Despite its ungainly appearance and large size the FE.2b ‘Fee’ was an effective two seat fighter, reconnaissance and bomber aircraft which proved to be highly adaptable to the changing face of aerial warfare. Arriving in late 1915 the pusher design afforded the observer/gunner an excellent view and field of fire (something that its contemporaries the BE.2c & e were sorely lacking) enabling the FE.2b, along with the DH.2, to combat the ‘Fokker scourge’ then decimating the RFC. It also saw service in the escort, reconnaissance, home defense, training and bombing roles and it was in the latter role as a specialized night bomber that it soldiered on until the Armistice. The FE.2b was initially powered by the reliable 120hp Austro Daimler engine built by Beardmore which was later upgraded to deliver 160hp although this proved to be very unreliable at first. The FE.2d, an improved version powered by 250hp & 275hp Rolls Royce Eagle engines, started appearing in June 1916 but only saw limited service and production was halted due to those engines being urgently required elsewhere. Remaining FE.2d airframes then under construction were completed as FE.2bs. A more streamlined ‘V’ strut undercarriage was trialed on the FE.2a and early FE.2bs but the shock absorbing oleo undercarriage was preferred, although a modification designed by Lt Trafford Jones of 20 Sqn was introduced from June 1916. Later the ‘V’ strut undercarriage was reintroduced as it enabled the fitting bombs under the nacelle. Any history of this fascinating aircraft here is of necessity very brief so we encourage you to seek out any, or all, of the reference books listed below.
|Wingspan:||Length:||Max Weight:||Max Speed:|
|47’ 9’ (14.55m)||31’ 9’ (9.68m) Late undercarriage||Approximately 3300lb (1500kg)||91.5mph (147kph)|
|1800 (approximately) including rebuilds||Sept(?) 1915 to Nov(?) 1918||120hp and 160hp Beardmore||11,000’ (3350m)|
|1 or 2 .303 (7.7mm) Lewis guns and over 350lb (160kg) of bombs.|
|Schedule of Spare Parts for the F.E.2.B Machine, DCGE T.5 R.7392 1050 10/18, 1918 - The Vintage Aviator Ltd - 1914-18 Aviation Heritage Trust - RAF FE2b Windsock Datafile, JM Bruce, 1989 – The Royal Aircraft Factory FE2b/d & Variants in RFC, RAF, RNAS & AFC Service, various authors, Cross & Cockade International, 2009 – The FE2B Flies Again, various authors, Albatros Publications, 2009 - Private Collections|
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