The Bristol M1C was a well designed and effective aircraft that was not given a real chance to show it's true potential. The M1C had a maximum speed aproximately 30-50 mph (50-80 km/h) faster than any of the contemporary German Fokker Eindecker monoplanes.
The M.1A prototype was designed by Frank Barnwell in 1916 and built as a private venture by the Bristol Aeroplane Corporation. The War Office ordered four aircraft for evaluation - designated M.1B - which had a single 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun mounted on the port wing and a clear-view cut-out in the starboard wing to give the pilot more downward visibility.
Despite its excellent performance, the Bullet was rejected by the Air Ministry for service on the Western Front. The reason given was because its landing speed was considered too high for small French airfields. It was more likely because of a widespread belief that monoplane aircraft were unsafe in combat.
Nevertheless, a production order for 125 aircraft was placed on August 3, 1917. Designated M.1C, this version was fitted with a Le Rhône 9J, 110 horsepower (82 kilowatt) 9 cylinder ir-cooled rotary engine. The aircraft was armed with a single Vickers 0.303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun, centrally-mounted in front of the pilot.
The G100 was built originally as a long range, single-seat fighter and escort machine but on the basis of its size and weight was reclassified as a day bomber. It successfully performed this role from the summer of 1916 through to the closing weeks of 1917. It was also used for long-range photo reconnaissance, where stability and endurance were required (the type was capable of a five and a half hour flight) .
The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 was one of the final pusher type aircraft developed for the war. It was considered a slow and not a particularly nimble aircraft design. There were not many in active service, and was superceded by more modern fighter/scouts.
Like the D.H.2, the F.E.8 was designed as a pusher in order to provide a forward firing machine gun mount at a time when no synchronization gear was available to the Allies to safely arm a tractor aircraft in the same way. Although a clean and well designed little aeroplane, for a pusher – it could not escape the drag penalty imposed by its tail structure and was no match for the Halberstadt and Albatros fighters of late 1916.
The new fighter was not a great improvement on the D.H.2 – although a little faster it did not handle quite so well. It was nonetheless ordered into production from Darracq Motors and Vickers. Neither manufacturer delivered their F.E.8s particularly quickly, so that the type ended up reaching the front in numbers six months later than the D.H.2.
The nacelle was, most unusually for the time, an all-metal structure – being framed in steel tube and covered with duralumin. The prototypes were initially each fitted with a large pointed propeller spinner, which was quickly omitted due to its weight, while the Lewis gun was fitted on a movable mount within the nose of the nacelle, with the machine gun's breech almost at the pilot's feet. It was quickly determined that this armament mounting scheme was impractical, and for production machines the gun mount was mounted directly in front of the pilot, in the manner of the D.H.2. The ailerons were of unusually long span - occupying the entire wing trailing edge outboard of the tail booms.
Two F.E.8s were issued to No. 29 Squadron RFC, a D.H.2 unit, in June 1916, but it was not until August that No. 40 Squadron became fully operational on the type. The only other unit to fly the type, No. 41 Squadron, arrived in France in October.
After a fairly good start, the F.E.8 units quickly ran into problems with the new German fighters. On the 9th of March 1917 nine F.E.8 of No. 40 Squadron had a dogfight with five Albatros D.IIIs of Jagdstaffel 11, led by Manfred von Richthofen himself. Four F.E.8s were shot down, four others badly damaged, and the survivor caught fire when landing. After this disaster No. 40 Squadron was re-equipped with Nieuports and No. 41 restricted to ground attack duties. No. 41 actually kept their pushers until July 1917 – becoming the last pusher fighter squadron in France.
The Sopwith Pup quickly became a favorite with pilots of the Royal Naval Air Service. It was superior to the Fokker D.III and more than a match for any of the new Halberstadt and Albatros scouts. Armed with a single synchronous machine gun, it was lighter and less dangerous than it's successor, the Sopwith Camel.
Although underpowered, pilots liked the plane because it was maneuverable and fast. It could climb and hold its altitude better than any other fighter. In August 1917, the Sopwith Pup was the first aircraft to land aboard a moving ship, the Royal Navy's H.M.S. Furious.
In 1915, Sopwith produced the SLTBP, a personal aircraft for the company's test pilot, Harry Hawker. The SLTBP was a single-seat, tractor biplane powered by a 50 hp Gnome rotary engine. Sopwith next developed a larger fighter that was heavily influenced by the SLTBP.
The resulting aircraft was a single-bay, single-seat biplane with a fabric-covered, wooden framework and staggered, equal-span wings. The cross axle type main landing gear supported on V-struts attached to the lower fuselage longerons. The prototype and most production Pups were powered by the 80 hp (60 kW) Le Rhone rotary engine. Armament was a single 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun synchronized with the Sopwith-Kauper synchronizer.
A prototype was completed in February 1916 and sent to Upavon for testing in late March. The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) quickly ordered two more prototypes, then placed a production order. Sopwith was heavily engaged in production of the 1½ Strutter, and produced only a small number of Pups for the RNAS. Deliveries commenced in August 1916.
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) also placed large orders for Pups. The RFC orders were undertaken by sub-contractors Standard Motor Co. and Whitehead Aircraft. Deliveries did not commence until the beginning of 1917. A total of 1,770 Pups were built by Sopwith (96), Standard Motor Co. (850), Whitehead Aircraft (820), and William Beardmore & Co. (30).
In May 1916, the RNAS received its first Pups for operational trials with "A" Naval Squadron. The first Pups reached the Western Front in October 1916 with No. 8 Squadron RNAS, and proved successful, with the squadron's Pups claiming 20 enemy machines destroyed in operations over the Somme battlefield by the end of the year. The first RFC Squadron to re-equip with the Pup was No. 54 Squadron, which arrived in France in December. The Pup quickly proved its superiority over the early Fokker, Halberstadt and Albatros biplanes. After encountering the Pup in combat, Manfred von Richthofen said, " We saw at once that the enemy aeroplane was superior to ours."
The Pup's light weight and generous wing area gave it a good rate of climb. Agility was enhanced by ailerons being fitted on both wings. The Pup had half the horsepower and armament of the German Albatros D.III, but was much more maneuverable, especially over 15,000 ft (4,500m) due to its light wing loading. Ace James McCudden stated that "When it came to maneuvering, the Sopwith (Pup) would turn twice to an Albatros' once ... it was a remarkably fine machine for general all-round flying. It was so extremely light and well surfaced that after a little practice one could almost land it on a tennis court." However, the Pup was also longitudinally unstable.
At the peak of its operational deployment, the Pup equipped only four RNAS squadrons (Nos. 3,4,8 and 9), and three RFC units (Nos. 54, 46 and 66 Squadrons). By spring 1917, the type was already outclassed by the newest German fighters and the RNAS had replaced theirs, first with Sopwith Triplanes, and then Sopwith Camels. The RFC Pup squadrons on the other hand had to soldier on, in spite of increasing casualties, until it was possible to replace the last frontline Pups with Camels, in December 1917.
The raids on London by Gotha bombers in mid-1917 caused far more damage and casualties than the earlier airship raids. The ineffective response by British interceptor units had serious political repercussions. In response No. 66 Squadron was withdrawn to Calais for a short period, and No. 46 was transferred for several weeks to Sutton's Farm airfield near London. Two new Pup squadrons were formed specifically for Home Defence duties, No. 112 in July, and No. 61 in August.
The first Pups delivered to Home Defence units utilized the 80 hp Le Rhone, but subsequent Home Defence Pups standardized on the more powerful 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape, which provided improved rate of climb. These aircraft were distinguishable by the addition of vents in the cowling face.
Sopwith Pups were also used in many pioneering carrier experiments. On 2 August 1917, a Pup flown by Sqn Cdr Edwin Dunning became the first aircraft to land aboard a moving ship, HMS Furious. Dunning was killed on his third landing when the Pup fell over the side of the ship. The Pup began operations on the carriers in early 1917; the first aircraft were fitted with skid undercarriages in place of the standard landing gear. Landings utilized a system of deck wires to "trap" the aircraft. Later versions reverted to the normal undercarriage. Pups were used as ship-based fighters on three carriers: HMS Campania, Furious and Manxman. A number of other Pups were deployed to cruisers and battleships where they were launched from platforms attached to gun turrets. A Pup flown from a platform on the cruiser HMS Yarmouth shot down the German Zeppelin L 23 off the Danish coast on 21 August 1917.
The Sopwith Triplane was used in combat by the Royal Naval Air Service. The stack of three wings reduced wingspan and increased wing area making it handle and climb better than biplanes. Visibility from the cockpit was outstanding but it was slower and less heavily armed than it's German opponents.
The Sopwith Triplane was a British single seat fighter aircraft designed and manufactured by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War. Pilots nicknamed it the Tripehound or simply the Tripe. The Triplane became operational with the Royal Naval Air Service in early 1917 and was immediately successful. The Triplane was nevertheless built in comparatively small numbers and was withdrawn from active service as Sopwith Camels arrived in the latter half of 1917. Surviving aircraft continued to serve as operational trainers until the end of the war.
The Triplane began as a private venture by the Sopwith Aviation Company. The fuselage and empennage closely mirrored those of the earlier Pup, but chief engineer Herbert Smith gave the new aircraft three narrow-chord wings to provide the pilot with an improved field of view. Ailerons were fitted to all three wings. By using the variable incidence tailplane, the aircraft could be trimmed to fly hands-off. The introduction of a smaller 8 ft span tailplane in February 1917 improved elevator response.
The Triplane was initially powered by the Clerget 9Z nine-cylinder rotary engine, but most production examples were fitted with the 130 hp Clerget 9B rotary. At least one Triplane was tested with a Le Rhône rotary engine, but this did not provide a significant improvement in performance.
The prototype Triplane, serial N500, first flew on 28 May 1916, with Sopwith test pilot Harry Hawker at the controls. Within three minutes of takeoff, Hawker startled onlookers by looping the aircraft three times in succession. The Triplane was very agile, with effective, well-harmonised controls. When maneuvering, however, the Triplane presented an unusual appearance. One observer noted that the aircraft looked like "a drunken flight of steps" when rolling.
In July 1916, N500 was sent to Dunkirk for evaluation with "A" Naval Squadron, 1 Naval Wing. It proved highly successful. The second prototype, serial N504, was fitted with a 130 hp Clerget 9B. N504 first flew in August 1916 and was eventually sent to France in December. This aircraft served as a conversion trainer for several squadrons.
Between July 1916 and January 1917, the Admiralty issued two contracts to Sopwith for a total of 95 Triplanes, two contracts to Clayton & Shuttleworth Ltd. for a total of 46 aircraft, and one contract to Oakley & Co. Ltd. for 25 aircraft. Seeking modern aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps, the War Office also issued a contract to Clayton & Shuttleworth for 106 Triplanes. In February 1917, the War Office agreed to exchange its Triplane orders for the Admiralty's SPAD S.VII contracts.
Production commenced in late 1916. Sopwith and Clayton & Shuttleworth completed their RNAS production orders, but Oakley, which had no prior experience building aircraft, delivered only three Triplanes before its contract was cancelled in October 1917.For unknown reasons, the RFC Triplane contract issued to Clayton & Shuttleworth was simply cancelled rather than being transferred to the RNAS. Total production amounted to 147 aircraft.
No. 1 Naval Squadron became fully operational with the Triplane by December 1916, but the squadron did not see any significant action until February 1917, when it relocated from Furnes to Chipilly. No. 8 Naval Squadron received its Triplanes in February 1917. Nos. 9 and 10 Naval Squadrons equipped with the type between April and May 1917. The only other major operator of the Triplane was a French naval squadron based at Dunkirk, which received 17 aircraft.
The Triplane's combat debut was highly successful. The new fighter's exceptional rate of climb and high service ceiling gave it a marked advantage over the Albatros D.III, though the Triplane was slower in a dive. The Germans were so impressed by the performance of the Triplane that it spawned a brief triplane craze among German aircraft manufacturers, resulting in no fewer than 34 different prototypes.
The Triplane was famously flown by No. 10 Naval Squadron's "B" Flight, better known as "Black Flight." This all-Canadian flight was commanded by the ace Raymond Collishaw. Their aircraft, named Black Maria, Black Prince, Black George, Black Death and Black Sheep, were distinguishable by their black-painted fins and cowlings. Black Flight claimed 87 German aircraft in three months while equipped with the Triplane. Collishaw himself scored 34 of his eventual 60 victories in the aircraft, making him the top Triplane ace.
For a variety of reasons, the Triplane's combat career was comparatively brief. In service, the Triplane proved difficult to repair. The fuel and oil tanks were inaccessible without substantial disassembly of the wings and fuselage. Even relatively minor repairs had to be made at rear echelon repair depots. Moreover, spare parts became difficult to obtain during the summer of 1917, and No. 1 Naval Squadron's complement was reduced from 18 to 15 aircraft.
The Triplane also gained a reputation for structural weakness because the wings sometimes collapsed in steep dives. This defect was attributed to the use of light gauge bracing wires in the 46 aircraft built by subcontractor Clayton & Shuttleworth. Several pilots of No. 10 Naval Squadron used cables or additional wires to strengthen their Triplanes. In 1918, the RAF issued a technical order for the installation of a spanwise compression strut between the inboard cabane struts of surviving Triplanes. One aircraft, serial N5912, was fitted with additional mid-bay flying wires on the upper wing while used as a trainer.
Another drawback of the Triplane was its light armament. While contemporary Albatros fighters were armed with two guns, most Triplanes were armed with a single synchronized Vickers machine gun. Efforts to fit twin guns to the Triplane met with mixed results. Clayton & Shuttleworth built six experimental Triplanes with twin guns. Some of these aircraft saw combat service with Nos. 1 and 10 Naval Squadrons in July 1917, but performance was reduced and the single gun remained standard. Triplanes built by Oakley would have featured twin guns, an engineering change which severely delayed production.
In June 1917, No. 4 Naval Squadron received the first Sopwith Camels and the advantages of the sturdier, better-armed fighter quickly became evident. Nos. 8 and 9 Naval Squadrons transitioned to the Camel between early July and early August 1917. No. 10 Naval Squadron converted in late August, turning over its remaining Triplanes to No. 1 Naval Squadron. No. 1 operated Triplanes until December, suffering heavy casualties as a consequence. By the end of 1917, surviving Triplanes were used as advanced trainers with No. 12 Naval Squadron.
The slow, low flying and fragile Vickers F.B.12 marks the last gasp for British pusher-type fightercraft development. The introduction of the Sopwith Pup, and Triplane, which were both far superior aircraft in terms of handling characteristics, maximum speed, and operational celings killed chances for the F.B.12 before it could enter into production.
At the start of the First World War, Vickers entered into a partnership with the Hart Engine Company to develop a 150 hp (110 kW) nine-cyliner radial engine designed by Hart. This engine was planned to power a number of new designs by Vickers, the first of which was a small single-engine pusher biplane fighter, the F.B.12.
The F.B.12 resembled the D.H.2 and F.E.8; wood and fabric wings with rounded tips. The circular nacelle was framed in steel tubing, with the engine directly behind the cockpit, driving a wooden propeller. The tail was at the end of an open steel boom. A .303 in (7.7 mm) machine gun was placed inside the front of the nacelle, with only the barrel protruding.
The first FB.12 flew in June 1916, powered by a 80 hp (60 kW) Le Rhêne rotary engine as the Hart was not yet available. With this engine, it proved to be underpowered and was re-fitted with a 100 hp (75 kW) Gnome Monosoupape engine. It was then rebuilt with increased wing span and area, becoming the F.B.12A. In December 1916 it was sent to France for operational testing, where it was deemed as good as the D.H.2 and F.E.8, but still outclassed by the German aircraft.
The F.B.12B was similar to the F.B.12A, but fitted with the originally intended Hart engine, flying early in 1917. In November 1916, meanwhile, the War Office placed an order for 50 Hart powered aircraft, designated the F.B.12C for the RFC. The F.B.12B crashed during tests in early 1917, leading to Vickers abandoning the Hart. Only 18 of the order were built, being fitted with a number of different engines including a 110 hp (80 kW) Le Rhône and a 100 hp (75 kW) Anzani radial. Tested between May and July 1917, only 1 F.B.12C was delivered, to the Home Defense unit.
The F.B.12D was the final variation, only 1 prototype was produced with a larger 110 hp (80 kW) Le Rhone engine.
The Vickers F.B.19 was an aircraft with several design flaws that prevented it from becoming popular, or widely used aircraft. It was relatively slow, underpowered, and not at all capable of reaching higher altitudes.
Fifty F.B.19s were built and six were sent to France for operational evaluation. They were found to be unsuitable for the fighting conditions then evolving. A number of F.B.19s were sent to Russia. Those which were still crated on the dockside were destroyed by the Royal Navy after the Revolution but some were used by the Bolshevik forces.
Twelve examples of the Mk II, with staggered mainplanes and a 110-hp (82-kW) Le Rhône or Clerget engine, were built. Several were sent to the Middle East in a batch of twelve F.B.19s. From June 1917, these operated in Palestine and Macedonia but they were not popular and no squadron was fully equipped with the type.