Thursday, July 20, 2017

The British Felixstowe Porte Baby

"There was the boat called the Porte Baby, a bigger machine than any built and flown in this country until 1918, and this boat was produced in 1915 and flown in 1916. Although it did little useful active service work, it set other designers to thinking, and was the father and mother of all big British aeroplanes and seaplanes. When fully loaded it weighed about eight and a half tons, but no scales big enough to weigh it were obtainable in the service"...…so Squadron Leader Theodore D. Hallam or Pix, described the Porte Baby.

When first flown in 1915, the British Felixstowe Porte Baby (Porte F.B.2) was the largest reconnaissance flying boat built in the United Kingdom.
Designed by John Cyril Porte at the Royal Naval Seaplane Experimental Station at Felixstowe, where the prototype was also built; ten additional aircraft were built by May, Harden and May of Southampton.

The aircraft was an unequal-span, three-bay biplane of wood-and-fabric construction, the hull being mounted below the lower wing. The engines, normally three Rolls-Royce Eagles, (but sometimes with a 260 hp Green as the centre, pusher engine) were mounted between the wings; two in tractor configuration and the central one in pusher. The two pilots were in an enclosed cockpit, the three gunners had open stations armed with machine guns.

As can be seen in the above picture, the F.B.2 was used to prove the concept of a larger aircraft carrying aloft and launching a lighter aircraft (in this case a Bristol Scout). The production F.B.2s were used to fly patrols over the North Sea. Its slow speed and large size, however, made it vulnerable to fighter attack, and after one aircraft was almost destroyed by German aircraft, being forced down and having to taxi back from off the Dutch coast to England, they were kept from patrolling areas where they could encounter enemy aircraft. The Porte Baby remained in service in October 1918.

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