Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

A military two-seater, the B.E.2 had the misfortune to become one of the most maligned aircraft of World War I. Yet when the prototype first appeared, in February 1912, its performance was judged to be little short of impressive.
The B.E.2 was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland at the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, to meet the newly formed Royal Flying Corps’ need for a reconnaissance aircraft to operate in liaison with ground forces. Because it was “government-built”, it was not officially allowed to compete in the military trials held in the summer of 1912; however, flown for demonstration purposes only, it proceeded to outshine most of the aircraft entered by private constructors. Put
out to various private companies for manufacture, the B.E.2 then entered service with the Royal Flying Corps Military Wing.
Certainly, it had solid virtues: it was more dependable than most aircraft of the period, and its stability made it an excellent platform
for photographing enemy positions.
Unfortunately, its very stability ensured that it was also sluggish, and B.E.2s proved easy meal for agile enemy lighters. Neither did it help that the aircraft’s gnu was entrusted to the observer, who sat in front of the pilot: surrounded by struts and wires, it was near impossible for him to bring his gun to bear on an attacker.
The B.E .2c version of the aircraft was kept in frontline service for far too long, leading it to he accurately denounced as “a reckless waste of human life”.

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