Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 (1912-1919)
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Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

 

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Biplane History
The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland and E.T. Busk for use by the Royal Flying Corps as a reconnaissance and observation platform. It first flew in February 1912 and entered service with the RFC later in the year. There were several versions of the The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2, the best known being the B.E.2c which entered service a few months before the start of WW1. Earlier versions of the B.E.2 had utilised wing warping but, in an attempt to provide even higher stability, E.T. Busk redesigned the wings and tail, notably replacing the wing warping with ailerons.

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c in WW1
When first used in France during WW1, the B.E.2c proved to be the perfect stable reconnaissance and observation platform, however, the development of fighter aircraft resulted in this aircraft becoming an easy target. It's high stability and low speed made it impossible to evade faster more agile enemy fighter planes.

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 in other roles
Once it became obvious that they were no longer fit for their original purpose, it was decided to use the aircraft in other roles including: night fighter, trainer, communications and anti-submarine patrols. All these roles took advantage of the aircraft's inherent stability without exposing them to enemy fighters.

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Production
Approximately 3,500 of these aircraft were produced, helped by the relatively simplistic design which allowed many contractors with no previous experience of aircraft construction to build the B.E.2. This freed up more experienced producers to concentrate on more complex designs, such as fighters. The majority of the B.E.2s served with the Royal Flying Corps until being withdrawn from service in 1919, however most of the WW1 Allied Powers used at least a small number of them. Notably this was one of the first two aircraft purchased by Qantas when the airline was first formed in 1920.

Various scale models, model kits and plans of this aircraft have been available in the market place.

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c Biplane Specifications:

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Crew: Pilot and Observer
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Length: 27 ft 3 in (8.31 m)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Wingspan: 37 ft 0 in (11.28 m)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Height: 11 ft 1 in (3.39 m)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Wing area: 371 ft (34.8 m)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Empty weight: 1,370 lb (623 kg)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Max takeoff weight: 2,350 lb (1,068 kg)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Engine: Single 90 hp (67 kW) RAF 1a air cooled V-8 (Renault based design)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Maximum speed: 72 mph (63 knots, 116 km/h)
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Endurance: 3 hr 15 min
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 Service ceiling: 10,000 ft (3,050 m)

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c Biplane Armament:

Bombs:
224 lb (100 kg) of bombs

Guns:
Single .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun for observer.

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