The Airco DH.1 was an early military biplane flown by Britain's Royal Flying Corps during World War I.
Geoffrey de Havilland was one of the pioneering designers at the Royal Aircraft Factory and was partially or wholly responsible for most pre-war "Factory" designs. When he left to become chief designer at The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) in 1914, his first design was strongly reminiscent of the F.E.2b, one of his last designs for the Royal Aircraft Factory. Like the F.E.2, the DH.1 was of pusher configuration, the aircraft accommodating its pilot and observer in two open tandem cockpits in the nose, the observer's cockpit stepped down below the pilot's and equipped with a machine gun. The wings were of typical fabric-covered, two-bay, unstaggered, unswept, equal span design, while the stabiliser and rudder were carried on the end of a long, open-framework boom.
The type, like the F.E.2b, was designed for the 120 hp (89 kW) Beardmore 120 hp water cooled inline engine. However, all available Beardmore engines had been ordered for F.E.2b production, so the 70 hp (52 kW) Renault 70 hp aircooled V8 engine was installed instead. With this powerplant the DH.1 was underpowered - but still had a creditable performance, and was ordered into production. Airco was already occupied with later designs, so DH.1 production was undertaken by Savages of King's Lynn.
Late production machines were fitted with the Beardmore, as the DH.1A.
The DH.1 saw operational service only in the Middle East theatre, where a few Beardmore powered DH.1As arrived in July 1916 - these were used by No. 14 Squadron RFC as escorts for their B.E.2 reconnaissance aircraft. An Aviatik two seater was claimed by a 14 Squadron D.H.1A in August for the only known victory of the type. The last known action by a DH.1 was on 5 March 1917, when one was shot down during a bombing raid on Tel el Sheria. No. 14 Squadron became an R.E.8 unit in November 1917 - and it seems probable the last operational DH.1 had gone before that date.
The other DH.1s served in training and Home defence units in the United Kingdom, finally being withdrawn from service in 1918.
The Armstrong Whitworth F.K.3 was a British two-seat general-purpose biplane built by Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft.
The Dutch aircraft designer Frederick Koolhoven joined Armstrong Whitworth in 1914. He designed a series of aircraft that had his initials in their designation. The F.K.3 followed the basic layout of the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, which Armstrong Whitworth were building for the Royal Flying Corps. It was designed as an improvement, with a simplified structure that was easier to build. The prototype, first flown by Norman Spratt was powered by a 70 hp (52 kW) air-cooled Renault 70 hp V-8. This aircraft differed from the B.E.2 in eliminating welded joints and complex metal components in the structure, and having greater dihedral on the upper wing. It retained the seating layout of the B.E.2, with separate cockpits for the pilot and observer, with the latter in front. An initial batch of seven aircraft to this standard, sometimes referred to as the F.K.2 were built.
This initial batch offered little improvement over the BE.2, and was rejected for service in France. Aircraft following this initial batch were completed to a revised design, with a new fin and rudder, its leading edge straight and lacking the earlier comma shaped horn balance, and powered by the Renault-related but more powerful 90 hp (67 kW) RAF 1a engine. Both crew were placed in a single, extended cockpit with the pilot forward, allowing the observer a much more effective field of fire, although in the event few F.K.3s were flown with armament. Trials at Upavon in May 1916 proved that the F.K.3 had a better performance in some respects than the B.E.2c, although it had a poorer useful load. Armstrong Whitworth were given a contract to build 150 aircraft with another 350 being built by Hewlett & Blondeau Limited at Luton. Some of the early batch had twin high exhaust pipes that exited above the upper wing in BE2 style, but these were later replaced with rams' horns forward stubs.
At one time during production of the F.K.3 there was a shortage of the RAF engines, and twelve aircraft were fitted with longer and heavier 120 hp (90 kW) six-cylinder inline water cooled Beardmore 120 hp. To carry the extra weight, span was increased by 2 ft (610 mm), but though the extra power enhanced the climb rate, top speed was little changed and these machines were converted back to RAF engines when they became available.
The F.K.3 was not adopted for use by operational squadrons of the RFC in France, as the more capable F.K.8 and R.E.8 were both already in prospect. Only one overseas unit received the F.K.3 (which was 47 Squadron at Salonika), all the other aircraft were based in the United Kingdom. Most of the aircraft were used for training until replaced by the Avro 504.
The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2 was a two-seat pusher biplane that was operated as a day and night bomber and as a fighter aircraft by the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. Along with the single-seat D.H.2 pusher biplane and the Nieuport 11, the F.E.2 was instrumental in ending the Fokker Scourge that had seen the German Air Service establish a measure of air superiority on the Western Front from the late summer of 1915 to the following spring.
This early British two seater saw much action in the early years of the war, even though it was ungainly, and dangerous. As many early planes it is a push plane to avoid shooting off it's propellor blades when firing straight forward.
The Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.7 was a British two-seat light bomber and reconnaissance biplane designed by the Royal Aircraft Factory and built under contracts by the Coventry Ordnance Works, Austin, Napier and Siddeley-Deasy for the Royal Flying Corps.
Developed from the R.E.5 the R.E.7 was designed to carry heavier loads and also suitable for escort and reconnaissance duties. It was an-unequal span biplane with a fixed tailskid landing gear and powered by a nose-mounted 120hp (89kW) Beardmore engine driving a four-bladed propeller. The aircraft was built by a number of different contractors with the first aircraft operational with the Royal Flying Corps in France in early 1916. The aircraft had two open cockpits with the observer/gunner in the forward cockpit under the upper wing and the pilot aft.
It was soon found that the aircraft could not be used as an escort due to the limited field of fire for the single lewis gun but the R.E.7 had a useful payload and was soon used as a light bomber with the a more powerful engine (either a 150hp (112kW) RAF 4a or 160hp (119kW) Beardmore). Over a quarter of the aircraft built were used in France in the middle of 1916 but their slow speed and low ceiling with a bomb load made them vulnerable to attack. The R.E.7s were withdrawn and used for training and a number were used as engine test beds. Use was made of them as target tugs trailing a sleeve drogue for air-to-air firing practice, probably one of the first aircraft to do this.
At least two R.E.7s were converted to three seaters.
The Vickers F.B.5 (Fighting Biplane 5) was the first aircraft specifically designed for air-to-air combat to see service as a fighter for the Royal Flying Corps, making it the world's first operational fighter aircraft. With its engine mounted behind the cockpit, it the first pusher to enter service during World War I. Commonly referred to as the "Gunbus," it was armed with a moveable, forward firing 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun operated by the observer in the front of the nacelle. Vulnerable to attack from the rear, the Gunbus was soon replaced by more advanced single-seat fighter aircraft. Lionel Rees scored more victories with this aircraft than any other ace. In 1915, he and his gunner downed six enemy planes while flying the F.B.5.
Vickers began experimenting with the concept of an armed warplane designed to destroy other aircraft in 1912. The first resulting aircraft was the Type 18 "Destroyer" (Vickers E.F.B.1) which had been demonstrated in 1913. This aircraft was of the "Farman" pusher layout, to avoid the problem of firing through a tractor propeller, and was armed with a single belt-fed Maxim gun. The belt feed proved problematic for a flexible machine gun, and the weapon installed was changed to the lighter, handier, drum-fed 0.303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun. The E.F.B.1 was the first in a line of Vickers' "Experimental Fighting Biplanes", of which the F.B.5 was the most famous - and the first to be built in quantity.
The F.B.5 first flew on 17 July 1914. It was powered by a single 100 hp (75 kW) Gnome Monosoupape 9-cylinder rotary engine driving a two-bladed propeller, and was of simple, clean, and conventional design compared with its predecessors. In total, 224 F.B.5s were produced, 119 in Britain by Vickers, 99 in France and 6 in Denmark.
The first F.B.5 was delivered to No. 6 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) at Netheravon in November 1914. On 25 December 1914, the first use of the F.B.5 in action took place, when a F.B.5 took off from Joyce Green airfield to engage a German Taube monoplane, hitting the Taube (and possibly causing its loss) with incendiary bullets from a carbine after the Lewis gun jammed.
The F.B.5 began to be seen on the Western Front when the first examples reached No.2 Squadron RFC on 5 February 1915. The type served in ones and twos with several other units before No. 11 Squadron RFC became the world's first fighter squadron when, fully equipped with the F.B.5, it deployed to Villers-Bretonneux, France on 25 July 1915. Second Lieutenant G.S.M. Insall of 11 Squadron won the Victoria Cross for an action on 7 November 1915 in which he destroyed a German aircraft while flying a Gunbus. No. 18 Squadron RFC, which deployed to France in November 1915, also operated the F.B.5 exclusively.
The F.B.5's performance proved to be inadequate for its intended role; although its forward-firing machine gun was a great advantage, the fighter did not have the speed or rate of climb to pursue its quarry. By the end of 1915, it was outclassed by the Fokker Eindecker. Some examples of the improved Vickers F.B.9 were sent to France, pending sufficient supplies of the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2b, but the active career of the Gunbus was soon over. The remaining examples were mostly used as trainers.
The Vickers company persisted with an active experimental program during the First World War period, including a line of single-seat pusher fighters, but the F.B.5 remained their only significant production aircraft until the Vickers Vimy bomber, which entered service too late to have an impact on the war.
Despite its moderate effectiveness, the Vickers F.B.5 did have a lasting legacy as German pilots continued to refer to British pusher aircraft as "Vickers-types". Many victories over D.H.2 or F.E.2b pushers were reported as destruction of a "Vickers".