In March 1916 the design was begun of a 120-hp Beardmore-powered tractor replacement for the B.E. pusher scouts. The type was designated R.2A and was intended to be armed with one wing-mounted Lewis machine-gun and another for the observer on a Scarff ring. At the same time a similar design using the 150-hp Hispano-Suiza was produced, but lack of power from the Beardmore caused the designer, Captain Frank Barnwell, to produce a new design using the new 190-hp Rolls-Royce Falcon and with the designation F.2A. This was an unequal-span two-bay biplane with its fuselage, tapered to the rear mounted mid-way between the wings.
The first of two prototypes was flown on 9 September 1916, one with the Rolls-Royce engine, the other with the 150-hp Hispano-Suiza. After successful trials a first batch of 50 Rolls-Royce-powered production F.2As was ordered on 28 August with a syn-chronized Vickers machine-gun mounted in the top of the engine cowling in addition to the Scarff-mounted Lewis.
Deliveries began early in 1917, but initial operational experience in April 1917 was disappointing, due to the combat techniques used. Confidence in the type was restored when newly-evolved methods were proved successful.
Meanwhile, the improved F.2B had been evolved, the 51st and subsequent production aircraft being of this standard, and delivery of the F.2B resulting in the withdrawal from frontline use of the F.2A.
Max take-off weight: 1210 kg / 2668 lb
Empty weight: 783 kg / 1726 lb
Wingspan: 11.96 m / 39 ft 3 in
Length: 7.87 m / 25 ft 10 in
Height: 2.89 m / 9 ft 6 in
Wing area: 36.14 sq.m / 389.01 sq ft
Max. speed: 177 km/h / 110 mph
Engine: 190-hp Falcon I.
Span: 11.96 m (39 ft 3 in).
Length: 7.85 m (25 ft 9 in).
Gross weight: 1210 kg (2670 lb).
Maximum speed: 177 km/h (110 mph).