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The Famous Bristol Fighter

In march 1916 the factory at Filton were heavily engaged in producing B.E. two-seaters of various types. It was getting dated and Captain Barnwell from personal experience had no faith in its replacement, the Royal Aircrafts Factory R.E. 8. These aircraft were being chewed up by the German aircraft over the Western Front so Barnwell set about designing an aircraft with none of the deficiences of either type. His first design was the R.2A a light two-seater powered by an 120 hp Beardmore. The observer had a folding seat and would stand to operate the rear facing Lewis gun.

More power was needed and following a design utilising the 150 hp Hispano Suiza, the R.2B the new 190 hp Rolls-Royce engine became available. Rather than re-design, Barnwell started from scratch and designed an aircraft which encorporated the good points learned coupled to this powerful new engine, the result was the F.2A, a fighter and the name from the start was 'Bristol Fighter'. The company was told to proceed and on 28th August 1916 was awarded a contract for 50 aircraft. Two prototypes were made and flown, but could not, it seemed climb higher than 6,000 ft, it took Barnwell's brother Harold, the Vickers Aircraft Company Chief test pilot to sort the truth, a faulty altimeter. in fact under test the aircraft exceeded its estimated performance by a handsome margin.

After more tests an improved model the F.2B gained another contract for 200 machines in November 1916.

In early April 1917, the first F.2A's arrived to equip No, 48 squadron, they were initially held back to achieve maximum surprise, the pilots were all veterans including at least one VC. The first action over Arras was a disaster, they came up against Baron Von Richthofen and five Albatros; fighting in the orthodox manner, the pilot manoevring to give his rear gunner a good field of fire got four aircraft shot down. Capt Leefe Robinson VC, who led the flight was taken prisoner. Things looked bad.

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This is page 10 of FILTON - THE AIRCRAFT.
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The restored Bristol Fighter flying in 1964 - Type 17

The restored Bristol Fighter flying in 1964 - Type 17
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The cramped but useful cockpit in a Brisfit.

The cramped but useful cockpit in a Brisfit.
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The crew prepare for another cold early morning patrol - Type 14

The crew prepare for another cold early morning patrol - Type 14
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