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Felixstowe Porte Baby
A Porte Baby carrying a Bristol Scout
Role military flying boat
Manufacturer May, Harden & May
Designer John Cyril Porte
First flight 1916
Primary user RNAS
Number built 11

The Felixstowe Porte Baby was a British reconnaissance flying boat of the First World War first flying in 1916.

Design and development[edit | edit source]

The Porte Baby was designed by John Cyril Porte at the Royal Naval Air Station at Felixstowe, where the prototype was also built; ten additional aircraft were built by May, Harden and May of Southampton.[1] The Porte Baby was an unequal-span, three-bay biplane of wood-and-fabric construction, the hull being mounted below the lower wing. The engines, normally three Rolls-Royce Eagles, (but sometimes with a 260 hp Green as the centre, pusher engine) were mounted between the wings; two in tractor configuration and the central one in pusher. The two pilots were in an enclosed cockpit, but three gunners had open stations armed with machine guns.[2]

As the image shows, the incongruously-named Baby was used to prove the concept of a larger aircraft carrying aloft and launching a lighter aircraft (in this case a Bristol Scout), taking off carrying the Bristol and successfully releasing it on 17 May 1916,[2] a technique which came to be known variously as composite or parasitic.

Operational history[edit | edit source]

The production Porte Babies were used to fly patrols over the North Sea from Felixstowe and Killingholme. Its slow speed and large size, however, made it vulnerable to fighter attack, and after one aircraft was almost destroyed by German aircraft, being forced down and having to taxi back from off the Dutch coast to England, the Portes were kept from patrolling areas where they could encounter enemy aircraft. The Porte Baby remained in service in October 1918.[2]

Operators[edit | edit source]

 United Kingdom

Specifications[edit | edit source]

Data from The Felixstowe Flying-Boats: Historic Military Aircraft No. 11 Part 3 [3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 5
  • Length: 63 ft 0 in (19.21 m)
  • Wingspan: 124 ft (37.8 m)
  • Height: 25 ft 0 in (7.62 m)
  • Wing area: 2,364 ft² (219.7 m²)
  • Empty weight: 14,700 lb (6,682 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 18,600 lb (8,455 kg)
  • Powerplant: 3 × Rolls-Royce Eagle VII V12 inline piston, 345 hp (257 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 87.5 mph (76 knots, 141 km/h) at 2,000 ft (610 m)
  • Service ceiling: 8,000 ft (2,440 m)
  • Climb to 6,500 ft (1,980 m): 25 min 5 s


  • Guns: 3 × Lewis guns (1 in nose, 2 amidships)
  • See also[edit | edit source]

    Notes[edit | edit source]

    1. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985), 1985, Orbis Publishing, Page 1777
    2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bruce 2 December 1955, p.845.
    3. Bruce 23 December 1955, p.932.

    References[edit | edit source]

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