British Fighter Units: Western Front 1914-16 (Aircam Airwar 14)
By Alex Revell
Publisher: Os Publishing 1978 48 Pages
PDF 48 MB
At the outbreak of war in August 1914, the role of the aeroplane was seen purely as that of reconnaissance, undertaking tasks that made it little more than a natural extension of the cavalry. Opinions differed as to whether it was absolutely necessary to arm aeroplanes—indeed many people doubted that the flying machine would have any practical value in war at all. Although some thought was given to making the aircraft into a weapon in its own right, notably by the manufacturers Vickers, Sopwith, Avro and the Royal Aircraft Factory, with 'gunbus' designs, there was no real urgency to develop a fighting machine. Consequently, not one of the 64 aeroplanes which the Royal Flying Corps took to France on 13 August was armed or equipped for air fighting in any way. All were two-seaters, a variety of types equipping four squadrons: Nos. 2 and 4 Squadrons had B.E.2s, No. 3 Bleriots and Henri Farmans and No. 5, Farmans, Avros and B.E.8s. The entire RFC could only boast four single-seaters at that time and these, Sopwith Tabloids, were still in crates at the Aircraft Park at Amiens, France.