The Lublin R-VIII was a reconnaissance bomber that was one of the first military aircraft designed by the Polish aircraft industry, and which entered service in small numbers with the Polish Navy as a floatplane.
In the aftermath of gaining independence Poland relied on foreign designs that were built under licence in the country. However after Marshal Pulsudski came to power in 1926 the emphasis began to change to aircraft designed in Poland. One of the companies that had been involved in aircraft production was E. Plage & T. Laskiewicz, an engineering firm originally established in 1864, and which had opened an aviation division in 1919-20. They soon began work on their own designs, but none of these early attempts were accepted by the military.
In the autumn of 1926 the company received a contract to develop a reconnaissance bomber. The resulting aircraft was known as the Lublin R-VIII (the company’s factory was at Lublin). It was a single engine biplane, of wooden construction, with a wide track divided undercarriage to allow it to operate from unprepared fields. It was to be powered by 550-750hp liquid cooled engines, and the prototype would use a 550hp Farman 12W engine.
Work on the design began in the winter of 1926-27. The company received an order for two flying prototypes and a static test aircraft. The aircraft passed its structural tests in January 1928, and the prototype made its maiden flight at the end of March 1928. This first prototype was unarmed, and could reach 111.8mpg at sea level. It was a large aircraft, with a wingspan of 55ft 9.5in and length of 35ft 10.25in.
The second prototype followed three months later. This aircraft was powered by a 650-760hp Lorraine-Dietrich geared W-type engine, had a modified tail, and was fully armed. After successful trials in Poland, the second prototype was sent to the Tour of the Little Entente and Poland, an aviation event that was held in Prague in August 1928. During the speed part of the event the aircraft reached 136.8mph but it was forced to land during the distance event, probably costing it the lead in the event.
The Department of Aeronautics was interested in the design, and placed an order for five pre-production aircraft, two powered by a 650-760 Lorraine-Dietrich engine and three by a 650-740hp Hispano-Suiza engine. These aircraft were built in 1929 and was largely similar to the second prototype. These aircraft and the second prototype then formed an experimental squadron.
The R-VIII had unequal span single-bay biplane wings, with wooden spars and a fabric covering. The wooden fuselage had a rectangular cross-section with a domed top, all covered with plywood. The pilot’s cockpit was below the trailing edge of the upper wing. The observer’s cockpit was sizable, and carried detachable dual controls. It was armed with one fixed forward firing machine gun and a flexibly mounted twin gun in the observers position It could also carry up to 2,205lb of bombs, a radio, a camera and night flting equipment.
In 1930 five of the R-VIIIs were allocated to the Polish team for that years Tour of the Little Entente and Poland. However they didn’t repeat the achievements of the second prototype. Two of the aircraft were damaged during the preparations for the event, and only two of the remaining three completed the event. The Polish team finished last in the event, and at about the same time the Department of Aeronautics officially ended its interest in the design.
This didn’t end official interest in the aircraft. In August 1929 the Polish Navy (K.M.W.) asked Plage & Laskiewicz to submit designs for naval aircraft. Their first suggestion was a twin float version of the licence built Fokker F.VIIb-3m bomber or if that wasn’t suitable the Fokker T.IV seaplane. Neither interested the navy, so in April 1930 Lublin suggested building a twin-float version of the R-VIII. The Department of Aeronautics was willing to sell the four surviving aircraft to the Navy, and on 26 February 1932 the Navy issued a contract for their conversion into R-VIIIbis twin-float seaplanes.
The R-VIIIbis used a pair of Short metal floats, had a larger rudder, was treated against water corrosion, and was to carry naval equipment. The original plan was to convert the prototype by giving it a Lorraine-Dietrich engine, but this was soon abandoned. As a result the Navy only received three aircraft, serial number 801 (powered by the Lorraine engine) and numbers 802 and 803 (powered by the Hispano engine). These aircraft entered Naval service in the summer of 1933, five years after the type had made its maiden flight. Even so, two of the three aircraft were still on front line service at the start of the Second World War.
Over the winter of 1927-28 the company began work on a passenger transport version of the design, which became the Lublin R-IX. One prototype was built, powered by a 480hp Jupiter nine-cylinder air cooled radial engine, and made its maiden flight in April 1929. However the newly founded ‘Lot’ national airline wasn’t interested in the design, and no further examples were built.
The R-XXII was a design for a medium sized coastal protection aircraft and torpedo bomber, which was based on the R-VIIIbis. The preliminary design was submitted to the Navy in January 1934, but by the summer the Navy had decided not to continue with the project.
Engine: Lorraine-Dietrich 18 cylinder water cooled W type geared engine or Hispano-Suiza 12 cylinder water cooled V geared engine
Power: 650-760hp to 650-740hp
Crew: 2 or 3
Span: 55ft 9.5in
Length: 39ft 7in
Height: 17ft 6in
Empty Weight: 6,435lb
Maximum loaded weight: 9,479lb
Maximum Weight: 11,023lb
Maximum Speed: 136.7mph at sea level
Range: 497 miles
Guns: One fixed forward firing machine gun, twin flexibly mounted machine guns
Bomb load: 2,205lb