RAF RE8 (Windsock Datafiles 24)
By J. M. Bruce
Publisher: Albatros 1990 36 Pages
PDF 28 MB
The eighth design in the Royal Aircraft Factory's Reconnaissance Experimental series was drawn up to provide a replacement for the various BE two-seaters. More specifically, it was intended to meet a Royal Flying Corps requirement, set down in Autumn 1915, for an aeroplane capable of defending itself while performing corps-reconnaissance and artillery-spotting duties. To this end the RAF designed a two-seat tractor biplane powered by a 140-hp RAF 4a engine and accommodating its observer in the rear cockpit with a Lewis gun on a rotating mounting. The pilot sat more or less under the centre-section; his armament was to be a fixed Lewis gun mounted within the cockpit on the starboard side; for want of a synchronizing mechanism the airscrew was to have bullet deflectors similar to those evolved in France by Raymond Saulnier, Roland Garros and Jules Hue.
An early side-elevation drawing, No. A9429, dated March 9 1916, includes an airscrew (represented as a four-blader of the wrong hand) with bullet deflectors, and an internally-mounted Lewis gun for the pilot. It also suggests that the drawn aerofoil section was to be of an early type, probably RAF 6; but more significant was the provision of a large, angular fin with a constant-chord rudder.
Two prototypes, numbered 7996 and 7997, were built. They differed in various respects from the early drawing A9429, most conspicuously and ominously in their vertical tail surfaces, in which the rudder was of broader chord but the fin was roughly half the size originally proposed. In their geometry the mainplanes, now of RAF 14 section, were virtually identical with those of the BE2e; (see WINDSOCK DATAFILE No A4) while the tailplane and elevators were standard BE2e surfaces adapted in detail to accommodate the simple incidence-regulating mechanism introduced on the RE8.