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Bristol F.2

United Kingdom (1917)
Picture of Bristol F.2 Fighter / Armed Reconnaissance / Light Bomber Aircraft
Picture of Bristol F.2 Fighter / Armed Reconnaissance / Light Bomber Aircraft

It was not until pilots began flying their two-seat F.2's as single-seat fighters that the type saw success in The Great War.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Bristol F.2 Fighter / Armed Reconnaissance / Light Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 8/30/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Bristol F.2 fighter series operated throughout the British Empire for decades, serving through World War 1 and through the interwar years. The system proved a viable fighter platform despite its origination as a reconnaissance aircraft consisting of a two-man crew. The biplane provided the Allies with a surefire response to the ever increasing lethality of the German types they faced. In the end, the F.2 series would be heralded as the best two-seat fighter platform of the entire conflict.

Initially, the aircraft was on the drawing boards as the R.2A reconnaissance plane with a Beardmore 120 horsepower engine in mind and staggered yet equal span wings were connected via pairs of parallel struts. Surplus of the Hispano-Suiza 150 horsepower engine forced a revision in the original thinking and produced the R.2B, this design featuring a sesquiplane wing arrangement with the lower span shorter than the upper. This particular model was also further developed to accept the Rolls-Royce Falcon type engines producing some 190 horsepower. The new powerplant now added crucial power the now redesignated F.2A airframe. F.2A's were delivered in a first batch of 50 aircraft.
In configuration, the pilot sat just behind and below the upper wing with a view over the long engine compartment. His observer - or rear gunner - took the second cockpit position with his single or dual trainable 7.7mm Lewis type machine gun(s). The pilot himself operated a single forward-firing synchronized Vickers machine gun affixed to the upper fuselage. A bombload of up to 240lbs was possible. Construction consisted of a wooden structure covered over with fabric.

Initial use of the F.2 proved awful as pilots were trained to put too much emphasis on providing better arcs of fire for their rear gunners - that a flight of multiple F.2's could work in conjunction on creating an impenetrable rear quadrant governed by their machine guns. This inevitably led to disastrous results. In one such early instance, six F.2's faced off against six (some sources state five) lethal Albatros D.III fighters - the result was four of the F.2's were lost to enemy fire. The F.2 would not see its "true" value in a dogfight until tactics were revised and pilots were allowed to treat their mounts as single-seat fighters - utilizing the aircraft's impressive speed and maneuverability as their primary tool in conjunction with their forward-firing machine gun - and relying on the rear gunner as an added bonus to the aircraft's rear defense. Once this melding of man and machine was achieved, the F.2 went on to become one of the more successful fighter designs of the war.

The F.2B followed as a further development of the F.2A - in all actuality it became the definitive model in the series. The B model featured a more powerful engine - the Rolls-Royce Falcon III water-cooled inline engine offering up 275 horsepower. Other subtle improvements led to better crew protection and fields of view. This model proved so successful, in fact, that it made up the rest of the entire F.2 series production line - outnumbering the preceding A-models by a hefty sum.

First flight of the series was achieved on September 9th, 1916 with operational service being achieved in February of 1917. Production numbered some 5,300 examples and use of the type (amazingly) covered 1916 through 1932. Operators ranged from North American to South America, Europe and Australia. Design of the F.2 was handled by Frank Barnwell with production at Bristol, Armstrong Whitworth and Standard Motors among others.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (123mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Bristol F.2B's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
5308
5308


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United Kingdom
Year: 1917
Type: Fighter / Armed Reconnaissance / Light Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): British and Colonial Aeroplane Company / Standard Motors / Armstrong Whitworth / Cunard Steamship Company - UK
Production: 5,308
Global Operators:
Afghanistan; Australia; Belgium; Canada; Ireland; Greece; Mexico; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Poland; Spain; Sweden; United Kingdom
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Bristol F.2B model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
25.82 ft


Meters
7.87 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
39.24 ft


Meters
11.96 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
9.74 ft


Meters
2.97 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
2,150 lb


Kilograms
975 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
3,250 lb


Kilograms
1,474 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Rolls Royce Falcon III inline piston engine developing 275 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
123 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
198 kph


Knots
107 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
368 mi


Kilometers
593 km


Nautical Miles
320 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
17,995 ft


Meters
5,485 m


Miles
3.41 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
869 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
265 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm Vickers synchronized machine gun
1 OR 2 7.7mm trainable Lewis machine gun(s) in rear cockpit.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• R.2A - Originally Planned Reconnaissance Model' fitted with Beardmore 120hp engine.
• R.2B - Sesquiplane Revision; smaller design that the R.2A fitted with Hispano-Suiza engine.
• R.2B - Revision of the R.2B fitted with a Rolls-Royce Falcon series 190hp engine.
• F.2A - Reclassification of all R.2 series aircraft; initial 50 example production models.
• F.2B - Improved ruggedness and field of vision; modifications throughout; more powerful Rolls-Royce Falcon engines (275 horsepower).
• F.2B Mk II - "Tropicalized" Variant for hot weather operations, particularly in the Middle East.
• F.2B Mk III - Reinforced Model
• F.2B Mk IV - Converted Mk III models with further strengthening of structure and landing gear systems; balanced rudder system implemented; automatic leading-edge slots introduced.
• F.2C - Experimental Engine Platform(s)