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Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 Fighter Aircraft (1916)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/12/2008

The RAF F.E.8 was 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.

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The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 ("F.E." for "Fighter Experimental") was developed in 1915 and released as an operational aircraft in 1916. Designed in much the same way as the F.E.2 series before it, the F.E.8 placed the engine to the rear of the fuselage and operated in "pusher" type fashion. Once again, the lack of any type of viable interrupter gear - a mechanism allowing for a machine gun to fire through a spinning propeller - necessitated this type of layout. Whereas in the F.E.2, a pilot and observer/gunner operated the controls and weapons respectively, in the F.E.8, a single pilot was charged with operating the aircraft, scanning for the enemy, training his machine gun and firing the weapon himself. Problems were compounded as the machine gun type used in the aircraft was prone to jams offering up yet another task for the pilot to contend with.

This layout, in some respects, proved beneficial as the field of vision and firing arc were second to none. 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 lighter aircraft design than that of the F.E.2 series, it was immediately outclassed by the German Albatros D.I and D.II series of fighters where most F.E.8's were at a major disadvantage. Baron von Richthofen's group downed no fewer than nine in one sortie, showing just how outclassed the type was. The F.E.8 was inevitably removed from front-line service by the middle of 1917 to which some 295 were produced.

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Specifications for the
Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8
Fighter Aircraft


Focus Model: Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Royal Aircraft Factory - UK
Initial Year of Service: 1916
Production: 295


Crew: 1


Length: 23.65 ft (7.21 m)
Width: 31.50 ft (9.60 m)
Height: 9.15ft (2.79 m)
Weight (Empty): 895 lb (406 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 1,345 lb (610 kg)


Powerplant: 1 x Gnome Monosoupape rotary piston engine developing 100hp.


Maximum Speed: 94 mph (151kmh; 82 kts)
Maximum Range: 0 miles (0km)
Service Ceiling: 14,501 ft (4,420 m; 2.7 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet per minute (0 m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
1 x 7.7mm machine gun


Variants:
F.E.8 - Single-Seat Fighter Designation


Operators:
United Kingdom