Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard


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The definitive F.4 version

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.

Martinsyde F.4 BuzzardA three-view drawing (1280 x 948)

 MODELF.4 Buzzard
  Take-off weight1088 kg2399 lb
  Empty weight821 kg1810 lb
  Wingspan9.99 m33 ft 9 in
  Length7.76 m25 ft 6 in
  Height2.69 m9 ft 10 in
  Wing area29.73 m2320.01 sq ft
  Max. speed212 km/h132 mph

Martinsyde F.4 Buzzard

The two-bay two-seat version of the Buzzard

vance gilbert, e-mail, 05.02.2017 22:38

Has anyone ever seen an F.4 on skis sans military markings?


Arthur Moreton, e-mail, 16.11.2016 16:07

Bruce Murdin - re Buzzard Propeller.
As historian for North Weald Airfield, which this year commemorated its centenary and had a Buzzard flying from there in 1918'. I would love to provide a home for it at North Weald.


Bruce Murdin, e-mail, 09.03.2016 15:08

I have an original propeller from an F4 Buzzard which my father had owned for over 50 years. If anyone is interested in it, please email me as it is too large for our house.


Kyle Bogosian, 13.08.2011 23:35

Pete, the Sopwith Snipe and Royal Aircraft Factory SE 5 would have been considered rivals in the RAF. The Snipe had worse performance but was selected to be the standard RAF fighter post-war because it was cheaper; the older SE 5, meanwhile, had a lot going for it and was certainly a match for the Buzzard.


pete mitchell, e-mail, 04.01.2011 03:40

very interesting what other aircraft would be considered close competition?


Patrick Fleming, e-mail, 23.05.2009 02:20

The Irish Air Corps operated four F4's in the early 1920's


Gerald Sankey, e-mail, 09.04.2008 15:08

I seen much higher top speeds given for the Buzzard also it was chosen as the day escort fighter for Handley Page bombers as part of the independent air force had the war go on to 1919 that variant would have been the Mustang of it day.


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