British Aviation Companies and Military Aircraft
British military aviation developed from army balloon experimentation and their use for observation in African campaigns at the end of the nineteenth century. The first aircraft was British Army Aeroplane No.1, developed by Samuel Franklin Cody in 1908, while Geoffrey de Havilland produced his first plane in 1909. A De Havilland designed biplane was purchased by the War Office in 1911 and became FE1, named after the French Farman design. The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was founded in 1912 and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in 1914.
In the years before World War One, new aircraft were developed by pioneering companies such as A.V. Roe and Company (Avro), Short Brothers, Royal Aircraft Factory, Bristol Aeroplane Company and Vickers. Designs developed and multiplied rapidly during the war with British fighters including the BE2, Sopwith Camel, SE5 and Bristol Fighter. Bomber aircraft were developed later in the war by Handley Page and Vickers. The Royal Air Force (RAF) was created in 1918.
Development continued in the 1920s and 1930s with types such as the Supermarine Spitfire, Hawker Hurricane, Bristol Bulldog and Blenheim, Fairey Swordfish and Vickers Wellington. In World War Two aircraft such as the Avro Lancaster, Short Sunderland, de Havilland Mosquito and Hawker Tempest entered service, as well as the first British jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. During the Cold War, the V-Bomber strike force (Vickers Valiant, Avro Vulcan and Handley Page Victor) carried the strategic nuclear deterrent, while fighters included the English Electric Lightning, Hawker Hunter and British Aerospace Harrier.
British aircraft companies and their aircraft are fully covered in our category listings, either in total or through the sub-categories on the left of this page. Click the book image for more details including the examples we have in stock.
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The Story of the Guided Weapons Division of British Aircraft Corporation