The Vickers F.B.19 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 a tall fuselage, which gave it a relatively stubby appearance. It was armed with one synchronised 7.7mm Vickers machine gun, mounted on the left-hand side of the fuselage, to facilitate the installation of the Vickers-Challenger synchroniser gear.
The 100-hp Gnome Monosoupape engine gave a relatively slow speed (102 mph), and the relatively low cockpit position, placed behind a wide rotary engine and between unstaggered wings, severely limited visibility for the pilot.Estimates of fifty to sixty-five F.B.19s were built. Six early production examples were sent to France in late 1916 for operational evaluation, where the RAF found them unsuitable for the fighting conditions then evolving.
At about this same time, some of the F.B.19s were demonstrated to the Russian military in Petrograd, Moscow, Kiev and Tiflis, resulting in a single example being sent for evaluation in 1916. The F.B.19 found more favour in Russia as leading pilots, including the ace Yevgraph Kruten, regarded it favourably.
Russian sources indicate (?) that it was fitted with a more powerful 130-hp Clerget engine that provided a maximum speed of around 125 mph, making the aircraft faster than both the SPAD S.VII and the Sikorsky S-20. It is thought that the Russians procured around twenty or thirty planes, and deployed at least four to front-line units, including one in which the ace Grigoriy Suk claimed two of his nine victories. A number of unarmed planes served as trainers.
All examples of the F.B.19s 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 the British Royal Navy destroyed them during the evacuation of the allied expeditionary force in 1919.