The Balloon Factory
Royal Aircraft Establishment / RAE
Royal Aircraft Factory / RAF

Known originally as the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, under the direction of Mervyn O'Gorman, was authorized only to repair a crashed experimental 60 h.p. E.N.V. Bleriot monoplane. By the time the "repair" work was finished it had turned into a tail-first biplane classified S.E.1 - the "S" standing for Santos-Dumont, in deference to the inventor of the tail-first formula. (As the S.E.1 was the only tail-first type built by the Factory, the letters S.E. were later taken to mean Scout Experimental.) Faced with a fait accompli, the War Office wound up the Balloon Section R.E. on April 1st, 1911, and replaced it by the Air Battalion; three weeks later they renamed the Balloon Factory the Army Aircraft Factory. One of the Factory's first jobs was to "repair" the Duke of Westminster's Voisin pusher biplane, which emerged as the B.E.1 (Bleriot Experimental No. 1) tractor biplane, designed by F. M. Green and "D.H."

At the same time, it was decided to inaugurate the designa-tions R.E. (Reconnaissance Experimental, two-seat tractor biplane), T.E. (Tatin Experimental monoplane with pusher propeller at tail), and B.S. (Bleriot single-seat Scout) for future use.

Was involved in dirigible construction and repair before First World War. It was renamed Royal Aircraft Establishment during the war and initiated biplane designs for the Royal Flying Corps, including the B.E.2 and F.E.2 series, F.E.8, R.E.8, and finally the S.E.5 fighter.