The First British Fighter Pilots

During the summer of 1912 the British Army based at home in Britain conducted their annual military exercises to hone skills and test new techniques. As normal, two opposing forces were assembled to “fight” each other designated Blue Force and Red Force but in 1912 both sides were given an air component from the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). The RFC was barely out of the womb having been formed on April 13th of that year and the small cadre of pilots were keen to show their stuff. With the aircraft themselves being very primitive the only real mission they could carry out was reconnaissance and so the pilots went about tracking the “enemy” forces as they made their way to the battlefield. This gave an unparalleled view of the tactical situation to the opposing generals whose orders were given based on the intelligence the new-fangled machines offered. In fact, it was an aeroplane that allowed Blue Force to defeat Red Force when a Blue aircraft spotted a concentration of enemy troops and reported them back to the Blue Force commander, Lieutenant-General Sir James Grierson. Grierson was therefore able to meet them on more favourable terms for his own side which led to his men’s success.

Despite this there was still a lot of scepticism in the Army about the importance of military aircraft in the wake of the exercise, especially amongst officers assigned to Red Force, but Grierson immediately recognised both the advantages and the dangers they brought to the battlefield. With remarkable foresight he wrote of the aircraft’s role in the future;

So long as hostile aircraft are hovering over one’s troops all movements are likely to be seen and reported. Therefore, the first step in war will be to get rid of hostile aircraft.

Wright flyer machine gun

Wright brothers with their armed Military Flyer (Wright-Borthers.org)

Unwittingly, Grierson had in a sense made some of the first comments on the importance of control of the air above the battlefield before the term “air superiority” came in to common usage. In America, Britain, France and Germany experiments were already being carried out to arm aircraft for combat with even the Wright Brothers themselves suggesting a machine gun could be fitted to their revolutionary Wright Flyer – the very first true aeroplane! However, the experiments were still largely experimental when Archduke Franz Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was assassinated in Sarajevo on 28th June 1914 sparking World War I. Thus the armies of Entente (Britain and France) met the Germans and Austro-Hungarians with aircraft carrying out their vital reconnaissance role and just like in 1912 they were proving very good at it.

The need to take down enemy fliers was obvious and some airmen became obsessed with finding ways to do just that. Some pilots in the field experimented with all kinds of possible methods to deprive the enemy of the advantages of flight the most legendary of which was the grappling hook method whereby one plane would attempt to snag the wings of an enemy plane as it passed over it. While almost comical now, the aim of bringing down enemy fliers was no joke to these men and the first aircraft to be deliberately brought down by another in combat was actually the result of a ramming by a Russian pilot on 8th September 1918 of an Austrian reconnaissance plane.

The obvious answer of course was to take a gun up and shoot the enemy plane to either disable its engine or kill its pilot but this brought a whole host of problems with it since the machines were not suited to combat or carrying heavy weapons. As a stop-gap measure pilots and their observers carried pistols and rifles with which to shoot at any enemy planes they may encounter while carrying out their reconnaissance duties. This was an extremely difficult task for even the best shot. The aircraft were hardly stable gun platforms and the target aircraft was often manoeuvring in three dimensions and returning fire with their own rifles.

It would be two Frenchmen who would be credited with the first air-to-air victory using aerial gunnery. On 5th October 1914, Joseph Frantz and his observer Louis Quenault flying a Voisin LA fitted with a machine gun attacked a German reconnaissance plane sending it crashing to the ground. The French machine was hardly suited to the fighter role and the weight of the crew and the gun severely restricted performance but true air combat had, somewhat clumsily, been born.

The Royal Flying Corps were already well in to developing the first dedicated fighter aircraft in the shape of the Vickers FB ‘Gun Carrier’, a pusher-plane with a machine gun mounted in the nose but it would not be ready for deployment to France until mid-1915. In the meantime, the RFC’s reconnaissance planes such as the Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2 and the Avro 504 had to rely on the observer firing the standard infantry weapon, the Lee-Enfield .303 bolt action rifle, at any enemy planes they might encounter. The comparatively small number of aircraft available to both sides in the early days of the war meant that there were few encounters and when there were it would often end with both sides running out of rifle rounds and then resorting to waving as they both turned for home.

Avro 504

Avro 504 (Ed Coates)

That changed on 25th August 1914. No.5 Squadron RFC was operating Avro 504s from an airfield at La Cateau in Northern France and amongst their number was Second Lieutenant C. W. Wilson and Lieutenant Euan Rabagliati. On this particular day, news fed back to La Cateau that a German aircraft, a Taube, had been spotted by ground forces to the south of the airfield. The squadron’s commanding officer, Major John Higgins, ordered Wilson and Rabagliati to take off in their Avro 504 and go after it. The terms “scramble” or “Quick Reaction Alert” had not yet been brought in to existence within British military aviation but this sudden launching of aircraft to intercept an enemy machine was very much in that spirit. The aircraft lifted off with Rabagliati in the observer’s seat armed with his Lee-Enfield and over one hundred rounds of ammunition.

Taube aeroplane

Taube aeroplane (commons.wikimedia)

Proceeding south towards the last known position of the Taube, the two British airmen must have known that their chances of shooting down the German plane were slim to say nothing of finding it in the first place; once airborne they were out of contact with the observers on the ground who first spotted the aircraft. Their Avro 504 chugged its way south with both men scouring the sky with their eyes looking for the unique shape of the German-built Taube and soon they spotted their bird-like quarry soaring almost majestically over the British side of the lines. Given the slow speeds of the two aircraft (less than 80mph) any attempt to sneak up on the German was futile and it was not long before the solitary pilot spotted the British biplane coming towards him.

The first dogfight between a British and German aircraft was about to begin.

The German pilot was no beginner and knew enough that he lacked the speed to outrun the 504 and if he flew straight and level then he would make himself a tempting target for Rabagliati with the rifle. He therefore took out his Mauser pistol fitted with a wooden stock and turned in to the direction of the British aircraft. The two planes began circling each other like two lions battling to be the alpha of their pride while both the German and Rabagliati exchanged fire with their respective handheld weapons. A pattern was set whereby the two aircraft flew in tight circles to keep the other from getting a clear shot while exchanging fire as the distance closed and reloading as the distance opened. At more than one point, in the heat of the fight, the two planes came unnervingly close to colliding but even at this distance hitting one another was frustratingly difficult and after expending nearly all his ammunition Rabagliati knew he only had a few shots left before they would have to disengage.

Then suddenly, after discharging yet another .303 round at the German with the hefty rifle the German aircraft pitched upwards before the nose dipped forward. Rabagliati saw that the pilot, having been hit by one of his rounds, had slumped forwards on his controls sending the Taube in to its final descent to Earth. It crashed ahead of an advancing British infantry unit which rushed to the scene of the crash and confirmed the pilot was dead. As such Rabagliati is credited as scoring the first British air-to-air victory but it had been a close call; an ammunition check upon his return to La Cateau showed he had astonishingly fired over 100 rounds with his bolt action rifle during the battle.

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a blimp?

Blimp BE.2c

No your eyes are not deceiving you. That is indeed a Royal Aircraft Factory BE.2c fuselage being used as a makeshift gondola for a blimp. This is in fact a prototype for the SS-class of anti-submarine airships. The Submarine/Sea Scout-class was a simple and relatively inexpensive small, non-rigid airship developed as a matter of some urgency to counter the German U-boat threat to British shipping during World War I. Over 158 would be built by the war’s end by which time they had their own specially designed gondolas but the early ones such as this made do with BE.2c fuselages and engines to power them.

The pilot was seated behind the observer who also served as the wireless operator and the main armament consisted of bombs carried in frames suspended between the undercarriage wheels. The bomb sight and release mechanism were located on the outside of the car on the starboard side of the pilot’s position. For defence and strafing a Lewis Gun was mounted on a post adjacent to the pilot’s seat and a camera was also housed in the fuselage for reconnaissance.

While they proved something of a failure operationally they did scare off a number of U-boats from their hunting grounds around the British coast and a BE.2c variant set a British airship record of 10,300ft.

NEWS: First World War U-Boat wreck identified

Despite having been discovered by divers working on behalf of Scottish Power Renewables and its partner Vattenfall in 2012 researchers have only now been able to positively identify a  German World War I U-Boat laying 56 miles off the coast of East Anglia. The wreck is of the Imperial German Navy’s U-31 which set sail for a war patrol from Wilhelmshaven in January 1915 – almost 100 years ago exactly. Contact with the 31 officers and men was lost soon after and it is now believed that the vessel was sunk by a British defensive mine.

Mark Dunkley, marine archaeologist at Historic England, told Sky News;

After being on the seabed for over a century, the submarine appears to be in a remarkable condition with the conning tower present and the bows partially buried. Relatives and descendants of those lost in the U-31 may now take some comfort in knowing the final resting place of the crew and the discovery serves as a poignant reminder of all those lost at sea, on land and in the air during the First World War.

The Face of Madness

Shell shocked soldier in the trenches 1916

The First World War was a breeding ground for psychological trauma. Standing in what were effectively holes in the ground with artillery barrages raining down around them, even the toughest men could break under the strain.

This haunting image was taken in September 1916 at the Battle of Courcelette. The unidentified soldier has lost all perception of reality having retreated in to his own mind hence the maddened smile. Called “Shell shock” at the time, today it would be labelled as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and while it does gain wider recognition today it is still a major factor affecting forces personnel returning from combat duty.

The man in this image represents a very extreme case although “Shell shock” manifested itself in many ways.

(Image sourced from Historicalphotos.com)

The First Sortie

BE2 RFC

Royal Flying Corps BE2 (RAF Museum)

In 2015 the British government voted to extend the Royal Air Force’s campaign against the so-called Islamic State terrorist group by bombing targets in Syria. The pilots of the Panavia Tornado GR.4s and Eurofighter Typhoon FGR.4s probably had little thought to the fact that in doing so they were continuing a 101 year-long story of British forces using aeroplanes to conduct a war.

The story begins – as do so many stories of modern, mechanised warfare – in the First World War. On August 4th 1914 Great Britain declared war on Germany following the violation of Belgium neutrality by German troops in their attack on France. To help repel the Germans the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was raised which included four squadrons of the British Army’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC) operating an assortment of aeroplanes. Three of the squadrons comprising around 60 aircraft crossed the English Channel on August 13th 1914; an impressive feat when you consider that it had barely been five years since Louis Blériot had made the first crossing by a heavier-than-air flying machine.

RFC Bleriot XI

RFC Bleriot Monoplanes (1418now)

Even before they left Britain the RFC was reminded how dangerous flying was in itself during those very early days to say nothing of encountering the enemy. An aircraft flying to Dover to join the rest of the RFC before attempting the crossing crashed killing both its pilot Lt. Robert R. Skene and Air Mechanic Ray Barlow. As the BEF began their march towards Maubeuge in north east France the RFC took off and arrived there almost two full days before the first British troops arrived. Their journey had been anything but uninteresting however as the French infantry in the area proved somewhat trigger-happy taking pot-shots at the unmarked British aircraft. Their lesson learned, the RFC squadrons quickly took to painting crude Union Jack flags on the underside of their wings which went some way to reducing the risk but didn’t eliminate it (it would be another year before roundels appeared on aircraft).

Despite the hazards posed by both hostile and friendly fire the RFC was set to fly its first operational sortie of the war on August 19th 1914. The mission had two separate objectives and would be flown by two aircraft departing together and then going about their own tasks upon reaching Nievelles. From No.3 Squadron RFC, Captain  would fly his Blériot Monoplane to Nievelles-Gnappe to report on the condition and disposition of Belgian forces in the area. In the early days of the war there was little information feeding back to the BEF in France about how well the Belgians were repelling the Germans. The second aircraft, a Royal Aircraft Factory BE2 flown by Lieutenant Gilbert Mappleback of No.4 Squadron RFC, was tasked to confirm the suspicion that German cavalry were operating in the vicinity of Gembloux in central Belgium.

Given the need to save weight and thus reduce the fuel consumption to increase range the decision was taken that both pilots should fly without observers; a rather contentious decision at the time within the squadrons. At 0930hrs the two aircraft bounced their way in to unfriendly looking skies that was blanketed with thick clouds. The two aircraft chugged their way through the skies together on their way to Nievelles where the plan was for them to separate on to their individual tasks. The reason for flying part of the mission together was so if one aircraft crashed or was shot down then the remaining pilot could report his position.

Lieutenant Gilbert  Mapplebeck

Lieutenant Gilbert Mappleback DSO

It was not to be however. The low cloud enveloped the two aircraft several times and before long the two RFC pilots realised that they had lost sight of one another. Nevertheless, they pressed on but keeping the BE2 flying and navigating by himself, Lieutenant Mappleback soon became lost and found himself flying over a very large town. He didn’t know it at the time but the town was actually Brussels. Tootling along for a short while longer he eventually found enough landmarks to ascertain his position and proceeded to his objective at Gembloux. Shortly after beginning his reconnoitre of the area he spotted a small pocket of enemy cavalry and recorded their position noting that they were moving south-east away from the allied lines; they were possibly returning from their own more traditional horseback reconnaissance mission.

Mappleback then turned his aircraft for Maubeuge but the cloud was getting lower and lower forcing him to eventually drop down to just 300ft in order to keep sight of his navigational markers. Eventually he reached the town of Namur and took to following the La Sambre river back to Maubeuge. He would become so intent on following the river that he actually flew passed Maubeuge and on to Le Cateau where he put the aircraft down in order to get his bearings fixed before attempting to fly back to Maubeurge. He arrived back at his base at close to midday to report the position of the enemy cavalry. His report was not the news the General staff were hoping for but his mission was at least a success.

While Mappleback was hunting German cavalry at Gembloux, Joubert in his Blériot Monoplane was having an extremely difficult time navigating to Nievelles-Gnappe. With such heavy cloud constantly causing him to lose sight of the ground Joubert found his position on the map through a break in the cloud and resorted to flying primarily by his compass. The lightweight frame of the Blériot saw Joubert being blown off course and after two hours of wandering around the Belgian countryside he eventually landed near the Belgian Army barracks at Tournai. The Commandant of the barracks, fascinated with the English flier, proceeded to invite him to dine with his men where they made polite conversation but Joubert learned little of the Belgian disposition from him as was his objective.

Having finished dining, Joubert took off at around midday and once again got lost. After another two hours of trying to find his way in the low cloud and poor weather he spotted the medieval Belgian city of Courtrai where he again landed hoping to secure some petrol for his Blériot. The local Gendarmerie (police) were suspicious of the flier however and attempted to arrest him until he was able to convince them he was an RFC pilot. The local population helped with gathering enough fuel for his aircraft to take off again and the Gendarmerie pointed him in the direction of the Belgian Flying Corps headquarters at Louvain, east of Brussels. This was too far away for him to contemplate flying and therefore he elected to return to Maubeuge via La Cateau. He and his aircraft arrived rather sullenly at 1730hrs.

It was hardly a successful first day. Nevertheless, it laid the groundwork for more successful future operations and before long the aircraft would become an integral part of the battlefield adding a third dimension to military planning. The importance of the aircraft would finally be fully recognised on April 1st 1918 when the RFC became absorbed in to the Royal Air Force, the world’s first air arm independent of both Army and Royal Navy.

Philip Joubert de la Ferté would survive the war and remain in the RAF eventually rising to the rank of Air Marshall leading Coastal Command during World War II and receiving a knighthood. Lieutenant Gilbert Mappleback would later be awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for carrying out an attack on a German convoy of vehicles by hurling small hand held bombs on top of them. He returned to Britain in April 1915 and assisted in testing at Farnborough. On August 25th 1915 he was killed when the Morane Saulinier Type N “Bullet” he was flying crashed.

 

Jona Lewie’s “Cannot Stop The Cavalry”

There can be no sadder time for the armed forces than when they are away from home at Christmas doing their duty and this song is fundamentally British in that while it is quite cynical it is balanced out by a rather jolly tune – sums British people throughout history really. It is perhaps for this reason, and our national respect toward our armed forces, that this song has become a classic Christmas song.

Hey, Mr. Churchill comes over here
To say we’re doing splendidly
But it’s very cold out here in the snow
Marching to win from the enemy
Oh, I say it’s tough, I have had enough
Can you stop the Cavalry?

I have had to fight, almost every night
Down throughout these centuries
That is when I say, oh yes, yet again
Can you stop the Cavalry?

Mary Bradley waits at home
In the nuclear fall-out zone
Wish I could be dancing now
In the arms of the girl I love

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Wish I was at home for Christmas
Bang, that’s another bomb on another town
While Luzar and Jim have tea
If I get home, live to tell the tale
I’ll run for all presidencies
If I get elected I’ll stop- I will stop the Cavalry

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Dub a dub a dum dum
Dub a dub a dum
Dub a dum dum dub a dub
Dub a dub a dum

Wish I was at home for Christmas
Wish I could be dancing now
In the arms of the girl I love
Mary Bradley waits at home
She’s been waiting two years long
Wish I was at home for Christmas

Royal Aircraft Factory A.E.3 – The Farnborough Ram

Royal Aircraft Factory A.E.3

There were a bewildering number of aircraft manufacturers in Britain during World War I but the Royal Aircraft Factory based at Farnborough was perhaps the most important. The Royal Aircraft Factory was barely two years old when war broke it in 1914, it was previously known as the Army Balloon Factory, but already was looking at using aircraft to wage war. Despite the fact that aircraft such as the factory’s own B.E.2 could barely lift a pilot and observer off the ground the factory’s designers had begun looking in to arming aircraft and in 1913 produced the A.E.1 (Armed Experimental 1).

The A.E.1 (later known as the F.E.3) was a pusher-biplane powered by a 100hp Chenu eight-cylinder liquid-cooled inline engine with a crew of two. The aircraft was armed with a Coventry Ordnance Works one pounder (37mm) in the forward fuselage for use against ground targets. However the airframe was found to be too fragile in the tail while its performance was less than stellar and with a Royal Flying Corps (RFC) still being led by generals who had never even flown in an aircraft it was seen as a step too far and the project was cancelled. As the war pressed on an “A.E.2” was conceived in 1917 with tractor engines but this never saw the light of day.

For the very concept of fighting a war in the air the First World War was perhaps the greatest laboratory the aircraft designers of the day could have hoped for. Theories flooded the aviation scene on how to design and build aircraft that would either give the advantage in the air over an opponent’s aircraft or have an impact on the battlefield itself. There was almost a callous attitude taken to the reports of men losing their lives in their machines not from enemy contact but from mistakes made on the drawing board, a situation exacerbated by an unclear view on how to conduct the war in the air by the RFC leadership who sometimes issued contradictory requirements to manufacturers.

A number of terms for aircraft types came and went and in 1917 the RFC issued a requirement for a “contact patrol” aircraft. What this term envisioned was an aircraft that would operate with the infantry by providing reconnaissance, communications and light attack duties. This required the aircraft to fly low where it would be exposed to enemy small arms fire necessitating a certain degree of armour protection for the pilot and observer. It would also have to be rugged for landing on rough strips and have good forward armament for attacking enemy positions.

Royal Aircraft Factory N.E.1At around the same time the Royal Aircraft Factory had pinned its hopes on its N.E.1 (left) winning a contract with the RFC to provide them with a night fighter to combat nocturnal raids by Zeppelins. A pusher-biplane design the aircraft failed to meet the RFC’s exacting requirements but when the RFC issued it’s requirement for a contact patrol aircraft the Royal Aircraft Factory decided to save development time by adapting the N.E.1. There was a certain logic to choosing the N.E.1 to base the new aircraft on and not just to speed up development. The pusher configuration kept the aircraft’s engine away from the defensive ground fire during an attack on a target and it also meant that the nose could accommodate more weapons and ammunition.

The new aircraft received the Royal Aircraft Factory designation A.E.1 with the “A” this time standing for “armoured”. An equal span biplane, the pilot and observer were housed in an armoured nacelle protruding forwards along with the aircraft’s main armament comprising two Lewis .303 (7.7mm) drum fed machine guns. The two machine guns were not fixed although they did possess only limited depression and azimuth meaning the pilot would still have to do most of the aiming by pointing the aircraft at the target. The observer, who occupied the front position, also had a third Lewis machine gun mounted on a pillar between his and the pilot’s position for self-defence against enemy fighter attack and had stowage for up to 32 ammunition drums amounting to 3,207 rounds.

To power the aircraft the designers turned to the tried and tested Hispano-Suiza 8b inline engine that was also being fitted to the factory’s S.E.5a fighter and it would be for that very reason that the project ran in to its biggest obstacle. Reliable aero-engines during World War I were exceptionally hard to come by and the Hispano-Suiza 8b was one of the most sought after. Despite the fact that twenty one factories were building versions of it in five countries demand still outsripped supply by a considerable margin with the Royal Aircraft Factory itself having around 400 S.E.5a airframes sat around waiting for their engines in early 1918. Therefore the designers turned to alternative powerplants to get the prototypes in to the air.

The first prototype, B8781, was therefore completed with a Sunbeam Arab engine. This was similar to the Hispano-Suiza in that it was an inline V8 design that churned out 212hp and this allowed the aircraft to take flight Royal Aircraft Factory A.E.3. ii jpgfrom Farnborough for the first time in April 1918. Initially the radiator for the engine was installed between the rear centre-section fuselage struts but was soon relocated above the centre-section alongside the fuel tank positioned over the wing. The Arab was never seen as an ideal engine for the project and so the decision was taken to redesign the second prototype, B8783, with a Bentley BR.2 rotary engine. This produced 230hp and went some way to compensating for the weight of the aircraft. The BR.2 powered second prototype first flew in June 1918 and became known in-house as the A.E.2 while the term A.E.3 became a blanket term for the project as well as covering the third prototype, B8782, which returned to the Arab engine but included some design alterations.

By this time there had been a number of changes in Britain’s military aviation scene that would affect the project in both minor and major ways. The biggest change was the dissolution of the aircraft’s initial customer, the Royal Flying Corps, it having been merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to create Britain’s and indeed the world’s first independent air arm the Royal Air Force in April 1918. This went a long way to free military flying from Army and Navy thinking (in theory) that many believed had held back Britain’s military prospects in the air but in doing so brought in to question concepts such as the “contact patrol” aircraft.

The formation of the RAF had the effect on the Royal Aircraft Factory that it needed a new name since the abbreviation “RAF” had previously covered their operation. This led to the Royal Aircraft Establishment and was quickly followed by a new policy of naming aircraft rather than just being given designations. The A.E.3 project therefore acquired the name Ram possibly in reference to its forward armament resembling horns to some. The Arab powered aircraft became known as Ram I while the single Bentley powered aircraft became the Ram II.

As the wheels of the Great British bureaucracy turned, testing of the aircraft continued. It was found quite quickly that the aircraft was borderline uncontrollable with the control surfaces barely up to the job which made handling the aircraft a laborious and dangerous affair at low level. It was clear to all that given the aircraft’s role this was wholly unacceptable and the Bentley powered aircraft was taken back in to the factory to have increased span ailerons and rudders to compensate. This did help alleviate the problem somewhat but the aircraft remained a handful to fly. As the Royal Air Force ordered field trials of the Bentley powered aircraft the designers at Farnborough quickly worked on a redesigned aircraft known as the Ram III to address these issues further.

On June 30th the Bentley powered B8783 touched down in France and was given to the men of Nos.201 and 209 squadrons for field testing. Both squadrons were an unusual choice for the trials since at the time they were flying Sopwith Camel fighters (No.209 Squadron included Canadian ace Captain Roy Brown who was controversially credited with shooting down the Red Baron, Manfred von Richtofen) although they had adopted a ground strafing role in support of the infantry. However, this fact might go some way to explaining the rather appalling results the pilots who flew it reported back. As had been revealed at Farnborough the aircraft’s low handling performance was woefully unimpressive and this was most likely exacerbated by the fact that the trials pilots had come from one of the Great War’s most agile fighter aircraft. Following a demonstration to Major General John Salmond who commanded RAF units in France he determined that the lumbering aircraft had no tactical use to his men and sent a damning letter to the Air Ministry voicing his opinion. The Air Ministry concurred with Salmond and all work on the project ceased with the Ram III never being built.

The story of the “Farnborough Ram” is one of a number of aircraft that was designed at a time when the research in to aerial warfare was still rather infantile and confused despite the advances made as a result of actual combat.

Specifications (Ram II)

  • Role: Ground attack and reconnaissance
  • Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
  • Powerplant: Bentley BR.2 rotary engine (230hp)
  • Maximum speed: 95mph
  • Wingspan: 47ft 10in
  • Length: 27ft 9in
  • Height: 10ft 0in
  • Chord: 6ft 0in
  • Wing area: 560sq ft
  • Dihedral:
  • Armament:
    2x forward firing .303 Lewis machine guns
    1x pillar mounted .303 Lewis machine gun for self defence