The Fokker T.VIII-W was a twin-float twin-engined torpedo bomber and reconnaissance sea plane built for the Dutch, but that saw service in small numbers in both the Luftwaffe and the RAF during 1940.
The T.VIII-W was designed in 1937 for the Dutch Naval Air Service (Marine Luchtvaardienst, or MLD), to replace existing biplanes. Fokker produced a twin-float monoplane, powered by two Wright Whirlwind engines. It was of partly metal and partly wood-and-fabric construction. It carried a crew of three, and was armed with two 7.9mm Browning machine guns, one fixed forward firing gun on the port side of the nose and one flexible gun in the rear cockpit. The T.VIII-W could carry one torpedo or 1,334lb of bombs.
Five evaluation aircraft were ordered, and it was one of these that made the type’s maiden flight 1938. It entered service during 1939, and by the time of the German invasion in May 1940 eleven had been delivered to the MLD (although one had already been shot down in error by the Luftwaffe during the phoney war period).
The T.VIII-W was built in four different versions, two for the Dutch and two for the Finns. The only one of these to have entered service before the German invasion was the original T.VIII-W/G (G for gemengd, indicating the mix of wood, metal and fabric in the construction of the aircraft). An original order for five evaluation aircraft had been followed by one for fourteen production aircraft. Of these nineteen aircraft eight were later taken over by the Luftwaffe, while nine escaped to France.
The second Dutch version was the all-metal T.VIII-W/M. These aircraft were on the production line at the time of the German invasion, and all twelve were taken over by the Luftwaffe.
The Finnish version was larger, and was powered by two Bristol Mercury XI radial engines, giving it a top speed of 222mph, 45mph faster than the Dutch aircraft. Four of these aircraft were completed as T.VIII-W/C float planes and one (the T.VIII-W/L) as a prototype landplane, with fixed landing gear. The five Finnish aircraft were also taken over by the Luftwaffe.
The Luftwaffe ended up with twenty-five T.VIIIs, which they used on anti-shipping and reconnaissance patrols and for air-sea rescue, over the North Sea and Mediterranean.
When the Germans invaded Holland in May 1940 the serviceable T.VIIIs were ordered to escape to France. Between 12 and 22 May they flew patrols off the Channel coast, before on 22 May withdrawing once again, this time to Britain. There they were used to equip No.320 (Dutch) Squadron of Coastal Command. This squadron flew anti-shipping patrols over the Western Approaches, from its base at Pembroke Dock. The Fokker T.VIIIs remained in use until September 1940. By that point two aircraft had already been lost, and dwindling numbers and a lack of spare ports forced the RAF to withdrawn them from service. The squadron converted to landplanes, using the Avro Anson and Lockheed Hudson.
Engine: Two Wright R-975-E3 Whirlwinds
Span: 59ft 0.7in
Length: 42ft 7.8in
Height: 42ft 4.9in
Empty Weight: 6,834lb
Maximum take-off weight: 11,023lb
Maximum speed: 117mph at sea level
Service ceiling: 22,310ft
Range: 1,305 miles
Armament: One fixed forward firing 7.92mm gun and one flexible 7.92mm gun in the rear cockpit
Bomb load: One torpedo or 1,335lb of bombs