Nick-named the ‘Harry Tate’ after a music-hall comedian this inherently stable reconnaissance/artillery spotting aircraft entered limited service in late 1916 and 4077 were built of which just two originals survive one in Belgium – the Belgian Air Force had some 22 examples with Hispano-Suiza engines from July 1917. After rectification of the tendency of early production aircraft to spin as the RFC/RAF’s most widely used type of Corps reconnaissance aircraft from 1917 it served with some 21 Squadrons and as well as the Western Front. R.E.8s operated in Italy and Palestine and finally in Egypt until November 1920.
This flying replica in No. 9 Squadron colours was also built in New Zealand by TVAL in 2011 using original RE.8 rudder wing and fuselage parts held by the RAF Museum as patterns. These parts of an unidentified airframe were found in a Coventry garage in 1966 and recovered by the Northern Aircraft Preservation Society. Presented to the RAF Museum the following year they remain in store with the museum. Although not forming a complete aircraft they are a precious research tool as are sizable contemporary D.H. 10 Amiens and Handley Page 0/400 and V/1500 bomber aircraft parts also held in store by the museum. This replica was flown extensively in New Zealand and the UK in 2012 before moving to Hendon for static display in 2012.