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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Henry Farman Biplane - Jul 1912.jpg
Role Reconnaissance aircraft
Manufacturer Farman
Designer Henri Farman
First flight 1913
An HF.20 biplane at Nicopolis airfield, near Preveza, in December 1912
An HF.20 biplane at Nicopolis airfield, near Preveza, in December 1912

The Farman HF.20 and its derivatives were a family of reconnaissance aircraft produced in France shortly before and during the First World War. It was a refined version of the Farman MF.11 "Shorthorn" that did away with the type's distinctive landing skids, and incorporated design features from Henri Farman's designs. It entered service with the French, Belgian and Serbian armies in 1913 (two aircraft conducted reconnaissance during the Siege of Shkodër in the First Balkan War and one crashed), and with the British RFC and RNAS shortly after the outbreak of war. The type was also licence-built in the UK by Airco and Grahame-White.

The HF.20 was seriously underpowered, and a variety of engines were trialled in the hope of correcting this, none with much success. The problem was eventually solved only when an engine of twice the power of the original powerplant was fitted to the HF.27 variant, by which time the aircraft was already obsolete. Nevertheless, the performance of the HF.20 made it adequate for use on secondary fronts.


original version with Gnome Lambda engine
15.5 m (51 ft) span and increased wing area version with Gnome Lambda engine. At least one of the few built, entered service with the Fliegertruppe of Switzerland.
15.58 m (51.1 ft) span and increased wing area version with Gnome Lambda engine.
HF.22 floatplane
(aka HF.22bis or Savoia-built HF.22-H)
18.08 m (59.3 ft) span version with Gnome Lambda engine
11.5 m (38 ft) span aerobatic version with Gnome Lambda engine
155 hp (116 kW) Canton-Unné R9 engine or 240 hp (180 kW) Renault engine with a revised undercarriage that included nose wheels similar to the Voisin III.


HF-20 of the Swiss Air Force during the First World War
Escadrille HF 1
Escadrille HF 7
Escadrille HF 13
Escadrille HF 19
Escadrille HF 28
Escadrille HF 32
 Kingdom of Italy
 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom
South Africa Union of South Africa

Specifications (HF.20)

Data from French aircraft of the First World War[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 (pilot and observer)
  • Length: 8.06 m (26 ft 5 in)
  • Wingspan: 13.65 m (44 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.15 m (10 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 35 m2 (380 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 360 kg (794 lb)
  • Gross weight: 660 kg (1,455 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Gnome Lambda 7-cylinder air-cooled rotary piston engine, 60 kW (80 hp)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch wooden pusher propeller


  • Maximum speed: 165 km/h (103 mph, 89 kn)
  • Range: 315 km (196 mi, 170 nmi)
  • Endurance: 3 hours
  • Service ceiling: 1,050 m (3,440 ft)
  • Time to altitude: 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in 22 minutes


  • Guns: 1 × machine gun on flexible mount for observer
  • Bombs: small load of 75 mm (3.0 in) bombs


  1. ^ Davilla, Dr. James J.; Soltan, Arthur M. French aircraft of the First World War. Flying Machines Press. pp. 207–212. ISBN 1891268090.

Further reading

  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 380–381.
  • World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 894 Sheet 14–15.
This page was last edited on 8 July 2019, at 21:42
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