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.
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.
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.