PlaneSpottingWorld welcomes all new members! Please gives your ideas at the Terminal.

Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere

The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 was a British single-seat fighter of the First World War designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory.

Design and development

Like the D.H.2, the F.E.8 was designed as a pusher in order to provide a forward firing machine gun mount at a time when no synchronization gear was available to the Allies to safely arm a tractor aircraft in the same way. Although a clean and well designed little aeroplane, for a pusher – it could not escape the drag penalty imposed by its tail structure and was no match for the Halberstadt and Albatros fighters of late 1916.

The nacelle was, most unusually for the time, an all-metal structure – being framed in steel tube and covered with duralumin. The prototypes were initially each fitted with a large pointed propeller spinner, which was quickly omitted due to its weight, while the Lewis gun was fitted on a movable mount within the nose of the nacelle, with the machine gun's breech almost at the pilot's feet. It was quickly determined that this armament mounting scheme was almost completely impractical, and for production machines the gun mount was moved upwards to the top of the nacelle, and mounted directly in front of the pilot, in the manner of the D.H.2.

The new fighter was not a great improvement on the D.H.2 – although a little faster, and with the entire trailing edge lengths of the wings being devoted to enormous aileron control surfaces, it did not handle quite so well. It was nonetheless ordered into production from Darracq motors and Vickers. Neither manufacturer delivered their F.E.8s rather quickly, so that it ended up reaching the front in numbers six months later than the D.H.2.

Operational history

Two F.E.8s were issued to No. 29 Squadron RFC, a D.H.2 unit, in June 1916, but it was not until August that No. 40 Squadron became fully operational on the type. The only other unit to fly the type, No. 41 Squadron, arrived in France in October.

After a fairly good start, the F.E.8 units quickly ran into problems with the new German fighters. On the 9th of March 1917 nine F.E.8 of No. 40 Squadron had a dogfight with five Albatros D.IIIs of Jagdstaffel 11, led by Manfred von Richthofen himself. Four F.E.8s were shot down, four others badly damaged, and the survivor caught fire when landing. After this disaster No. 40 Squadron was re-equipped with Nieuports and No. 41 restricted to ground attack duties. No. 41 actually kept their pushers until July 1917 – becoming the last pusher fighter squadron in France.

Two F.E.8s were sent to Home Defence units in 1917, but the type was not adopted as a home defence fighter.


Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome's founder, Cole Palen, built the first flyable reproduction of an F.E.8, which is believed to have first flown in 1970 at Old Rhinebeck with a Le Rhône 80 hp rotary engine. It flew in the weekend air shows at Old Rhinebeck for a number of years, before being retired. It is currently in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.

The Owl's Head Transportation Museum in Maine has another F.E.8 reproduction in its collection, powered by a modern air-cooled, horizontally opposed engine.



Specifications (F.E.8 (Le Rhône engine))

Data from War Planes of the First World War [1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 23ft 8 in (7.21 m)
  • Wingspan: 31 ft 6 in (9.6 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 2 in (2.8 m)
  • Wing area: 218 ft² (20.25 m²)
  • Empty weight: 960 lb (406 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 1,470 lb (668 kg)
  • Powerplant:Le Rhône nine-cylinder air-cooled rotary engine, 110 hp (82 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 93.6 mph (151 km/h, 81 knots)
  • Service ceiling: 14,500 ft (4,420 m)
  • Climb to 6,000 ft (1,830 m):8 min 20 sec
  • Endurance: 2.5 hours (Monosoupape engine)


See also

Comparable aircraft

Related lists


  1. Bruce 1969, p.59.
  • Bruce, J.M. Warplanes of the First World War: Volume 2 Fighters. London: Macdonald, 1968. ISBN 0-356-01473-8.
  • Taylor, John W.R. "F.E.8". Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the Present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.

External links

Template:Royal Aircraft Factory aircraft

de:Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 fr:Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8 pl:Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.8".