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Vickers F.B.5: First World War Aircraft


The 1914 Vickers F.B.5 ‘Gunbus’ is credited with being the first aircraft in the world to be purpose-built for aerial combat (every military aircraft preceding it having been adapted from a civilian model). Although it proved quite effective in a ground-attack role, its performance in terms of speed and climb-rate were always disappointing. It had limited success as a fighter aircraft in spite of the uninterrupted field of fire for the front-mounted Lewis gun and, unfortunately for its aircrew, was obsolete in practical terms by early 1915. ‘F.B.’ stands for ‘Fighting Biplane’, an official designation which manages to be both totally literal and highly evocative at the same time.

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