Vickers FB14

A two-seat, single-engine biplane reconnaissance fighter that was produced in some numbers, but saw little service with the RFC.
Vickers FB14 A683 6th Production A683 is the 6th production Vickers FB14 - many of these aircraft were delivered into storage.
 
The Vickers FB14 was intended as a relatively high performance two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, designed by Vickers Aviation around the 260 hp Beardmore-Halford-Pullinger (BHP) engine. Unfortunately, the BHP engine was not available by the time the first aircraft was completed in July 1916, and as a result it was flown with a 160 hp Beardmore engine.
 
Although this resulted in reduced performance, the War Office ordered 150 aircraft (this order later being increased to 250).
 
Vickers FB14 A3595 Aug 16 Vickers FB14 A3595 photographed in August 1916.
 
The Vickers FB14 was a clean single-bay biplane with an upper wing of greater span than the lower. The interplane struts were canted outward, giving the aircraft a very distinctive appearance.
 
The pilot was sat underneath the upper wing, relying on transparent panels in the upper wing centre-section and the lower wing roots for upward and downward vision. Armament comprised a fixed forward-firing synchronised Vickers gun and a Scarff-mounted Lewis gun operated from the gunner’s cockpit.
 
Unfortunately, the 160 hp Beardmore engine proved troublesome and early production aircraft were delivered engine-less to store, while awaiting resolution of this difficulty.
 
One Vickers FB14 was fitted with a 150 hp Lorraine-Dietrich engine and designated Vickers FB14A.
 
Vickers FB14A 160HP Lorraine The Vickers FB14A was powered by a 150 hp Lorraine-Dietrich rather than a 150 hp Beardmore engine.
 
A second aircraft (C4547) was tested with a 250 hp Rolls-Royce IV engine and fitted with two-bay wings. In this form, it was designated Vickers FB17A and when tested at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Martlesham Heath, it demonstrated improved performance, comparable to that of the Bristol F2B Fighter.
 
Vickers FB14D C4547 RR Eagle 2 bay wings The one-off Vickers FB14D C4547 combined two-bay wings and Rolls-Royce MkIV engine.
 
A third powerplant experiment resulted in the Vickers FB14F (A8391) being powered by a 150 hp RAF 4A engine, driving a four-bladed propeller. This aircraft retained a single-bay wing configuration but with increased stagger.
 
Vickers FB14F A8391 150HP RAF 4a engine The Vickers FB14F A8391 with a 150 hp RAF 4a engine was the final attempt to find a suitable engine.
 
Around 100 Vickers FB14 were produced (allocated serials A679 – A727, A3505, A8341 – A8490) of which only about half were fitted with engines. Few aircraft were released to service, including six or seven issued to Home Defence squadrons. These aircraft were not used operationally although the experimental Vickers FB14D was involved in the interception of a Luftstreitkräfte Gotha GV, following the raid on London on 17th July 1917.
 

Variants & Number Built


Vickers FB14
160 hp Beardmore. Around 100 built, many delivered direct to store.
Vickers FB14A
FB14 with 150 hp Lorraine-Dietrich engine.
Vickers FB14D
C4547 with 250 hp Rolls-Royce MkIV engine and fitted with two-bay wings.
Vickers FB14F
A8391 with 150 hp RAF 4A engine and fitted with wings with increased stagger.
 

Specification (Vickers FB14)


Powerplant
One 160 hp Beardmore
Span
39 ft 6 in
Maximum Weight
2,603 lb
Capacity
Pilot and gunner; one fixed forward-firing Vickers gun, one Lewis gun on rear cockpit Scarff mounting.
Maximum Speed
99.5 mph at sea level
Endurance
3.75 hours
 

Survivors


None

 

More information