Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2

F.E.2bRoyal Aircraft Factory FE.2F.E.2dFE.2bF.E.2Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2bF.E.2bsFE2bF.E. 2bFE 2
Between 1911 and 1914, the Royal Aircraft Factory used the F.E.2 (Farman Experimental 2) designation for three quite different aircraft that shared only a common "Farman" pusher biplane layout.wikipedia
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Airco DH.2

Airco D.H.2D.H.2DH.2
Along with the single-seat D.H.2 pusher biplane and the Nieuport 11, the F.E.2 was instrumental in ending the Fokker Scourge that had seen the German Air Service establish a measure of air superiority on the Western Front from the late summer of 1915 to the following spring.
Until the British developed a synchronisation gear to match the German system, pushers such as the DH.2 and the F.E.2b carried the burden of fighting and escort duties.

Royal Flying Corps

RFCRoyal Flying Corpairman
The third "F.E.2" type was operated as a day and night bomber and fighter by the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War.
Consisting of No 55 Squadron (Airco DH.4), No 100 (Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b) and No 16 (Naval) Squadron (Handley Page 0/100) the wing was based at Ochey commanded by Lt Colonel Cyril Newall.

Pusher configuration

pusherpusher propellerpusher engine
Between 1911 and 1914, the Royal Aircraft Factory used the F.E.2 (Farman Experimental 2) designation for three quite different aircraft that shared only a common "Farman" pusher biplane layout.
Such aircraft included (apart from the products of the Farman company itself) the Voisin bombers (3,200 built), the Vickers F.B.5 "Gunbus", and the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2, however even these would find themselves being shunted into training roles before disappearing entirely.

No. 100 Squadron RAF

No. 100 Squadron100 Squadron100
Two were built in 1916, with the designation being re-used in 1918 for a similar night bomber version of the F.E.2b, which was used by 100 Squadron.
The unit was mobilised and crossed from Portsmouth on 21 March 1917 to France and was first based at St Andre-aux-Bois, where it received twelve Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2Bs aircraft on complement.

Weir Group

G & J WeirSeaboard InternationalWeir
A total of 1,939 F.E.2bs were built, only a few of them at the Royal Aircraft Factory, as most construction was by private British manufacturers such as G & J Weir, Boulton & Paul Ltd and Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies.
As well as shells, they manufactured aircraft including the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 fighter and bomber.

Bristol F.2 Fighter

Bristol FighterBristol F.2bBristol F.2b Fighter
While the F.E.2d was replaced by the Bristol Fighter, the older F.E.2b proved an unexpected success as a light tactical night bomber, and remained a standard type in this role for the rest of the war.
The anticipated improvement in performance changed the emphasis in its intended operational use; it was now seen as a replacement for the F.E.2d and Sopwith 1½ Strutter two-seat fighters rather than a competitor with the pedestrian reconnaissance designs that were to replace the B.E.2.

Royal Aircraft Establishment

Royal Aircraft FactoryRAE FarnboroughRAE
Between 1911 and 1914, the Royal Aircraft Factory used the F.E.2 (Farman Experimental 2) designation for three quite different aircraft that shared only a common "Farman" pusher biplane layout.
For instance the "F.E.2" designation refers to three quite distinct types, with only the same broad layout in common, the F.E.2 (1911), the F.E.2 (1913), and finally the famous wartime two-seat fighter and general purpose design, the F.E.2 (1914).

Boulton & Paul Ltd

Boulton & PaulBoulton and PaulBoulton-Paul
A total of 1,939 F.E.2bs were built, only a few of them at the Royal Aircraft Factory, as most construction was by private British manufacturers such as G & J Weir, Boulton & Paul Ltd and Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies.
In 1915, Boulton & Paul began to construct aircraft under contract including 550 of the Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2b.

Vickers F.B.5

Vickers GunbusVickers F.B.5 GunbusVickers F.B.9
Work started on another totally new design in mid-1914, the F.E.2a, specifically intended as a "fighter", or machine gun carrier – in the same class as the Vickers FB.5 "Gunbus". Rittmeister Baron von Richthofen was badly wounded in the head during combat with F.E.2d aircraft in June 1917 – the Red Baron, like most German pilots of the period, classed the F.E.2 as a "Vickers" type, confusing it with the earlier Vickers F.B.5.
A few served in some F.E.2b squadrons while they were waiting for their new aircraft between late 1915 and early 1916.

Lewis gun

Lewis machine gunLewis .303 cal machine gunLewis
The observer was armed with a .303 in Lewis machine gun firing forward on a specially designed, "witches broomstick" mounting that gave it a wide field of fire.
The problem in mounting a Lewis to fire forward in most single-engined tractor configuration fighters was due to the open bolt firing cycle of the Lewis, which prevented it from being synchronized to fire directly forward through the propeller arc of such aircraft; only the unusual French SPAD S.A "pulpit plane" which possessed a unique hinged gunner's nacelle immediately ahead of the propeller (and the pilot), and the British pusher fighters Vickers F.B.5, Airco D.H.2, Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 and F.E.8 could readily use the Lewis as direct forward-firing armament early in the war.

Frederick Libby

The arrangement was described by Frederick Libby, an American ace who served as an F.E.2b observer in 1916:
After serving in this motor transport unit through the winter of 1915–1916, he volunteered to join the Royal Flying Corps, becoming an observer in an F.E.2b in 23 Squadron.

No. 11 Squadron RAF

No. 11 Squadron RFCNo. 11 Squadron11 Squadron
The Gunbus was already obsolete however, and was initially supplemented by a mixture of Bristol Scouts and Nieuport 16s until replaced by the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b of similar layout, but slightly higher performance, in June 1916.

Max Immelmann

Immelmann“Immelmann”
On 18 June 1916, German flying ace Max Immelmann was killed in combat with F.E.2bs of No. 25 Squadron RFC.
In the late afternoon of 18 June 1916, Immelmann led a flight of four Fokker E.III Eindeckers in search of a flight of eight F.E.2b reconnaissance aircraft of 25 Squadron Royal Flying Corps over Sallaumines in northern France.

Manfred von Richthofen

Red BaronThe Red BaronBaron von Richthofen
Rittmeister Baron von Richthofen was badly wounded in the head during combat with F.E.2d aircraft in June 1917 – the Red Baron, like most German pilots of the period, classed the F.E.2 as a "Vickers" type, confusing it with the earlier Vickers F.B.5.
Richthofen sustained a serious head wound on 6 July 1917, during combat near Wervicq against a formation of F.E.2d two seat fighters of No. 20 Squadron RFC, causing instant disorientation and temporary partial blindness.

No. 18 Squadron RAF

No. 18 SquadronNo. 18 Squadron RFC18 Squadron
By April 1916 the squadron had re-equipped with FE2bs.

Green E.6

The first production batch consisted of 12 of the initial F.E.2a variant, with a large air brake under the top centre section, and a Green E.6 engine.

Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies

RansomesRansomeRansomes and Rapier
A total of 1,939 F.E.2bs were built, only a few of them at the Royal Aircraft Factory, as most construction was by private British manufacturers such as G & J Weir, Boulton & Paul Ltd and Ransomes, Sims & Jefferies.
In the First World War, they manufactured aeroplanes: 350 Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 fighters.

No. 23 Squadron RAF

No. 23 SquadronNo. 23 Squadron RFC23 Squadron
The squadron moved to France on 16 March 1916 flying FE2b two-seat pusher fighters.

No. 22 Squadron RAF

No. 22 Squadron RFCNo. 22 Squadron22 Squadron
It received its intended operational type, the Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2b in February 1916, passing 14 BE.2s to 33 Squadron.

No. 38 Squadron RAF

38 SquadronNo. 38 SquadronNo. 38
In September 1916 the squadron was re-equipped with F.E.2b aircraft and the HQ moved to Melton Mowbray.

Lufbery circle

defensive circledefensive circlesLufbery
In combat with single-seater fighters, the pilots of F.E.2b and F.E.2d fighters would form what was probably the first use of what later became known as a Lufbery circle (defensive circle).
Perhaps the earliest use of the Lufbery was by formations of F.E.2b aircraft in 1916/17 when in combat with superior German fighters but by the end of World War I it was already considered flawed and obsolete.

No. 33 Squadron RAF

No. 33 Squadron33 Squadron33
For the remainder of the First World War the squadron was employed for Home Defence in Lincolnshire, guarding against German airship raids against northern England, being first equipped with Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2s, these being supplemented with Royal Aircraft Factory FE.2s.

No. 57 Squadron RAF

No. 57 SquadronNo. 57 Squadron RFC57 Squadron
57 Squadron continued in its training role, equipped with a mixture of Avro 504s and Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2s, until October that year, when it began to prepare for its planned role as a fighter-reconnaissance squadron, receiving Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d two-seat pusher biplanes in November.

Biggles

James BigglesworthBiggles Does Some HomeworkBiggles Flies East
Captain W.E. Johns' character Biggles starts his operational career in the fictional 169 squadron, flying the F.E.2b.
Biggles began flying the F.E.2b "pusher" and later the Bristol F2B.

Beardmore 120 hp

120 hp120 hp Beardmore
The first F.E.2a made its maiden flight on 26 January 1915, but was found to be underpowered, and was re-engined with a Beardmore 120 hp (89 kW) liquid-cooled inline engine, as were the other eleven aircraft.