Armstrong Whitworth FK8 " Big Ack"
The Armstrong Whitworth FK8 is one of the more unknown aircraft of
the First World War. Ungainly in appearance, the 'Big Ack' was strong
and well-liked by its crews. Two Victoria Crosses were awarded to pilots
of the FK8 - full details may be found in the book "Victoria Cross:
WW1 Airmen and their Aircraft" Written by Alex Revell and illustrated
Armstrong Whitworth FK8 A2702
Sgt.Major F Dismore / 2/AM Hare
No.2 Sqn RFC
"QUEENIE II" went to No 2 Sqn on 27 June 1917, where its usual crew
was Sgt.Maj F Dismore and AM Hare. While flying A2702 Dismore/Hare were
involved in combats on 11 July and 26 August 1917. On the second occasion
they were attacked by five enemy aircraft.
In addition to fending off the Germans, the RFC also had their Allies
to deal with - the French had recently attacked an RFC FK8. Therefore
on 12 August Major R A Cooper, OC of No 2 Sqn and Captain Frost flew
to Hondschoote aerodrome to allow the French a chance to see one close
up. The result is the photograph on the cover of C&C(INT)17/2.
On 28 September Captain W P M Brettell, OC of A Flight, flew a new
pilot, 2/Lt C C Paul to Auchel aerodrome to practice landings. Paul
crashed on his first solo attempt. Neither Paul nor A2702 returned to
Prior to the more familiar zig-zag, No.2 Sqn RFC had used a triangle
as their unit marking. The first letter of the personal marking appears
to be a stylized 'Q', hence my intrepretation as 'QUEENIE'. The white
of the name is highlighted by a blue drop shadow. The struts were fabric
wrapped to protect from splitting.
Armstrong Whitworth FK8 B5782
No.2 Sqn RFC
According to SK Taylor, the photo I used to develop this profile was
taken by 2/Lt Alan McLeod and was of the aircraft he flew in December
1917. On March 27th 1918, McLeod and his observor, Lt Arthur Hammond
were attacked by the Triplanes of Jasta 6. In the ensuing action Hammond
shot down four of the triplanes (not reflected in German losses). However
their aircraft (FK8 B5773) was set aflame and Mcleod was forced to climb
out of his cockpit and stand on the lower wing after the floor had burnt
away. He then sideslipped to put direct the flames from Hammond and
himself. Hammond, meanwhile was on top of the fuselage, straddling the
Scarff mount. Eventually they crashed into a shell crater, with Hammond
being knocked unconcious, McLeod (himself wounedn five places) dragged
Hammond towards safety in the nearby trenches. South African troops
pulled them into their line and at dusk they were able to be transported
to the rear. McLeod was awarded the VC for his action in saving Hammond.
Sadly Alan McLeod was to perish in the influenza pandemic that ravaged
the globe in late 1918, succumbing on 6 November 1918 - age 19. Hammond
lost his leg and emigrated to Mcleod's hometown of Winnipeg Manitoba.
B5782 shows typical markings for No.2 Sqn with the zip-zag on the rear
fuselage. During the German offensive in Spring 1918 all unit markings
on RFC aircraft were changed in an effort to confuse German intelligence.
All scout units exchanged markings, while two seaters had their markings
removed. At the time of the VC action B5773 would have looked similiar
to B5782, bt with no Zig-zag.
Victoria Cross: WW1 Airmen and Their Aircraft; Revell, Alex; Flying
Machines Press 1997
Alex Revell Correspondence
Stewart Taylor Correspondence
Les Rogers Corresponence