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F.E.2b
 
 
Initially used for reconnaissance, the Farman Experimental 2 two-seater biplane ended the "Fokker Scourge" over the Somme. Like the single-seat D.H.2, it was a "pusher" and items floating about in the nacelle inevitably ended up being swept back into the propeller, sometimes with disastrous results. Armed with two or three Lewis guns and a camera, the observer sat far forward in the nacelle, directly in front of the pilot. Vulnerable to attacks from rear, the F.E.2 was frequently shot down. During the summer of 1916, the Germans captured an F.E.2d when a British pilot inadvertently landed his new aircraft at an enemy aerodrome. The introduction of more advanced aircraft made the F.E.2 an ineffective fighter and by 1917 it was primarily used for bombing missions. Some British night bombing squadrons continued to use the F.E.2b until the end of the war.

"When you stood up to shoot [in the F.E.2b], all of you from the knees up was exposed to the elements. There was no belt to hold you. Only your grip on the gun and the sides of the nacelle stood between you and eternity. Toward the front of the nacelle was a hollow steel rod with a swivel mount to which the gun was anchored. This gun covered a huge field of fire forward. Between the observer and the pilot a second gun was mounted, for firing over the F.E.2b's upper wing to protect the aircraft from rear attack ... Adjusting and shooting this gun required that you stand right up out of the nacelle with your feet on the nacelle coaming [sic]. You had nothing to worry about except being blown out of the aircraft by the blast of air or tossed out bodily if the pilot made a wrong move. There were no parachutes and no belts. No wonder they needed observers." Frederick Libby, first American ace of WWI
 
Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 Specifications
Country: Great Britain
Manufacturer: Royal Aircraft Factory
Type: Fighter/Bomber
Performance Date: May 1916
Number Built: 386
Engine(s): Rolls Royce Mark III, 250 hp
Propeller Diameter : 10 ft 3 in
Wing Span: 47 ft 9 in Area: 494 sq ft
Length: 32 ft 3 in Height: 12 ft 7½ in
Chord: 5 ft 6 in Gap: 6 ft 3½ in
Dihedral: 4° (RAF 14 airfoil)
Tailspan: 16 ft 11 in Tailplane: 53 sq ft
Elevators: 32.5 sq ft Wheel Track: 6 ft 4.4 in
Fin: 2.8 sq ft Rudder: 13.5 sq ft
Empty Weight: 2,509 lb
Loaded Weight: 3,469 lb
Max Speed: 94 mph @ 5,000 ft
93 mph @ 6,500 ft
88 mph @ 10,000 ft
Rate of Climb: 5,000 ft in 7 minutes 10 seconds
9,000 ft in 18 minutes 20 seconds
15,000 ft in 42 minutes 40 seconds
Service Ceiling: 17,500 ft
Endurance: 2 hr 30 min
Crew: 2
Guns: 2 free .303 caliber Lewis guns for the observer
1 or 2 fixed .303 caliber Lewis guns for the pilot
Bombs: 6 bombs, 20 lb or 25 lb under the nacelle
and lower wings
 
Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 Units
Royal Flying Corps: 6, 11, 18, 20, 22, 23, 25, 28, 58, 81, 83, 100, 101, 102, 148, 149
 
Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 Aces (46)
1 England Cubbon, Francis Richard 21
2 England Thayre, Frederick James Harry 19
3 Ireland Cowell, John 15
4 England Vickers, Oliver Henry Douglas 13
5 Australia Richards, Cecil Roy 12
6 England Trevethan, Richard Michael 12
7 England Luchford, Harry George Ernest 11
8 England Hoy, Campbell Alexander 10
9 USA Libby, Frederick 10
10 England Cunnell, Donald Charles 9
 
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