Vickers FB7 and FB7A

A twin-engine biplane fighter whose production order was cancelled.
Vickers FB7 stbd rear view The Gnome-powered Vickers FB7, as originally flown, with uncowled engines.
 
The Vickers (Aviation Department) Vickers FB is widely regarded as the first British twin-engine fighter.
 
It was a twin-engine tractor biplane, designed to carry a Vickers quick firing one-pounder gun in the extreme nose. The aircraft was powered by two 'opposite-handed' 100 hp Gnome engines, which were strut-mounted between the wings. The wings themselves were of markedly different span (upper wing 59 ft 6 in / lower wing 37 ft 6 in) and also had an unusually large wing gap. The result was that the aircraft looked rather ungainly with numerous struts, king posts and bracing wires.
 
The gunner’s cockpit was located in the extreme nose with the pilot’s cockpit back below the trailing edge of the upper wing. The aircraft was initially flown with its Gnome engines entirely uncowled although circular ring cowlings were subsequently fitted in order to protect the crew and the aircraft structure from the hot castor oil lubricant which was sprayed from the engines.
 
Vickers FB7 cowled engines stbd front The Vickers FB7 with cowlings fitted to the opposite-handed Gnome engines.
 
The first prototype was flown in August 1915, and the type showed sufficient promise for an order of twelve aircraft to be placed by the War Office.
 
Unfortunately, 100 hp Gnome engines were then found to be in short supply and the first production aircraft (5717) was fitted instead with two 80 hp Renault V8 engines. This machine was designated the Vickers FB7A and featured revised crew arrangements with the pilot moved forward to a cockpit just forward of the wing leading edge.
 
Vickers FB7A 5717 Brooklands 1915 The sole production FB7A 5717 proved to be underpowered with 80 hp Renault engines.
 
The performance of the Vickers FB7 had never been spectacular, considering its size, configuration and weight. A reduction in installed power by 40 hp had a predictably substantial impact on performance. Consequently, after brief initial trials, Vickers sought cancellation of the production contract (placed with Darracq & Co. (1905) Ltd) and no further examples were built.
 

Variants & Number built


One prototype FB7 and a single production FB7A (5717) with Renault engines.
 

Specification (FB7 unless otherwise noted)


Powerplant
Two 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape (FB7), two 80 hp Renault V-8 (FB7A)
Span
59 ft 6 in
Maximum Weight
3,196 lb
Capacity and Armament
Pilot and gunner; one quick-firing Vickers gun fired from the front cockpit
Maximum Speed
75 mph at 5,000 ft
Endurance
2 hr 30 min
 

Survivors


None

 

Other information