Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard
|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Martinsyde|
Widely considered to have been one of the best single-seat fighters to emerge during World War I, the Buzzard began life as a private venture design by G H Handasyde designated F.3. A single-bay staggered biplane of conventional wooden construction with fabric skinning and powered by a Rolls-Royce Falcon engine of 285hp, the F.3 appeared in the autumn of 1917. It underwent its first official trials on 3 October, six further prototypes being ordered and a decision to manufacture the F.3 in quantity being taken before the end of 1917. The, F.3 was powered by the 275hp Falcon III engine, but priorities in Falcon engine supplies enjoyed by the Bristol Fighter led to the reworking of the F.3 for the 300hp Hispano-Suiza 8Fb. With this it was redesignated F.4 and (from September 1918) officially named Buzzard. It is uncertain just how many of the original batch of 150 aircraft were completed as Falcon-engined F.3s, but most were certainly finished as HS 8Fb-engined F.4s, the first of the latter being tested at Martlesham Heath in June 1918. Additional contracts for the F.4 were placed with the parent company (300), Boulton & Paul (500), Hooper (200) and Standard Motor (300). Armed with two synchronised 7.7mm Vickers guns, the F.4 differed from the F.3, apart from power plant, in having revised fuselage decking contours and more extensive plywood skinning. Belated engine deliveries and other factors delayed production, only seven having been handed over by November 1918, and, in the event, no RAF squadron was to be equipped with the type. Production of the F.4 by the parent company continued for a time after the Armistice (no other contractor apparently producing any complete Buzzards) and more than 370 airframes were built, some being fitted with Falcon engines. A number of F.4 Buzzards was sold abroad by the Aircraft Disposal Company, the principal recipients being Finland (15), Portugal (4), Spain (20) and the USSR, the last-mentioned procuring 100 aircraft of this type. A two-seat variant, the F.4A, was produced in 1920, a much-modified derivative with two-bay wings of increased span appearing in the following year. This had a Lewis gun in the rear cockpit and several were supplied to Spain in June 1921, both single- and two-seat Buzzards being referred to as F.4As in Spanish service.