Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 Multirole Biplane Aircraft
The Armstrong Whitworth FK.8 proved to be a highly versatile platform, taking on a variety of sortie types throughout its service life.
Entry last updated on 10/28/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 model series was a biplane aircraft conceived of by aircraft designer and Dutch national Frederick Koolhoven. The aircraft ended as a most versatile platform and saw considerable service during World War 1, proving quite popular with its aircrews. The F.K.8 went on to see production numbers exceed 1,600 and no fewer than 22 British squadrons (including training) equipped with the type. Additional operators included Australia (post-war QANTAS), Paraguay and the Kingdom of Hejas (a part of modern-day Saudi Arabia).
The F.K.8 was of a basic biplane configuration utilizing an upper and lower wing arrangement joined by struts ad cabling. The F.K.8 was intended to supersede the capabilities of the preceding F.K.3 marks as a more powerful and robust improved form (indeed the F.K.8 was something of a scaled-up F.K.3). It retained a twin-seat configuration with the crew seated in tandem, the pilot in a front open-air cockpit and the observer/gunner in the rear cockpit. Armament consisted of a single fixed, forward-firing 7.7mm Vickers machine gun for the pilot and a single (or dual) 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on a trainable mounting in the rear cockpit. Provision was added for bombs (up to 260lbs) which made up the light bombing aspect of the F.K.8. Power was derived from a Beardmore 6-cylinder inline piston engine supplying up to 160 horsepower providing for a maximum speed of 95 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 13,000 feet and an endurance time of 3 hours.
The versatility of the FK.8 shown through the variety of sorties the platform was put through. These included both day and night bombing runs, ground attack, close-support, sustained patrol and aerial reconnaissance/scouting. The FK.8 would see combat action through to the end of the war in November of 1918.
During her flying career, the F.K.8 came to be known as "The Big Ack" or, in some circles, as the "Big AW" (alluding to manufacturer "Armstrong Whitworth" whose initials adorned the side of the forward fuselage).