Royal Aircraft Factory N.E.1


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Royal Aircraft Factory N.E.1

As a derivative of the F.E.9, the RAF planned to develop a dedicated night fighter as the F.E.12. This was to have used the same 200hp Hispano- Suiza eight-cylinder Vee-type water-cooled engine, the same undercarriage, tailbooms, tail unit and wing centre section as the F.E.9, and basically the same nacelle, but with the crew positions reversed. New equi-span, three-bay wings were planned, with plain unbalanced ailerons. The pilot, in the front cockpit for the best possible view during unaided nocturnal operations, was to have a forward-firing 7.7mm Lewis gun, whereas the observer was to be armed with a Vickers rocket gun for which two mounts were to be provided for firing forwards or aft. Provision was to be made for a searchlight in the nose, and another on the forward mount for the rocket gun, with a winddriven generator under the nacelle. Six prototypes were planned, but before construction began the designation was changed to N.E.1 (for "Night-flying Experimental") and some changes were made. These eliminated the second searchlight, increased the span of the wing centre section, changed the tail unit design, moved the boom attachment points on the tailplane outwards, and introduced a wide-track undercarriage with a divided axle arrangement. Flown early in September 1917, the first N.E.1 was almost immediately damaged and was then modified, before resuming flying on 4 October, to accommodate the observer in the front cockpit with the rocket gun and the pilot behind with a fixed Lewis gun. In this form, the N.E.1 was submitted to official trials at Martlesham Heath in November 1917, but was not thought to have adequate performance to serve as a night fighter. The other five prototypes were all completed by January 1918, but one was used only for static testing, another probably remained unflown and only one was issued to an RFC squadron for home defence.

  Take-off weight1336 kg2945 lb
  Empty weight939 kg2070 lb
  Wingspan14.57 m48 ft 10 in
  Length9.19 m30 ft 2 in
  Height2.94 m10 ft 8 in
  Wing area51.57 m2555.09 sq ft
  Max. speed153 km/h95 mph
  Ceiling5335 m17500 ft

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