whitworth Company the F.K.7, later classified as F.K.8. A little later, in March 1916, the company Bristol Airplane Company presented the draft of the chief designer Frank Barnwell. It featured two variants, the Type 9 R.2A with a 120 hp Beardmore engine and the Type 9A R.2B with a 150 hp Hispano-Suiza engine. However, before the Royal Flying Corps could decide on one of the designs, the 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon inline engine was about to be introduced. Frank Barnwell reworked his designs and now put the design for the type 12 F.2A. Due to the strong increase in performance and the aerodynamic adaptation of the fuselage to the weight, the design was more likely than competition for the two-seat fighter aircraft F.E.2d and Sopwith 1½ Strutter instead of a reconnaissance aircraft.

In July 1916, the construction of the prototype followed the performance at the Royal Flying Corps. Already on August 28, 1916, the first order of 50 aircraft was abandoned. A second prototype was tested for the first time on October 25, 1916. In the tests, however, it turned out that the field of view was obstructed by the exhaust pipes of the engine. After some further adjustments were made, the production of the now classified as Bristol F.2A aircraft was discontinued after 52 pieces and converted to the Bristol F.2B.

The first 150 Bristol F.2B aircraft received a Rolls-Royce Falcon I or Rolls-Royce Falcon II engine, after which the Rolls-Royce Falcon III engine was converted.

In total, around 5.329 Bristol F.2A and Bristol F.2B aircraft were built.



Bristol F.2 Prototyp


Bristol F.2B


Bristol F.2B


Bristol F.2B




Use in the First World War:

Just before Christmas 1916, the 48th Squadron was started to equip with the new aircraft. On March 8, 1917, the squadron was transferred from Britain to France to the Western Front to prepare for the upcoming Second Battle of Arras. In order to surprise the Germans, who did not know anything about the new aircraft until then, the training flights were limited to the bare essentials. As a tactic, a formation flight was chosen, which should allow the aircraft to crossfire the enemy planes. When the battle began on April 5, 1917, six Bristol F.2A flew across the battlefield. They met five Albatros D.III aircraft of the German Jagdstaffel 11 under the leadership of Manfred von Richthofen. The tactics of the British proved to be a failure compared to the German fighter planes and so four of the six aircraft were shot down and another seriously damaged.

In other missions showed that the aircraft were not suitable for attacking in the formation of the enemy. However, the pilots recognized that the aircraft were sufficiently robust and agile to be used as fighter aircraft. Through the rigid machine gun at the bow, the pilot could aim himself and the observer could fight enemy aircraft with his machine gun. Subsequent missions as fighter pilots with the appropriate tactics surprised the German pilots and the aircraft finally achieved good results, which also the losses went down sharply.

From May 1917, the Bristol F.2A was replaced by the Bristol F.2B aircraft. In July 1917, the British Department of Defense decided to equip all Hunters' Reconnaissance Squadrons with the Bristol F.2B, which resulted in a large demand for production.

Several months before the end of the war, some of the Bristol F.2B aircraft were used to test the new radio transmission. The 11th Squadron was the first squadron to use this technique. This allowed the Squadron Leader to issue orders to the other aircraft. However, since the radio messages only worked in one direction and the antennas had to be retracted before the fight, this principle could not prevail on other squadrons. Also tested with the Bristol F.2B aircraft was the use of parachutes. For this purpose, the aircraft were modified so that a static line was attached to the underside of the fuselage, which triggered the parachute. This technique was further tested after the war.

In September and October, the British Ministry of Defense increased the order of the aircraft by 1.600 pieces, although not all could be completed by the end of the war. Overall, the Royal Flying Corps had at armistice over 1.583 aircraft. Of these, six were deployed in France, five in the UK and one each in the Middle East and Italy.




Technical specifications:

Designation: Bristol F.2B
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Armed reconnaissance aircraft, fighter aircraft
Length: 7,87 meters
Span: 11,96 meters
Height: 2,97 meters
Mass: 975 kg empty
Crew: Max. 2
Engine: A 12-cylinder in-line engine Rolls-Royce Falcon II with 275 HP
Maximum speed: 198 km/h
Reach: unknown
Armament: One 7,7-mm Lewis machine gun on turntable

One rigid 7,7mm Vickers machine gun

Up to 108 kilograms of bombs






You can find the right literature here:


The First Air War, 1914-1918

The First Air War, 1914-1918 Hardcover – December 1, 1990

In this concise study, Kennett tells the complete story of World War I's air battles, from Eastern to Western front, from the skies of Europe and its seas to those of the Middle East and Africa.

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Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide)

Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide) 2nd Edition

Illustrated with detailed artworks of combat aircraft and their markings, Aircraft of World War I: The Essential Aircraft Identification Guide is a comprehensive study of the aircraft that fought in the Great War of 1914–18. Arranged chronologically by theatre of war and campaign, this book offers a complete organizational breakdown of the units on all the fronts, including the Eastern and Italian Fronts. Each campaign includes a compact history of the role and impact of aircraft on the course of the conflict, as well as orders of battle, lists of commanders and campaign aces such as Manfred von Richtofen, Eddie Rickenbacker, Albert Ball and many more. Every type of aircraft is featured, including the numerous variations and types of well- known models, such as the Fokker Dr.I, the Sopwith Camel and the SPAD SVII, through to lesser-known aircraft, such as the Rumpler C.1, and the Amstrong Whitworth FK8. Each aircraft profile is accompanied by exhaustive specifications, as well as details of individual and unit markings. Packed with more than 200 color profiles of every major type of combat aircraft from the era, Aircraft of World War I 1914–1918 is an essential reference guide for modellers, military historians and aircraft enthusiasts.

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World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF

World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF Hardcover – June 13, 2011

Jack McCleery was born in Belfast in 1898, the son of a mill owning family. He joined the RNAS in 1916 as a Probationary Flight Officer. During the next ten months he completed his training at Crystal Palace, Eastchurch, Cranwell, Frieston, Calshot and Isle of Grain, flying more than a dozen landplanes, seaplanes and flying boats, gaining his wings as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant. In July 1917 he was posted to the newly commissioning aircraft carrier HMS Furious, which would be based at Scapa Flow and Rosyth. He served in this ship until February 1919, flying Short 184 seaplanes and then Sopwith 1½ Strutters off the deck. He also flew a large number of other types during this time from shore stations at Turnhouse, East Fortune and Donibristle.

He served with important and well-known naval airmen including Dunning, Rutland (of Jutland) and Bell Davies VC. He witnessed Dunning’s first successful landing on a carrier flying a Sopwith Pup in 1917 and his tragic death a few days later. He also witnessed the Tondern raid in 1918, the world’s first carrier strike mission. He took part in more than a dozen sweeps into the North Sea by elements of the Grand Fleet and Battle Cruiser Fleet. He carried out reconnaissance missions off the coast of Denmark, landing in the sea to be picked up by waiting destroyers. He witnessed the surrender of the High Seas Fleet. Promoted to Captain, he acted as temporary CO of F Squadron for a time postwar.

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A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness

A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness Paperback – June 25, 2014

A deeply personal and revealing eyewitness narrative of one airman's life as a bomber pilot in England 's RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) in WWI. It is a true story, an adventure, and a war memoir carefully constructed from Captain Donald E. Harkness's unpublished diaries, letters, sketches and photographs - only recently uncovered nearly a century later - that documented his remarkable experiences and military adventures over England, France and Belgium. The first book written by a highly decorated WWI flyer from New Zealand that captures the "behind the scenes" life of RNAS pilots, as well as the surprises, terrors, traumas, humor, and sheer excitement of an aerial form of combat never before experienced by anyone, anywhere - and only eleven short years after the Wright Brothers historic flight at Kitty Hawk. With a talent for writing, Don begins an epic journey at a major turning point in history when the world is poised at the dawn of flight, and bracing itself for unknown dangers of unprecedented sophistication and savagery. Don's journal reveals unique insights and vivid imagery of another time and experience, to wit: - the terror and devastation of a Zeppelin bombing raid in London - the training regimen of early flying schools, and their serious & comic episodes - the wonder, awe, and poetry of flying aloft in the majestic heavens - vivid bombing raids, plus the raid that earned him the DSC - his crash-landing and capture - working with the underground to help downed pilots evade capture - London's unrestrained exuberance on Armistice Day; . . . and much, much more.

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