The Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.5 was a British two-seat reconnaissance and artillery observation biplane designed and built for the Royal Flying Corps.
The R.E.5 was designed as a reconnaissance biplane using the experience of earlier R.E. series aircraft.
It was a two bay equal span biplane with a fixed tailskid landing gear.
The wheels supported on skids and powered by a nose mounted 120 hp (89 kW) Austro-Daimler engine driving a four-bladed propeller.
The aircraft had two open cockpits with the observer/gunner in the forward cockpit under the upper wing and the pilot aft.
The larger more capable Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.7 was a further development of the design.
Some modified single seat high altitude aircraft were built with extended span (57 ft 2⅓ in or 17.43 m) upper wings supported by a pair of outward leaning struts.
Other R.E.5s were used for experimentation with airbrakes and for test flying the Royal Aircraft Factory 4 engine.
Twenty four R.E.5s were built at the Royal Aircraft Factory for the RFC, paid for by money given to the British Army to compensate for the transfer of the army’s airships to the Royal Navy.
Six R.E.5s deployed to France in September 1914, partly equipping No. 2 Squadron RFC, with further examples being by other squadrons, with no unit being completely equipped with the R.E.5. In total, eleven R.E.5s were sent to France, with a further nine being used by training units.
The R.E.5s were used for reconnaissance and bombing missions over France, although at first they were not fitted with bomb sights or bomb racks, bombs being carried in the observer’s cockpit and dropped by hand when the aircraft was over the target.
The R.E.5 was gradually phased out from frontline service during that year, only two remaining at the front on 25 September 1915.
One of the aircraft with extended upper wings set a new world altitude record of 18,900 ft (5,760 m) on 14 May 1914.