The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

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A Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c bi-plane at the Imperial War Museum in London
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 (Blériot Experimental) was the first military aircraft to be used by the UK. This device was used in different variations by the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service during the entire First World War, even when he was already over.

Royal Aircraft Factory BE2 - South Carlton, Photo from Flickr

History : 
The B.E.2 was developed by Geoffrey de Havilland from B.E.1 and flew for the first time in February 1912 with the controls of Havilland himself. Shortly after he defeated the British altitude record after reaching 3219 meters.

An observer of the Royal Flying Corps in a Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c r econnaissance aircraft demonstrates a C type aerial reconnaissance camera fixed to the side of the fuselage, 1916,Photo from Wikimedia Commons

The B.E.2 was designed as qu'avion recognition and two years later, three observation squadrons were equipped with this aircraft. All were sent to France at the beginning of the war.

The biggest handicap of this aircraft was to have been designed in an era where too much was paid to the stability of an aircraft in flight, which made the B.E.2 was extremely difficult to maneuver. These control difficulties made it a prime target for enemy aircraft and squadrons B.E.2 suffered heavy losses. Because of this vulnerability, the German pilots nicknamed the "cold meat". In 1917 a squadron of six B.E.2 took off from Saint-Omer. An aircraft crashed during take-off, three other during landing and another was missing ... The BE2 were kept away from the front from that point, but they continued to be used for detection submarines, the defense against Zeppelins and for training.

The B.E.2 enjoyed its heyday as an interceptor of Zeppelins. On the night of 3 August 1916, a BE2 piloted by Captain William Leefe Robinson shot the first airship over Britain and it was worth the pilot to be awarded the Victoria Cross and touch a reward of about £ 3,500.

About 3500 B.E.2 were manufactured by more than 20 different companies. They were originally a fighter variant, the BE.12, who knew no success. A small number of BE2 are still visible in various museums around the world, including in the Royal Air Force Museum Hendon, the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa and the Musée de l'Air in Le Bourget . 

Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2C in the Canada Aviation Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Photo from Wikimedia Commons

General characteristics : 

Manufacturer : Royal Aircraft Factory, Vickers, Bristol 
Constructor (s): Geoffrey de Havilland
Length : 8.31 m
Wingspan : 11.40 m
Height : 3.66 m
Wing area : 33,50 m²
Empty weight : 649 kg
Loaded weight : 1000 kg
Engine an air-cooled V8 engine R.A.F.-1a, 90 hp
Maximum speed : 145 km / h near the ground
Service ceiling : 3500 m
Range : 320 km or 200 nm
Flight duration : 3 h 15 min
Armament : 2 MG 7.7 mm Lewis
Crew : 2

Operators :   
Photograph taken 1916 or 1917 of aircraft serving with the Belgian army.
Original provenance unknown - but copyright almost certainly originally
belonged to the Belgian army. Photo from Wikimedia Commons




A Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2a. According to partially
deleted caption, in German hands
 (although the other aircraft in the photo is also
 an allied type, a Caudron). Taken early in the war before
 the RFC adopted the roundel marking in late 1915.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons



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