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BRISTOL F2B - Background
For the British aircommand it became in 1916 obvious that a replacement for the slow and vulnerable BE2 series of aircraft was badly needed. Bristol at this time had designed a 2 seater airplane of girder box design. To overcome the restricted forward view for the pilot the upper wing was placed only 1 foot above the fuselage. The pilot's line of sight was obstructed only by the mere airfoil section thus rendering good visibility forward/upward and forward downward. The necessary distance between wing planes was obtained by moving the lower wing downward under the fuselage. The first production aircraft were designated F2A but when put in service as a recon-naissance aircraft, the old tactics were used and the plane became easy prey for the opponents.
A revised model F2B fighter/recon-naissance with improved 275 hp. Rolls-Royce Falcon engine and fighter tactics applied, became a tremendous success. This engine is liquid cooled and the radiator first deployed as side mounted, soon was changed and located up front giving the nose a characteristic outline. The armament was a Vickers .303 machine gun mounted under the hood and shooting synchro-nized to fire through the propeller arc through a round outlet in the upper part of the radiator. For the observer there was a Lewis machine gun mounted on a Scarff ring mount.
As production increased during 1917 it became difficult for Roll-Royce to keep up with demand and other engine alternatives were tried and employed.
This was a very successful aircraft type shows in that more than 4700 aircraft were produced and that that production continued long after the war had ended. The aircraft saw action in many foreign countries and was used by the British in their overseas operations.
As production of the F2B increased in speed during the mid-Summer of 1917, additional Royal Flying Corps squadrons were formed or re-equipped with the new Bristol fighter. The production F2B featured a reduced chord tail plane with longer span elevators. These were later changed to use the elevators of the F2A with the tail plane of the F2B and this arrangement was retained for all wartime F2Bs.
The F2B benefited from the lessons learned from the first combat use of the F2A variants. When introduced in combat they were flown in action using single seat fighting tactics, which immediately proved successful.
The aircraft was armed with a single syn-chronized .303 Vickers machine gun with 963 rounds of ammunition in the nose for the pilot and a .303 Lewis machine gun for the observer with seven 97 round ammunition drums. Some aircraft were upgunned in the field with an additional Lewis gun mounted over the wing to augment the forward firepower and twin Lewis guns in the rear cockpit mounted on a Scarf ring.
The increased production rate at Bristol's for the F2B resulted in a shortage of engines since Rolls-Royce was unable to keep pace with the demand for Falcon engines As a result, alternative engines were examined and tested; including the Siddeley Puma, Hispano-Suiza 200 hp. Hispano-Suiza 300 hp and the 200 hp Sunbeam Arab. The Sunbeam Arab being finally chosen, although others continued to be tested since the Arab equipped variants proved to be somewhat under-powered. The installation of the Arab engine altered the nose contours and exhaust stack arrangement.
Before the end of the First World War, the Bristol fighter was to see service in various theaters of war, including with No 139 in Italy and No 67 (Australian) Squadron in the Middle East Nos. 33, 36, 39, 76 and 141 Squadrons used Bristol Fighters for home defense duties. F2Bs used by home defense units as night fighters were modified in a number of ways. Some were fitted with navigation lights on the lower wing tips and rudders, Holt flare brackets beneath each lower wing tip and illuminated gun sights. Other night fighters were fitted with additional forward firing machine guns. One aircraft of No 39 Home Defense Squadron had two Lewis guns fitted over the wing in addition to its normal single Vickers gun and twin Lewis guns for the observer.
By November of 1918 over 5,500 Bristol fighters, fnainly F2Bs, had been ordered and, of these, 3,101 had been taken into the RFC and RAF. Although the Armistice led to cancellation of some orders, the "Buff" as it was known to wartime airmen, continued to be manufactured until September of 1919, with a total of 4,747 being produced.
Bristol F2B Fighter and Canadian pilots
The Canadian Air Force only ever held two "Brisfits" or "Bifs" on strength from 6 August, 1920 to 7 February, 1922 as part of an Imperial Gift of 114 varied aircraft, however Canadian airmen flew the two-seat fighters in the service of the Royal Flying Corps as well as the CAF during the First World War. Canadian Air Service pilot Lt. A.E. McKeever of No. 11 Squadron soon began to be regarded as an ace among Bristol Fighter exponents, and between himself and his regular observer, Sgt. (later Lt.) L.F. Powell accounted for 28 aircraft from the time of their first victory on 26 June, 1917 and the end of the year. With the formation of No. 1 Squadron, Canadian Air Force, McKeever was appointed its commanding officer and he adopted the Bristol Fighter as his personal aircraft. This machine later went with him when he returned to Canada after the Armistice and was later registered on the Canadian Civil Registry as G-CYBC.
A total of 4,747 had been produced by September 1919 and the vast majority of them served with the RFC and the RAF dur the First World War in Italy, the Middle East, the Western Front and in the home defence role in Britain. Although the US Army condemned the airframe as dangerous after trials where the Liberty engine replacement they were pressing for proved to make the aircraft nose heavy and difficult to fly, crews flying the "Brisfits" built up impressive records. For instance in an action fought by two pilots of No. 22 Squadron on 7 May, 1918 while the two F.2Bs were patrolling over Arras they were attacked by a superior force of seven Fokkers the two machines shot down four of the enemy. The F2Bs were in turn attacked by a new force of 15 enemy fighters, whereupon they promptly shot down four more Fokkers, and broke off the engagement only when their ammunition was exhausted.
The Bristol F2B Fighter, that we have modeled, is the aircraft that is kept in flying condition by the Shuttleworth Collection. These pictures show details of the aircraft as it looks today. The front cowling plates have been removed for service and reveal the powerful 12 cylinder engine as well as the areas adjacent to the cocpit.
The paintscheme was changed in 1981, when the aircraft was completely overhaulec, and is now relevant to the period at the end of the war.. The serial number has been placed on the fin and the aft section has white stripes across the sides and upper surface of the fuselage. The all over paint colour is PCIO (almost like olive drab) on all upper surfaces and natural linen off white on the under surfaces.
Above the large identification letter "S" is a instruction and warning not to fly without gunner/observer or equivalent weight in the rear cockpit.
The model that we have depicted in this manual has hence been repainted and shows now the accurate scheme.
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