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Felixstowe F.2

United Kingdom (1917)
Picture of Felixstowe F.2 Flying Boat Aircraft

The Felixstowe F.2 was a militarized British version of the American Curtiss H-12 flying boat.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Felixstowe F.2 Flying Boat Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/22/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

In the pre-World War 1 period, Royal Navy Lt Cmdr John Porte partnered with famous American aviator Glenn Curtiss to develop a long-range "flying boat" capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean - this in response to a monetary prize offered by the Daily Mail in England for such a feat. This led to the aircraft dubbed "America" and was known in the Curtiss nomenclature as the "H-4" (Model H). However, everything changed when war came to Europe and the British involvement whisked Porte back to England to serve at the naval air base of Felixstowe. With his experience in seeing the H-4 come to fruition, he convinced the Royal Navy to adopt the aircraft as its own, which it did, in 62 examples as well as two prototype "America" airframes.

The H-4 proved serviceable enough but it was not void of issues from a military perspective - such service introducing a level of rigors not common to commercial-minded travel. The H-4s were found to have rather weak hulls for consistently rough operations and their engines were weak in powering the large airframe - pilots were none too fond of the model and let it be known.

Porte moved to evolve the H-4 into a more viable military-minded product and used several H-4 airframes to test various outfits and arrangements. Work begat the Felixstowe F.1 of which four were built and these aircraft involved revised Porte-designed hulls as well as 2 x Hispano-Suiza 8 series engines of 150 horsepower (each) while retaining the tail section and biplane wing of the H-4. Waterborne performance was dramatically improved and testing showcased a more sound design than before.
Work continued by Porte, now focused on bringing a modified Curtiss H-12 aircraft to a Royal Navy standard. The H-12 was a dimensionally larger system and saw its first flight in June of 1914. Some 478 of the type would be built before the end and both the United States and United Kingdom would take the aircraft into their respective inventories. Again the same limitations of the H-4 were encountered in the H-12 but the already-completed work on the former helped to usher in a revised design for the latter producing the Felixstowe F.2. Changes included use of a Porte-designed hull with the wings of the Curtiss H-12 though an all-new tail section was added and power came through 2 x Rolls-Royce "Eagle" series engines. First flight of the F.2 was recorded in July of 1916.

The Royal Navy, content with the improved Curtiss H-12, purchased 100 F.2s during the war and original models were designated as "F.2a". These carried Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines (345 horsepower each) as well as a 460lb bomb load and were defensed by up to seven .303 Lewis machine guns on flexible mounts (at least one in the nose and three around center mass of the aircraft was typical). Bombs were carried externally under the wings. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 95 miles per hour with a service ceiling reaching 9,600 feet. Endurance was six hours giving the aircraft good "legs" for over-water patrolling. A standard operating crew was four.

The design of the F.2 was typical for flying boats of the period and the primary physical characteristics were its boat-like hull and large biplane wing arrangement. The wings were held high on the fuselage and incorporated a larger upper wing element set over a smaller lower one. Large parallel struts and cabling braced the wings along their spans with the engine nacelles set between the upper and lower wing units straddling the fuselage. The cockpit/crew area was seated just ahead of the wings with a gunner's / observer's cockpit fitted ahead of it at the nose offering a commanding view of the oncoming terrain below. The hull held a smooth appearance required of it for water-borne landings and takeoffs and the tail unit featured a sold vertical fin with high-mounted horizontal planes. The general arrangement of the F.2 was one carried over from the original F.1 and into the future F.3 and F.5 designs.

In practice, the F.2 served through the Royal Navy and no fewer than twelve Royal Air Force squadrons. Its primarily role was that of maritime patrol in hunting enemy naval vessels, in particular, submarines though the F.2 held enough performance and firepower to engage Zeppelins and even disrupt fighter formations through its defensive machine gun network. Pilots certainly commented on the F.2's maneuverability for an aircraft of its size.

The United States Navy eventually joined the UK in utilization of the F.2 and Chile became the only other notable operator. Beyond the wartime 100 examples was a further seventy added later and the "F.2c" mark became two Felixstowe-constructed F.2s given a lightened hull. Wartime manufacture was aided by contributions from Saunders, Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd, and May, Harden, & May. 175 F.2s were built in all.

The Felixstowe "F.3" became the next offering in this flying boat line, made dimensionally larger and heavier than the preceding F.2 so as to carry a greater bomb load while also exhibiting increased operational ranges. However, these changes resulted in a less-than-maneuverable aircraft which was, on the whole, not as well appreciated as its predecessor. First fight was in February of 1917 and 100 of the type were completed. The culmination of the F-series flying boats finally came in the late-war "F.5" which first flew in May of 1918 but did not see service in the conflict. 280 of this model were produced (F5L being U.S.-built aircraft with Liberty 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.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (96mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Felixstowe F.2A's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
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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
175
175


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: United Kingdom
Service Year: 1917
Classification Type: Flying Boat Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): SE Saunders Ltd / Aircraft Manufacturing Company / May, Harden & May / Felixstowe - UK
Production Units: 175
Global Operators:
United Kingdom; United States
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Felixstowe F.2A model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
4


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
46.26 ft


Meters
14.1 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
95.64 ft


Meters
29.15 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
17.52 ft


Meters
5.34 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
7,496 lb


Kilograms
3,400 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
11,023 lb


Kilograms
5,000 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Rolls-Royce Eagle VII V12 radial piston engines developing 345 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
96 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
154 kph


Knots
83 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
559 mi


Kilometers
900 km


Nautical Miles
486 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
9,843 ft


Meters
3,000 m


Miles
1.86 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
253 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
77 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (4):

STANDARD (Typical):
1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in nose
3 x 7.7mm Lewis machine guns in fuselage

OPTIONAL:
Up to 460lb of external ordnance.
3 x 7.7mm Lewis machine guns (additional)
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• F.2 - Base Series Designation; based on a heavily modified Curtiss H-12 flying boat.
• F.2A - Definitive production version; completed with Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII series engines.
• F.2C - Lightened hull design; 2 examples produced.