RAF FE-2B At War, Windsock Datafile 147

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Paul R. Hare
Other Publication Information
Softcover, 40 pages, 60 photos, 70 color detail closeup photos, 1/48 & 1/72 three view drawings and details, 9 color profiles
Product / Stock #
Provided by: Windsock Datafiles - Website: Visit Site
Publication Cover

The Story

In the past several years, interest in the FE-2 series has been generated by the construction of two flying replicas of this vintage biplane in New Zealand, and in 2009, Albatros Publications produced a multi-authored text entitled “The FE-2B Flies Again” which included both a history of the type and a description of the process in which two completely accurate replicas were built and flown. Following this, in the same year, Albatros author and historian Paul R. Hare produced a Windsock Datafile issue, #134, describing the FE-2D. This has been followed by this issue, describing the first production model, the FE-2B. All of these publications are worth having if you have any interest in World War I aircraft.

The FE-2B was developed pre-war as a biplane pusher scout, designated “Fighting Experimental No. 2”. The wings were the same as the BE-2C biplane. Both progressive developments and combat experience early in the war dictated changes, but the early production model FE-2B became a large, two seat biplane powered by Beardmore water-cooled engines ranging in power from 120 to 160 hp. The pilot sat in the rear cockpit while the gunner, seated in a frontal position, had the use of a swivel Lewis machine gun mounted before him and another mounted behind for firing to the rear. However, the position of the gun only allowed for very high-angle fire, which must have been a distinct disadvantage in combat situations. In addition, the gunner was not provided with any harness or seat belts, having to stand up to fire the rear gun. I suppose that even with the risks involved, it was considered better than infantry service on the Western Front. It goes without saying that with the introduction of the Tractor Biplane, the FE-2’s did not remain competitive, but somehow they continued in use until 1917 when they were finally replaced by more modern fighters. However, they continued to be utilized as night bombers until the end of the war, and also as zeppelin interceptors, and a few also were flown on anti-submarine patrols.

The Book

The book gives a very readable account of the design, development, and service use of the FE-2B. Approximately 60 archival quality black and white photos are include, as well as three view drawings in 1/72 and 1/48 scale, in addition to some detail drawings in 1/32 scale. Also included are detail color photos of reproduction FE-2’s in the UK and New Zealand, as well as nine color profiles and color renderings of various examples of the aircraft. In addition, the author also includes a list of all six of the known plastic kits issued of the type, as well as color information. There is a wealth of information here, and hopefully, one of the major kit manufacturers will come out with a state-of-the-art model of this type in one of the popular scales. Are you listening, Mr. Airfix?

This book is certainly one of the best of this series, and anyone with any interest in modeling aircraft of World War I should not miss out on this one. It has enough information for a detailed scratch-built model, and should prove very useful when a major kit appears. Contact their website – it is available from the publisher at 18.50 British pounds, plus shipping (approx. $18.75). Highly recommended.

Thanks to Albatros Publications and John Noack for the review copy.


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