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Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8

The Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 was a British two seat biplane reconnaissance and bomber aircraft of the First World War designed and produced at the Royal Aircraft Factory.

It was also built under contract by Austin Motors, Daimler, Standard Motors, Siddeley-Deasy and the Coventry Ordnance Works.

Intended as a replacement for the vulnerable B.E.2, the R.E.8 was widely regarded as more difficult to fly and gained a reputation in the Royal Flying Corps for being “unsafe” that was never entirely dispelled.

Although eventually it gave reasonably satisfactory service, it was never an outstanding combat aircraft.

Nonetheless, it remained the standard British reconnaissance and artillery observation aircraft from mid-1917 to the end of the war, serving alongside the rather more popular Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8.

More than 4,000 R.E.8s produced, these aircraft saw service in a range of different theatres.

The R.E.8 was rapidly withdrawn from service after the end of the conflict, by which time it was regarded as totally obsolete.



Standard general purpose aircraft, powered by 140 hp (104 kW) RAF 4a engine.


Conversion of one R.E.8 with 200 hp (149 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine in a square, S.E.5 (or B.E.12b) type cowling.

No production due to shortage of Hispano engines.

At least some of the R.E.8s supplied to Belgium were also re-engined with Hispanos, in this case in a cowling resembling that of the later SPADs.


R.E.8 modified with equal span wings similar to those of the B.E.2c/d and the larger fin and rudder fitted to some R.E.8s at training units.

Two were converted in 1917, but they showed no advantage over the standard R.E.8 and no production followed.

Siddeley-Deasy R.T.1

Development of R.E.8 with equal span biplane wings of a new design.





27 ft 10.5 in (8.496 m)


42 ft 7 in (12.98 m)


11 ft 4.5 in (3.467 m)

Wing area

377.5 sq ft (35.07 m2)

Empty weight

1,803 lb (818 kg)

Gross weight

2,678 lb (1,215 kg)

Max take-off weight

2,869 lb (1,301 kg)


1 × Royal Aircraft Factory RAF 4a, V-12 air cooled piston engine,

140 hp (100 kW)


4 bladed fixed pitch propeller


Maximum speed

103 mph (166 km/h, 90 kn)

Stall speed

47 mph (76 km/h, 41 kn)


4 hours 15 minutes

Service ceiling

13,500 ft (4,100 m)

Time to altitude

6,500 ft (1,981 m) in 21 minutes



1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) forward-firing Vickers gun


1 or 2 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns in rear cockpit


Up to 224 lb (102 kg) bombs

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