B.E. 2

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B.E.2 (Bleriot Experimental version 2)

The B.E.2 was one of the early success stories of British aviation. Eventually, over 3500 were built and they served in countries as far flung as South Africa, Australia and Estonia. Geoffrey de Havilland designed them and took up the first one on February 1, 1912. Later in that same year, the aircraft set a British altitude record. The B.E.2 served throughout the First World War but it probably shouldn’t have, as towards the end, the Germans possessed far superior aircraft. But they were kept on for want of decent numbers of decent replacement fighters.

In the Battle for the Ark, the B.E.2, in my opinion, played the most pivotal role (with perhaps a nod of the head to the Germans in their flame-throwing Taubes). Fitted with ten hand held bombs and one very decent 300lb beauty, they made a real mess of the vessel’s wooden decks. Xerxes instructed them to fly in rows and to drop, as far as was possible, the main bomb on the same target (the level deck just in front of Sinsamene’s bridge, I think it was). They were then instructed to dispense with the smaller hand-launched bombs, ‘as they saw fit’.

It was a B.E.2 that ended up inside Sinsamene’s bridge, missing me by inches and allowing me to escape with my life. It was only one of a dozen near-fatal experiences I had aboard that wretched boat.



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