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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 […]

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Sopwith Tabloid

First built in 1913 when all speed records were held by monoplanes, the Sopwith Aviation Company’s triumphant Tabloid racer proved that a biplane could be first as well as robust. Originally a two-seat landplane powered by an 80-hp Gnome engine, the Tabloid’s performance proved so promising that Tom Sopwith decided to enter it for the 1914 Schneider Trophy seaplane race. However, the necessary […]

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Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a

It is debatable whether the nifty S.E.5a or the Sopwith Camel was the finest British single-seat fighter of World War I. Certainly, the former was easier to fly, killing and maiming far fewer Allied pilots than the unforgiving Camel. The S.E.5 (“S.E.” for “Scout Experimental”) was designed to exploit the potential of the innovatory Hispano-Suiza in-line engine; the S.E.5a, which was […]

4

Tarrant Tabor

The enormousTabor biplane was the first and last aeroplane made by W.G. Tarrant of Byfleet, Surrey, whose normal business was building houses. Designed by Walter Barling, it was intended for British bombing raids on Berlin but it was still under construction by the time World War I ended. The aircraft’s name, meaning a type of small drum, probably alluded to […]

5

Felixstowe F.2A

The Felixstowe F.2A was a first-rate flying boat that gave sterling service to Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service on anti-submarine and maritime patrol missions. It derived from the Curtiss H2 “Large America” flying boats supplied to the Royal Navy in early 1917. These American aeroplanes were excellent flyers, but the hull was structurally weak. Squadron Commander John Porte of the Royal Naval Air […]

6

Avro 504

Safe and easy to handle, the modest but much-loved Avro 504 was the machine in which many housands of pilots learned to fly in the wire-and-fabric era. Developed from the smaller Avro 500, the 504 was a pleasantly proportioned two-seat biplane, initially with a square cowling around its 80-hp engine. It had a distinctive comma-shaped rudder and an ingeniously simple undercarriage with a long […]

7

Vickers Gunbus

While it did not remotely resemble the modern idea of a fighter aircraft, the Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus(F.B. stood lor Fighting Biplane) was nevertheless one of the first machines to be purpose-built for air-to-air combat. Initially ordered by the British Admiralty, the biplane eventually served with both the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Viekcrs needed to find a way of […]

8

Sopwith Pup

Awell-proportioned single-seater with delightful handling qualities, the Sopwith Pup was a “pilot’s aeroplane”, loved and remembered with fondness by all who flew it. Formally called the Sopwith Scout by the Royal Flying Corps and t he Type 9901 by the Royal Naval Air Service, the Pup acquired its familiar name because it gave the appearance of being a diminutive offspring of Sopwith’s larger […]

9

Airco D.H.4

Designed by Geoffrey dc Havilland, the Airco D.H.4 is regarded as the best single-engine day bomber of World War I. It outpaced all but the fastest German fighters and defended itself effectively; the pilot operated a fixed forward-firing Vickers gun and there was a moveable Lewis gun on the observer’s gun ring. The one major design drawback was the distance between […]

10

McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II

The most significant Western fighter of the 1960s, the F-4 Phantom equipped not only the US Navy and US Air Force (USAF) but also numerous foreign air arms, including Britain’s Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. It played a prominent part in the Vietnam War, proving equally effective whether operating from aircraft carriers or from land bases. A twin-engine two-seater, the F-4 Phantom was […]