Vickers FB16

A single-seat, single-engine biplane fighter that was flown in different prototype variants but did not enter production.
Vickers FB16 Hart Scout original Hart engine The Vickers FB16 Hart Scout as first flown with the unsuccessful Hart radial engine.
 
The Vickers FB16 was a single-seat biplane fighter design that originated as a design to demonstrate the 150 hp Hart radial engine, which Vickers had sponsored.
 
In its initial form, the FB16 was known as the Hart Scout, flying for the first time in the autumn of 1916. The Hart Scout had a rounded fuselage cross-section and was armed with a single forward-firing Vickers machine gun.
 
Early testing showed problems with engine cooling and was reported as having an unsatisfactory field of view for the pilot. The problems with the Hart engine could not be resolved and sadly its development was halted.
 
The aircraft was subsequently redesigned and it  emerged in substantially modified form as the FB16A,  with narrower, flat fuselage sides and a 150 hp Hispano Suiza engine with a frontal cooling radiator.
 
The FB16A was first flown in the autumn of 1916 and was armed with a synchronised forward-firing Vickers gun together with a Lewis gun, fitted on a sliding mount above the upper wing-centre section. The wing-centre section itself was lowered, leaving only a small gap above the forward fuselage. The FB16A 1st prototype was destroyed in a crash on 20th December 1916.
 
A second FB16A prototype (A8963) was completed in January 1917 and underwent trials at Martlesham Heath in April of that year. Although a maximum speed of 120 mph was achieved at 6,500 ft, no orders followed with the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 being more favoured for the requirement.
 
Vickers FB16 FB16D small spinner The Vickers FB16D - the engine-mounted gun fires through the hole in the prop spinner.
 
The 2nd prototype was further developed in 1917 with the addition of a 200 hp Hispano Suiza engine together with modified wings and designated FB16D. This aircraft was armed with a single Lewis gun, mounted between the cylinder banks of the engine, and firing through a hollow propeller shaft. It also featured another Lewis gun on a sliding mount above the upper wing.
 
Performance was good, finding favour with the pilot James McCudden.
 
Trials at Martlesham Heath demonstrated a speed of 135 mph at 10,000 ft but they also produced criticism of the type’s structure and poor maintenance access with the official account describing it as "not considered suitable in its present form for active service".
 
Vickers FB16  FB16D port rear view This view of the Vickers FB16D clearly shows the Lewis gun mounted on the wing centre section..
 
Further progressive development led to the Vickers FB16E with two-bay wings of increased (31 foot) span and a 275 hp Lorraine-Dietrich 8 Bd engine. Armament was a more conventional pair of Vickers machine guns. Sadly, plans for production of this variant by Darraq (in France) came to nothing.
 
Only two airframes were actually built; the Hart Scout, which became the first FB16A and the second FB16A (A8963) which also served as the prototype FB16D and FB16E.
 

Variants & Numbers

 
FB16 Hart Scout
Prototype with 150 hp Hart radial engine.
FB16A
FB16 Hart Scout re-engined with 150 hp Hispano-Suiza 8, destroyed December 1916 and replaced by second FB16A (A8963).
FB16D
A8963 re-engined with 200 hp Hispano-Suiza
FB16E
A8963 re-engined with 275 hp Lorraine-Dietrich and fitted with two-bay wings
 

Specification (FB16D)

 
Powerplant
One 200 hp Hispano Suiza
Span
25 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
1,875 lb
Capacity
Single pilot; one fixed forward-firing Lewis gun mounted on the engine to fire forward through the prop spinner, one Lewis gun on centre-section mounting.
Maximum Speed
135 mph at 10,000 ft
Endurance
2.25 hours
 

Survivors

No examples of the Vickers FB16 survive.

Other information