Felixstowe F.5

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Felixstowe F.5
Felixstowe F5s in flight.jpg
Felixstowe F.5s in formation, 1928.[1]
Role Military flying boat
Manufacturer Seaplane Experimental Station (1)
Short Brothers (23)
Dick, Kerr & Co. (2)
Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company (17)
Gosport Aircraft Company (10)
S.E. Saunders Ltd
Boulton Paul Ltd (hulls only)
Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd
Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal (10)
Hiro Naval Arsenal (60)
Aichi (40)
Designer John Cyril Porte
First flight May 1918
Introduction 1918
Retired 1930
Primary users Royal Air Force
United States Navy (F5L)
Imperial Japanese Navy
Number built 163 (F.5); 227 (F5L)
Developed from Felixstowe F.2
Variants Felixstowe F5L
Hiro H1H

The Felixstowe F.5 was a British First World War flying boat designed by Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte RN of the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe.

Design and development[edit]

Porte had designed a better hull for the larger Curtiss H-12 flying boat, resulting in the Felixstowe F.2A, which was greatly superior to the original Curtiss boat. This entered production and service as a patrol aircraft. In February 1917, the first prototype of the Felixstowe F.3 was flown. This was larger and heavier than the F.2, giving it greater range and a heavier bomb load but inferior manoeuvrability. The Felixstowe F.5 was intended to combine the good qualities of the F.2 and F.3, with the prototype first flying in May 1918. The prototype showed superior qualities to its predecessors but the production version was modified to make extensive use of components from the F.3, in order to ease production, giving a lower performance than either the F.2A or F.3.[citation needed]

Operational history[edit]

The F.5 did not enter service until after the end of the First World War, but replaced the earlier Felixstowe boats (together with the Curtiss machines), to serve as the Royal Air Force's (RAF) standard flying boat until being replaced by the Supermarine Southampton in 1925.[citation needed]


Felixstowe F5L[edit]

US built version of the F.5 with two Liberty engines numbers built:

  • Naval Aircraft Factory (USA): 137
  • Curtiss Aviation (USA): 60
  • Canadian Aeroplanes Limited (Canada): 30

Gosport Flying Boat[edit]

F.5 of the Gosport Aircraft Company at Calshot, eighth of a batch of 50 ordered.[2]

One of the ten RAF aircraft built by the Gosport Aircraft Company was civil registered as a Gosport Flying Boat in 1919 to appear at the First Air Traffic Exhibition at Amsterdam in August 1919.[3]

Gosport Fire Fighter[edit]

Unrealised 10-seat version of the F.5 designed to carry men and material to the scene of a forest fire or emergency.[4][5]

Gosport G5[edit]

Unrealised civilian version of the F.5 for two crew and six passengers, mail and cargo or either alone, fitted with two 365 hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII, 450 hp Napier Lion or 500 hp Cosmos Jupiter engines. As the Fire Fighter above, the G5 could be adapted to operate in remote areas for locating forest fires and transporting personnel and fire-fighting equipment.[5][6]

Gosport G5a[edit]

Unrealised smaller variant of the G5 with a 97 ft 6in span and 46 ft in length, for two crew and six passengers with an increased loading capacity.[5][6]

Navy F.5[edit]

An improved Japanese version of the F.5 known as the Navy F.5 used by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) between 1922 and 1930. The Hiro Naval Arsenal first licence-built the Felixstowe F.5 from October 1921, Aichi continued manufacture until 1929.[7]

Hiro H1H[edit]

Hiro Naval Arsenal produced their own variant of the Navy F.5, as the H1H. The first version, Navy Type 15 with a wooden hull was powered by either Lorraine W-12 or BMW VII engines, the Type 15-1 had a longer wing span, whilst the Type 15-2 had an all-metal hull and four-bladed propellers. It was retired in 1938.[8][9]

Short S.2[edit]

Short S.2 prototype (N177) at Short Brothers Works, Rochester, Kent, 1924.

In 1924 the Air Ministry invited tenders for two hulls of modern design to suit the wings and tail surfaces of the F.5. Short Brothers submitted a proposal for an all-metal hull built of duralumin, then a largely untried and untrusted material. The aircraft was first flown on 5 January 1925 and delivered to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe on 14 March, where it was subjected to a series of strenuous tests, including dropping the aircraft onto the water by stalling it at a height of 30 ft (9 m): the aircraft withstood all trials, and after a year an inspection revealed only negligible corrosion. This succeeded in overcoming official resistance to the use of duralumin, and led to the order for the prototype Short Singapore.[10]


 United Kingdom

 United States

 Japan - (Post-war)

Specifications (F.5)[edit]

F.5 of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)

Data from Aircraft of the Royal Air Force[11]

General characteristics

  • Crew: four
  • Length: 49 ft 3 in (15 m)
  • Wingspan: 103 ft 8 in (31.6 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 9 in (5.7 m)
  • Wing area: 1,409 ft² (131 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,100 lb (4,128 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 12,682 lb (5,753kg)
  • Powerplant: two × Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, V-12, 345 hp (257 kW) each



  • Guns: 4 × Lewis guns (one in the nose, three amidships)
  • Bombs: Up to 920 lb (417 kg) of bombs beneath wings

See also[edit]

Postcard of an IJN Navy F.5 and crew with propeller covers, on Lake Kasumigaura.[12]
Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ "Felixstowe F.5, N4568, in formation with another aircraft, 1928". Royal Air Force Museum. Hendon. 1928. Retrieved 23 January 2017. 
  2. ^ Cowin, Hugh W. (1999). Aviation Pioneers. Osprey. Retrieved 13 February 2017. 
  3. ^ Jackson 1974, p. 342
  4. ^ "The Gosport Flying-Boats". Flight. 31 July 1919. p. 1006. 
  5. ^ a b c Flight "Felixstowe Flying Boats" p.931 23 December 1955
  6. ^ a b c "Some Gosport Flying Boats for 1920". Flight. 25 December 1919. pp. 1657–1658. 
  7. ^ "Hiro (Hirosho) Navy Type F.5 Flying-boat.". Japanese Aircraft of WWII. Japanese Aircraft of WWII. Archived from the original on 31 December 2014. Retrieved 31 December 2014. 
  8. ^ Mikesh, Robert C.; Abe, Shorzoe (1990). Japanese Aircraft 1910-1941. Maryland 21402: Naval Institute Press Annapolis. ISBN 1-55750-563-2. 
  9. ^ Januszewski, Tadeusz; Zalewski, Kryzysztof (2000). Japońskie samoloty marynarski 1912-1945. tiel2, Lampart. ISBN 83-86776-00-5. 
  10. ^ Barnes 1967, p. 197.
  11. ^ Thetford 1979
  12. ^ Evans; Peattie, David C.; Mark R. (2012). Kaigun: Strategy, Tactics, and Technology in the Imperial Japanese Navy 1887-1941 (illustrated ed.). Seaforth Publishing. pp. 179–181. ISBN 1848321597. Retrieved 1 February 2017. 


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