Vickers F.B.19

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Vickers F.B.19
Vickers F.B.19 front quarter view.jpg
Role Single-seat scout
Manufacturer Vickers
Designer G H Challenger
First flight August 1916
Introduction 1916
Primary users Royal Flying Corps
Number built 62
Vickers F.B.19 side view.jpg

The Vickers F.B.19 was a British single-seat fighting scout of the First World War, developed from the Barnwell Bullet prototype, and sometimes known as the Vickers Bullet. It served with the Royal Flying Corps and the Imperial Russian Air Service, and was subsequently adopted by the Red Air Force during the Russian Civil War.

Design and Development[edit]

The F.B.19 was designed by G. H. Challenger,[1] and first flew in August 1916. It was a single-engine, single-bay, equal-span biplane, slightly smaller than either the Sopwith Camel or Nieuport 17, with a proportionally large engine fairing and tall fuselage giving it a relatively stubby appearance. It was armed with one synchronised 7.7mm Vickers machine gun, mounted unusually on the left-hand side of the fuselage, to facilitate the installation of the Vickers-Challenger synchroniser gear, also designed by Challenger.

The 100-hp Gnome Monosoupape engine gave a relatively slow speed, and the relatively low cockpit position, placed behind a wide rotary engine and between unstaggered wings, severely limited visibility for the pilot. The clearest view was sometimes said to be upwards, through a transparent section in the upper wing. Modifications were introduced, including a more powerful 110-hp (82-kW) Le Rhône or Clerget engine and staggered mainplanes, culminating in the Mk II design.

The plane's relative success on the Eastern Front appears to have been due in part to the fitting of a more powerful engine in Russia.

Operational history[edit]

Around sixty-five F.B.19s were built. Six early production examples were sent to France in late 1916 for operational evaluation, but they were found unsuitable for the fighting conditions then evolving. Twelve examples of the Mk II were sent to the Middle East, five in Palestine and seven in Macedonia, but they were not popular and no squadron was fully equipped with the type. A few were also used as trainers and for air defense over London, but the type had effectively been retired before the end of 1917.

The F.B.19 found more favour in Russia, where it was known as the Vikkers Bullit. A single example was initially sent for evaluation in 1916, where it was favourably regarded by leading pilots, including the ace Yevgraph Kruten. Russian sources indicate that it was fitted with a more powerful 130-hp Clerget engine, which provided a maximum speed of around 200 km/h, making it faster than both the SPAD S.VII and the Sikorsky S-20. Around twenty or thirty planes were procured, and at least four were deployed to front-line units, including one in which the ace Grigoriy Suk claimed two of his victories, while a number of unarmed planes were employed as trainers.

After the October Revolution, a number of examples found their way into Bolshevik hands. A force of six F.B.19's are said to have been employed in 1918 against the anti-Bolshevik People's Army, and the type remained in service until 1924.

All examples of the "Bullet" active in Russian service appear to have been Mk. I planes with unstaggered wings. A number of additional examples are said to have remained in crates on the dockside at Archangelsk until they were destroyed by the Royal Navy during the evacuation of the allied expeditionary force in 1919.


  • F.B.19 Mk I : Single-seat fighter-scout biplane, powered by a 100-hp (75-kW) Gnome Monosoupapa or a 110-hp (82-kW) Le Rhone rotary piston engine.
  • F.B.19 Mk II : Single-seat fighter-scout biplane, powered by a 110-hp (82-kW) Clerget or a Le Rhone rotary piston engine.


 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom

Specifications (F.B.19)[edit]

Data from British Aeroplanes 1914–18[2]

General characteristics


  • Maximum speed: 102 mph (89 knots, 164 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3,050 m)
  • Service ceiling: 17,500 ft (5,340 m)
  • Endurance: 2¾ hours
  • Climb to 10,000 ft (3,050 m): 14 minutes



  1. ^ Bruce 1969, p.112
  2. ^ Bruce 1957, p. 688.
  • Anrews, C.F. and E.B. Morgan. Vickers Aircraft since 1908. London:Putnam, 1988. ISBN 0-85177-815-1.
  • Bruce, J.M. War Planes Of The First World War: Volume Three Fighters. London: Macdonald, 1969. ISBN 0-356-01490-8.
  • Bruce, J.M. British Aeroplanes 1914–18. London:Putnam, 1957.