The R.A.F. R.E.8
was designed to replace the B.E.2c
, which by autumn 1915 was obviously unsuited to the realities of fighter combat. It borrowed the heavily staggered and unequal span wings of the R.A.F. B.E.2e
but the R.E.8 moved the observer to the more workable rear seat where a defensive machine gun would have a wide angle of fire. Unfortunately it also retained the B.E.'s inherent stability, an asset in a friendly sky but a detriment in when trying to evade enemy fire. In a common theme, the Air Board had committed to large-scale production before the type had actually shown its merits and shortcomings in service, so over four thousand were built despite the plane's lackluster performance. It was still in use by fifteen squadrons at the Armistice.
While a number of RE8s were built by the parent company, most were built by contractors like Austin, Daimler, Napier, Standard, and Coventry Ordnance Works. The first batches may have had no gun installed for the pilot, but later ones included a synchronized port-side Vickers with a Vickers-Challenger or (later) Constantinesco interrupter. It could easily enter a spin in the hands of rookie pilots. To correct this tendency, the fin was enlarged and other minor adjustments were made. There was a plan to replace all of the RE8s with Bristol Fighters
in early to mid 1918, but shortages of Rolls-Royce engines meant there were never enough Bristols to go around and the RE8s had to soldier on.
Belgian 6me Escadrille
used R.E.8s modified to take a 180hp Hispano-Suiza engine, which must have improved performance somewhat, starting in July 1917. They were replaced by SPAD 11s
starting in May 1918.
The Harry Tate
(as it was called) was undistinguished -- a plane no one would call their favorite -- yet it and its crews flew countless successful missions in the last two years of the war. The R.E.8 saw service on the Western Front, in Italy, Mesopotamia, Palestine, and in Home Defense.
This plane comes in both 1:144 and 1:285/6mm/1:288 scales. The 1:285 product includes two aeroplanes
, connected by disposable links. In Detail Plastic at that scale, they have built-in propeller disks, which you can carefully snap off if you prefer.
For more details and gaming information, see https://linen.miraheze.org/wiki/R.A.F._R.E.8