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Roy Scott's BE2e. Have you ever seen the film," A Very Long Engagement?" This is "A Very Long Build Blog!" a very long build log.

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David Davis19/01/2019 06:33:34
3759 forum posts
718 photos

"Shame you've not done a build thread on it David, the BE2 is on my (very long) bucket list...."

Thus spoke Super Tigre Fan so here goes.


On 29th April 1917 a British and Colonial-built BE2e aircraft, number A2738, was shot down by Baron Manfred von Richtofen, the famous “Red Baron,” who was the most successful fighter pilot of the Great War. I was intrigued to find out that it was piloted by a man called David Davies; which is the same name as mine though the spelling of the surname is different. His observer was George Henry Rathbone, a Canadian. The aircraft fell close to the trenches near Rouex and it was fired upon by the artillery of both sides. Neither of the bodies was ever retrieved and both Davies and Rathbone are commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing of the RFC and RAF.

Call me narcissistic if you like, but I have long wanted to build a replica of Davies’s aircraft. I have owned Roy Scott’s 1/6 scale plan of the BE2e for years and as a result of a bequest I now find myself in a position to be able to afford the component pack, so herewith my first proper scale build. Both the plan and the component pack are available from Flying Scale Models in 2012 for £19.50 and £130 respectively.

The BE2e was the final development of the BE2 range of aircraft produced by the Royal Aircraft Factory during and prior to the Great War. There were BE2fs and BE2gs but they were essentially the same aircraft, conversions of BE2cs and BE2ds in fact,so let's not go there. The Be2 was designed to be very stable and was used for artillery observation and reconnaissance in all theatres of war. Although a sound aircraft in 1914, it was severely out-classed by German fighter aircraft three years later. It was too slow to be able to run away from an attack, too stable to out-fly an opponent and because the observer sat in the front seat and had a very limited field of fire, it was unable to defend itself adequately. Consequently they were shot down in droves. Baron Manfred von Richtofen for example, shot down seventeen BE2s and three single seat BE12s, which was the same airframe, out of a total score of 80 aircraft destroyed. By April 1917 the BE2s were being replaced by the more effective RE8; he only shot down seven of these!

The Fuselage

The fuselage is of conventional construction but with spruce longerons and balsa and ply doublers.

basic structure of fuselage sides.jpg

The fun began when it came to fitting the formers. They appeared to be too big for the fuselage, too wide, until it dawned on me that you had to cut slots in the fuselage sides to match up with the formers thus producing a very strong housing joint, at least that's what I think they are called.

be2e fuselage butchery.jpg

This involved having to modify the formers to make them fit but as this all took place in 2012 I cannot remember, after all this time, precisely what I had to do. Picture of the modified former below.

be2e former part modified..jpg

This is as far as I'd got with it in 2012.

basic fuselage structure.jpg

The next job will be to bend wires for the cabane and undercarriage struts.


Edited By David Davis on 19/01/2019 06:34:17

David Davis19/01/2019 06:57:52
3759 forum posts
718 photos

So what's happened since 2012?

Well apart from retiring to France, two house moves,falling in love at the age of sixty-seven, too much of a partiallity for detective novels, detective films on YouTube and the fruit of the vine, nothing! However, another reason for the lack of progress is that I bought a ready-built Roy Scott BE2e in an estate sale. There's a video of me flying it at Forton Aerodrome on Vimeo, sorry to all French speakers for forgetting the French for "fourteen." It's powered by an OS 70FL. **LINK**

At the time the CG was too far back and though I was able to fly the model with the CG in this position, my thumbs were playing a sonata on the controls just to be able to control it in gentle left-hand circuits. It matched the position as shown on the plan, in line with the rear cabane strut, but the cognescenti have told me that it should be much further forward, in line with the centre of the forward cockpit, the observer's cockpit on the BE2. I have subsequently added a great deal of lead below the engine and the model is easier to fly now, though I only get it out on highdays and holidays. Check out the hottie running down to photograph it!

be2e sunday 9th april 2017 no 2.php.jpg


be2e sunday 9th april 2017 no 1.php.jpg

PS. An associate member of my club built one of these powered by a Laser 70 and crashed it on take off. He was rather emotional about it at the time and showed me on his Smartphone how he had successfully flown it in the past. I think that he had not allowed the model to gain enough speed to take off.

Former Member19/01/2019 07:43:39

[This posting has been removed]

Colin Leighfield19/01/2019 08:07:57
5996 forum posts
2503 photos

Great subject. Richthofen has this enormous aura and gets worshipped, yet so many of his victims were “sitting ducks” like this one, for much of the time he was flying the Albatros D11 against inferior aircraft, on his own side of the lines and using a height advantage from a waiting position. Later he got this association with the Fokker triplane but when you read his diaries he slagged it off ! Obviously a top fighter pilot, but over-rated I think. I remember that Aeromodeller published a free-Flight model plan of the Be2E in the late fifties and did a really good article on the full-size plane with excellent three views and scale detail. Worth getting hold of if that’s possible.

David Davis19/01/2019 08:42:16
3759 forum posts
718 photos

Thank you Icura.

Having looked again at the former pictured above, I have worked out what I did. I was forced to enlarge the cut-outs to make them fit the longerons and to allow the sides of the former to project through the fuselage sides. If you look at the picture of the former, the cut-outs on the left-hand side are as supplied in the short-kit and those on the right are as modified by me so that everything would fit.

You can accuse me of narcism if you like but once I'd dicovered that one of the men killed by Manfred von Richtofen (MvR) had the same name as me, not that that name is exactly rare in Wales and The Marches, I hired Sunset Militaria to research Davies's military career. Of all of the eighty men killed by MvR my namesake was the most highly educated, holding an MSc in Mathematics from Cardiff University. When war broke out he was teaching mathematics in the Caribean. He returned to the UK and joined the Royal Fusilers spending about a year in the ranks in the trenches before returning to England for officer training and pilot training.

As a retired Adult Careers Adviser I was intrigued by two of the questions on his application form for officer training. One asked, "Are you of pure European descent?" and the other asked for his father's occupation to which Davies answered "Engineer." In various censuses Davies's father, John Davies is described as a miner or "coal tipler," so perhaps he was being economical with the truth. On the other hand perhaps his father had been a miner but had retrained as a mining engineer. That would have been entirely possible through the Workers Education Association at the time but you wouldn't be allowed to have those questions on a modern application form for Sandhust today!

The most poignant document which the researcher photocopied for me was a handwritten letter from his father dated 20th December 1918 in which he asked the War Office if there was any further information about his son. The spelling and grammar were perfect.

Finally, and this is of no comfort to anyone, but on the date that he was killed, Davies had been at the front for over four months. Most pilots who survived that long survived their tour and went back to England as instructors at least for a few months. In December 1916 he was with 48 Squadron working up in England on the Bristol Fighter which was a far superior fighting machine to the BE2.  Howerver, most of the first patrol of 48 Squadron was shot down by pilots MvR's Jasta 11, on 5th April 1917, von Richtofen himself accounting for two, so that could have been his fate. As it was, Davies was transferred to 12 Squadron on Boxing Day 1916 and he was fated to fly the BE2 and to die in one.

In August 1917, 12 Squadron was the last squadron to re-equip with the RE8 which was 20 mph faster than the BE2 and though it has had a mixed reputation, at least the seat positions were reversed and the crew had two machine guns with which to defend themselves. As I've said above, MvR only shot down seven of these.

Must stop the history lecture. I've a 4000 square metree garden to work on.wink


Edited By David Davis on 19/01/2019 08:46:42

Geoff S19/01/2019 11:41:11
3666 forum posts
26 photos

Having recently watched the whole of 'Wings' on YouTube I gained a great respect for the problems of those who bravely flew the BE2 in the face of much superior opposition (mainly Eindekkers in that case). The BE2 is not my favourite WW1 aircraft (that's the SE5a) and I don't think I'd build one myself but a scale build of anything from those early days of aviation is always interesting.

The officer training application questions are also so intriguing. The embedded class structure of the time is starkly emphasised in 'Wings' when the blacksmith sergeant pilot is promoted to be an officer and both the officers and the 'other ranks' have problems with it.

Mind you, I'm feeling guilty on my own winter project which has been stalled since mid December it's not yet crashed, though!


Former Member19/01/2019 12:21:20

[This posting has been removed]

GrahamWh19/01/2019 21:34:38
356 forum posts
53 photos

Watching with great interest David, thank you. I ordered the plan and wood set from Flying Scale Models (Doolittle Media) on 29th Dec and am awaiting their delivery. I have had an email from them following a request for acknowledgement but no delivery date specified. Laser 80 waiting!

Anyone know how long they take to do a wood pack and plan?

What will you cover this build with David?

Wilco Wingco19/01/2019 22:23:37
234 forum posts
3 photos

I have loved this plane ever since I saw the plan in November 1959 copy of Aero Modeller. As a 12 year old school boy I bought the plan but couldn't afford the Mills 75 so the plan was filed away. Now as a 71 year old pensioner I can't find it!. As it is available on Outerzone I might just build it at last. Fitted with micro radio it could be an interesting project. I used to study the plan and thought the camera was a nice touch. smiley

Colin Leighfield19/01/2019 22:59:08
5996 forum posts
2503 photos

Wilco, that is the one I mentioned in my earlier post. I had the magazine lying around for years but don’t know where it went to.

David Davis20/01/2019 06:57:00
3759 forum posts
718 photos

Your interest in this project flatters me gentlemen!

Wilco as well as "The Outerzone" Doug McHard's 1/12 scale plan of the BE2e is available from Sarik Hobbies. **LINK**

Yes I've seen the BE2c over on RC Groups. The builder has made several museum standard models on that site. I don't have his skill or equipment so my model won't be anything like so amazing.

Having mentioned the earlier BE2c, David Hurrell built a 1/6 scale BE2c and a plan is available from both Sarik Hobbies, plan no: MW 2907 and The Outerzone. **LINK** Critics of the Roy Scott BE2e point out that the cockpit cut-outs are not the right shape and that the aerofoil used is not to scale. Hurrell's model is much more accurate with a choice of two aerofoils dependent upon whether you want to replicate an early or late BE2c! If you were a stickler for accuracy, you could do worse than use his wing ribs and general wing construction over the Roy Scott wing planform. Hurrell's model is also much lighter than Roy Scott's BE2e so you could copy his fuselage construction too but bear in mind that the rear underside of the BE2c's fuselage was made of plywood which Hurrell has replicated with balsa sheet. The BE2e did not have a plywood rear fuselage underside and as for the cockpit cut outs, the BE2e was produced by several different subcontractors so perhaps not all of the cockpit cut-outs were the same. As I won't be entering mine in any contests it doesn't really matter! Now where did I leave my anorak! cheeky

Graham, I plan to cover the model with Solartex but before we get to that stage I am going to build a reserve Baron for La Coupe Des Barons. Never heard of La Coupe? Take a look at this. **LINK**

Scroll down to "Video Coupe 2018" to see what it's all about. I finished fifty-third out of sixty-eight starters last year but in my defence the electric motor packed up during the third round. I will be running a 52 four-stroke this year and I hope to do better. I have also shamed another six club members into competing, The Magnificent Seven! I'll let you know how we get on in another thread.

I also have an ARTF Acro Wot, a Flair Harvard and a DB Sport and Scale Auster to finish off, two trainers to repair and a Big Guff to build first. Must stay off the vino!

You think I'm joking don't you?

brokenenglish20/01/2019 07:55:34
571 forum posts
30 photos

David, the 1/12 scale BE2e that you mention isn't by Doug McHard (that's the SE5a), it's by Ken McDonough, and it's also worth mentioning that a part kit is available from Belair.

Also, to be fair to Roy Scott, his model (I saw the original) was about 40 years earlier than Hurrell's.

Edited By brokenenglish on 20/01/2019 07:57:50

David Davis20/01/2019 09:13:31
3759 forum posts
718 photos

Quite so Brian. I stand corrected.

dave parnham20/01/2019 09:42:44
183 forum posts
15 photos

I have a belair short kit of a Albatros Dv that im keen to start smiley

Finally got some interesting builds to watch very keen to watch this as it comes together thanks David.

Also watching the DH2 posts as well.

kc20/01/2019 16:12:01
6516 forum posts
173 photos

David, your comments "perhaps his father had been a miner but had retrained as a mining engineer. " probably only applies to the modern way of thinking - i.e. to call yourself an engineer you need to be trained or retrained and have a certificate as proof.

Not so ..... at least in Victorian, Edwardian and pre and even post WW2 England. An engineer was a person who looked after the engine and all associated equipment Most would have picked up their knowledge by working from an early age and learnt by actually doing the job. They would probably laugh at the idea of needing a bit of paper that entitled you to do the job. You could either do the job or you wouldn't be employed. You started at the bottom and worked your way up. An apprenticeship or probably an informal training similar to an apprenticship. Many very skilled engineers had little or no training except practical experience.

My personal definition of an engineer is " an engineer is someone who can take an engine completely to pieces, put it back together again and have it working better than before"

David Davis20/01/2019 18:46:44
3759 forum posts
718 photos

You may well be right kc, whatever the case my namesake's father could certainly write very well.

However, the Nineteenth Century was a period in which formal, certificated training flourished in a number of trades and professions. My great grandfather, confusingly yet another David Davis, started his working life on a farm and ended it as a laboratory technician at University College Aberystwith. I doubt that he could have got a job like that without formal training.

Former Member21/01/2019 19:12:49

[This posting has been removed]

GrahamWh10/02/2019 16:21:36
356 forum posts
53 photos

David I was at the Sywell Rally a couple of years back and got this shot of the cockpit of a BE2c there - might be useful.  (Better resolution available if you pm me so I can email you). I didn't realise I had this until looking through old photos today. It is actually the replica built by C. Boddington - as a small brass plaque inside the cockpit states.

(Still waiting for my plan and parts to arrive!)


be2c cockpit.jpg


Edited By GrahamWh on 10/02/2019 16:33:05

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