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Farman MF.11 Shorthorn

Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft

Farman MF.11 Shorthorn

Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft


Just about every major player on the side of the Allies of World War 1 stocked the French Farman MF.11 series in their inventory.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: France
YEAR: 1914
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Farman Aviation Works - France / Savoia; Fiat; Macchi; Zari; Vickers Terni - Italy
OPERATORS: Australia; Belgium; France; Kingdom of Italy; Greece; Japan; Norway; Portugal; Romania; Imperial Russia; Saudi Arabia; Serbia; Spain; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom
National flag of Australia
National flag of Belgium
National flag of France
National flag of Greece
National flag of Kingdom of Italy
National flag of Japan
National flag of Norway
National flag of Portugal
National flag of Romania
National flag of Russia
National flag of Saudi Arabia
National flag of Serbia
National flag of Spain
National flag of Switzerland
National flag of Ukraine
National flag of United Kingdom
Technical Specifications

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Farman MF.11 Shorthorn model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
POWER: 1 x Renault 8-cylinder, air-cooled inline piston engine delivering 100 horsepower. Also de Dion Bouton and Fiat A10 series engines.








nautical miles

1 x 7.5mm machine gun in rear (later forward) observers cockpit.

18 x 16lb coventional crop bombs held externally. Maximum bombload of up to 288lb.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Variants / Models

• MF.11 "Shorthorn" - Base Series Designation; observer/gunner in rear cockpit.
• MF.11bis "Shorthorn" - Lengthened nacelle; observer/gunner relocated to forward cockpit with armament.
• MF.13 - Fitted with 130 horsepower engine.
• MF.14 - MF.11/MF.11bis models produced in 1914.
• S.11 - British Designation; license production
• F.5b - Italian Designation; license production; armed with Fiat machine gun in front cockpit.
• Farman "Colombo" (MF.C) - Italian Production Model; fitted with Colombo D.110 series engine of 110 horsepower.
• SIA 5 - Italian Production Model; forward machine gun (fixed); fitted with Fiat A.10 series engine of 100 horsepower.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Farman MF.11 Shorthorn Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/6/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Farman MF.11 "Shorthorn" was a development of French aeronautical engineering and was essentially an early-war biplane design fielding limited armament and a rear-mounted, rear-facing engine. The MF.11 came about before the Triple Entente (the "allies" of World War 1) had developed the synchronized interrupter gear that allowed machine guns to fire through a spinning propeller. As such, she was fitted with her engine at the rear of the nacelle in what was known as a "pusher" arrangement (in contrast, conventional prop aircraft utilized "puller" engine arrangements) freeing up the frontal area for armament and generally unfettered views. Officially designated as the Farman MF.11 after her designer - Maurice Farman of Farman Aviation Works - she eventually became better known by the nickname of "Shorthorn", this name having been derived from the preceding MF.7 "Longhorn" design though lacking the forward elevator assembly and forward skids of the original. The MF.11 would become the first armed aircraft platform to participate in aerial warfare in World War 1.

Farman Aviation Works was founded by brothers Henri and Maurice and undertook the construction of aircraft from 1908 up until 1936. In 1941, after the French nationalization of aerospace industries, the firm remerged as the Societe Anonyme des Usines Farman (SAUF). By 1944, the company was officially absorbed by Sud-Ouest. Despite Marcel Farman's (Maurice's son) attempt to resurrect the family firm in 1952, the new company was deemed a failure by 1956.

The MF.11 featured a centralized, open-air nacelle housing the engine compartment and positions for two crew seated in tandem as well as placement for defensive armament and applicable flight control systems. The nacelle sat suspended within the network of interplane parallel struts and necessary cables with the upper wing assembly overhead of the crew and the lower wing assembly running under. The nacelle itself was slab-sided with a rounded front end topped by a small windscreen. Construction was typical of the time with a wood frame covered over in tight canvas. Struts extended out from the upper and lower wing assemblies to generate rudimentary support for the empennage (tail section) to which was affixed a large-area horizontal plane mounting a pair of vertical tail fins. The engine was situated ahead of the tail system and aft of the crew, powering a simple two-bladed wooden propeller. The undercarriage of the airframe was typical World War 1 - a collection of double-tired, bicycle-type wheels held in place by a network of reinforced struts, these supports attached to the underside of the lower wing assembly. Each landing gear "leg" was afforded a ski-type structure to help prevent "nose-over" accidents while on the ground. There was no tail wheel, rear support being provided by a simple tailskid. This gave the MF.11 a noticeable "nose-up" appearance when at rest.

In her early production form, the MF.11 sat the pilot at the front of the aircraft with the observer to his rear. While this afforded the pilot unobstructed and unsurpassed views of the upcoming terrain, this severely restricted defensive options and viewpoints for the observer who sometimes doubled as a machine gunner when his position was armed as such. It was only in the revised MF.11bis that the seating arrangement was reversed, giving the observer/gunner a better view with a better field-of-fire at the front of the nacelle while relocating the pilot and the flight controls to the rear. Machine guns generally ranged in the 7.5mm caliber but were often the model and make of the respective operating country (Hotchkiss, Lewis and Fiat types were known to be used).

Like many other aerial implements of World War 1, the rickety MF.11 led a relatively short life on the Front, quickly being outclassed and outmoded by the new German Fokker monoplane in 1915. Once her period of usefulness as a frontline system was over, the MF.11 - and all her family - was generally relegated to trainer duties for upcoming aviation personnel. Nevertheless, the Farman design was an important contributor to early operations for both France, Britain, Italy and Russia in the early stages of the air war over Europe.

Farman MF.11 Shorthorn (Cont'd)

Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft

Farman MF.11 Shorthorn (Cont'd)

Reconnaissance / Bomber Aircraft

Entering operational service in 1914, the MF.11 was a regular participant of reconnaissance and light bombing sorties with numerous squadrons during her tenure. At one point, some 37 French escadrilles (squadrons) were formed with the MF.11 as the showcase weapon where she undertook bombing duties in day and night as needed (the MF.11 was capable of fielding a payload of 18 x 16lb bombs). In practice, her crews recounted her as a stable mount displaying solid flying qualities even in choppy skies. The Royal Navy operated at least 80 examples and several were stationed at Dardanelles and Mesopotamia. MF.11s in Belgium service were used to bomb German Zeppelin air bases and U-Boat submarine pens. Her first bombing mission was recorded on December 21st, 1914 when a British MF.11 attacked German artillery positions at Ostend, Belgium. One MF.11 crew was later credited with the downing of an airborne German Zeppelin by machine gun fire. The MF.11 continued frontline operational service up until 1915 before being relegated to second-line duties and ultimate retirement.

License production of the MF.11 outside of France was handled by companies in the United Kingdom, Russia and Italy. While only subtle changes existed between these types, such large-scale production ensured that the MF.11 would entertain a lengthy reach within the inventories of non-French operators.

The British took to designating the MF.11 as the "S.11" but this proved a lesser known identifier. She flew with the Royal Flying Corps in No.2, No.3, No.4, No.9, No.14, No.16, No.19, No.23, No.24, No.25, No.29, No.30 and No.65 squadrons as well as with flying elements of the Royal Naval Air Service. By default, British Commonwealth Australia further fielded the type within their Australian Flying Corps as part of squadrons No.5, the Mesopotamian Half Flight (the first Australian Flying Corps to see operational service) and the Central Flying School AFC, the latter based out of Point Cook, Victoria. Australia purchased their initial systems in 1916 to be used for training of pilots and crew and utilized them as such until better alternatives became available in 1919.

Across Europe and beyond French usage there existed squadrons in Belgium, Italy, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and the Ukraine service. Far to the East, the MF.11 was also operated by the Russian air service for a time. In the post-war years, at least two MF.11s were purchased by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Italy sometime in 1921.

Italy itself produced additional MF.11 variants under license and attempted to better the design by implementation of different engine types of varying horsepower. This included the SAI 5 powered by a Fiat A.10 series engine of 100 horsepower and the Farman Columbo (MF.C) powered by a Colombo D.110 series engine of 110 horsepower. The latter also featured a revised, oval-shaped nacelle. Italian producers of the MF.11 were Savoia, Fiat, Macchi, Zari and Vickers Terni and many of the Italian-born MF.11s were appropriately armed with Italian Fiat-brand machine guns.

The Farman MF.13 (also known as the MF.130hp) was another side development of the MF.11, this featuring a 130 horsepower engine - hence its designation. The MF.14 (Model 1914) designation was collectively assigned to MF.11 and improved MF.11bis designs with their 100 horsepower engines.


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
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (66mph).

Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Farman MF.11 Shorthorn'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 (300)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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