The Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF) BE.8 was a pre-World War 1 biplane aircraft without a truly defined role by the time the war arrived. As such, it was used in a variety of over-battlefield functions including general reconnaissance and light attack (and this only through hand-held weapons). The twin-seat, single-engine design appeared in 1912 and went on to see operational service in The Great War with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) of Britain - though in very limited numbers. Fewer than seventy examples are thought to have been produced and the line was operated during the war years only from May 1914 until the Spring of 1915, formally retired in 1916 - resulting in a rather forgettable career.
The design was quickly surpassed by more capable, defined-role types.
Its design was conventional, resulting in an equal-span, twin-bay biplane arrangement with the wing members seated over-under and supported through parallel struts neat the front of the fuselage. Some streamlining was seen at the fuselage proper and the nose contained the single engine installation. The tail utilized a basic single-finned configuration with low-set horizontal planes for the needed control. The undercarriage was fixed and of the usual "tail dragger" arrangement, this involving wheeled main landing gear legs under the forward mass, a tail skid, and a nose skid to prevent tip-overs.
The crew of two sat in open-air cockpits consistent with the time. Designed without armament of its own, the aircraft was defended by personal small arms carrier/managed by the crew. Additionally, a single 100lb could be carried and dropped on trench inhabitants or other targets of opportunity.
Dimensions included a running length of 27.4 feet, a wingspan of 37.7 feet, and a height of 9.3 feet.
Power was had from a Gnome 7 Lambda 7-cylinder, air-cooled rotary piston engine developing 80 horsepower and used to drive a twin-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller at the nose. Performance included a maximum speed of 70 miles-per-hour, a range of 1 hour, 30 minutes in the air, and a time-to-altitude of 3,000 feet in 10 minutes, 30 seconds.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
27.4 ft (8.35 m)
37.7 ft (11.50 m)
9.4 ft (2.85 m)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Royal Aircraft Factory BE.8 production variant)
1 x Gnome 7 Lambda 7-cylinder air-cooled rotary piston engine developing 80 horsepower driving two-bladed wooden propeller (fixed pitch) at the nose.
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