FBA Type A

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FBA Type A, B, and C
Ministry of Information First World War Miscellaneous Collection Q33809 (cropped).jpg
FBA Type C
Role Reconnaissance flying boat
Manufacturer FBA
First flight 1913
Number built ca. 1,000
Developed into FBA Type H

The FBA Type A and the similar Type B and C were a family of reconnaissance flying boats produced in France prior to and during World War I. All three were unequal-span pusher biplane flying boats with a single step hull made of ash longerons covered in laminated wood, divided by bulkheads into eight compartments. The empennage was carried on an upswept curved extension of the hull made from steel tubing. The pilot and observer sat side by side in the open cockpit.[1]


The design originated with patents by Donnet-Lévêque and initially reflected the general configuration of that company's aircraft. The Type A had a single-bay wing, while the larger Type B and C had two bay wings which otherwise only differed in the engine installed, with the type B using a 75 kW (100 hp) Gnome Monosoupape and the type C using a 97 kW (130 hp) Clerget 9B. The RNAS contracted for 20 type B's from Norman Thompson, who was responsible for building flying surfaces for hulls provided from France, which differed most noticeably by having a rectangular all-flying rudder in place of the D shaped rudder used on French examples. The Type A was the only version with a fin attached to the rudder although some aircraft had a field modification with a fin being added between the hull and the tailplane. The Type H was developed from the Type C but was larger, had a new hull that wasn't attached directly to the tailplane, had an oval rudder and used a Hispano-Suiza 8 stationary engine.

Operational history[edit]

RNAS FBA Type B, which used British built flying surfaces with a French built hull

The earliest examples sold entered service with the Austro-Hungarian Navy and Danish Navy prior to World War I, but large-scale use began with sales to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) who initially ordered 20 Type B's from Norman Thompson before receiving additional Type Cs from France. The French Aéronautique Maritime, and Italian Navy followed with orders for Type Bs and Cs in 1915. The FBA flying boats were used for naval patrols and frequently encountered their opposing German and Austro-Hungarian Navy counterparts which led to some being converted to single seaters armed with a machine gun. Three Type Bs became the first aircraft operated by the Portuguese Navy.


  • Type A (1913) - powered by a 37 kW (50 hp) Gnome Omega, initial aircraft from 1913.
  • Type A (production) - powered by a 60 kW (80 hp) Gnome Monosoupape 7 Type A, enlarged production aircraft.
  • Type B - powered by a 75 kW (100 hp) Gnome Monosoupape 9 Type B-2. Over 150 built.
  • Type C - powered by a 97 kW (130 hp) Clerget 9B. 78 built.
    • Type 11 HE.2 - two-seat elementary flying-boat.
    • Type 14 HE.2 - Two-seat training flying-boat for the French Navy. 20 built.
  • FBA 100ch - French Navy nomenclature for the Type B
  • FBA 130ch - French Navy nomenclature for the Type C


Beached Imperial Russian Navy FBA Type C
 United Kingdom


A single example of a type B survives in the Museu de Marinha in Lisbon. This aircraft was reassembled from parts from the Portuguese Navy's first two aircraft.

Specifications (Type C)[edit]

FBA Type C drawing

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two, pilot and observer
  • Length: 9.14 m (30 ft 0 in)
  • Wingspan: 13.71 m (45 ft 0 in)
  • Height: 3.4 m (11 ft 2 in)
  • Gross weight: 910 kg (2,000 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Clerget 9B, 97 kW (130 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 110 km/h (67 mph)
  • Range: 320 km (200 miles)
  • Service ceiling: 3,500[4] m (11,480 ft)


  1. ^ Taylor 1989, p. 381.
  2. ^ Thetford 1982, p. 461.
  3. ^ Mulder, Rob J M (2015). "THE BRITISH AIRCRAFT ON THE ELTA OF 1919". European Airlines. EUROPEAN AIRLINES / ROB MULDER. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  4. ^ Angelucci 1983, p. 88.
  • Angelucci, Enzo. The Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, 1914-1980. San Diego, California: The Military Press, 1983. ISBN 0-517-41021-4.
  • Davilla, Dr. James J.; Soltan, Arthur (1997). French Aircraft of the First World War. Mountain View, CA: Flying Machines Press. ISBN 978-1891268090. 
  • Durkota, Alan; Darcey, Thomas; Kulikov, Victor (1995). The Imperial Russian Air Service — Famous Pilots and Aircraft of World War I. Mountain View, CA: Flying Machines Press. ISBN 0-9637110-2-4. 
  • Morareau, Lucien (2002). Les Aeronefs de l'Aviation Maritime. Paris, France: ARDHAN (Association pour la Recherche de Documentation sur l'Histoire de l'Aeronautique Navale. pp. 44–47. ISBN 2-913344-04-6. 
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions, 1989. ISBN 0-517-69186-8.
  • Thetford, Owen. British Naval Aircraft Since 1912. London: Putnam, 1982. ISBN 0-370-30021-1.

External links[edit]