Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 133,120 pages of information and 210,773 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Variously known as:-
1911 26th April. The H. M. Balloon Factory was renamed as H. M. Aircraft Factory. Among the designers who worked there was Geoffrey de Havilland, who later founded his own company, and Henry Folland, later chief designer at Gloster Aircraft Co, and founder of Folland Aircraft.
1912 Received the Royal Warrant; renamed the Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF).
1912-18 the Royal Aircraft Factory generated a number of aircraft designs. Most of these were essentially research aircraft, but a few actually went into mass production, especially during the war period. Some orders were met by the factory itself - but the bulk of production was by private British companies - some of which had not previously built aircraft.
1914 26th February. 957 people were reported to be employed.
1915 February. The Southern Aeroplane Repair Depot (SARD) was set up at Farnborough.
1915 At the time of the "Fokker Scourge" a campaign against the standardisation of Royal Aircraft Factory types in the Royal Flying Corps - allegedly in favour of superior designs available from the design departments of private British firms - was begun in the British press. This slowly gained currency - especially because the B.E.2c and B.E.2e were kept in production and service long after they were obsolete, and that the B.E.12 and B.E.12a were failures.
1916 March. They employed 4,222 people according to the Burbidge Committee.
The Air Board did not accept some of the committee's recommendations; instead it was decided the factory should focus solely on experimental work and manufacturing of aircraft should be done by the private sector.
1918 Henry Fowler left and was replaced by W. Sidney Smith
Early Royal Aircraft Factory designs were officially "reconstructions" of wrecked aircraft - because the factory did not initially have official authority to build aircraft to their own design. In most cases the type in question used no parts whatever from the wreck, in some cases not even the engine.
Between 1911 and 1918 the Royal Aircraft Factory generated a number of aircraft designs. Most of these were essentially research aircraft, but a few actually went into mass production, especially during the war period. Some orders were met by the factory itself - but the bulk of production was by private British companies - some of which had not previously built aircraft.
Note: For balloons made in the early years see the School of Ballooning.
B.E Bleriot Experimental (Tractor - propeller in front of the pilot)
F.E. Farman / Fighter Experimental (Pusher - propeller behind the pilot)
R.E Reconnaissance experimental
S.E. = Santos Experimental (Canard or tail first layout)
S.E. = Scouting experimental (single seat fighters)