Bristol F2B 'Brisfit'
$8.98 ($7.96 at Squadron)
Scott Van Aken
"The R.A.F. BE2c was the principal two-seat reconnaissance plane of the Royal
Flying Corps, and its specifications seemed sufficient for the military
authorities in the early part of WWI. However, the obsolescence of its design
and the appearance of new machines in the adversary's air fleet made its
replacement urgent. The unfavorable military situation, in which Britain had
lost its initiative in the skies of the Western Front, forced the military
command to look for support among private firms. One of them, the Bristol
Aeroplane Company, had a project for the construction of a two-seat
general-purpose aircraft, which could be, used both ways: as a reconnaissance
plane, and also in the tight maneuvers of air battles.
The prototype F2A with a Rolls-Royce Falcon engine made its first flight in
September 1916. By the end of the same year, 50 planes were transferred to 48
Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. To start with, the F2A was used as a
regular two-seat fighter plane and this led to fatal consequences: during the
first operational flight four planes out of six were lost.
In spite of this initial failure, the Bristol Company obtained a new order -
this time for 200 machines. After some minor design changes, the F2B appeared,
receiving a simple name: "Fighter".
Along with the appearance of the F2B, the use of the plane changed - now it
was flown according to the tactics developed for single-seat planes. However,
the strength of its construction and its ability to defend the rear hemisphere
were indisputable advantages of the design.
The F2B quickly became popular among its pilots who nicknamed this plane 'Brisfit'.
The quantity of new machines was growing rapidly - soon these planes were
delivered not only to Front Line units, but also to Home Defence.
However, numerous problems with the engine seriously held back attempts to
increase production of the type. The Bristol Company was forced to look for a
substitute for the Falcon. Attempts to fit Hispano Suiza, Puma and Sunbeam
Arab engines all failed (only the last one of them was built as a series
modification). For this reason most F2B Fighters had a Rolls-Royce Falcon
Apart from on the Western Front, the Bristol Fighter was widely used in other
theaters of war; in Italy and Palestine. Aircraft serving with Home Defence
managed to shoot down at least two German Gotha G.V strategic bombers.
The most successful pilot to fly the Bristol F2B Fighter was the Canadian
Andrew Edward McKeever - all of his 30 victories were won solely with this
type. Another famous Canadian ace William Barker also flew the F2B. By the end
of WWI the Bristol Company had received orders for 5,500 of these planes,
3,101 of which were transferred to combat units. After the Armistice, the
additional contracts were cancelled. Altogether, taking into account later
modifications and experimental examples, the total of machines built reached
Apart from Great Britain, the Bristol F2B Fighter was used by the Air Forces
of several other countries - Ireland, Poland, Belgium, Spain and Greece. Such
British dominions as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the South African
Union used the Bristol F2B Fighter in their air fleets.
Some of these planes remained in service until 1939. Thus, the Bristol F2B
Fighter, designed during the WWI, faced another major world conflict, but this
was a time for aircraft belonging to a new generation."
Thanks to Roden for the historical background.
The kit is molded in the usual light grey plastic.
As is typical of Roden kits, there are a number of optional parts. The most
amazing one is that you can build it with the engine cowlings removed. That is
because it offers a full engine, complete with engine mounts and other
framework. Those who wish to wimp out on this task, can still build it with a
closed cowling. This will save on construction time as you obviously won't be
needing all of the bits and pieces, just the main block to hold the exhaust and
Other options for the kit are on the type of rear machine gun,
exhaust, and prop. Of course, of the six markings options provided, some of them
will require certain pieces to be most accurate. The aircraft also has a myriad
of struts to install. I fear that the F2B is not exactly builder friendly in
this regard as there is no really easy way to mold the struts except as separate
items. Though a new kit, there is
a touch of flash on some of the sprues, though it should be pretty easy to clean
up. I saw no real problem with ejector pin marks or sink areas. Many of the
parts are quite petite so care will need to be taken when removing them from the
Instructions are typically excellent showing all the needed
modifications and choices for the specific version being modeled. One thing
missing from this one is a rigging diagram. The box art and other references
will have to suffice for this purpose. There are markings for six aircraft, most
of them in matte green upper with linen lower flight surfaces. The engine area
is in aluminum. Planes painted in this fashion are from 48 Sq, 11 Sq, 141 Sq
(with nightfighter roundels), and 139 Sq. The aircraft with 1 Sq, Australian
Flying Corps were based in Palestine so they have matte white fuselages. they
also have a rather odd pattern of white on the upper wings. One has the lower
left and upper right wing in white while the other has the lower left wing and
the upper ailerons in white. Different to say the least! Decals are very well
printed and appear to be quite thin. There is a full color markings and painting
guide on the back of the box, which will be a huge help.
I'm sure that WWI aircraft fans will be very pleased with this kit. There
have been kits of this plane done before by Airfix and Pegasus. However, those
were all short run kits and while this one is by no means a simple kit (thanks
to all the small parts) it will be a superior model when finished.
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