Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 was the first aircraft used by the United Kingdom in the United Kingdom and although it had been outdated during the First World War until the end of the war.


Development and construction:

In 1911, Royal Balloon Factory under the direction of British engineer Mervyn O'Gorman began developing its own aircraft. Previously, the company had focused solely on the study of aerodynamics and aircraft design. However, following the orders of O'Gorman to provide maintenance and reparations to the Royal Flying Corps, planning for their own aircraft began.

First, the company was renamed on April 26, 1911 Royal Aircraft Factory, then followed the development of the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.1. The then designer and test pilot Geoffrey de Havilland flew with the prototype on December 4, 1911 for the first time.

In early 1912, the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 was developed and flew for the first time in February. The difference compared to the B.E.1 was in the 60 hp air-cooled Renault V-8 engine and the wings with the same span. Another improvement was made in May, when a 70 hp Renault engine was installed. During the military aircraft competition on Salisbury Plain in August 1912, the aircraft was presented not only to the public, but also to the British military. As the designer Mervyn O'Gorman sat on the jury, it was prohibited that the aircraft could participate in the competition. The performance nevertheless convinced the Ministry of Defense, so that the first orders were issued.

Under the classification Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2a began the first series production of the aircraft. The wings were brought into a slight V-shape and again had different lengths. The fuel system has also been improved. In early 1913, the delivery of the first aircraft began, with the 2nd Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was the first equipped with these.

Another revision was done with the B.E.2b. In this version mainly the cockpit has been revised to provide the crew with better protection and comfort. The heights and rudder have also been adjusted.

The development of the B.E.2c version was based on the experience and suggestions of E.T. Busk back, who wanted to increase the stability of the aircraft. On May 30, 1914, the prototype version was flown, from December 1914, delivery to the Royal Flying Corps. Until the beginning of 1915, the previously used B.E.2a and B.E.2b versions were replaced with this type.

In the B.E.2d version, instruments for operating the aircraft were installed both on the pilot's and the observer's space so that it could be flown from both positions. In addition, some motors of the company Hispano were installed. Since the armor was significantly strengthened, the speed decreased significantly. Most aircraft were therefore used in the UK for training.

1916 followed the last modification of B.E.2 aircraft. In the B.E.2e version, the wings were redesigned and adapted. The horizontal stabilizer has also been completely redesigned. The e-version aircraft replaced the c versions deployed at the front during 1916.

By the end of the war, around 3.500 B.E.2 aircraft had been built.



Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2


Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c


Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2


Drawing of a Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c




Use in the First World War:

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 aircraft had been in the service of the Royal Flying Corps since 1912, making it one of the first aircraft to be brought to France with the British Expeditionary Force.

Since there was no experience in a dogfight at the beginning of the war, the aircraft were accordingly not armed but should serve only the Enlightenment. During the first months of the war, the crew began to bring their own weapons or to assemble the aircraft. In addition to handguns and rifles and heavy machine guns were mounted which meant that the speed was reduced. In addition, with the observer in the front, his field of fire was quite limited. For one thing, the struts of the wings hindered the other, he had to fire when shooting backwards over the pilot's head.

Because of the weak engine, it was also common when carrying bombs or on longer flights that the observer could not be taken.

When at the end of 1915 the Fokker monoplane over the western front appeared on the German side, it became apparent that the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 aircraft were already too old. After the losses were accordingly high, the aircraft was gradually withdrawn from the front and replaced by newer models.

By 1917, most of the aircraft had already left and were used mainly in the fight against submarines and zeppelins, some also served in the UK to the training.



Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2




Technical specifications:

Designation: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Reconnaissance plane
Length: 8,31 meters
Span: 11,40 meters
Height: 3,39 meters
Mass: 623 kg empty
Crew: Max. 2
Engine: One air-cooled V8 engine R.A.F.-1a with 90 hp
Maximum speed: 116 km/h
Reach: Max. 3 hours and 15 minutes
Armament: none






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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