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Aircraft of the Month

Martinsyde F4 Buzzard

In 1917, the F3 single seat biplane fighter was developed as a private venture by the aircraft company Martinsyde.  Powered by a Rolls-Royce Falcon V12 engine, the first machine flew in November of that year and a production run of 150 aircraft was placed shortly thereafter.  It soon became apparent that that the Falcon engines being produced would all be needed for Bristol F2 aircraft and thus the 300 hp 8Fb Hispano-Suiza was substituted and Martinsyde F4 Buzzard. The prototype F4 flew for the first time in June 1918 from Martlesham Heath; armed with 2 x .303in Vickers machine guns synchronised to fire through the propeller blades, it proved easy to fly and was extremely manoeuvrable with a very impressive speed by 1917 standards of well over 140 mph.  An initial order of 1,450 aircraft was quickly followed by another of 1,500 machines to be built in the USA.

 

The RAF received 57 F4 Buzzards before the end of the war, at which point at which point it was decided to complete only those aircraft already being assembled and, since it was not to be adopted as a post-war fighter, cease further production.  Whilst only a few saw service in the UK; Martinsyde were modestly successful in selling Buzzards overseas, and the air arms of 12 foreign countries took at least one machine with the Soviet Union purchasing 100, Spain 30, of which 6 were used in the Spanish Civil War, and Finland also operated 15 aircraft until 1939.  Variants included a two-seater, a four seat passenger aircraft and a floatplane.

 

A total of 370 F4 Buzzards were built.  A single known survivor is on display at the Aviation Museum of Central Finland, Tikkakoski.

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