Halberstadt Cl.II - The Halberstadt Cl.II was a highly successful lightweight two-seat escort fighter and ground support aircraft. Incorporating many features learned from their single seat fighters, in November 1916 Halberstadt started work on 3 prototypes built to Idflieg’s new lightweight C class (C = armed two-seat) specifications. The result was the sleek 160hp Daimler-Mercedes D.III powered Halberstadt Cl.II (the lower case ‘l’ standing for leicht “lightweight”) and the first prototype 9902/17 was completed in April 1917. The Halberstadt Cl.II was initially used as an escort for heavier two-seat C type aircraft carrying out their reconnaissance and artillery spotting tasks and was very well regarded for it"s good visibility, climb rate, maneuverability and stability, although speed was initially considered to be lacking. The pilot and gunner were very closely positioned which aided communication. Late production Cl.II (as featured in this model) had an LMG 08/15 "Spandau" mounted high on the starboard side of the fuselage. Although superseded by the even lighter Halberstadt Cl.IV introduced in the middle of 1918, the Cl.II soldiered on to the Armistice and saw post war service in Poland.
The fuselage of Halberstadt Cl.II 15342/17 was finished in a multicolour patched camouflage speckled design described in capture reports as “...colours arranged in indefinite areas and shading into one another. The colours used are a cloudy yellow, dark and light green, brown, purple and a light blue”… “The tailplane and elevator are painted black and white in stripes; the fin and rudder are grey”. The bottom of the fuselage was described as “...coloured yellow throughout” and would appear to have been be finished this way at the unit for identification purposes. Five colour lozenge fabric was applied to the wings at a 45 degree angle while the tailplane was covered conventionally.
RE.8 “Harry Tate” – Design of the RAF RE.8 (Royal Aircraft Factory Reconnaissance Experimental 8) began in late 1915 as a replacement for the pre-war lineage BE series of two seaters. Utilizing many components from the BE.2e such as wings, undercarriage and tailplane, the main design difference of the RE.8 was the addition of a forward firing machine gun for the pilot and moving the passenger (observer-gunner) to the rear of the pilot.
Much maligned because of its quirky looks (not one bit of the RE.8 appears to point in the direction of flight), apparent lack of performance and, according to various reports, because it was too stable or too unstable (too stable to adequately defend itself or too unstable to perform low level turns), the RE.8 nevertheless performed its intended tasks of bomber, reconnaissance and artillery spotting with rugged dependability through to the end of the Great War. Aircrew quickly gave it the nickname “Harry Tate”, RE.8 rhyming well with the popular Scottish music hall comedian’s name and, possibly, because of its similarly comic appearance. Built in large numbers by various contractors the RE.8 entered front line service late 1916 and, despite a career not entirely free of controversy, it remained in production and frontline service until the armistice. In the hands of a confident and aggressive aircrew the RE.8 was capable of putting up a fight almost as well as the great Bristol Fighter.
The upper surfaces of RE.8 D4689 were finished with PC10 (Protective Covering number 10) with clear doped and varnished Irish Linen lower surfaces. Metal cowling panels appear to have been painted a dark grey. Metal brackets and fittings were usually black. All surfaces exhibited a gloss appearance when new which would weather to a semi-gloss or matt finish in service.