Monday, November 14, 2011

United States - 1918 DH-4

Never a Dull Moment

Work on the new section on the overview of American aero squadrons is going slowly but steadily. It has reminded me of the fact that nothing is simple, and each door you open is not an exit but another set of rooms and doors still unexplored.Besides laying out new pages and nailing down the navigation in a coherent manner, I am busy working on new master files and two new sets of unit insignias for this section. One insignia set is virtual decals for use on profiles, the other set is larger images to use in the articles.

Overview of the De Havilland DH-4

Designed in 1916 by Geoffrey de Havilland, the D.H.4 was the only British design manufactured by the Americans. It was easily identified by its rectangular fuselage and deep frontal radiator. Versatile, heavily armed and equipped with a powerful twelve cylinder engine. American built DH-4 used the Liberty engine. This biplane which operated as an observation aircraft and daylight bomber was fast and maneuverable. The American version was manufactured by Dayton-Wright and was called the “Liberty Plane”.

Sometimes called the “Flaming Coffin”, its huge fuel tank was dangerously positioned between the pilot and observer, hindering communication. Produced in vast numbers, 6295, of which 4846 were built in the United States, many D.H.4s were modified for civilian air service after the war.

Squadron-D Day Wing Northern Bombing Group U.S.M.C.

Dayton-Wright DH-4 Squadron-D Day Wing Northern Bombing Group U.S.M.C. sn D-5 A-3293 La-Frene France Oct 1918

Dayton-Wright DH-4 Squadron-D Day Wing Northern Bombing Group U.S.M.C.

This American built Dayton-Wright DH-4 Liberty Plane flew in then Squadron-D Day Wing Northern Bombing Group of the United States Marine Corps. The profile shows the aircraft when at La-Frene, France during Oct of 1918. The white D-5 is the flight and airplane identifier. The Insignia is for the Marine Corps. The fuselage, wings and tail plane are painted olive drab on the upper surfaces and light gray on the lower areas. The wing roundels are added in the standard 4 place configuration (Upper wing top surface, Lower wing bottom surface). The landing gear struts are the newer reinforced design.

50th Aero Squadron - 1st Observation Group U.S.A.S.

Airco D.H.4 50th Aero Squadron - 1918

Airco D.H.4 50th Aero Squadron - 1918

The 50th was known as the Dutch Girl Squadron. They borrowed their squadron insignia from the label on a kitchen cleanser popular during that time. It went with their motto: “Cleaning up on Germany”. The examples I have seen have unbordered black numbers, and olive drab upper surfaces and varnished fabric on the lower surfaces. The wings on their American built DH-4 have roundels in the standard 4 spot scheme.

During Meuse-Argonne offensive the 50th Aero Squadron earned their reputation for heroism supporting the offensive by flying contact patrols where they were in constant communication with ground units and providing vital intelligence. On the 5th of October Elements of the U.S. 77th Infantry Division (Who became known as the “Lost Battalion”) were cut off and surrounded on a heavily forested hillside northeast of the town of Binarville. The U.S. Army came up with a plan to resupply them from the air. The mission was give to the 50th. During attempts to locate the men, 1st Lt. Harold Goettler and 2nd Lt. Erwin Bleckley were brought down by ground fire on their second flight of the day Both men died and were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross that was upgraded in 1922 to the Medal of Honor.

11 th Aero Squadron 1st Bombardment Group U.S.A.S.

Airco D.H.4 11th Aero Squadron - 1918

Airco D.H.4 11th Aero Squadron - 1918

The unit insignia was taken from a cartoon character Jiggs, invented five years before by an 11th Squadron officer, George McManus, whose comic strip, “Bringing Up Father,” was the first of its kind to attract a worldwide readership.. The positioning of it is standard for the squadron. The white identifier number does not have a border. The lower wing surfaces are varnished fabric.

The unit was first organized on June 26, 1917 as the 11th Aero Squadron, part of the 1st Day Bombardment Group at Camp Kelly, Texas. During the Great War the 11th was moved from Camp Kelly, and on January 1st 1918 was relocated to England. On August 12, 1918 it was sent to France, where it remained until April 21 1919.

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