Martinsyde R.G. / F.1 / F.2
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
R.G. Designed late in 1916, the R.G. was initially armed with a fixed Vickers gun to port and a Lewis gun, having a restricted field of fire, from the starboard side of the cockpit. Later two fixed Vickers guns were substituted, the guns lying exposed forward of the windscreen These guns do not appear to have had Constantinesco gear; they retained the land-service grips and firing levers at the rear and may have had a mechanical gear to allow them to fire through the airscrew arc or to have been intended for the Martinsyde electrical synchronising gear. This, however, dated from early 1916, and may have been entirely abandoned by the time the R.G. underwent official tests at Farnborough in 1917. Certainly the R.G. must have rivalled the Sopwith Camel very closely indeed for the distinction of being the first British fighter to have twin Vickers guns.
F.1. The mystery that surrounds this two-seat fighter of 1917 may be dispelled in some degree by evidence later adduced in connection with the Vickers F.B.24E, an aircraft of similar layout. The author inclines to the view that both aircraft were designed for the Vickers mounting described and illustrated in the context of the Vickers type named.
F.2. An all-round improvement on the F.1, the F.2 was more or less contemporary and had a normal armament. A fixed Vickers gun lay externally to port, and the gunner had a Lewis gun on a Scarff ring-mounting.
P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
At Brooklands Martinsyde had been busy building a new single-seat biplane fighter, the R.G., which was of single-bay layout and smaller than the Elephant but on generally similar lines. Powered by the 190 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon and armed with two Vickers guns on the front coaming, the R.G. exhibited the hallmark of a first-rate and competent fighter design. Tests at Farnborough during February, 1917, revealed a fine performance but, as both the Camel and S.E.5 had by then been adopted as replacement fighters and the Falcon was needed for Bristol Fighters, the Martinsyde R.G. unfortunately came to naught.
Mid-1917 saw the debut of a two-seat fighter, the F.1, from Martinsyde at Brooklands. The machine was odd in carrying its observer in the front cockpit where he could do little that would be effective in combat. A 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Mk.III powered the F.1, giving it a top speed at 6,500 ft. of 109-5 m.p.h. A two-bay biplane of normal appearance and construction, the F.1 had little to recommend it in its original form but Martinsyde made another effort at producing a two-seat fighter reconnaissance machine when they completed their F.2 biplane in May, 1917. A 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine gave it a top speed at ground level of 120 m.p.h., the F.2 being armed with a single Vickers gun for the pilot and a Scarff-mounted Lewis for the gunner. Although a competent enough design in most respects, the indifferent view for the pilot told against the F.2 and it stood little chance of filling the place occupied by the competitive Bristol F.2B.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Following the transfer of the Martinsyde G.100/102 Elephant from its intended role of fighter to bomber, George Handasyde remained determined to pursue a similar but smaller fighter design, the R.G. (=Revised G-Type), and he, working with A A (‘Tony’) Fletcher, came up with a single-bay biplane of exceptionally clean lines and compact configuration, powered initially by a 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcon I engine driving a four-blade propeller. It is likely that the first prototype, probably A318, was flown in January 1917.
When first officially tested at Farnborough in February this aircraft returned a top speed of 130 mph at sea level, and an ability to reach 10,000 feet in 10 minutes 20 seconds (compared with 125 mph and 14 minutes 10 seconds of the Factory’s own S.E.5 prototype which underwent the same tests during the following month.
However, it had already been decided to go ahead with production of both the S.E.5 and the Sopwith Camel and, even thought Handasyde acquired a 275hp Falcon III for the R.G., this was doomed by circumstances also; despite returning a speed of 136 mph during its official tests in June, it had by then been decreed that that all Falcon IIIs would be reserved for Bristol F.2B Fighters.
Type: Single-engine, single-seat, single-bay biplane scout.
Manufacturer: Martinsyde Ltd., Brooklands, Surrey.
Powerplant: One 190hp Rolls-Royce Falcon I (later 275hp Falcon III) 12-cylinder water-cooled in-line engine driving four-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 32ft 0in; length, (Falcon I) 25ft 8in, (Falcon III) 25ft 10in; height, 9ft 10in; wing area, 310 sq ft.
Weights: (Falcon III) Tare, 1,740lb; all-up, 2,261lb.
Performance: (Falcon III) Max speed, 136 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 7 min 20 sec; service ceiling, 23,500ft; endurance, 2 hr.
Armament: Two fixed, synchronized 0.303in Vickers machine guns on nose decking.
Prototypes: Believed three, possibly A318-A320 (believed first flown in January 1917). No production.
Designed early in 1917, possibly by Tony Fletcher shortly before he left Martinsyde Ltd, the F.1 was the first of a new series of fighters which culminated in the Buzzard. It was clearly influenced by the Bristol F.2 Fighter, even to the extent of placing the fuselage in the wing gap and clear of the lower wing. It was a two-bay biplane, and in effect a scaled-up derivative of the successful G. 100/102 Elephant, the airframe being strengthened to accommodate the new Rolls-Royce Mark III (Eagle III).
The broad-chord wings were rigged with slight stagger, and ailerons were fitted to upper and lower wings. The upper wing was clear of the top decking of the fuselage by some nine inches, while the lower wings were left uncovered below the fuselage, as on the Bristol F.2A; however, unlike the Bristol, the F.1’s wings remained uncovered - resulting in unnecessary end drag.
The F.1 was officially declared to be a fighter, and it certainly possessed a fairly respectable performance for such a big single-engine aircraft. Nevertheless, a feature of the F.1, which drew puzzled comments from Martlesham following its trials in July 1917, was the location of the crew, the observer’s cockpit being directly below the upper wing (with entry to it only possible through a large aperture in the wing’s centre section); the pilot’s cockpit was about five feet aft of the observer, well clear of the wing trailing edge and with precious little view forward. No armament was fitted in the prototype, A3933, and no logical suggestion indicated exacdy what gun armament was proposed.
With the Bristol Fighter becoming firmly established in production, it was hardly surprising that development of the F.1 was not pursued further, and it is not known if the planned second prototype was even completed.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, two-bay biplane fighter.
Manufacturer: Martinsyde Ltd, Brooklands, Surrey.
Powerplant: One 250hp Rolls-Royce Mark III (Eagle III) engine driving four-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span: 44ft 6in; length, 29ft lin; height, 8ft 6in; wing area, 467 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 2,198lb; all-up, 3,260lb.
Performance: Max speed, approx 112 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 13 min 40 sec; service ceiling, 16,500ft; endurance, 3 3/4 hr.
Armament: None fitted in prototype.
Prototypes: Two ordered, A3933 and A3934 (A3933 flown in May 1917). No production.
The Martinsyde F.2 was produced almost simultaneously with the F.1, but was designed under the direction of E Bouillon, newly appointed chief designer of the company. Owing some obvious family resemblance to the previous Martinsyde fighters, the F.2 diverged from the widely influential Bristol F.2 Fighter in being a single-bay biplane and with the lower wing close up to the fuselage - although the rear spar was not directly attached to the lower longerons.
Unfortunately the aircraft’s future was compromised from the start by the choice of a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine, which would have had to be replaced in the event of a production order. The wings were well staggered and the top wing, unlike the F.1, was located well above the fuselage, and this time the pilot sat forward of the observer/gunner. However, when the aircraft underwent its trials in May 1917, it was criticised on account of the view from the pilot’s cockpit, and in order to rectify this small cutouts were made in the side coamings in the front of the cockpit.
The dominance of the Bristol Fighter, sealed the fate of the Martinsyde F.2 which otherwise returned a fairly creditable performance. At least its conventional armament of a synchronized Vickers gun and a Scarff ring-mounted Lewis evoked no adverse comments.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, single-bay biplane reconnaissance fighter.
Manufacturer: Martinsyde Ltd, Brooklands, Surrey.
Powerplant: One 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span: 32ft 0in; length, 25ft 0in; height, 8ft 2in; wing area, 334 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 1,547lb; all-up, 2,355lb.
Performance: Max speed, 120 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 13 min 30 sec; service ceiling, 17,000ft; endurance, 2 1/2 hr.
Armament: One synchronized 0.303in Vickers machine gun mounted on nose, forward of pilot’s cockpit and to port of aircraft’s centreline, and one Lewis gun with Scarff ring on rear cockpit.
Prototype: Believed one only. (Assumed to have flown in May 1917 at Brooklands). No production.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
MARTINSYDE R.G. UK
Derived from the Elephant via a single-bay experimental variant of the earlier design by A A Fletcher, the R.G. bore a close resemblance to its predecessor and was initially flown late in 1916 with a 190 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon 12-cylinder water-cooled engine. Armament comprised a fixed 0.303-in (7,7-mm) Vickers gun on the port upper longeron, outside the cabane struts, and a Lewis gun on the starboard side of the cockpit. After official trials in February 1917, the R.G. was revised in a number of respects. The cockpit was moved aft and the centre section cut-out was enlarged. The span of the lower wing was reduced and the rear top decking was raised. Armament was changed and consisted of two 0.303-in (7,7-mm) Vickers guns immediately in front of the cockpit, and a 275 hp Falcon III engine was fitted. In this form, the R.G. had, according to the official report, a ‘‘performance ... far and away better than any other machine manufactured”. However, development was discontinued in favour of the superior F.3. The following data relate to the definitive R.G.
Max speed, 132 mph (212 km/h) at 6,500 ft (1 980 m).
Time to 10,000 ft (3 050 m), 7.33 min.
Endurance, 2 hrs.
Empty weight, 1,740 lb (789 kg).
Loaded weight, 2,261 lb (1 026 kg).
Span, 32 ft 0 in (9,75 m).
Length, 25 ft 10 in (7,87 m).
Height, 9 ft 10 in (2,30 m).
Wing area, 310 sqft (28,80 m2).
MARTINSYDE F.1 UK
The F.1 two-seat fighter was conceived late in 1915 as a tractor biplane in which the gunner occupied the forward cockpit and stood upright to fire a 0.303-in (7,7- mm) Lewis gun on a mount built into the upper wing centre section. Powered by a 250 hp Rolls-Royce Mk III engine (later to become known as the Eagle III), the F.1 suffered a somewhat protracted development and, by the time that it was officially tested in July 1917, it was already obsolete. Obviously not acceptable for operational use, the F.1 was not further developed.
Max speed, 109 mph (175 km/h) at 6,500 ft (1 980 m).
Time to 10,000 ft (3 050 m), 13.66 min.
Endurance, 3.75 hrs.
MARTINSYDE F.2 UK
Of more modern concept that the F.1, the F.2 two-seat fighter was, like its predecessors, of wooden construction with fabric skinning, apart from the sides and top decking of the fuselage which were plywood covered. Designed and built while the F.1 was under construction, the F.2 underwent official testing two months prior to its predecessor, in May 1917. The F.2 was powered by a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza 8Bd eight-cylinder water-cooled engine and carried an armament of one fixed and synchronised 0.303-in (7,7-mm) Vickers gun and one Lewis gun on a Scarff ring. Shortcomings revealed during official trials ruled out a production order, and the prototype was utilised as a test-bed for the then-new Sunbeam Arab engine.
Max speed, 120 mph (193 km/h) at sea level.
Time to 10,000 ft (3 050 m), 13.5 min.
Endurance, 2.5 hrs.
Empty weight, 1,547 lb (702 kg).
Loaded weight, 2,355 lb (1 068 kg).
Span, 32 ft 0 in (9,75 m).
Length, 25 ft 0 in (7,62 m).
Height, 8 ft 2 in (2,49 m).
Wing area, 334 sq ft (31,03 m2).