100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

World’s First Fighter Aircraft Deploys In France

Vickers was a steel foundry in England that excelled in making propellers for the shipping industry. In 1911 the company name was changed to Vickers Ltd and expanded its operations into aircraft manufacture by the formation of Vickers Ltd (Aviation Department) and a Vickers School of Flying was opened at Brooklands, Surrey in January 1912. A contract for an experimental prototype was given to Vickers by the British Admiralty in November 1912. It is the first British aircraft to be specifically designed for a military role.

What developed from this contract was FB 5 or Fighting Biplane 5 also known as the “Gunbus”. Armed with a single 7.7 mm Lewis Gun operated by the observer in the front, it was the first aircraft purpose-built for air-to-air combat to see service, making it the world’s first operational fighter aircraft.

On February 5, 1915 the Vickers FB 5 Gunbus began to be seen on the Western Front when the first examples reached No.2 Squadron Royal Flying Corps.

Vickers FB 5 "Gunbus"

Vickers FB 5 “Gunbus”

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