H.Taylor Fairey Aircraft since 1915
The first aircraft to be both designed and built by the Fairey Aviation Company was a twin-engined three-seat landplane ordered by the Admiralty. This has been generally described as a long-range fighter and general-purpose aircraft, but it could also have been developed as a bomber. It was not the first aircraft to be built by the company, which made a start with a sub-contract order for twelve Short Type 827 floatplanes. These, built in 1915-16 and tested at Hamble by Sydney Pickles, carried the serial numbers 8550-8561 and the Fairey constructor’s numbers F.4-15. Before the completion of the fighter a start had also been made on a contract for one hundred Sopwith 1 1/2-Strutters.
A fair amount of information about the F.2, in the form in which it finally appeared and was flown, can be obtained from descriptions, photographs and drawings of the period, but not much is known with certainty about the earlier versions of the project, design work on which is believed to have been started in November 1915. Four serial numbers, 3702-3705, were allocated by the Admiralty for two versions. One, it has been recorded, was to have had a tractor and the other a pusher layout. Two were to have been powered by 200 hp engines produced by Brotherhood Ltd. Three schemes were worked on by Fairey: these were for 3702 (F.1), 3704 (F.2) and 3705 (F.3). The first and third had not got beyond the wing-detailing stage before a requirement for wing-folding was introduced and the designs were not proceeded with.
The most interesting fact about these initial proposals is that at least one, F.2, was planned with tandem-mounted engines within the fuselage and driving outboard propellers through a chain-and-sprocket system. In the case of the F.2 the propellers were pushers and the wing-folding requirement meant that the layout had to be revised to provide a tractor arrangement. This may well have been less mechanically attractive and the buried-engines plan was later dropped in favour of a conventional design with two wing-mounted powerplants - 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon twelve-cylinder vee liquid-cooled engines driving tractor propellers. In this form the F.2 went ahead to the prototype stage.
This one-and-only prototype, assembled in the wooden shed on the site where the company’s factory was to be completed 18 months later, may have been flown initially, probably in straight hops, from the adjoining field at Harlington. The first official flight was, however, made by Pickles from Northolt, where it had been reassembled, on 17 May, 1917. Admiralty interest in the project had by then waned and no further progress was made.
The F.2 was a three-bay biplane with long upper-wing extensions braced from kingposts above the outer interplane struts, and with a substantial four-wheel ‘bedstead’ undercarriage to simplify landings at night and/or to lessen the chances of nosing-over on rough ground. The wings folded from a point outboard of the Falcon engines - which, cleverly enough, were arranged to drive ‘handed’, or opposite-rotating, propellers to eliminate torque reaction and thus reduce the tendency to swing. The single tailplane carried twin fins and rudders. Armament consisted of Lewis guns on Scarff rings for the forward and aft gunners; bombs could be carried on external racks.
No record appears to remain of the requirements which the design of the F.2 was intended to meet. Large, relatively slow, multi-engined, multi-seat fighters had not proved, nor were to prove, suitable for a conventionally offensive role in air fighting, but the F.2 might well have had value for night attacks on Zeppelin raiders and, perhaps, for specialized deep-penetration operations. The Royal Naval Air Service was, from 3 September, 1914, until March 1916, wholly responsible for the air defence of Great Britain. The RNAS also played an important, but often forgotten, part in the war on the Western Front and pioneered what would now be known as strategic bombing.
Span 77 ft (23-5 m); length 40 ft 6 in (12-3 m); height 13 ft 6 in (4.1 m); total wing area 814 sq ft (75-6 sq m). Loaded weight 4,880 lb (2,213 kg). Maximum speed at sea level 93 mph (150 km/h); landing speed 38 mph (61 km/h). Climb to 5,000 ft (1,524 m) 6 min. Endurance 3 hr 30 min.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
F.2. Although this twin-tractor biplane of 1916/17 has been called by the makers the Fairey Twin Bomber, it might more correctly be termed a heavy fighter, though it could doubtless carry bombs. A three-seater, it had Lewis guns in the nose and atop the fuselage aft of the wings. These were on Scarff ring-mountings, the rear one being somewhat recessed below the fuselage top-line. In the context of armament the F.2 had another association of interest, for the engines of one intended version (F.1?) were to have been products of the Brotherhood Engineering Company, which many years before had made the engines for the first Whitehead torpedoes.
P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
In the Autumn of 1916 there appeared the first aeroplane to be both designed and constructed by the Fairey Aviation Company. Hitherto, the firm had built some Short-designed seaplanes but, with the F.2 three-seat, long-range fighter, it started the extensive line of aircraft which were to carry the name of Fairey for the ensuing forty years. The F.2 was intended for the R.N.A.S. and was a three-bay tractor biplane with a span of 77 ft. and a pair of 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. Both gunners had Lewis guns on Scarff rings, one being in the nose cockpit and the other just aft of the wings.
Although, when it flew in May, 1917, the single prototype 3704 showed the F.2 to be a competent enough design, it proved to be another of the early examples of that class of the large, multi-seat, multi-engine fighter which, owing to its inherent disadvantages, was to prove time and time again unsuitable for adoption and production.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
The Fairey F.2, a twin-engine biplane with a span of 77 feet, was described by its makers as a long-range fighter intended for the RNAS, although no record appears to have survived describing precisely what its exact operational use was intended to be, although it may reasonably be conjectured to have been as a gun-carrying escort aircraft, also capable of carrying a small load of bombs.
As the first Fairey-designed aircraft to be built (the company having produced a small number of Short seaplanes in 1915), the F.2 was a three-seat, three-bay biplane, rigged without stagger and with considerable wing overhang braced from kingposts above the outboard interplane struts. Of all-wood, fabric-covered construction, it was intended to be powered by two 200hp Brotherhood tractor engines in the first two aircraft, followed by two aircraft with 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcons arranged as pushers; in the event, only one aircraft was completed, in the autumn of 1916, and this was powered by Falcons installed as tractors. It is believed that construction of the other three aircraft was started but not proceeded with, owing to the non-availability of the Brotherhood engines. In any event, the sole completed aircraft was not flown until about May 1917.
The F.2 carried a pilot and two gunners, the latter being provided with Lewis guns on Scarff rings in the nose and amidships; the pilot’s cockpit was located just forward of the wing leading edges. A monoplane tail unit was incorporated carrying twin fins and unbalanced rudders. The undercarriage comprised a robust structure of ten struts, arranged W-fashion in end elevation, mounting four wheels in tandem pairs.
As was mandatory on all large naval aircraft, the wings were made to fold so as to enable the big aeroplane to be hangared.
Type: Twin-engine, three-seat, three-bay biplane long-range fighter.
Manufacturer: The Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, Hayes, Middlesex.
Powerplant: Two 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcon I 12-cylinder water-cooled engines driving four-blade tractor propellers.
Structure: All-wood, wire-braced construction with fabric covering.
Dimensions: Span, 77ft 0in; length, 40ft 6 1/2 in; height, 13ft 5 5/8 in; wing area, 718.4 sq ft. Weight: All-up, 4,880lb.
Performance: Max speed, 92.5 mph at sea level; climb to 5,000ft, 6 min; endurance, 3 1/2 hr.
Armament: Two 0.303in Lewis machine guns on Scarff rings in nose and midships cockpits; aircraft capable of carrying small bombs.
Prototypes: Four ordered, Nos 3702-3705; only one, No 3704, completed in late autumn 1916 (believed first flown in May 1917). No production.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
FAIREY F.2 UK
The first aircraft to be designed entirely by Fairey Aviation, the F2 was a massive twin-engined, three-seat, long-range fighter ordered by the Admiralty. Powered by two 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon 12-cylinder water-cooled engines, the F2 was a three-bay biplane with a four-wheel "bedstead" main undercarriage, the wings folding aft from a point outboard of the engines. Armament consisted of a 0.303-in (7,7-mm) Lewis machine gun on a Scarff ring in the extreme nose and a similar installation immediately aft of the wings. The sole prototype made its official first flight on 17 May 1917, but Admiralty interest in the F.2 had waned by then, and no further development was undertaken as no use had been found for the large, relatively slow, multi-engined, multi-seat fighter.
Max speed, 93 mph (150 km/h) at sea level.
Time to 5,000 ft (1 525 m), 6.0 min.
Endurance, 3.5 hrs.
Loaded weight, 4,880 lb (2213 kg).
Span, 77 ft 0 in (23,47m).
Length, 40 ft 6 in (12,34 m).
Height, 13 ft 6 in (4,11 m).
Wing area, 814 sq ft (75.62 m2).
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
The type F2 twin engine machine was one of the earliest of the large twin engine types built. It was designed in 1914, and was flying in 1916. It was actually the first twin engine machine fitted with folding wings.
The following table gives the main particulars:
Type of machine Land Biplane.
Name or type No. of machine F2.
Purpose for which intended General.
Span, upper plane overall 77 ft.
Gap, Maximum and minimum 6 ft.
Overall length 40 ft. 6 1/2 in.
Maximum height 13 ft. 5 5/8 in.
Chord 5 ft. 6 in.
Total surface of wings 718.4 sq. ft.
Span of tail 17 ft. 6 in.
Total area of tail 103.9 sq. ft. (Including elevators).
Area of elevators 39 sq. ft.
Area of rudder
(2 rudders, 10 sq. ft. each) 20 sq. ft.
Area of fin
(2 fins, 10.9 sq. ft. each) 21.8 sq.ft.
Area of each aileron 47.8 sq. ft. each
total area 95.6 sq. ft. total.
Maximum cross section of body 3 ft. x 2 ft. 6 in.
Horizontal area of body 97 sq. ft.
Vertical area of body 75 sq. ft.
Engine type and h.p. (2 engines) 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce.
Load per sq. ft. 6.8 lbs.
Weight per h.p. 13 lbs.
Tank capacity in hours 3 1/2 hours.
Speed low down 81 kts.
Landing speed 38 m.p.h.
To 5.000 feet in minutes 6 minutes.
Total weight of machine loaded 4880 lbs.