Vickers F.B.5

1st Flight 1914

The Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus (Fighting Biplane 5) was a British two-seat pusher military biplane of the First World War.

Armed with a single .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun operated by the observer in the front of the nacelle, it was the first aircraft purpose-built for air-to-air combat to see service, making it the world’s first operational fighter aircraft.

Variants

The Vickers F.B.5 (Fighting Biplane 5) (known as the “Gunbus”) was a British two-seat pusher military biplane of the First World War.

Armed with a single .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun operated by the observer in the front of the nacelle, it was the first aircraft purpose-built for air-to-air combat to see service, making it the world’s first operational fighter aircraft.

E.F.B.2 (Vickers Type 18)

Single-engined two-seat fighter prototype powered by 100 hp (75 kW) Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine.

It had a slight overhang on upper wings and wing warping controls.

Its nacelle was fitted with large celluloid windows and was armed with a single Vickers machine gun, One built.

E.F.B.3 (Vickers Type 18B)

Revised fighter, with equal-span wings, aileron controls and revised nacelle without windows, One built.

E.F.B.4

Proposed design of similar layout to “Destroyer” – unbuilt.

E.F.B.5

Further improved development of E.F.B.3.

Six built for RFC and RNAS.

F.B.5

Production version of E.F.B.5 with rectangular tail surfaces.

At least 120 built by Vickers, with 75 built by Darracq in France and 12 by the Tøjhusvoerkstedt (Danish Arsenal Workshops), giving a total of at least 207.

F.B.6

Pre-production aircraft, differing from E.F.B.5 by having revised unequal span wings with large overhang and ailerons only on upper wing, One built.

F.B.9

Improved derivative of F.B.5, with revised wings and tail, a more streamlined nacelle, a new V-type undercarriage and using streamlined Rafwire bracing instead of conventional cable bracing.

95 built by Vickers and 24 by Darracq, giving 119 in total.

Specifications

Crew: Two, pilot & observer/gunner

Length: 27 ft 2 in (8.28 m)

Wingspan: 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m)

Height: 11 ft 0 in (3.35 m)

Wing area: 382 sq ft (35.5 m2)

Empty weight: 1,220 lb (553 kg)

Gross weight: 2,050 lb (930 kg)

Powerplant: 1 × Gnome Monosoupape 9-cylinder rotary engine, 100 hp (75 kW)

Performance

Maximum speed: 70 mph (110 km/h, 61 kn) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m)

Range: 250 mi (400 km, 220 nmi)

Endurance: 4 hours 30 minutes

Service ceiling: 9,000 ft (2,700 m)

Time to altitude: 16 min to 5,000 ft (1,500 m)

Armament

Guns: 1 × 0.303 in (7.7 mm) drum-fed Lewis gun in observer’s cockpit.

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