One of the best known R.E.8 crews, from 69 Sqdn, RAFC: Lt. RC Armstrong and Lt. FJ Mart (observer) in front of their machine. On June 9th, 1918 they forced a Halberstadt C1.II two-seated to lan in Allied territory, to be captured intact by Australian troops. Note underwing racks with Cooper bombs.

The "Harry Tate" People

Alberto Casirati
via Verdi 12
24052 Azzano S Paolo BG

As an ideal complement to the previous articles on the R.E.8 (published in WWI AERO #127 and 136), this mainly pictorial piece deals with two very different aspects of the machine's history: its construction and the people who flew it into battle.

So different as they are, yet they were intimately connected, as the machine's typical features and qualities had an immediate influence on the way in which it was employed by its crews.

In many ways, the R.E.8 was an innovative machine. Its bent main fuselage longerons and the inclined position in which the engine was fixed to the airframe were studied in order to give the machine shorter take-off and landing runs, while the narrow tail fuselage section was conceived to reduce the rear gunner's blind spot to a minimum. What the R.E.8 lacked in engine horsepower it obtained in terms of rugged construction, the well-known criticism (a dangerous machine to fly because of a weak structure) being totally unjustified, since so many badly shot-up machines were able to testify bringing their crews home anyway.

Although the great bulk of glamour is still on the side of the fighter planes and pilots, there are few doubts that the reconnaissance units had to do the most Important and dangerous job. R.E.8 crews did that constantly, with skill and determination. Thanks to their efforts, Army commands got the vital information they needed for the safety of many, often at the price of the life of a pilot- or, more probably, of an observer. This article shows some of those people, who played such a humble yet vital role.

The same team aboard one of the 79 Sqdn's machines. Note absence of the observer's Lewis gun.


Our most sincere thanks to Mrs Juanita Franzi, for the excellent drawings which illustrate this short piece. The R.E.8 is not a very complex machine, but until now the details were not so easy to appreciate, because of lack of suitable pictures or drawings. Thanks to Mrs Franzi's skill and generous assistance, we are now able to provide a long overdue coverage of almost all of the R.E.8 main technical features. Her drawings are the result of careful research work, and are traced on the base of reliable contemporary references our grateful thanks to Colin A Owers, too, without whose generous help we wouldn't be able to publish the interesting pictures which illustrate the article.

The observers cockpit. Note locations of the Wireless Transmitter and its aerial. Glass plates for the camera were stored above it. Also visible is the emergency throttle for the observer.

Note: Due to the differences between printed matter and HTML format, not all pictures and graphics of the article are shown.

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