Royal Aircraft Factory B.E. 12

The B.E. 12 (BE stood for Bleriot Experimental) was a development of the B.E.2, a biplane single-seat fighter of 1915 (above photo is a B.E. 2d from the Canadian National Aviation Museum). The B.E.2 was converted unsuccessfully to a fighter by installing a more powerful engine and adding conventional fighter armament of a single forward, oblique-firing machine gun. This was done without changing the aerodynamics of the aircraft. Thus the stability of the aircraft was retained with the result that it lacked the manoeuvrability and speed required of a fighter. Although the B.E.2 was modified several times, its basic construction was not altered and eventually the B.E.12 and 12(a) were evolved. The B.E.12 was withdrawn after only a month of first-line service as a fighter, and was either relegated to Zeppelin patrols in England or it was used as a bomber and reconnaissance aircraft because of its low performance. The biggest change in design was moving the observer to the rear cockpit so he could better defend the rear of the aircraft. The B.E.12b with a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine was much better, but the engine was urgently needed for better aircraft. 468 were built.

Technical Details
The B.E.12 was originally designed as a single-seat fighter, but it was soon relegated to the reconnaissance/light bombing role. It first flew in 1916. In that role it carried a crew of two, pilot and observer/gunner. It was powered by the 150hp R.A.F A1 engine (seen below), which was adequate for the aircraft, but certainly not overpowered. Maximum speed was 164 km/h, with a ceiling of 3800 meters. It was armed with the standard single 0.303 caliber Lewis gun in the rear for the Observer/gunner.

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Image from: National Aviation Museum (Canada)