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Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII

Imperial Germany (1919)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII Heavy Bomber Biplane Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 10/26/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII  
Picture of Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII Heavy Bomber Biplane Aircraft

The Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII was the largest completed aircraft in the world by 1919 standards.

The Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII was a mammoth biplane aircraft design intended as a heavy bomber for the German Air Service during World War 1 (1914-1918). Work began as early as 1916 but progress proved slow and only one airframe was wholly complete by the end of the war - a second example lay partially finished. For its time, the R.VIII was the largest complete aircraft anywhere in the world. The first prototype actually entered ground trials in early 1919 but was undone in by a gearbox failure as well as the restrictions imposed on German war-making capabilities through the Treaty of Versailles. No more work on the type was done.

As completed, the R.VIII showcased a crew of at least eight to manage piloting, engine repairs, and defensive machine gun positions. Its length was 70 feet, 10 inches with a wingspan of 157 feet, 6 inches, and height of 24 feet, 3 inches. Empty weight was listed at 23,100lbs with a gross weight in the vicinity of 35,000lbs. Power was through 6 x Basse und Selve BuS.IVa 6-cylinder, water-cooled, inline piston engines developing 300 horsepower each. The engines were arranged in a unique formation with two as "puller" units and the remaining four as "pusher" units. The actual powerplants resided within the fuselage so as to provide easier access for the in-flight mechanics to which drive shafts managed the externally-mounted propeller units. Performance estimates included a maximum speed of 78 miles per hour with a range of 560 miles and a service ceiling of 13,125 feet.

It can be assumed that, as a military bomber, the R.VIII would have been outfitted with a network of machine guns for local defense. Machine guns were have been perched at the nose, on the dorsal spine aft of the upper wing unit, over the upper wing unit, and at a rear ventral position. Its actual bombload remained unknown though, for its size and deep fuselage, it would have packed quite a load when compared to the largest German Air Service bombers of the war.

Externally, the aircraft managed a typical configuration of the time utilizing a wide-spanning biplane wing arrangement made up of an upper and lower wing mainplane. At least six bays were used in the wing structure that featured parallel struts and applicable cabling for support and controlling. The fuselage was of a deep-hulled design and the tail sported a three-vertical-finned biplane wing. As with other aircraft of the period, its undercarriage was wheeled and not retractable. The tail was supported by its own wheel unit.
Any available statistics for the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII Heavy Bomber Biplane Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).
Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Imperial Germany
Year: 1919
Type: Heavy Bomber Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Siemens-Schuckert - Imperial Germany
Production: 2
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 8
Length: 70.87 ft (21.6 m)
Width: 157.48 ft (48.00 m)
Height: 24.28 ft (7.40 m)
Empty Weight: 23,149 lb (10,500 kg)
MTOW: 35,274 lb (16,000 kg)

Installed Power
6 x Basse und Selve BuS.IVa 6-cylinder, water-cooled, inline piston engines developing 300 horsepower each; 2 x Propellers in puller arrangement with 4 x Propellers in pusher arrangement.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 78 mph (125 kph; 67 kts)
Maximum Range: 559 mi (900 km; 486 nm)
Service Ceiling: 13,123 ft (4,000 m; 2.49 mi)

1 x 7.92mm machine gun in nose position
1 x 7.92mm machine gun in dorsal spine position
1 x 7.92mm machine gun in upper wing assembly
1 x 7.92mm machine gun in ventral position

Unknown internal bomb load.

Operators List
Imperial Germany

Series Model Variants
• R.VIII - Base Series Designation; two aircraft constructed with only one wholly completed.