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Aircraft of the Month

Felixstowe F2

The Felixtowe F2 was a military flying boat developed by Lieutenant Commander John Porte RN during the First World War at the Royal Naval Air Station, Felixtowe.   Combining his own hull design with the Curtiss H-12 flying boat, which he had worked on in the USA before the war, Porte’s prototype F2 flew for the first time in July 1916 and proved highly superior to the Curtiss boat.  It entered production shortly thereafter with manufacturers Saunders Ltd and May, Harden and May, and entered service as a patrol aircraft with the RNAS in early 1917.

Powered by 2 x Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines generating 345 hp each, the Felixtowe enjoyed an excellent performance, handled well and was popular with its pilots.  The standard operating crew was 4 and its armament comprised 4 x .303 Lewis machine guns (one in the nose and 3 mounted centrally); it also had the capacity to carry a bomb load of up to 460 lbs.   The aircraft’s primary role was that of maritime patrol over the North Sea where it was employed in hunting enemy naval vessels, particularly submarines, and Zeppelins.  At the same time, it had sufficient power and manouvrability to pose a threat to enemy patrol aircraft and even engage fighter formations.

Apart from its service with the RNAS, the Felixtowe F2 equipped 12 RAF squadrons post-April 1918 and was also operated by the air arms of the USA and Chile.  A total of 175 aircraft were built before production ceased shortly after the end of the First World War and there are no known survivors.

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