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Bristol Type 14 / F2B
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Dayton-Wright XB-1A
Dayton-Wright USB-1



In March 1916 the design was begun of a 120-hp Beardmore-powered tractor replacement for the B.E. pusher scouts. The type was designated R.2A and was intended to be armed with one wing-mounted Lewis machine-gun and another for the observer on a Scarff ring. At the same time a similar design using the 150-hp Hispano-Suiza was produced, but lack of power from the Beardmore caused the designer, Captain Frank Barnwell, to produce a new design using the new 190-hp Rolls-Royce Falcon and with the designation F.2A. This was an unequal-span two-bay biplane with its fuselage, tapered to the rear mounted mid-way between the wings.

Two prototypes were completed by the early autumn of 1916, one with the Rolls-Royce Falcon engine (A3303), the other with the 150‑hp Hispano‑Suiza. Prototype A3303 was first flown at Filton on 9 September 1916, and after successful trials a first batch of 50 Rolls‑Royce‑powered production F.2As was ordered with a syn­chronized Vickers machine‑gun mounted in the top of the engine cowling in addition to the Scarff‑mounted Lewis, entering service with No.48 squadron in February 1917.

Meanwhile the second, Hispano-Suiza-powered, prototype had been modified to improve the pilot's view and given a larger fuel tank, increased ammunition stowage and a modified lower wing affording a small increase in gross area. New horizontal tail surfaces of greater span and increased aspect ratio were introduced. Further production machines were ordered with the 190-hp Rolls-Royce Falcon I and the designation F.2B; after the first 150 the 220-hp Falcon II was substituted for a further 50, and production was intended to continue with the 275-hp Falcon III. F.2B deliveries began on 13 April 1917, and the success of this type led to the decision to re-equip all RFC fighter-reconnaissance squadrons with F.2Bs.

By the autumn of 1917 production of the aircraft was outstripping that of the engine, and the 200-hp Hispano-Suiza was substituted in the aircraft intended for reconnaissance squadrons, but this proved unreliable and was replaced by the 200-hp Sunbeam Arab in a modified nose. Some later F.2Bs were fitted with the 220-hp Siddeley Puma and a number of subcontractors were given contracts to produce the F.2B, 3050 being completed by the end of 1918.




Production continued until September 1919, by which time a total number of 4,747 had been completed, 3,126 of these by the parent company, the last to the RNZAF. Of the final batch, 153 were delivered with the 200hp Sunbeam Arab engine and 18 with the 230hp Siddeley Puma. When the RAF was re-established on a peacetime footing, the F.2B was adopted as standard for the army co-operation role and reinstated in production for this task as the Mk II, others being refurbished to similar standards. Fifty structurally revised aircraft delivered in 1926 were designated as Mk IIIs, all surviving aircraft of this mark being converted in 1928 as dual control Mk IVs for a final total of 3,576. It was finally withdrawn from RAF service in 1932.



Bristol F.2B Mk IV

The greatest number of F.2Bs used the Falcon engines, however, and it was these fighter/reconnaissance machines which won the Bristol Fighter its reputation though only after some severe early setbacks.

The first F.2A unit to arrive in France was 48 Squadron, RFC, in March 1917, and their first patrol ended in disaster. On April 5 six of their fighters were attacked by Manfred von Richthofen's Jasta 11 and four were shot down. Further combat failures followed before it was realized that the fault lay in the tactics, not in the aircraft. Previous fighting scouts had the observer's gun as their primary-if not only-armament, but the F.2As synchronized Vickers was a much more potent combat weapon, and once the pilot's learned to aim the whole aircraft at the target the Fighter never looked back. F.2Bs of 48 Squadron accounted for 148 enemy air-craft by the time of the Armistice. As well as mounting offen-sive scouting patrols, F.2Bs were used as bomber escorts and bomber intercepters and on, ground attack missions, for which they could carry up to 12.9-kg (20-lb) fragmentation bombs. Because of their success their introduction to reconnaissance squadrons was delayed almost until the end of the war.

Bristol Fighters also served with distinction in Italy, while in Palestine they equipped 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps. Ross Smith of 1 AFC scored the majority of his victories with the F2B. Numbers were also used by Home Defence squadrons. 3,101 were produced through the end of WW 1.Bristol Fighters also served with distinction in Italy, while in Palestine they equipped 1 Squadron of the Australian Flying Corps. Ross Smith of 1 AFC scored the majority of his victories with the F2B. Numbers were also used by Home Defence squadrons. 3,101 were produced through the end of WW 1.


Personnel of 1 AFC with one of their Bristol Fighters in 1918


In July 1917 the Bristol Fighter was adopted by the British War Office as the standard model for all fighter-reconnaissance squadrons. This led to a greater demand for the aircraft than the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company could handle, so production was undertaken by several other companies. As production of the aircraft increased Rolls-Royce found they could not keep up with the demand for Falcon engines, so several alternative powerplants were tried before the 200 hp Sunbeam Arab was chosen. Although Bristol Fighters fitted with this engine tended to be somewhat underpowered, such was the demand for the aircraft that several hundred were delivered to the Royal Flying Corps.
It proved so successful that it equipped 14 RFC squadrons and remained in RAF service until 1932. After the First World War the F.2B became the standard RAF army cooperation aircraft, serving with the RAF until 1932 in Germany, the Middle East and India. Small numbers were supplied to Belgium, Greece, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand, Norway and Spain, and SABCA in Belgium built 40, with 300 hp Hispano Suiza engines, under licence in 1925. In 1927 a Mexican purchasing commission placed contracts in the UK for 10 new Hispano-Suiza engined Bristol Fighters.
The Bristol Fighter saw service in New Zealand when a pair of First World War standard aircraft (H1557 and H1558) arrived in August 1919. A further five (6856-6859, and 7120) arrived in 1825 and 1926, and together they formed the backbone of the New Zealand Permanent Air Force and later the Royal New Zealand Air Force. Operating as Army co-operation, advanced trainers and aerial survey aircraft, they were used extensively, and for a time in the 1920s and early 1930s they were the only armed aircraft in the country. By the time the surviving four aircraft were withdrawn in 1936 (two had been destroyed in fatal crashes and one was withdrawn in 1930 because of its ago) they were the last Bristol Fighters in service anywhere in the world.
Production of the Bristol Fighter continued until 1919, by which time approximately 4469 had been built. In a modified form and known as the Mark IIIa, it continued in service in RAF Army Co-operation Squadrons until 1932.


 Bristol Fighter (Type 14) F2B Fighter Mk II serial 22 served Baldonnel from 4 Nov 1925 to July 1935.


The US Army had become interested in the type when the United States entered the First World War in 1917, and a contract for 1,000 planes placed with Fisher Body Corp was cancelled and reassigned to Curtiss, to be powered by the 400hp Liberty 12. The Liberty proved too heavy for the airframe and was responsible for a series of crashes. McCook Field experiments on the pattern plane supplied by RAF (A7207) showed that its Hispano-Suiza was the ideal match, so the contract was cancelled in July 1918 after 26 planes (AS34232/34257) had been built as O-1. Most of those were rebuilt with a monocoque plywood fuselage and refitted with 300hp Wright-Hisso H, others experimentally with 280hp Liberty 8, and all redesignated as B-1.
Curtiss USAO-1
Further production as B-1 was then handed over to Dayton-Wright. Two prototypes of another modified F.2B design were produced as the B 3 and B 4 (later XB 1 and XB 2), and 40 production aircraft with the designation XB-1A, powered by 300 hp Wright engines and armed with twin Browning machine guns, were built by Dayton-Wright as night observation aircraft




Storo Bristol F.2B




Bristol F2A
Engine: 190‑hp Falcon I.
Span: 11.96 m (39 ft 3 in).
Length: 7.85 m (25 ft 9 in).
Gross weight: 1210 kg (2670 lb).
Maximum speed: 177 km/h (110 mph).
F2B Fighter
Engine: Rolls Royce Falcon III, 275 hp
Wingspan: 39 ft 3 in / 11.99 m
Wing area: 37.68 sq.m / 405.58 sq ft
Wing chord: 5 ft. 6 in.
Length: 25 ft 10 in / 7.87 m
Height: 9 ft 9 in / 2.97 m
Empty weight: 875 kg / 1929 lb
Max take off weight: 2593.1 lb / 1176.0 kg
Fuel capacity: 45 gal
Max. speed: 110 kts / 203 km/h / 125 mph at SL
Service ceiling: 10827 ft / 3300 m
Absolute ceiling: 21,500 ft
Range: 252 nm / 467 km
Rate-of-Climb: 869ft/min (265m/min)
Climb to 6500 ft: 6.5 min
Endurance: 3 hours.
Crew: 2
Armament: 1x MG 7,7mm Vickers, 1 or 2 x MG 7,7mm Lewis
Bombload: 12 x 20 lb / 240 lb. (110 kg.)
Engine: Sunbeam Arab, 200 hp
Empty weight: 1733 lb
Loaded weight: 2630 lb
Wing area: 406 sq.ft
Wing loading: 6.4 lb/sq.ft
Armament: 1 x Vickers mg, 1 or 2 Lewis mg
Crew: 2
Engine: Hispano-Suiza, 200 hp
Span: 39 ft 3 in
Length: 24 ft 9 in
Height: 9 t 6 in
Empty weight: 1733 lb
Loaded weight: 2630 lb
Wing area: 406 sq.ft
Wing loading: 6.4 lb/sq.ft
Armament: 1 x Vickers mg, 1 or 2 Lewis mg
Crew: 2
Climb to 6500 ft: 8.7 min




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