Royal Aircraft Factory A.E.3 Ram
|GROUND-ATTACK FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Royal Aircraft Factory|
The last aircraft type to emerge from the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, before its change of name in June 1918 to Royal Aircraft Establishment, the A.E.3 was itself an extrapolation from the N.E.1.
Designated as an "Armoured Experimental" type, the A.E.1 was intended as a specialised ground-attack fighter, for which purpose it was to mount a pair of 7.7mm Lewis guns in the nose, with a limited degree of movement in azimuth and depression. A third Lewis was to be pillar-mounted in the front, observer's, cockpit for self-defence. Like the N.E.1, the A.E.3 was a large three-bay equi-span biplane, differing principally in the construction and shape of the nacelle, which was armoured with steel plate and provided stowage for 32 ammunition drums. Intended to be powered by the 200hp Hispano engine as used in the N.E.1, the A.E.3 prototype emerged at the end of March 1918 with a 200hp Sunbeam Arab, whilst the second, eight weeks later, had a 230hp Bentley B.R.2 rotary. Flight testing of the latter began on 4 June, and larger ailerons and rudders were fitted before this A.E.3 went to France for service trials, which aroused little enthusiasm. The third aircraft, also completed in June 1918, had an Arab engine like the first and in this form the A.E.3 was named the Ram I, whilst the B.R.2 version became the Ram II. A proposed derivative, the Ram III, was not built and no production ensued, other, better, types having become available .