Based upon Frank Barnwell's pre-war racing plane, the Bristol Scout was one of the first single-seater biplanes produced in large numbers by Britain. It was the Royal Flying Corps' first attempt to develop a true pursuit plane. When it entered service, the Scout was considered fast and maneuverable but the cockpit was a tight squeeze, especially for pilots like Cecil Lewis who remarked that it was "so small that even an average man had to be eased in with a shoehorn." Unarmed until Lanoe Hawker devised a method for mounting a Lewis gun to the side of the Scout C, the Scout D became the first British fighter to be armed with a synchronized machine gun in March 1916. Soon outdated by better pursuit planes, the Bristol Scout was withdrawn from service in the summer of 1916 and used by the Royal Flying Corps for training.
With five or more victories, the highest score with this aircraft was achieved by Charles Bell.