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Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.1

The Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.1 was an experimental two seat single engine biplane from before World War I, intended to be developed into a reconnaissance aircraft.

The initial sketches for what became known as the R.E.1 were labelled B.S.2.

The R.E.1, completed in July 1913, was described in contemporary reports as intended for the same purposes as the B.E.2, using the same engine but being an aircraft of more modern refinement.

It was a single bay biplane with equal span, constant chord wings, un-swept with stagger.

Wing warping was use for lateral control.

The rudder was similar to that of the B.E.2, curved and extending below the fuselage, but a triangular fin was fitted that reached forward to the strongly swept leading edge of the B.E.2 style tail-plane.

The fuselage was flat sided with deep, rounded decking and slender overall to the rear.

The cockpits were in tandem, the pilot’s at the rear with sides cut to the bottom of the decking.

He sat behind the trailing edge, with a cut-out in the upper wing to improve visibility.

The observer’s cockpit was between the wings and less deep.

The air cooled 70 hp (52 kW) Renault engine was un-cowled and drove a four bladed propeller.

The single axle undercarriage was attached to two longitudinal bars which ran forward to serve as anti-nose over skids, fixed to the fuselage by two pairs of robust struts.

By September 1913 the only two R.E.1s built, serials 607 and 608, were with the Flying Department of the Royal Aircraft Factory.

They were intended as experimental machines and were much modified.

One desire was to make automatically stable aircraft, so they could be flown with hands off to give the pilot observation time.

Within a month or so of completion, 607 had a wing extension of about 2 ft (610 mm) and 608 was probably built with the extension.

In November 607 had four fins attached to the upper wing top surface, positioned above each pair of inter-plane struts and above each of the centre section struts, soon after 608 had them also, plus a reduction of stagger and a finless, enlarged rudder.

In the quest for stability 607, now with ailerons replacing wing warping had a series of increases in dihedral, By March 1914 it could be flown hands off in squally conditions.

Later its stagger was also reduced and a rectangular tail-plane fitted.

In May 1914 the second R.E.1, no. 608 was transferred to the RFC and for a short while wore the number 362, though it went to war in August as 608.

It may have gone with under seat armour, albeit only 1/25th in (1 mm) thick, but it only survived for about a week.

607 stayed at Farnborough and was still at work in February 1915 doing photographic and wireless testing.





34 ft 0 in (10.4 m)

Wing area

316 sq ft (29.3 m2)

Empty weight

1,000 lb (454 kg)

Gross weight

1,580 lb (717 kg)


1 × Renault air cooled upright 90° V-8 ,

70 hp (52 kW)


Maximum speed

83 mph (134 km/h, 72 kn)

Rate of climb

600 ft/min (3.0 m/s)

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