Model Airplane News
November, 1955

Model Airplane News Cover for November, 1955 by Jo Kotula Bristol F.2B Fighter

Bristol F.2B Fighter
Model Airplane News Cover Art for November, 1955
by Jo Kotula
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The Bristol F.2 was a British two-seat biplane fighter and reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War. It is often simply called the Bristol Fighter or popularly the "Brisfit" or "Biff" that proved to be an agile aircraft that was able to hold its own against opposing single-seat fighters. The F.2B's solid design ensured that it remained in military service into the 1930s, and surplus aircraft were popular in civil aviation.

The Bristol F.2B Fighter      The Bristol F.2B Fighter

Photos of the Bristol F.2B Fighter
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The Bristol fighter's basic design was always as a two-seat fighter: it first flew in September of 1916; it was armed with one synchronised fixed, forward-firing .303 machine gun, and one flexible .303 iin the observer's rear cockpit. A second Lewis gun was often added in the field to the rear cockpit. Shortages of engines delayed the deployment of the aircraft. The United States Army Engineering Division had plans to develop and build an American version of the Bristol Fighter but these also foundered over engine availability.

In combat, prevailing doctrine called for rigid formation flying to allow the rear guns to defend the squadron. This proved to be disastrous. More flexible, aggressive tactics revealed that the type was fast and maneuvrable enough to be flown in combat more or less like a single-seat fighter; the pilot's fixed forward-firing gun serving as the principal weapon, with the observer's flexible gun serving mainly as a bonus "sting in the tail". Flown in this manner the Bristol Fighter was a formidable opponent for any German single-seater.

In the fall of 1917, orders for 1,600 planes of this type were placed and by the end of the First World War, the Royal Air Force had 1,583 F.2Bs in operation. A total of 5,329 aircraft were eventually built. After the war, F.2Bs continued to operate in army cooperation and light bombing roles throughout the British Empire, in particular the Middle East, India and China. The F.2B also served with the New Zealand Permanent Air Force and RAAF as well as with the air forces of Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Greece, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Spain and Sweden. It was not until 1932 that the F.2B was finally withdrawn from RAF service. In 1920, Poland bought 107 Bristol Fighters, thus becoming second largest user of this type. Forty were used during the Polish-Soviet war, among others in battle of Warsaw, as reconnaissance and ground attack aircraft, They served in Poland for reconnaissance and training until 1932.

Here is a video of a large scale R/C model of the Bristol F.2B Fighter:

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