Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918

O.Thetford - Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918 /Putnam/

Avro 504K

  One of the most famous aeroplanes of all time, the Avro 504 in its original form appeared in 1913. In the opening phases of the First World War the type was used with first-line squadrons in the R.F.C. and R.N.A.S. for bombing and reconnaissance, but from 1915 onwards the 504 entered die training role for which it is celebrated.
  The most widely-used training variants were the 504J and the 504K. Both types remained in service with the R.A.F. after the war, the 504J being retired in September 1921 and the 504K carrying on until the late 'twenties. The 504J first appeared at the end of 1916, and was popularly-known as the Mono-Avro because of its 100-h.p. Gnome Monosoupape engine. This was the main type used by the famous School of Special Flying at Gosport, commanded by Major R. R. Smith-Barry. The exploits of Gosport's Avros are legendary, and they laid the foundations of systematic flying instruction in the R.F.C., evolving methods which became the basis of the R.A.F.4 Flying Training School syllabus for many years afterwards. Another notable fact about the 504J is that this was the type on which King George VI (then H.R.H. Prince Albert) learned to fly, the actual aircraft being С 4451.
  The 504K appeared in 1918, and differed from the 504J in having an open-fronted cowling and modified engine-bearers to take a variety of rotaries, including the 110-h.p. Le Rhone, the 130-h.p. Clerget and the 100-h.p. Monosoupape. This interchangeability was necessitated by the shortage of Mono engines from the end of 1917. Some 504Ks were converted from 504Js.
  Over 8,000 Avro 504s were built during the 1914-18 period, and in November 1918 the R.A.F. possessed about 3,000, of which 2,267 were in Flying Schools and over 200 on Home Defence. Post-war, the 504К was standard equipment at the Central flying School and Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Flying Training Schools until the arrival of the Lynx-engined 504N in the mid-twenties. The Avro 504К was also in service with No. 24 Squadron and Nos. 600, 601, 602 and 603 Squadrons of the Auxiliary Air Force.
  At the Hendon Displays, Avro 504Ks were a regular feature each year from 1920 to 1924.


  Description: Two-seat at initio trainer. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
  Manufacturers: A. V. Roe & Co. Ltd., Manchester and Hamble. Widely sub-contracted.
  Power Plant: One 110-h.p. Le Rhone, 130-h.p. Clerget or 100-h.p. Monosoupape.
  Dimensions: Span, 36 ft. Length, 29 ft. 5 in. Height, 10 ft. 5 in. Wing area, 330 sq. ft.
  Weights (Le Rhone engine): Empty, 1,231 lb; loaded, 1,829 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 95 m.p.h. at sea level; 85 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. Climb, 5 mins. to 3,500 ft.; 16 mins. to 10,000 ft. Range, 250 miles. Endurance, 3 hrs. Service ceiling, 16,000 ft.

Avro 504N

  The 504N, popularly known as the Lynx-Avro, was designed as a replacement for the wartime 504K, and it became the first new trainer to be adopted by the R.A.F. alter the First World War. It gave staunch service at the Flying Training Schools and with the University Air Squadrons for over a decade before being superseded by the Avro Tutor in 1932-33.
  The first installation of the Lynx engine was in two converted 504Ks (E 9265 and E 9266). This experiment preceded the two 504N prototypes which were J 733 with a Bristol Lucifer engine and J 750 with a Lynx, both fitted with a Siskin-type undercarriage. The production-type 504N, commencing J 8496 in 1927, retained the rugged oleo-pneumatic under-carriage, twin fuel-tanks beneath the upper mainplane and the additional stringers rounding out the fuselage sides. Early models of the 504N had a wooden fuselage and tapered ailerons. Later, Frise ailerons of rectangular shape were substituted and the fuselage was of welded tubular steel construction.
  The 504N remained in production until 1933 and 570 were built, including 78 conversions from Avro 504K. The last delivered was К 2423. Most R.A.F. pilots who learned to flу before 1933 remember the 504N with affection, and its characteristics are well described in F. D. Tredrey's delightful book Pilot's Summer. In addition to being used as a standard trainer by No. 1 F.T.S. (Netheravon), No. 2 F.T.S. (Digby), No. 3 F.T.S. (Grantham), No. 4 F.T.S. (Egypt) and No. 5 F.T.S. (Sealand), the 504N was widely employed as a communications aircraft by No. 24 Squadron (Kenley) and by the Auxiliary Squadrons of the day.
  At Wittering with the Central Flying School, six 504Ns of 'E' Flight pioneered instrument flying in the R.A.F., the first course starting in September 1931. These aircraft were fitted with blind-flying hoods, Reid and Sigrist turn indicators, and had 1' less dihedral than standard to reduce inherent stability.
  From 1930 to 1933 Hendon Display crowds were captivated by exhibitions of 'crazy flying' with 504Ns. When replaced by Tutors, many 504Ns were sold on the civil market, and with joy-riding companies gave thousands of people all over Britain their first experience of aviation. Some ex-R.A.F. 504Ns were converted to take five-cylinder Mongoose engines.


  Description: Two-seat at initio trainer. Wood and metal construction, fabric covered.
  Manufacturers: A. V. Roe & Co. ltd., Manchester.
  Power Plant: One 160- or 180-h.p. Armstrong Siddeley Lynx IV or 215- h.p. Lynx IVC.
  Dimensions: Span, 36 ft. Length, 28 ft. 6 in. Height, 10 ft. 11 in. Wing area, 320 sq. ft.
  Weights: Empty, 1,584 lb. Loaded, 2,240 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 100 m.p.h. Cruising, 85 m.p.h. at 2,000 ft. Initial climb, 770 ft./min. Range, 250 miles. Endurance, 3 hrs. Service ceiling, 14,600 ft.
Avro 504K (J 8376) of No. 4 F.T.S., Abu Sucir.
Avro 504N of Cambridge University Air Squadron.
Avro 504N

  The Kangaroo was used by the R.A.F. from April 1918 as an anti-submarine patrol aircraft, operating from bases on the East Coast over the North Sea. In October 1918, fourteen Kangaroos were in service. In 1919 the Kangaroos were sold to civil operators and some were still flying as late as 1929. Two 250-h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. Loaded weight, 8,017 lb. Max. speed, 98 m.p.h. Service ceiling, 10,500 ft. Span, 74 ft. 10 in. Length, 44 ft. 2 in.
Bristol Fighter

  The Bristol Fighter, known affectionately as the 'Biff' or 'Brisfit', was one of the mainstays of the R.A.F. in its formative years. The first prototype (A 3303), with a 190-h.p. Falcon engine, flew late in 1916, and the first Fighters went into action with No. 48 Squadron of the R.F.C. over the Western Front in April 1917. With the formation of the R.A.F. on 1 April 1918, the Fighter was in wide service, and those of No. 22 Squadron made the first sortie of the new Service at dawn on that historic day.
  When the Armistice came, no fewer than 3,100 Fighters had been delivered, and the type continued in production for the post-war R.A.F., a further 1,369 being built before production ceased with J8458 in December 1926. The peacetime R.A.F. used the Bristol Fighter mainly for Army Co-operation duties, both at home and overseas, and later as a dual-control trainer with the R.A.F. College, Cranwell, and the University Air Squadrons. The first post-war variant was the Mk. II, with tropical radiator, desert wheels and increased all-up weight (some of which were wartime aircraft reconditioned to Spec. 21/21). In 1924 a complete redesign appeared, the Mk. III, incorporating all Mk. II modifications as integral features and introducing an oleo tailskid (see three-view drawing). The final variant was the Mk. IV which had Handley Page slots, a taller rudder with horn balance, strengthened under-carriage and cambered fin. These features also characterized the Mk. III (dual) which from July 1928 gave staunch service with the Oxford and Cambridge University Air Squadrons.
  Bristol Fighters served in Ireland until 1922 and on the Rhine until the last squadron (No. 12) left Germany in July 1922. Overseas they were finally supplanted in 1932 (when No. 6 Squadron received Gordons), after years of faithful service in Iraq and India. At home, they are superseded by the Atlas.


  Description: Two-seat Army Co-operation or dual-control trainer. Wooden structure, fabric covered. Maker's designation, Bristol Type 96.
  Manufacturers: Bristol Aeroplane Co. Ltd., Filton, Bristol. Sub-contracted.
  Power Plant: One 280-h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon III.
  Dimensions: Span, 39 ft. 4 in. Length, 25 ft. 10 in. Height, 9 ft. 9 in. Wing area, 406 sq. ft.
  Weights: Empty, 1,745 lb. Loaded, 2,590 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 125 m.p.h. at sea level; 108 m.p.h. at 13,000 ft. Climb, 838 ft./min.; 11 mins. 15 secs, to 10,000 ft. Endurance, 3 hrs. Service ceiling, 20,000 ft.
  Armament: One Vickers and onу Lewis gun. Two 112-lb. bombs below wings.
Bristol Fighter III (dual) (J 8257) Oxford U.A.S.

  Two-seat day-bomber first introduced on Western Front in March 1917. In October 1918 was still in service with Nos. 18, 25, 55, 57, 202, 217 and 244 Squadrons of the R.A.F. One 375-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle engine and loaded weight of 3,472 lb. Max. speed, 136 1/2 m.p.h. at 6,500 ft. Climb, 1,042 ft./min. Endurance, 3 3/4 hours. Service ceiling, 20,000 ft.
de Havilland 10 Amiens

  Although the name 'Amiens' appeared in official documents of the period relating to the D.H. 10, it is not generally realized that the type was ever named, and it is usually referred to by its manufacturer's designation.
  The D.H. 10 ranks with the Vimy and V/1500 as one of the promising new bombers of the R.A.F. which just missed seeing action in the First World War. In October 1918 the R.A.F. had only eight, but if the war had continued it would have become a most effective weapon with the Independent Air Force bombing Germany.
  The original D.H. 10 (C 8658) flew on 4 March 1918 and resembled the earlier D.H. 3 in having its 240-h.p. B.H.P. engines mounted as pushers. In the second prototype, С 8659, which flew on 20 April 1918, the 360-h.p. Eagles appeared in the more familiar tractor layout. Trials showed the D.H. 10 to be faster than the I.A.F.'s D.H. 9A, as well as having twice the bomb-load. The Air Ministry ordered 1,291 (commencing E 5437), but with the end of the War only about 220 were completed. In its production form, the D.H. 10 had Liberty engines and was designated Amiens III. The later models, with the engines mounted directly on the lower wings, were designated D.H. 10A, or Amiens IIIA.
  In 1918 the Amiens was delivered to No. 104 Squadron of the Independent Air Force, but there is no record of these aircraft being used operationally.
  Post-war service of the D.H. 10 with the R.A.F. was relatively brief, the last examples with No. 216 Squadron in Egypt being superseded by the Vimy in 1923. Its best-known work was with No. 120 Squadron, which in 1919 flew an air-mail service between Hawkinge and Cologne for the British Army on die Rhine. On 14-15 May 1919, a D.H. 10 on this service became the first aircraft to carry mail at night. Another pioneer airmail route flown by D.H. 10s was the Cairo-Baghdad service across the desert which started on 23 June 1921. The aircraft followed tracks in the sand as a navigational guide. In India, No. 60 Squadron used D.H. 10s in bombing raids on rebel tribesmen in November 1920 and again early in 1922.


  Description: Three- or four-seat clay bomber. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
  Manufacturers: The Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Hendon, London. Also built by Alliance Aero Co., Birmingham Carriage Co., Daimler Ltd., Mann, Egerton & Co., National Aircraft Factory (Stockport) and the Siddeley-Deasy Car Co.
  Power Plant: Two 400-h.p. Liberty 12.
  Dimensions: Span, 65 ft. 6 in. Length, 39 ft. 7 1/2 in. Height, 14 ft. 6 in. Wing area, 837 sq. ft.
  Weights: Empty, 5,585 lb. Loaded, 9,000 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 112 1/2 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft; 106 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft. Climb, 34 1/2 mins. to 15,000 ft. Endurance, 6 hrs. Service ceiling, 16,500 ft.
  Armament: Single or twin Lewis guns nose and amidships. Bomb-load, 900 lb.
de Havilland 10 Amiens of No. 216 Squadron.

  Two-seat day-bomber which was immediate predecessor of the D.H. 9A. Over 3,000 built for R.A.F. The D.H. 9 illustrated was serving with No. 206 Squadron in 1920. In October 1918 the D.H. 9 equipped Nos. 17, 27, 47, 49, 98, 99, 103, 104, 107, 108, 144, 202, 206, 211, 212, 218, 220, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 227, 236, 250 and 273 Squadrons of the R.A.F. In 1920, it still equipped No 47 Squadron (Helwan) and No. 55 Squadron (Suez). One 240-h.p. B.H.P. engine and loaded weight of 3,669 lb. Max. speed, 111 m.p.h. at to,000 ft. Climb, 500 ft./min. Endurance, 4 1/2 hours. Service ceiling, 17,500 ft.
de Havilland 9A

  One of the most famous of R.A.F. aircraft, the D.H. 9A rivalled the Bristol Fighter and Avro 504 for longevity. Known familiarly as the 'Ninak', the D.H. 9A was introduced during the last six months of the First World War and remained in service with the peacetime R.A.F. until as late as 1931.
  Designed as a replacement for the D.H. 9 with the Independent Air Force, the D.H. 9A had a larger wing area and was fitted with the 360-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle or 400-h.p. Liberty engine, the prototypes being B. 7664 and C. 6122 respectively.
  The D.H. 9A first entered service with No. 1 to Squadron in June 1918, but did not reach France until 31 August. Operating in close formation at 17,000 ft., the D.H. 9As were extremely effective in daylight raids on German towns, and by the Armistice No. 110 Squadron had dropped 10 1/2 tons of bombs with relatively light losses. Other D.H. 9A squadrons on the Western Front were Nos. 18, 99 and 205. Nos. 47 and 221 Squadrons were also equipped in Russia during 1919-20 fighting against the Bolsheviks.
  The parent firm for D.H. 9A production was Westland at Yeovil, who later produced the Wapiti as a replacement. Westland built 423, and almost 900 had been completed by 1918, including sub-contracted aircraft. Over 400 were delivered to the R.A.F. post-war, the final contract being placed in January 1927 for a batch of 35 ending J 8494.
  The D.H. 9A was standard equipment with home-based day-bomber squadrons until the arrival of the Fairey Fawn, and one of the mainstays of squadrons overseas until superseded by the Wapiti and the IIIF. It also saw wide service with the Auxiliary Air Force from its inception in 1925, and with Flying Training Schools. Wing Drill by Nos. 39 and 207 Squadrons was a feature of the 1924 Hendon Display, and in 1927 Nos. 600 and 601 Squadrons represented the Auxiliaries for the first time.


  Description: Two-seat day bomber. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
  Manufacturers: Westland Aircraft Ltd., Yeovil. Widely sub-contracted.
  Power Plant: One 400-h.p. Liberty.
  Dimensions:Span,46ft. Length,30ft. Height, 10ft.9in. W/area,488sq.ft.
  Weights: Empty, 2,695 lb. Loaded, 4,645 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 114 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. Initial climb, 595 ft./min. Endurance, 5 3/4 hrs. Service ceiling, 16,500 ft.
  Armament: One Vickers forward and one Lewis gun aft. Bomb-load, 450 lb.
D.H.9A (J 7013) of No. 55 Squadron.

  This special version of the D.H. 4 bomber accommodated two passengers in the cabin behind the pilot and was operated by No. 2 Communications Squadron, 86th Wing, R.A.F., on communications flights between Kenley and Buc, near Paris, during the Peace Conference in 1919. The unit was disbanded in September 1919. Thirteen D.H. 4s were converted, serialled F 2663, F 2664, F 2665, F 2681, F 2694, F 2699, F 2702, F 2704, F 5764, H 5905, H 5928, H 5929 and H 5939. One 360-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VI. Maximum Speed, 121 m.p.h. leaded weight, 3,720 lb.

  A development of the earlier IIIA and IIIB seaplanes, the Fairey IIIC was used by the R.A.F. from 1919 to 1921. Some saw service with the R.A.F. in North Russia during the operations against the Bolsheviks in 1919. The Fairey IIIC was superseded by the more famous IIID. Total of 35 built. The prototype (N 2246) is illustrated. One 375-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engine and loaded weight of 4,800 lb. Max. speed, 110 m.p.h. Span, 46 It. 2 in. Served with No. 267 Squadron.

  The most famous of the series of Felixstowe flying-boats used on North Sea patrols, some of which remained in service with the R.A.F. in 1918 and for a few years after the war. Fifty-three in service on 31 October 1918. Equipped Nos. 228, 230, 240, 247, 249, 259 and 267 Squadrons. Two 345-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines and a loaded weight of 10,978 lb. Max. speed, 95 1/2 m.p.h. at 2,000 ft. Endurance, 6 hours. Service ceiling, 9,600 ft. Span, 95 ft. 7 1/2 in. Length, 46 ft. 3 in.


  The F. 3 formed a link between the F. 2A and F. 2C flying-boats of the First World War and the post-war F. 5. It had greater wing-span than the earlier boats and a total of 96 F. 3s was on charge in October 1918. Equipped Nos. 231, 232, 247, 249, 259, 261, 263, 266 and 267 Squadrons. Two 345-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle V III engines and a loaded weight of 12,335 lb. Max. speed, 93 m.p.h. at 2,000 ft. Endurance, 6 hours. Service ceiling, 8,000 ft. Span, 102 ft. Length, 49 ft. 2 in.Felixstowe F.5


  The F. 5 was the standard flying-boat in service with the R.A.F. in the years immediately following the Armistice in 1918. It was the last of the line of Felixstowe boats designed by Lt./Cdr. John Porte which served with such distinction in the First World War, but was itself too late to see active service.
  The F. 5's design followed fairly closely that of its predecessors, the F. 2A, F. 2C and F. 3. The prototype (N 90) went through its acceptance tests in May 1918 and proved to be over 10 m.p.h. faster than the F. 3, from which it differed in having a new wing structure of greater span (103 ft. 8 in., as against 102 ft. on the F. 3 and 9s ft. 7 1/2 in. on the F. 2A), a new type of wing section and numerous detail improvements. To facilitate manufacture, however, the production version of the F. 5 was extensively modified to incorporate F. 3 components, with the result that its loaded weight was increased and the final performance figures were somewhat inferior to those of the F. 3.
  The prototype F. 5 was built at the Seaplane Experimental Station at Felixstowe, but production aircraft were contracted out to Short Bros, at Rochester, the Gosport Aircraft Co. at Gosport, S. K. Saunders in the Isle of Wight, Boulton and Paul at Norwich (hulls only) and the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. at Hendon.
  F. 5 flying-boats equipped No. 230 Squadron at Felixstowe, moving to Calshot in 1922. Their task was naval co-operation with the Portsmouth submarine flotilla at Portland and exercises with the Atlantic Fleet. No. 230 Squadron was re-numbered No. 480 Flight at the end of 1922, but it retained its F. 5 boats until wooden-hulled Southampton were introduced in 1925.
  In July 1919 an F. 5 flying-boat (N 4044) made a tour of Scandinavia, a flight of 2,450 miles in 27 days. In December 1924 Short Bros, produced an F. 5 (N 177) with an all-metal hull, this being the first military flying-boat in the world to depart from the orthodox wooden construction.

SQUADRON ALLOCATIONS No. 230 (Felixstowe and Calshot), Nos. 231 and 249.


  Description: General reconnaissance flying-boat with a crew of 4. Wooden structure with plywood and fabric covering.
  Manufacturers: See list in foregoing narrative.
  Potter Plant: Two 375-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII.
  Dimensions: Span, 103 ft. 8 in. Length, 49 ft. 3 in. Height, 18 ft. 9 in.
  Wing area, 1,409 sq. ft. Weights: Empty, 9,100 lb. Loaded, 12,682 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 88 m.p.h. at 2,000 ft. Climb, 30 mins. To 6,500 ft. Duration, 7 hrs. Service ceiling, 6,800 ft.
  Armament: One Lewis gun mounted in bows and three amidships. Bomb-load of 920 lb. carried beneath the wings.
F.2A N 4490 of No. 267 Squadron at Malta in 1922.
Felixstowe F.5

  Standard heavy bomber of the R.A.F. in the First World War, the О/400 raided Germany with the Independent Air Force and in October 1918 equipped Nos. 58,97,115,207,214,215 and 216 Squadrons. It remained in service for a short period post-war before being Supplanted by the Vimy and Amiens and was serving with No. 216 Squadron in Egypt until 1920. Two 322-h p Rolls-Royce Eagle engines and a loaded weight of 14,022 lb. Max. speed, 974 m.p.h. Endurance, 8 hours. Service ceiling, 8,000 ft. Span, 100 ft. Length, 62 ft.
Handley Page V/1500

  The Handley Page V/1500, the largest British bomber of the First World War and the first with four engines, was designed to bring Berlin within range of R.A.F. bases in East Anglia, but hostilities ceased before the first squadron became operational. Although it saw no action and remained in service only a short time after the war, the V/1500 has an important place in R.A.F. history, as it was the first practical example of a bomber designed to hit strategic targets from home bases.
  The three V/ 1500s which were standing by at Bircham Newton to raid Berlin when the Armistice was signed belonged to No 166 Squadron, and were commanded by Lt.-Col. R. H. Mulock. The V/1500 was designed in 1917 and the prototype made its first flight in May 1918. A total of 255 was ordered for the R.A.F., to be built by Harland and Wolff of Belfast and Beardmores of Dalmuir, but most of these were cancelled with the end of the war. At Cricklewood only about twenty were completed, including F 7137 to F 7143, J 1935, and J 6523. The last aircraft was fitted with Napier Lion engines and first flew on 3 September 1919. It is believed that about twelve more V/ 1500s were completed by the sub-contracting firms of Harland and Wolff and Beardmore.
  To the V/1500 goes the credit of making the first through flight from England to India. On 13 December 1918 the V/1500 H.M.A. Carthusian (illustrated) took off from Martlesham and arrived at Karachi early in January 1919, having flown via Rome, Malta, Cairo and Baghdad. Major A. S. MacLaren, M.C., and Capt. Robert Halley were the pilots and they were accompanied by Brig.-General N. D. K. McEwen and three mechanics. The flight was not without its hazards, the final landing at Karachi being made on only two engines. In May 1919, the V/1500 was used in a bombing raid on Kabul during the Afghanistan troubles.
  In 1919 a V/1500 (F 7140) was shipped to Newfoundland to attempt the Atlantic crossing, but the project was abandoned when Alcock and Brown made their successful flight in a Vickers Vimy. Instead, the V/1500 made a series of demonstration flights in the U.S.A. and Canada.
  Three V/1500s participated in the R.A.F. Pageant at Hendon in July 1920 but the type did not stay long with the post-war R.A.F. where the requirements of heavy bomber squadrons were met by the smaller Vimy.


  Description: Long-range bomber with a crew of 5 to 7. Wooden structure, plywood and fabric covered.
  Manufacturers: Handley Page Ltd., Cricklewood, London, N.W.2. Subcontracted by Beardrnore Ltd. and Harland and Wolff Ltd., Belfast.
  Power Plant: Four 375-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII. Alternatively, four 500 h.p. Galloway Atlantic or four 450 h.p. Napier Lion.
  Dimensions: Span, 126 ft. length, 64 ft. Height, 23 It. Wing area, 3,000 sq. ft.
  Weights: Empty, 17,602 lb. loaded, 30,000 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 99 m.p.h. at 6,500 ft. Cruising, 80 m.p.h. Climb, 41 mins. to 10,000 ft. Endurance, 17 his. Range, 1,300 miles. Service ceiling, 11,000 ft.
  Armmament: Single or twin-yoked Lewis guns in nose, dorsal, ventral and tail positions. Bomb-load, 7,500 lb. (30 X 250 lb.).

British Armament

V/1500. At the end of 1917 it was considered to be worth attempting to bomb Berlin from a base in England. For those days this was indeed a long-range project, entailing, it was reckoned, a point-to-point sortie of some 450 miles and a minimum endurance equivalent to 1,100 miles. Operation in daylight, as well as by night, was therefore necessary, and a heavy defensive armament was a corollary. This demanded a crew of seven. Their stations were once enumerated by Mr Frederick Handley Page, who prefaced his remarks with this most typical reflection: 'If this aeroplane did not bomb Berlin we may find consolation in the fact that perhaps the Germans knew it was coming and saw it was time to give up.' He explained:
  'As in the O/400, the bomber sits in the front, and also has a gun; behind him is the pilot and the captain of the vessel, and behind them again is the mechanic, who looks after all the engine equipment. On another platform at the back there are two gunners, one who fires upwards against hostile attack and another who fires downwards. Right at the tail of the machine there is another gun position, in which a man sits and fires back to beat off attacks from the rear.'
  Thus 'H.P.', speaking in 1919, the year after his V/1500 four-engined bomber had been built and flown; and Gen Trenchard, describing Independent Force operations at about the same time:
  'The 27th Group was established in England under the command of Col. R. H. Mulock, DSO, for the purpose of bombing Berlin and other centres. This group only received the machines capable of carrying out this work at the end of October, and though all ranks worked day and night in order to get the machines ready for the attack on Berlin, they were only completed three days before the signing of the Armistice.'
  Respecting armament, the two most remarkable features of the 'Super Handley' were the tail gun position, with a catwalk giving access, and the very heavy bomb load. Neither the tail gun nor the fuselage access were the first of their kind, for in 1916 Igor Sikorsky had applied such armament to giant aircraft of the Mouromets class. He has said:
  'Finally the officers of the Squadron worked out a scheme for mounting a machine gun at the rear of the fuselage and I was given the problem of designing it. I increased the stabiliser so as to take care of the weight of a man with a machine gun and ammunition. At the end of the fuselage a cockpit was arranged for the gunner, with a sort of windshield as protection from the stream of air. It was difficult to provide means of reaching the rear gunner's nest in flight, because inside the fuselage were wire crosses... A device was invented which the flying crews called the 'trolley car'. It consisted of a pair of tight rails running along the whole fuselage and of a low couch mounted on rollers. When necessary a man could lie down on the couch and move easily below the wire crosses...'
  The present writer makes a particular point of the V/1500's tail gun position, of which Handley Page were justifiably proud, because he will later be recording their arguments for not adopting such a position for the Hampden. The V/1500 tail position, it may be mentioned, proved the means of saving the life of the British flying pioneer Alec Ogilvie. He was occupying this station when one of the great bombers crashed near Golders Green and caught fire. The rest of the crew were killed.
  The tail gunner in the V/1500 had a Scarff ring-mounting for a Lewis gun. There was a similar installation in the nose and on top of the fuselage aft of the wings. Alternatively, this last position had a central socket-and-pillar mounting or two such mountings, one on each side. The whole of the centre portion of the fuselage formed the bomb bay. Twenty-four 230-lb bombs was a load quoted by Handley Page, but up to thirty 250-lb bombs could be taken for short ranges.
  The new 3.300-lb bomb, designed especially for the V/1500, was about 15 ft long, and one or two of these were to be carried beneath the fuselage. The bombsight was of Wimperis course-setting type.
V/1500 H.M.A. Carthusian.

  The F.4 Buzzard single-seat fighter was too late to see action in the First World War, but a few served with the R.A.F. after the Armistice. Two were used by the R.A.F. Communication Wing in 1919 for flights between London and Paris during the Peace Conference. The type also participated in the R.A.F. Pageant at Hendon in 1920 and again in 1922. Powered by a 300-h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine, the Buzzard was one of the fastest fighters of its day with a maximum speed of 132 1/2 m.p.h. at 15,000 ft. and 145 m.p.h. at sea level. Loaded weight, 2,390 lb. Span, 32 ft 9 3/8 in. Length, 25 ft. 5 5/8 in.
Nieuport Nighthawk

  Although the R.A.F. used only a small batch of Nighthawks for trials, the type is of unusual significance, since it was to establish the pattern of Service fighter aircraft throughout the 'twenties and much of the 'thirties. The radial-engined biplane remained the Standard type of single-seat fighter in the R.A.F. (with the exception of the Fury) until the Gladiator of 1937. The Nighthawk was the R.A.F.'s first fighter fitted with a stationary radial engine instead of 1914-18-type rotary, and features of its design could be traced in a number of early Gloster fighters, including the well-known Grebe.
  The Nighthawk was originally produced to a 1918 specification for the R.A.F. Type I S.S. Fighter, a requirement which also brought forth such types as the Sopwith Snark, Snapper and Snail, the A.W. Ara, the B.A.T. Basilisk and Bantam and the Westland Wagtail. The original Nighthawk was produced by the Nieuport and General Aircraft Co. of Cricklewood and was fitted with a 320-h.p. A.B.C. Dragonfly engine, one of the early radials. Mr. H. P. Folland, creator of the famous S.E. 5, was largely responsible for its design and his interest continued when the type was taken over by the Gloucestershire Co. (later Gloster) in 1920. The original Dragonfly version appeared at the R.A.F. Air Pageant in 1920, but in 1923, when the celebrated dog-fight occurred between a Boulton Paul Bourges bomber and two fighters, the attacking Nighthawks (J 2405 and J 2416) had been re-engined with Jupiters.
  The first Nighthawk to be re-engined was J 2405, which was fitted with a 385-h.p. Jupiter II in 1922. Four more Nighthawks were re-engined to Spec. 35/22, two with Jaguar (H 8544 and J 6925) and two with Jupiter engines (J 6926 and J 6927). These Nighthawks were sent to Mesopotamia in 1923 for service trials under tropical conditions. They were attached to No. 1 Squadron (Snipes) and No. 8 Squadron (DH 9A), both stationed at Hinaidi. After a period of desert service, H 8544 and J 6925 were re-conditioned and re-numbered HR 8544 and JR 6925.


  Description: Single-seat fighter. Wooden structure, fabric covered. Maker's designation, Mars VI.
  Manufacturers: Gloucestershire Aircraft Co. Ltd., Gloucester.
  Power Plant: One 325-h.p. Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar II or 385-h.p. Bristol Jupiter III.
  Dimensions: Span, 28 ft. Length, 18 ft. Height, 9 ft. Wing area, 270 sq. ft.
  Weights: Loaded (Jaguar), 2,550 lb.; (Jupiter), 2,270 lb.
  Performance (Jaguar): Maximum speed, 150 m.p.h. at sea level. Climb, 21 mins. to 20,000 ft. Service ceiling, 27,000 ft. Endurance, 2 hours (Jupiter): Maximum speed, 148m.p.h. Climb, 16 1/2 mins. to 20,000 ft.
  Armament: Twin Vickers guns.
Nighthawk (JR 6925) with Jaguar engine of No. I Squadron.
F.E. 2b

  First introduced as a two-seat fighter on the Western Front in January 1916, the F.E. 2b was later used extensively for night bombing and on 1 April 1918 remained in service for this work with Nos. 38, 83, 100, 101, 102, 148 and 149 Squadrons as well as with Nos. 191, 192, 199 and 200 Squadrons for night training. One 120 or 160-h.p. Beardmore engine. Loaded weight, 3,037 lb. Max. speed, 81 m.p.h. at 6,500 ft. Climb, 210ft. min. Service ceiling, 11 000 ft. Span, 47 ft. 9 in. Length, 32 ft 3in.
B.E. 2e

  Two-seat Corps Reconnaissance aircraft developed from celebrated B.E. 2c, some of which also remained in service in 1918. The B.E. 2e equipped Nr#. 30, 31, 114 and 269 Squadrons in October 1918. Also used by training schools. One 90-h.p. R.A.F. 1a engine and loaded weight of 2,100 lb. Max. speed, 82 m.p.h. at 6,500 ft. Climb, 182 ft./min. Endurance, 3 1/4 hours. Service ceiling, 11,000 ft. Span, 40 ft. 9 in. length, 27 ft. 3 in.

  Designed by the Royal Aircraft Factory, the R.E. 8 (colloquially known as the 'Harry Tate') became from 1916 onwards the most widely used type of corps-reconnaissance aircraft with the R.F.C. and R.A.F. In October 1918 it equipped Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 13, 14, 15, 16, 21, 30, 34, 42, 52, 53, 59, 63, 105, 106 and 113 Squadrons of the R.A.F. Post-war, it served with Nos. 6, 30 and 208 Squadrons, overseas. One 150-h.p. R.A.F. 4A engine. Loaded weight, 2,678 lb. Max. speed, 102 m.p.h. Climb, 340 ft. min. Endurance, 4 1/2 hours. Service ceiling, 13,000 ft. Span, 42 ft. 7 in. length, 27 ft. 10 in.

  One of the outstanding single-seat fighters of the First World War, the S.E. 5A was developed from the S.E. 5 which first entered service with the famous No. 5b Squadron in March 1917. In October 1918 the S.E. 5A equipped Nos. 1, 24, 29, 32, 40, 41, 56, 60, 64, 74, 84, 85, 92, 111 and 145 Squadrons of the R.A.F. One 200-h.p., 220-h.p. or 240-h.p. Hispano- Suiza or 200-h.p. Wolseley Viper engine. Loaded weight, 2,048 lb. Max. speed, 132 m.p.h. at 6,500 ft. Climb, 765 ft., min. Service ceiling, 20,000 ft. Span, 26 ft. 7 1/2 in. Length, 20 ft. 11 in.

  The Short 320 was the last of a series of seaplanes widely used in the First World War for anti-submarine patrol and naval reconnaissance. It was preceded by the Short 184 (with 225- or 260-h.p. Sunbeam or 250-h.p. Renault engine) and was fitted with a 310- or 320-h.p. Sunbeam engine. Over 300 Short 184s and 50 Short 320s were in service with the R.A.F. in October 1918. Loaded weight, 7,014 lb. Max. speed, 80 m.p.h. Climb, 140 ft./min. Service ceiling, 5,500 ft. Span, 74 ft. 6 in. Length, 45 ft. 9 in. Served with Nos. and 268 Squadrons.

  The Camel first went into action with No. 70 Squadron in July 1917. In October 1918 Camels equipped Nos. 3, 28, 37, 43, 44, 45, 46, 50, 54, 61, 65. 66, 70, 73, 78, 80, 87, 112, 143, 150, 151, 152, 188, 180, 198, 201, 203, 204, 208, 209, 210 and 213 Squadrons of the R.A.F. One 110-h.p. Le Rhone or 130 Clerget rotary engine. Loaded weight, 1,422 lb. Max. speed, 118 1/2 m.p.h. Climb, 1,000 ft./min. Service ceiling, 24,000 ft. Span, 28 ft. Length, 18 ft. 8 in.

  One of the earliest land plane torpedo-bombers, the Cuckoo was first delivered to the R.A.F. in June 1918, but saw little active service. Post-war the Cuckoo equipped No. 210 Squadron at Gosport from June 1919 to April 1923 and No. 185 Squadron. Some Cuckoos (including the one illustrated, N 8011) were built by Blackburn. One Wolseley Viper or Sunbeam Arab engine. Loaded weight, 3,833 lb. Max. speed, 100 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. Endurance, 4 hours. Service ceiling, 12,000 ft. Span, 45 ft. 9 in. Length, 28 ft. 6 in.

  The Dolphin followed the Pup, Triplane and Camel in the Sopwith family, but preceded the Snipe. It first entered service with No. 19 Squadron in January 1918 and was notable for its back-staggered wines. In October 1918 it equipped Nos. 19, 23, 79, 87 and 90 Squadrons of the R.A.F. One 200-h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine. Loaded weight, 2,000 lb. Max. speed, 131 1/2 m.p.h. Climb, 855 ft. min. Service ceiling, 21,000 ft. Span, 32 ft. 6 in. Length, 22 ft. 3 in.

  The Dragon was a development of the Snipe fitted with the 360-h.p. A.B.C. Dragonfly IA radial engine in place of the B.R. 2 rotary. The prototype (E 7990) was a converted Snipe and was followed by a batch of production aircraft during 1919, but the type never entered squadron service with the R.A.F. Max. speed, 150 m.p.h. Service ceiling, 25,000 ft. loaded weight, 2,132 lb. Span, 31 ft. 1 in. Length, 21 ft. 9 in.

  A derivative of the Snipe, the Salamander was intended for ground-attack duties, and for this purpose carried 650 lb. of armour plate for the protection of the pilot and petrol tanks. The first prototype (E 5429) did Service trials on the Western Front from May to 18, but no squadron was equipped with the type. About forty had been delivered to the R.A.F. by the Armistice. One 230-h.p. Bentley B.R. 2 engine. Max. speed, 125 m.p.h. at 500 ft. Service ceiling, 13,000 ft. loaded weight, 2,512 lb. Span, 31 ft. 2 5/8 in. Length, 19 ft. 6 in.
Sopwith Snipe

  Introduced as a successor to the famous Sopwith Camel, the Snipe first reached the R.A.F. on the Western Front in September 1918. In the three months before the war's end it proved the best of the Allied fighters, though less than a hundred were in action. It was whilst flying a Snipe that Major W. G. Barker of No. 201 Squadron fought his celebrated single-handed engagement with 15 Fokker D. VIIs on 27 October 1918 for which he was awarded the V.C.
  Due to the financial stringencies applied to the R.A.F. in the early postwar years, the Snipe remained with R.A.F. fighter squadrons until as late as 1926. By this time, as a typical rotary-engined scout of the First World War period, it was an undoubted anachronism among the Siskins, Woodcocks and Grebes which had begun to replace it in 1924-25. From April 1920 to September 1922, the Snipes of Nо. 25 Squadron at Hawkinge, near Folkestone, represented the sole fighter defence of the United Kingdom. The last Snipes on Home Defence duties were those of No. 43 Squadron at Henlow, supplanted by Gamecocks in August 192b. Overseas, Snipes remained in Iraq until No. 1 Squadron disbanded in November 1920. At Flying Training Schools, Snipes remained in service after this date, and about forty were used as two-seat dual-control trainers.
  Snipes were regular performers at the R.A.F. Display at Hendon from its inception in 1920, and they made their last appearance with No. 17 Squadron in 1926. One of the highlights of the 1921 Display was a polished demonstration of formation aerobatics by Snipes of the Central Flying School led by Sqn. Ldr. C. Draper, D.S.C.
  The prototype Snipe (B 9963) differed from production versions in having single-bay wings and a slab-sided fuselage. It was designed to die same specification as the Boulton and Paul Bobolink. Though their entry was unsuccessful, Boulton and Paul received large contracts for Snipes and built nearly 500 (commencing E 6137). Many Snipes used post-war were built by Ruston & Proctor Ltd., of Lincoln, who received contracts for 600 (commencing E 6937), but some were cancelled with the Armistice.


  Description: Single-seat fighter. Wooden structure, fabric covered. Maker's designation, Sopwith 7F.1.
  Manufacturers: Sopwith Aviation Co. Ltd., Kingston, Surrey. Subcontracted by Boulton and Paul, Coventry Ordnance Works, Napier, Portholme and Huston and Proctor.
  Power Plant: One 230-h.p. Bentley B.R. 2.
  Dimensions: Span, 30 ft. 1 in. Length, 19 ft. 9 in. Height, 8 ft. 9 in. Wing area, 270 sq. ft.
  Weights: Empty, 1,312 lb. Loaded, 2,020 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 121 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. Initial climb, 970 ft./min. Service ceiling, 20,000 ft.
  Armament: Twin Vickers guns.
Sopwith Snipes of No. 56 Squadron at Abu Sueir, Egypt, in 1920.
Vickers Vimy

  The Vimy, together with the D.H. 10 Amiens and the Handley Page V/1500, was one of the new generation of bombers which, if the First World War had continued, would have been used by the R.A.F. for the bombing of Germany. However, the Vimy, unlike its contemporaries, enjoyed long service with the R.A.F. in the post-war years and until the introduction of the Virginia was the standard heavy bomber. Afterwards it served in various training roles until 1931.
  The prototype Vimy (B 9952) made its initial flight in November 1917 with two 207-h.p. Hispano-Suizas and was followed by the Mk. II with 280-h.p. Sunbeam Maori engines, the Mk. III with 310-h.p. Fiat engines and the Mk. IV with 360-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII engines. The Vimy IV became the standard production version and 240 were built, though many contracts were cancelled at the end of the First World War. The last of about 30 post-war Vimy IVs was the batch J 7701 7705 ordered by the Air Ministry in March 1925. On 31 October 1918 only three Vimy bombers had reached the R.A.K, and the type did not enter full service until July 1919, when it superseded O/400 bombers with No 58 Squadron in Egypt. It subsequently equipped other squadrons in Egypt and remained with No. 216 Squadron, operating some of the mail services between Cairo and Baghdad, until August 1926.
  At home, Vimys of 'D' Flight of No. 100 Squadron at Spittlegate were the only twin-engined bombers in service until the formation of No. 7 Squadron at Bircham Newton in June 1923. No. 7's Vimys represented the R.A.F.'s entire home-based heavy bomber force until joined by Nos. 9 and 58 Squadrons in April 1924. In 1924 and 1925 the Vimy was replaced by the Virginia in first-line squadrons, but it remained on bomber duties with No. 502 Squadron in Northern Ireland until January 1929. From 1925 about 80 Vimys were re-engined with Jupiter or Jaguar radials (see three-view) and served at F.T.S.s and as parachute trainers at Henlow.
  No account of the Vimy would be complete without reference to Alcock and Brown's epic Atlantic flight in 1919. This, however, was by a nonstandard Vimy owned by Vickers and cannot be credited to the R.A.F.


  Description: Heavy bomber with a crew of 3. Wooden structure, fabric covered. Maker's designation, F.B. 27A. Manufacturers: Vickers Ltd. at Crayford, Kent and Weybridge, Surrey.
  Sub-contracted by R.A.F. (Farnborough), Morgan and Westland.
  Power Plant: Two 360-h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII.
  Dimensions: Span, 68 ft. 1 in. length, 43 ft. 6 1/2 in. Height, 15 ft. 7 1/2 in.
  Wing area, 1,318 sq. ft. Weights: Empty, 7,104 lb. Loaded, 10,884 lb.
  Performance: Maximum speed, 100 m.p.h. at 6,500 ft.; 96 m.p.h. at 10,000 ft. Initial climb, 360 ft./min.; 25.9 mins. to 10,000 ft. Range, about 900 miles.
  Armament: Twin Lewis guns in nose and amidships. Bomb-load, 2,476 lb.
Vimy IV (F 8631) of No. 7 Squadron.