Vickers F.B.5 and successor aircraft

The Vickers F.B.5 was a British two-seater biplane designed specifically to fight enemy aircraft and was the first fighter in history.


Development and design:

Already since 1912 Vickers experimented with aircraft prototypes, which were to be specially built and used against enemy aircraft.

One of the first of these aircraft was the Vickers E.F.B.1, which was presented at the Olympia Aero Show in February 1913, but crashed on its first flight and was completely destroyed.

The findings were later incorporated into the development of the Vickers E.F.B.2. The principle of the pusher drive was retained, since at this time no machine guns synchronized with the propeller had been developed and the shooter therefore had to have a free field of fire in front of him. If the propulsion had been in front, there would have been the danger to hit the own engine. The fuselage consisted of a steel tube structure which was covered with fabric. The cockpit on the other hand was covered with duraluminium. The upper wing was also much larger than the lower, the lateral control of the aircraft was done by wing distortions. Like the predecessor model, the armament included a Vickers machine gun, which was operated by the observer sitting in front, while the pilot sat behind him. On 26 November 1913 the first flight of the Vickers E.F.B.2 was carried out, but the result was not satisfactory, so the development of the E.F.B.3 was started.

With the E.F.B.3 a similar engine was used as with the E.F.B.2. The E.F.B.2 had a 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine. In order to keep the aircraft more stable in flight, the wing distortions were removed and replaced by ailerons. Also the cockpit was adapted and the previously used large windows were removed. The Vickers machine gun was also replaced by a Lewis machine gun, which was easier and more handy to operate. Despite the modifications, this prototype was not convincing either, so work on the E.F.B.5 began.

The E.F.B.5, after the successful tests only classified as F.B.5, flew on 17 July 1914 for the first time. In contrast to the prototypes before, the aircraft had a 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine which made it much more stable and easier to fly. Since the British Ministry of Defence was now also convinced and the outbreak of a war was feared in Europe, a total of 119 aircraft were ordered. Later, 99 more aircraft of this type were built in France and 6 more in Denmark.

On the basis of the Vickers F.B.5 a single prototype with the designation F.B.6 was developed. With this airplane only the upper wing was extended clearly to be able to fly the airplane more stably. Except one prototype no other one was built.

Only the later developed F.B.9 was produced again in larger numbers. With this variant the fuselage was built more streamlined, especially around the cockpit. In addition, the mount for the machine gun was replaced by the newly developed Vickers or Scarff rings, which made handling much easier and faster. A total of 119 aircraft of this type were built. Most of them were used for training in Great Britain, a few were used in France to bridge the time until the new, modern aircraft already under construction could be delivered.


Vickers F.B.5


Vickers F.B.5


Vickers F.B.9


Vickers F.B.9


Vickers F.B.9




Use in the First World War:

From November 1914 the delivery of the first Vickers F.B.5 to the 6th squadron of the Royal Flying Corps was started.

The first combat mission took place on 25 December 1914, when a German Rumpler Taube reconnaissance aircraft was spotted and shot down by an F.B.5.

To the west front the airplanes were brought together with the 2nd squadron on 5 February 1915. First these were used in combination with other airplanes, until on 25 July 1915 the 11th squadron was equipped as the first completely with F.B.5 airplanes and counted thus as the first fighter squadron of the world. A total of about 18 squadrons were equipped exclusively with these aircraft.

At the end of 1915 the first German Fokker monoplanes appeared on the western front, which were clearly superior to Allied aircraft. Since the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b aircraft in production at that time were not yet operational, an attempt was made to bridge the time until arrival at the front with Vickers F.B.5 and partly Vickers F.B.9 aircraft. When the more modern fighters arrived, they were gradually withdrawn from the front and used to train pilots in Great Britain.




Technical data:

Designation: Vickers F.B.5
Country: Great Britain
Type: Fighter
Length: 8,28 meters
Span: 11,13 meters
Height: 3,35 meters
Weight: 555 kg empty
Crew: Max. 2
Engine: A Gnome Monosoupape with 100 HP (75 kW)
Maximum speed: 113 km/h
Range: Max. 403 kilometres
Arming: 1 x 7,7 mm Lewis machine gun






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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!






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