The aircraft was designed in answer to a request of the Polish Air Force for a heavy single-engine reconnaissance and bomber airplane. Work started in 1926. The main designer was Jerzy Rudlicki (the letter "R" in the designation for his name). The prototype R-VIII was flown in March, 1928. It was fitted with a 550 hp (410 kW) Farman 12We W-engine, but in tests proved to be underpowered. In July 1928 the second prototype was completed with a more powerful 740 hp (550 kW) Lorraine-Dietrich 18Kd engine. In August 1928 it flew in the Aviation Contest of the Little Entente and Poland. It achieved the best result in trials of carrying a payload (1024 kg to an altitude of 5000 m).
In 1929, the Polish Aviation Department of War Ministry ordered four aircraft with the designation R-VIIIa. They were built in early 1930. One was fitted with a Lorraine-Dietrich engine, the rest with the 760 hp (570 kW) Hispano-Suiza 12Lb. More were not ordered, as the aircraft had good performance when carrying only a limited payload and fuel reserve (which limited its range), when it carried more bombs, or maximum fuel load, its performance was poor.
The prototypes and serial production aircraft were used by the Polish Air Force only for a short time. In August-September 1930, three R-VIIIa flew in the Aviation Contest of the Little Entente and Poland, taking a mediocre 7th and 9th places. In service, both Lorraine-Dietrich-powered aircraft crashed - in 1930 and 1931.
In 1932, the existing R-VIIIs were converted to floatplanes for the Polish Navy. The first prototype was fitted with Lorraine-Dietrich engine and was designated R-VIII bis (Aircraft number 801). Two planes with Hispano-Suiza engines were designated R-VIII ter (numbers 802 and 803). The fourth aircraft was broken into spare parts. The maximum speed of the floatplane variant was lowered to 200 km/h. They were also called R-VIII/hydro.
A six-seat passenger plane, the R-IX, was developed in 1929, based on the R-VIII, but it remained a prototype.
Read more about this topic: Lublin R-VIII
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