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Felixstowe F.5
Felixstowe F.5
Role Military flying boat
Manufacturer Seaplane Experimental Station (1)
Short Brothers (23)
Dick, Kerr & Co. (2)
Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Company (17)
Gosport Aviation (10)
Designer J C Porte
First flight May 1918
Introduction 1917
Primary users RNAS
US Navy (F5L)
Number built 53 (F.5); 227 (F5L)
Developed from Felixstowe F.2
Variants Felixstowe F5L
Hiro H1H

The Felixstowe F.5 was a British First World War flying boat designed by Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte RN of the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe.

Design and development[edit | edit source]

Porte had designed a better hull for the larger Curtiss H12 flying boat, giving the Felixstowe F.2a, which was greatly superior to the original Curtiss boat. This entered production and service as a patrol aircraft. In February 1917, the first prototype of the Felixstowe F3 was flown. This was larger and heavier than the F2, giving it greater range and a heavier bomb load, but poorer agility. The Felixstowe F5 was intended to combine the good qualities of the F2 and F3, with the prototype first flying in May 1918. The prototype showed superior qualities to its predecessors but the production version was modified to make extensive use of components from the F.3, in order to ease production, giving a lower performance than either the F.2a or F.3.

Operational history[edit | edit source]

The F5 did not enter service until after the end of the First World War, but replaced the earlier Felixstowe boats (together with the Curtiss machines), to serve as the Royal Air Force's (RAF) standard flying boat until being replaced by the Supermarine Southampton in 1925.

Felixstowe F.3 flying boat, Canada 1920

In 1920, the Canadian Air Board sponsored a project to conduct the first ever Trans-Canada flight to determine the feasibility of such flights for future air mail and passenger service. The leg from Rivière du Loup to Winnipeg was flown by Lieutenant Colonel Leckie and Major Hobbs in a Felixstowe F.3.

Variants[edit | edit source]

Felixstowe F5L[edit | edit source]

US built version of F5 with two Liberty engines numbers built:

  • Naval Aircraft Factory (USA): 137
  • Curtiss Aviation (USA): 60
  • Canadian Aeroplanes Limited (Canada): 30

Short S.2[edit | edit source]

In 1924 the Air Ministry invited tenders for two hulls of modern design to suit the wings and tail surfaces of the F.5. Short Brothers submitted a proposal for an all-metal hull built of duralumin, then a largely untried and untrusted material. The aircraft was first flown on 5 January 1925 and delivered to the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment at Felixstowe on 14 March, where it was subjected to a series of strenuous tests, including dropping the aircraft onto the water by stalling it at a height of 30 ft (9 m): the aircraft withstood all trials, and after a year an inspection revealed only negligible corrosion. This succeeded in overcoming official resistance to the use of duralumin, and led to the order for the prototype Short Singapore.[1]

Gosport Flying Boat[edit | edit source]

One of the ten RAF aircraft built by the Gosport Aviation Company was civil registered as a Gosport Flying Boat in 1919 to appear at the First Air Traffic Exhibition at Amsterdam in August 1919.[2]

Hiro H1H[edit | edit source]

(Also called Navy Type 15) An improved Japanese version. The Hiro Naval Arsenal first licence-built the Felixstowe F.5 for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), then produced their own variant, dubbed the H1H. The first version, Navy Type 15 was powered by either Lorraine W-12 or BMW VII engines, Type 15-1 had a longer wing span, whilst the Type 15-2 had four-bladed propellers. It was retired in 1938.

Operators[edit | edit source]

F.5 of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN)

 United Kingdom

United States

 Japan - (Post-war)

  • IJN 60 - licence built by the Hiro Naval Arsenal.

Specifications (F5)[edit | edit source]

Data from Aircraft of the Royal Air Force[3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: four
  • Length: 49 ft 3 in (15 m)
  • Wingspan: 103 ft 8 in (31.6 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 9 in (5.7 m)
  • Wing area: 1,409 ft² (131 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,100 lb (4,128 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 12,682 lb (5,753kg)
  • Powerplant: two × Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII, V-12, 345 hp (257 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 76 knots (88 mph, 142 km/h) at 2,000 ft (610 m)
  • Service ceiling: 6,800 ft (2,073 m)
  • Rate of climb: 30 min to 6,500 ft (1,980 m)
  • Endurance: Seven hours


  • Guns: 4 × Lewis guns (one in the nose, three amidships)
  • Bombs: Up to 920 lb (417 kg) of bombs beneath wings
  • See also[edit | edit source]

    References[edit | edit source]

    1. Barnes 1967, p. 197.
    2. Jackson 1974, p. 342
    3. Thetford 1979

    External links[edit | edit source]

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