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Vickers FB.12


A compact two-bay biplane of pusher type, the F.B.12 was designed for the 150hp Hart static radial engine, in the development of which the Hart Engine Company was being assisted by Vickers. With a single-seat nacelle faired out to a circular cross section and mounted in mid wing-gap, and tailbooms converging in side elevation to meet at the rear spar of the tailplane, the F.B.12 had a basic structure primarily of steel tube. Unavailability of an airworthy Hart engine led to the first F.B.12 being fitted with an 80hp Le Rhone rotary, with which it flew in June 1916. Although underpowered, it demonstrated a creditable performance when tested at the Central Flying School in the following August. The Le Rhone was then replaced by a 100hp Gnome Monosoupape, and, subsequently, new wings of greater span were fitted - overall span being extended by 1.09m - with straight raked rather than elliptical tips. Redesignated F.B.12A, this aircraft was sent to France for operational evaluation in December 1916. A further aircraft was built - by Wells Aviation of Chelsea - with the Hart engine as the F.B.12B. This was flown early in 1917, but promptly crashed, helping to seal the fate of the Hart radial. A contract for 50 aircraft powered by the Hart had, on 10 November 1916, been awarded Vickers, the intention being to fit the series aircraft with a new, wooden nacelle and enlarged vertical tail surfaces as the F.B.12C. Production of the F.B.12C was sub-contracted to Wells Aviation, but with the loss of the F.B.12B, the Hart engine was abandoned. In the event, only 18 F.B.12C airframes were completed and these were fitted with a variety of engines, including the 110hp Le Rhone nine-cylinder rotary and the 100hp Anzani 10-cylinder radial. Testing at Martlesham Heath in May 1917 revealed insufficient elevator control at low speeds, heavy lateral control and other problems. Furthermore, the gun (a 7.7mm Lewis) was considered to be badly positioned for changing ammunition drums. By this time, tractor fighters of superior performance were in RFC service and further development of the F.B.12 was therefore discontinued.


Max take-off weight: 656 kg / 1446 lb
Empty weight: 420 kg / 926 lb
Wingspan: 9.02 m / 29 ft 7 in
Length: 6.65 m / 21 ft 10 in
Height: 2.62 m / 8 ft 7 in
Wing area: 22.02 sq.m / 237.02 sq ft
Max. speed: 140 km/h / 87 mph
Ceiling: 4420 m / 14500 ft

Vickers F.B.12


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