Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.3

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.3 was a British biplane that was built before World War I and was used to train pilots.


Development and construction:

In December 1911, Royal Aircraft Factory began developing a biplane with a rotary engine to compare it to the water-cooled and air-cooled V8 engine of the B.E.1 and B.E.2 aircraft.

The responsible chief designer John Kenworthy oriented himself at the wings at the B.E.2, staggered these however more strongly.

In order to accommodate the larger engine, the hull was further adapted and reinforced accordingly.

In early 1912, two prototypes were built, which were classified as B.E.3 and B.E.4, with the aircraft differing only in engine size. However, since the company at that time still had no license to build aircraft, they were officially built by the Paulhan and Bristol companies.

The first flight of the B.E.3 took place on 3 May 1912 by the test pilot Geoffrey de Havilland. Equipped was the prototype with a 50 hp Gnome Omega engine. After several test flights on May 13, 1912, the first passengers were taken and the plane was handed over to the Royal Flying Corps for further tests.

The first flights of the B.E.4 took place on June 24, 1912. This prototype was handed over to the RFC on August 8 and received in September a 70 hp Gnome engine for comparison.

John Kenworthy modified another prototype so far that this could be equipped and tested on February 28, 1913 with a 140 hp double-row Gnome engine. This aircraft was then classified as B.E.7.



Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.3




Use of the aircraft:

The prototypes of the B.E.3 and B.E.4 were handed over to the 3rd Squadron and served there for experimental purposes for communication. Thus, various methods have been tested to communicate by means of radio and light between a ground station and the aircraft.

In December 1912, two more aircraft of the variants were delivered to the Central Flying School, in January 1913, the 4th Squadron also received an aircraft.

After two fatal accidents and one accident, the remaining three aircraft were reinforced and the rudders adjusted.

Until the summer of 1914, these remained in the Central Flying School.




Technical specifications:

Designation: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.3
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Training plane
Length: 8,31 meters
Span: 12,04 meters
Height: unknown
Mass: unknown
Crew: Max. 2
Engine: A Gnome rotary engine with 50 hp
Maximum speed: unknown
Reach: unknown
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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