Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Britain - 1915 Airco DH.1

British Air-power in the Middle East Theater - 1915

Airco D.H.1 - 1915
Airco D.H.1 - 1915

The Airco DH.1 was an early military biplane flown by Britain's Royal Flying Corps during World War I.

Geoffrey de Havilland was one of the pioneering designers at the Royal Aircraft Factory and was partially or wholly responsible for most pre-war "Factory" designs. When he left to become chief designer at The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) in 1914, his first design was strongly reminiscent of the F.E.2b, one of his last designs for the Royal Aircraft Factory. Like the F.E.2, the DH.1 was of pusher configuration, the aircraft accommodating its pilot and observer in two open tandem cockpits in the nose, the observer's cockpit stepped down below the pilot's and equipped with a machine gun. The wings were of typical fabric-covered, two-bay, unstaggered, straight, equal span design, while the stabilizer and rudder were carried on the end of a long, open-framework boom.

The type, like the F.E.2b, was designed for the 120 hp (89 kW) Beardmore 120 hp water cooled inline engine. However, all available Beardmore engines had been ordered for F.E.2b production, so the 70 hp (52 kW) Renault 70 hp aircooled V8 engine was installed instead. With this powerplant the DH.1 was underpowered - but still had a creditable performance, and was ordered into production. Airco was already occupied with later designs, so DH.1 production was undertaken by Savages of King's Lynn.

The DH.1 saw operational service only in the Middle East theatre, where a few Beardmore powered DH.1As arrived in July 1916 - these were used by No. 14 Squadron RFC as escorts for their B.E.2 reconnaissance aircraft. An Aviatik two seater was claimed by a 14 Squadron D.H.1A in August for the only known victory of the type. The last known action by a DH.1 was on 5 March 1917, when one was shot down during a bombing raid on Tel el Sheria. No. 14 Squadron became an R.E.8 unit in November 1917 - and it seems probable the last operational DH.1 had gone before that date.

The other DH.1s served in training and Home defence units in the United Kingdom, finally being withdrawn from service in 1918.


  • DH.1:101 examples powered by Renault engine
  • DH.1A:Late production model some 70 examples powered by Beardmore engine


  1. From Wikipedia Airco DH.1, ""
  2. Cheesman, E.F. (ed.) "Reconnaissance & Bomber Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War". Letchworth, UK: Harleyford, 1962.
  3. Grey, C.G. "Jane's all the world's aircraft 1919" (reprint). New York: Arco Publishing Company, 1969. ISBN 0-0001-890-1.
  4. Jackson, A.J. "De Havilland Aircraft since 1909". London:Putnam, Third edition, 1987. ISBN 0 85177 802 X.
  5. Taylor, Michael J.H. "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation", 1989 edition. London: Studio Editions, 1989, p. 45. ISBN 0-51710-316-8.


The Angry Lurker said...

Nice looking aircraft but all I can hear going through my mind is flimsy, flimsy and flimsy.

W. I. Boucher said...

Yes flimsy by our standards, but compared to what was in the air before it was built it was sturdy and state of the art. The real problem with pushers was a sudden stop meant the mass of the engine cause it to break free of the mountings and would continue moving forward through the cockpit and pilot like a food processor blade.

I guess it was a little better than burning alive without a parachute.

Unlucky General said...

I think possibly your best illustration to date. I just love these pushers. I've got a Revell DH2 which I'm now keener than ever to build. What were the differences between them? Were they visual or is it simply a matter of engine upgrades?

W. I. Boucher said...

Thanks for the compliment.There was a marked difference between the DH-1 and the DH-2.

The most notable one is the shape of the gondola. The DH-1 is a two seat aircraft with a pronounced stepped seating arrangement and flexible gun mount for the Lewis gun. The DH.1 was also powered by an inline Renault water-cooled V-8 cylinder engine.

The DH-2 is sleeker and not as large with a fixed Lewis gun.
The engine was a Gnome Monosoupape, 9 cylinder, rotary engine. There are differences in the struts and the tail fin too.

Dimensionally they were different too. The DH-1 was 45.125 inches longer, about 21.5 inches taller and had almost 153 inches larger wingspan and about 603 pounds heavier.

The colors used were different too. Almost all the DH-1 served in Middle eastern front so they were largely varnished cloth to reflect the light.

The DH-2 served for the most part on the western front and were painted in a mixture offering the best compromise between protection and camouflage called PC-10 which would vary from a greenish-ochre to a chocolate brown.

I hope that clarifies matters.



Unlucky General said...

Very much - thanks for the detail. Shame in a way as I'd have liked to model a DH-1 but alas, not practical for my Western front 'evolving' squadron.