Bristol Fighter (Windsock Datafiles 4)
By J. M. Bruce
Publisher: Albatros 1995 24 Pages
PDF 31 MB
ONE who knew the Bristol Fighter well was the late Major W F J Harvey, MBE, DFC, TD. As a pilot and Flight Commander in No.22 Squadron in 1918, he fought many combats and won not a few victories at the controls of this redoubtable aircraft. Some 50 years later, as Founding President of Cross & Cockade (Great Britain) and author of his evocative book 'Pi' in the Sky, Jim Harvey wrote thus of the Bristol F2B: 'This was a classic aeroplane, in looks, in performance for its period, and of a curiously perfect tactical design at a time when the future requirements of a fighting aircraft were not fully understood, nor the strategy and tactics of fighting in the air fully developed.'
That the Bristol earned his well-merited assessment, having won the respect, affection and, above all, the trust of its crews, is the more remarkable in view of its origins and initial operational disasters. Its designer, Captain Frank Sowter Barnwell (1880-1938), developed the basic F2A design from the Bristol R2A and R2B projects, respectively for the 120-hp Beardmore and 150-hp Hispano-Suiza engines. The F2A design was based on the excellent 190-hp Rolls-Royce V-12 engine that was later named Falcon, and the first RFC squadron to be equipped with the production aircraft was No.48, which went to France on March 8 1917. Because no-one in the RFC really knew how two-seat fighters should be operated, heavy combat losses were at first suffered; but once the Bristol's virtues and capabilities were identified and exploited it never looked back.