Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2e
|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Royal Aircraft Factory|
First flown in February 1916 and destined to be built in larger numbers than the B.E.2c, the B.E.2e differed from the former in having single bay wings of unequal span and a new tailplane. Provision was made for extra fuel in a tank under the port upper wing and for dual controls, but the former was seldom fitted. The large upper wing overhang was braced from inverted-Vee kingposts above the interplane struts, and the standard engine remained the 90hp RAF la, as the 105hp RAF lb that was intended to be used in the B.E.2e did not reach production. From production totalling 1,320 aircraft (plus some B.E.2c and 2d conversions), B.E.2e's were issued to 11 Home Defence squadrons of the RFC (as well as many units on the Western Front and elsewhere). Like the B.E.2c, the 2e often carried a single Lewis gun in the front cockpit, for which assorted mountings were available. An alternative armament tried by some of the Home Defence aircraft for anti-Zeppelin patrols comprised a quartet of Le Prieur rockets, the launching rails for which were attached to the interplane struts, two each side and angled upwards. Little success was achieved by the B.E.2e as a fighter, its performance being inadequate for aerial combat by 1916, and heavy losses were suffered by the RFC squadrons flying the type in France. Retroactively, the designations B.E.2f and B.E.2g were applied to distinguish, respectively, between those B.E.2e's converted from 2c's and those built as 2e's or converted from 2d's, as their fuel systems and capacities were significantly different.