Vickers Boxkite 
and EFB1

School biplanes and the first Vickers gun-carrying design.
The Vickers School at Brooklands with Monoplanes and Boxkite at lower left The Vickers School at Brooklands with Monoplanes and Boxkite at lower left.
 

Vickers Boxkite:


Like several other early constructors, Vickers Aviation Ltd established a Flying School at Brooklands, Weybridge to promote their aviation activities and sell aircraft to private owners. The Vickers School initially used monoplanes of their own design (described separately), which were test flown at Joyce Green, near Dartford, Kent before moving to Brooklands for use by the Flying School.

In late 1912, the School purchased three Farman-type ‘Boxkite’ biplanes manufactured by Hewlett and Blondeau, who also had a school at Brooklands. Over a period, these aircraft were repaired, rebuilt and modified and became better known as Vickers Boxkites. The aircraft were given Vickers numbers as No 19, 20 and 21.

The first of these aircraft was in use by August 1912 with the first two aircraft being powered by the 50 hp Gnome rotary engine whilst the final example had a 70 hp Gnome engine. Two of these aircraft were taken over by the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) receiving serial numbers 639 and 642.
 
In 1913, Vickers built an evolved design with an equal-span wings and a rudimentary nacelle to protect the instructor and student (who sat in staggered side-by-side seats) in flight. This aircraft became Vickers No 26 and was known as ‘The Pumpkin’. Initially flown on 17th September 1913, with a Vickers-Boucier 50 hp radial engine, it was later converted to be powered by a 70 hp Gnome rotary, flying with this engine on 17th February 1913.
 

EFB1


The Vickers EFB1 (Experimental Fighting Biplane) ‘Destroyer’ was built for the Admiralty to a contract placed on 19th November 1912.
 
It was the first Vickers-built aircraft that was designed from the outset to carry a gun armament. The configuration chosen was that of a pusher biplane, with the gun fitted in the extreme nose. The EFB1 is therefore the progenitor of the Vickers ‘Gunbus’ design.
 
 
Vickers EFB1 construction at Erith 1913 The Vickers Experimental Fighting Biplane EFB1 under construction at Erith in 1913.
 
The EFB1 featured staggered two-bay wings and had a fuselage of steel tube construction, with the crew nacelle covered in the Vickers-patented Duralumin. Roll control was by wing-warping and power was provided by an eight-cylinder Wolseley engine of 60 - 80 hp. The machine was exhibited at the Olympia Aero Exhibition in London in February 1913.
 
Vickers EFB1 at Olympia Aero Show 1913 The Vickers EFB1 'Destroyer' on display at the 1913 Olympia Aero Show.
 
The armament was a single Vickers 0.303 inch machine gun mounted in the extreme nose and able to be moved over an arc of 60 degrees in traverse or elevation. The gun ammunition was stored in a box below and behind the gunner with this box being drawn forward on cables into a position beneath the gunner’s seat when the gun was to be fired.
 
Unfortunately, the only EFB1 was destroyed, possibly on its first test flight, at Joyce Green, near Dartford, Kent.
 

Variants & Numbers

Boxkite
Three aircraft originally from Hewlett & Blondeau, Vickers Nos 19, 20, 21
Vickers No 26
One only, No 26 ‘The Pumpkin’
Vickers EFB1
One only, ‘Destroyer’
 

 

Specification (Vickers EFB1)

Powerplant
One 60 - 80 hp Wolseley eight cylinder engine
Span
40 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
2,660 lb
Capacity and Armament
Pilot and gunner; one Vickers machine gun fired from the front cockpit
Maximum Speed
70 mph at sea level (estimated)
Endurance
4 hr 30 min (estimated)
 

Survivors

No examples of the Vickers Boxkite or EFB1 survive.

 

Other information