Vickers ES1 Scout front-side view 1915
The Vickers ES1 was a modified and rebuilt version of the unofficial 'Barnwell Bullet'.
In late 1914, Harold Barnwell, Chief Test Pilot with Vickers (Aviation Department), designed a single-seat 'Scout' and arranged for it to be built unofficially, and without any authorisation by the company. It was powered  by a Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine taken from the Vickers Stores and known colloquially known as the ‘Barnwell Bullet’.
Barnwell flew the aircraft in early 1915, but it was damaged upon landing due to inadequate elevator control which resulted in a collapsed undercarriage.
Vickers decided that the aircraft was worthy of being modified and rebuilt, placing this task in the hands of the then junior designer, RK ‘Rex’ Pierson. The redesigned aircraft, now designated Vickers ES1 (Experimental Scout 1) was described as a single-seat tractor biplane, with single-bay, unstaggered wings. It featured ailerons on both the upper and lower wings.
As with the Barnwell Bullet, the ES1 (Serial 7509) was also powered by a 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine, closely cowled into a circular-section fuselage. The pilot's cockpit was situated under the trailing edge of the upper wing, from which the view both downwards and upwards was later described as very poor. The unarmed ES1 was flown for the first time in August 1915 where it achieved a speed of 114 mph at 5,000 ft.
When tested by the Central Flying School at Upavon, the ES1 was criticised for its poor view from the cockpit which was a real disadvantage for fighting, and made judgement of height during landing very difficult. A further issue found during the trials was a lack of drainage from the close-fitting engine cowling, which collected any excess oil and fuel and which was deemed to be a severe fire risk.
Vickers ES2 stbd rear view
Two Vickers ES2 aircraft were built and the type led on to the successful Vickers FB19.
Two further examples were built (7759 and 7760) and known as the ES1 Mk 2, or the Vickers ES2.
These were powered by a 110 hp Clerget engine and featured a modified fuselage with a large cut-out in the upper wing-centre section to improve the view for the pilot. The engine cowling was also provided by the addition of a drainage slot. These aircraft also featured well-rounded wing tips, rather than the rectangular plan-form of the ES1.
Although the type did not enter production, it did form the basis for the Vickers FB19, which is described separately.
The Vickers ES2 aircraft was fitted with a forward-firing Vickers machine gun with the Vickers-Challenger synchronisation gear which allowed the gun to fire through the propeller disc. One aircraft was subject to trials in France with 11 Sqn RFC who confirmed that the view from the cockpit was still inadequate.

Variants & Numbers

Vickers ES1
One aircraft (7509) with 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape. A rebuilt and modified version of the unofficial ‘Barnwell Bullet’
Vickers ES2
Two aircraft (7759, 7760) with 110 hp Clerget engine.


Vickers ES1
Vickers ES2
One 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape
One 110 hp Clerget or Le Rhône engine
24 ft 4.5 in
24 ft 5.5 in
Maximum Weight
1,295 lb
1,502 lb
Single pilot; unarmed
One fixed forward-firing Vickers gun
Maximum Speed
117 mph at sea level
112.2 mph at sea level
3 hours
2 hours at 8,000 ft




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