FBA Type H (Windsock Datafiles 124)
By Paolo Varriale
Publisher: Albatros 2007 40 Pages
PDF 31 MB
In April 1914 Howard Pixton won the second edition of the Coupe d Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider, or Schneider Trophy as it became known, in the Sopwith Tabloid floatplane. Despite some technical problems, second place was taken by Swiss pilot Ernesto Burri flying a pretty flying boat identified by race number 7. His seaplane sprung from the drawing board of the French engineer Louis Schreck, who in August 1913 had acquired the patents of Francoise Denhaut and established the Franco British Aviation company, with offices in 29 Charing Cross Road, London, and a factory in Argenteuil, France. In the same period, Schreck hired as chief engineer and Technical Director Jean Louis Conneau, a French pilot well known as 'Andre Beaumont' in air races of the time. Conneau was also a useful consultant to promote international sales, helping sell 40 seaplanes to the British Royal Naval Air Service, three to the Austro-Hungarians and two to the Danish Navy. Preferring floatplanes, the French Marine Nationale hesitated a long time before ordering 40 Type A in September 1914. The order was then converted to the Type B. as did the RNAS in July 1914 for a second Type A batch. In 1915 the Type B served as basis for the Type C, still propelled by a rotary engine. This model was used by French airmen in the early stages of the war, in which they immediately faced the threatening German submarines that sank over a million of tonnes of shipping in the first year.
To cope with the emergency, the French Navy committed itself to a growth programme in both men and equipment. In January 1916 the Marine Nationale requested aircraft for high sea patrols and anti-submarine operations. Schreck entrusted the design of the seaplane to engineer Le Pen. The type was planned around the Hispano-Suiza 8 150-hp, a water-cooled V-8 engine designed by the Swiss engineer Mark Birkigt that was bench tested on 21 July 1915 in Chalais-Meudon.