Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2d
|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Royal Aircraft Factory|
On 7 April 1916, a version of the F.E.2b was flown at the RAF Farnborough, fitted with a 250hp Rolls-Royce Mk I (later, Eagle I) 12-cylinder water-cooled V-type engine, becoming thus the prototype F.E.2d. Compared with the 160hp F.E.2b, the Rolls-Royce-engined version had better rate of climb and ceiling and slightly improved speed performance, and although the heavier engine adversely affected manoeuvrability and field performance, the F.E.2d was ordered into production as an interim supplement for the F.E.2b. Eighty-five were built at Farnborough and 270 by Boulton & Paul, although many of these were completed, in the event, with Beardmore engines as F.E.2b's. In those F.E.2d's completed, several versions of the Rolls-Royce engine were fitted; as well as the Mk I these comprised the 250hp Marks III and IV (later, 284hp Eagle III and IV) and the 275hp Marks I and II (later, 322hp Eagle V and VI). The first few F.E.2d's had the oleo undercarriage with nosewheel extension, but the modified oleo type without the nosewheel was soon adopted. The F.E.2d was in service in France by July 1916, and the type also served with Home Defence units, although its low speed performance made it an ineffective Zeppelinchaser. Most F.E.2d's were armed with two Lewis guns, one on a flexible mounting in the nose and another fixed forward-firing for the pilot; in some cases a third gun, on a telescopic pillar mounting, was also provided between the two cockpits.