Bristol F-2 Fighter (Bristol Type 12, F-2)

The Bristol F-2 fighter commonly known as the ‘Biff’ or ‘Brisfit’ was a popular two seat biplane fighter bomber. Designed by Frank Barnwell the F-2 first flew on 9th September 1916 and proved to be an agile and tough aircraft which had a tremendously long service for a First World War aircraft being still in RAF service in 1932 and beyond in civilian usage as the Bristol Tourer.

Originally designed to replace the struggling BE-2 reconnaissance aircraft the Bristol proved to be a much more deadly and versatile machine, the basic design was distinctive with a single forward firing machine gun controlled by the pilot and initially a single Lewis machine gun in an open turret/ ring mounting behind the pilot manned by the observer, a second machine gun was quickly added to the rear mounting.

The potential of the aircraft was far from clear from the beginning, as the machine entered combat service in March 1917 only to have 6 rapidly shot down by German pilots including Manfred Von Richthofen. This poor start has been attributed to flawed tactics where the F-2 pilots were ordered to stay in formation and use the observer’s guns to form a crossfire effect. This inflexible formation left the aircraft very vulnerable and was soon abandoned with the pilots being allowed to fly the aircraft like a fighter supported by the rear guns rather than the use of the rear guns dominating combat doctrine.

The aircraft proved popular and over 1500 had been ordered by the end of 1917, with an eventual total of in excess of 5000 being produced by a variety of manufacturers including the Cunard Steamship Company. After the First World War the aircraft saw service in many parts of the British Empire as a light bomber and served in the Air forces of over countries 11 including those of Peru, Mexico, Norway and Australia.

Performance
Crew; 2
Weapons: x1 7.7mm Vickers MG forward firing, x2, 7.7mm Lewis MGs in rear cupola/ring. Plus up to 240lbs of bombs
Length: 25ft 10in
Wingspan: 39ft 3in
Max Speed; 123mph (198km/h)
Max ceiling; 10,000ft (increasing to 18,000ft with oxygen for crew)

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, T. (26 April 2007), Bristol F-2 Fighter (Bristol Type 12, F-2), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bristol_F2.html

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