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Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8

United Kingdom (1917)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 Multirole Biplane Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 1/12/2018; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8  
Picture of 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.

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).
Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8 Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United Kingdom
Year: 1917
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Type: Multirole Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Armstrong Whitworth - UK
Production: 1,650
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 2
Length: 31.43 ft (9.58 m)
Width: 43.50 ft (13.26 m)
Height: 10.93 ft (3.33 m)
Empty Weight: 1,918 lb (870 kg)
MTOW: 2,811 lb (1,275 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Beardmore inline piston engine developing 160 horsepower.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 95 mph (153 kph; 83 kts)
Service Ceiling: 12,106 ft (3,690 m; 2.29 mi)

1 x 7.62mm Vickers fixed, forward-firing machine gun.
1 x 7.62mm Lewis machine gun on trainable mount in rear cockpit.

Up to 260lb of conventional drop ordnance.

Operators List
Australia (post-war); Kingdom of Hejaz (Saudi Arabia); Paraguay; United Kingdom

Series Model Variants
• FK.3 - Preceding Model to which the FK.8 replaced.
• FK.8 - Base Series Model Designation