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Felixstowe F.2 Flying Boat (1917)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/20/2014

The Felixstowe F.2 was a militarized British version of the American Curtiss H-12 flying boat.

In the pre-World War 1 period, Royal Navy Lt Cmdr John Porte partnered with famous American aviator Glenn Curtiss to develop a long-range "flying boat" capable of crossing the Atlantic Ocean - this in response to a monetary prize offered by the Daily Mail in England for such a feat. This led to the aircraft dubbed "America" and was known in the Curtiss nomenclature as the "H-4" (Model H). However, everything changed when war came to Europe and the British involvement whisked Porte back to England to serve at the naval air base of Felixstowe. With his experience in seeing the H-4 come to fruition, he convinced the Royal Navy to adopt the aircraft as its own, which it did, in 62 examples as well as two prototype "America" airframes.

The H-4 proved serviceable enough but it was not void of issues from a military perspective - such service introducing a level of rigors not common to commercial-minded travel. The H-4s were found to have rather weak hulls for consistently rough operations and their engines were weak in powering the large airframe - pilots were none too fond of the model and let it be known.

Porte moved to evolve the H-4 into a more viable military-minded product and used several H-4 airframes to test various outfits and arrangements. Work begat the Felixstowe F.1 of which four were built and these aircraft involved revised Porte-designed hulls as well as 2 x Hispano-Suiza 8 series engines of 150 horsepower (each) while retaining the tail section and biplane wing of the H-4. Waterborne performance was dramatically improved and testing showcased a more sound design than before.

Work continued by Porte, now focused on bringing a modified Curtiss H-12 aircraft to a Royal Navy standard. The H-12 was a dimensionally larger system and saw its first flight in June of 1914. Some 478 of the type would be built before the end and both the United States and United Kingdom would take the aircraft into their respective inventories. Again the same limitations of the H-4 were encountered in the H-12 but the already-completed work on the former helped to usher in a revised design for the latter producing the Felixstowe F.2. Changes included use of a Porte-designed hull with the wings of the Curtiss H-12 though an all-new tail section was added and power came through 2 x Rolls-Royce "Eagle" series engines. First flight of the F.2 was recorded in July of 1916.

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Specifications for the
Felixstowe F.2
Flying Boat

Focus Model: Felixstowe F.2A
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: SE Saunders Ltd / Aircraft Manufacturing Company / May, Harden & May / Felixstowe - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1917
Production: 175

Crew: 4

Length: 46.26 ft (14.1 m)
Width: 95.64 ft (29.15 m)
Height: 17.52ft (5.34 m)
Weight (Empty): 7,496 lb (3,400 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 11,023 lb (5,000 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Rolls-Royce Eagle VII V12 radial piston engines developing 345 horsepower each.

Maximum Speed: 96 mph (154 kmh; 83 kts)
Maximum Range: 559 miles (900 km)
Service Ceiling: 9,843 ft (3,000 m; 1.9 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 253 feet-per-minute (77 m/min)

Hardpoints: 4
Armament Suite:
STANDARD (Typical):
1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun in nose
3 x 7.7mm Lewis machine guns in fuselage

Up to 460lb of external ordnance.
3 x 7.7mm Lewis machine guns (additional)

F.2 - Base Series Designation; based on a heavily modified Curtiss H-12 flying boat.

F.2A - Definitive production version; completed with Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII series engines.

F.2C - Lightened hull design; 2 examples produced.

United Kingdom; United States