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WORLD WAR 1

Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8


Biplane Fighter Aircraft (1916)


Aviation / Aerospace

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The single-seat RAF F.E.8 biplane fighter as no match for German aircraft as the pilot was charged with flying his aircraft, scanning for enemy, aiming and shooting the machine gun all on his own.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 02/13/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
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The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 ("FE" = "Fighter Experimental") recorded a first-flight in September of 1915 and adopted for service with the Royal Flying Corps of Britain on August 2nd, 1916. To this point, the British military machine had been committed to total war in Europe for the period of two years and aircraft design was just one part of the very complicated formula to victory. The F.E.8 followed much of the design philosophy seen in the earlier F.E.2 model, continuing the arrangement which sat the engine behind the sole pilot.

As the British still lacked any sort of viable "interrupter" gear for their machine guns when mounted behind a spinning propeller blade, it was required that the engine simply be located behind the pilot. This forced the "pusher" arrangement in which the propeller spun behind the engine itself. The major benefit to this was that the frontal section of the aircraft was now unobstructed for the pilot in both vantage point and firing arcs and her was positioned much further ahead of the center of gravity of his aircraft.

Unlike the earlier R.E.2 of September of 1915, which sat a crew of two to handle the workload, the F.E.8 forced a single crewman to manage the functions of the aircraft as well as the weaponry. This meant the pilot needed to keep his aircraft in the air, scan for targets and engage with accuracy all the while keeping his cool under fire. Problems with this arrangement were further compounded when the machine gun would inevitably jam requiring the pilot to now give the weapon his full attention.

Beyond the excellent visibility given to the pilot, the overall design of the aircraft yielded some very deadly results in some cases as the aircraft required specialized training to recover from a spin. Though the F.E.8 proved a more maneuverable and a lighter aircraft design than the preceding F.E.2 series, it was immediately outclassed by the German Albatros D.I and D.II biplane fighters, putting most F.E.8's at a major disadvantage in direct combat. Baron von Richthofen's group, the famous "Red Baron" of Germany, downed no fewer than nine F.E.8s in a single sortie, showing just how outclassed the type was.
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Introduced in August of 1916, the F.E.8 managed a frontline service life up until the middle of 1917 by which point total production yielded just 295 examples. In comparison, the R.E.2 was built in nearly 2,000 examples from 1914 until 1918 (the final year of the war). beyond the Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF), Darracq Motor Engineering and Vickers were involved in the manufacture of the F.E.8.

Operators included Nos. 5, 29, 40 and 41 Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps. The type was not exported.

The F.E.8 had an overall length of 23.7 feet, a wingspan of 31.5 feet and a height of 9 feet. Empty weight was 960lb against a loaded weight of 1,470lb. Power was from a single French-made Le Rhone 9-cylinder air-cooled rotary engine outputting 110 horsepower and driving a two-bladed wooden propeller. Maximum speed reached over 93 miles per hour and its service ceiling was 14,500 feet. Mission endurance was about 2.5 hours. Beyond its single .303 Lewis Gun (on a trainable mounting over the nose), the aircraft could carry a light load of drop bombs. The wing mainplanes were equal-span showcasing two bays with parallel struts. The main landing gear element sat under center mass with a skid unit seated under the tail. The tail was joined to the wing mainplanes by way of thin booms.

Specifications



Service Year
1916

Origin
United Kingdom national flag graphic
United Kingdom

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
1

Production
295
UNITS


Royal Aircraft Factory - UK
National flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom (retired)
(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.


Length
23.7 ft
(7.21 m)
Width/Span
31.5 ft
(9.60 m)
Height
9.2 ft
(2.79 m)
Empty Wgt
895 lb
(406 kg)
MTOW
1,345 lb
(610 kg)
Wgt Diff
+450 lb
(+204 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 production variant)
Installed: 1 x Gnome Monosoupape rotary piston engine developing 100 horsepower.
Max Speed
94 mph
(151 kph | 82 kts)
Ceiling
14,501 ft
(4,420 m | 3 mi)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm (0.303 caliber) Lewis machine gun on a trainable mounting at the nose.

OPTIONAL:
Lightweight bomb load.


Supported Types


Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition


(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 4


F.E.8 - Single-Seat Fighter Designation


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