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Felixstowe F.2

Flying Boat Aircraft

United Kingdom | 1917

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

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 04/22/2017 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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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).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Felixstowe F.2A Flying Boat Aircraft.
2 x Rolls-Royce Eagle VII V12 radial piston engines developing 345 horsepower each.
96 mph
154 kph | 83 kts
Max Speed
9,843 ft
3,000 m | 2 miles
Service Ceiling
559 miles
900 km | 486 nm
Operational Range
253 ft/min
77 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Felixstowe F.2A Flying Boat Aircraft.
46.3 ft
14.10 m
O/A Length
95.6 ft
(29.15 m)
O/A Width
17.5 ft
(5.34 m)
O/A Height
7,496 lb
(3,400 kg)
Empty Weight
11,023 lb
(5,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Felixstowe F.2 Flying Boat Aircraft .
STANDARD (Typical):
1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in nose
3 x 7.7mm Lewis machine guns in fuselage

Up to 460lb of external ordnance.
3 x 7.7mm Lewis machine guns (additional)
Notable series variants as part of the Felixstowe F.2 family line.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Felixstowe F.2. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 175 Units

Contractor(s): SE Saunders Ltd / Aircraft Manufacturing Company / May, Harden & May / Felixstowe - UK
National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States

[ United Kingdom; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (96mph).

Graph Average of 75 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Felixstowe F.2

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Felixstowe F.2 Flying Boat Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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