In 1916, Captain Barnwell, not satisfied with the Royal Aircraft Company R.E.8, of the Bristol Aeroplane Company produced the 120-hp Beardmore-powered tractor R.2A.
This R.2A was a two-seat machine with a pilot-operated forward-firing synchronised Lewis Gun, and an observer close behind with a folding seat to enable him to stand and fire a single Lewis gun mounted on a rotating ring. To improve the pilot’s view, and the rear gunner’s forward field of fire, the wings were mounted low in relation to the fuselage. Towards the rear of the aircraft, the fuselage was tapered to a small cross section and about a third of the fin and rudder was placed below the horizontal tailplane; increasing the gun-ner’s field of fire in that direction. After some modification, an engine change and armament rethink, the company received an order for 50 aircraft. The first of these flew on 09 September 1916.