Sunday, March 25, 2012

Britain - 1915 Air Department Sparrow Scout

Things have been hectic. I am in the process of updating over 130 HTML documents and making master files for new planes. I decided today's post would be an aircraft I had put off finishing for a while now. A friend of mine posted an article about weird aircraft on and it spurred me on to finish a W.I.P. profile. I am glad I took the time to finish the profile. Now I have another strange bird in the box.

The Air Department's Failed Giant Killer

In the early war the perceived threat of German Zeppelins loomed large. Of course this was before it became apparent Germany had invested too much time and resources in white elephants. Britain made many attempts to design purpose built Zeppelin killers. The British Admiralty hoped the weapon needed to accomplish this mission would be the Davis two-pounder quick-fire recoilless gun. There would be several planes built to carry this weapon, although none proved to be acceptable. One of the earlier attempts was the Air Department Scout.

This is the first A.D.Sout flown during the R.N.A.S test trials. It was built by Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company. Notable is the Union Jack on the rudder and the red and white roundels on both the upper surface of the top and the bottom surface of the lower wing. Due to the height of the cockpit there are steps on the forward landing gear strut and in three places on the lower fuselage. The span of the oversize tail plane was 21 feet.

A Short Overview of the Air Department Sparrow

The AD Scout (later known as the Sparrow) was designed by Harris Booth of the British Admiralty's Air Department as a fighter aircraft to defend Britain from Zeppelin bombers during World War I.

This aircraft was an unconventional heavily-staggered, single-bay biplane, built to meet an Admiralty requirement for a fighter built from commercially obtainable materials and which could be armed with the Davis two-pounder quick-fire recoilless gun. The gun was mounted in the bottom of a short, single-seat nacelle, the top longerons were bolted directly to the main spars of the upper wing. The A.D. Scout was powered by a 100 hp Gnôme Monosoupape rotary engine driving a 9 ft pusher air-screw. The pilot had a excellent view in nearly every direction. A twin-rudder tail was attached by four booms, and it was provided with an extremely narrow-track "pogo stick" type undercarriage.

Four prototype aircraft were ordered in 1915. Two aircraft, (serial numbers 1452 and 1453) built by Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd of Leagrave, Beds. The remaining two (serial numbers 1536 and 1537) were built by Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company.

The four prototypes were all delivered to RNAS Chingford. The test trials flown by pilots of the Royal Naval Air Service were less than favorable. They proved the aircraft to be seriously overweight, fragile, sluggish, and difficult to handle, even on the ground. Due to the fact the Sparrow was considerably over-weight and difficult to handle in the air, all of the examples were scrapped.


  1. AD Scout. (2012, January 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:01, March 24, 2012, from
  2. A.D. Scout Retrieved 08:55, March 24, 2012, from
  3. Jackson, Aubrey Joseph Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 (1st ed.) 16 March 1989 pp. 98 - 101. London: Putnam & Company Ltd.. pp. 98 - 101. ISBN 0851778305.
  4. Lewis, Peter. The British Fighter since 1912 (4th ed.) 1979, pp. 392—393. London: Putnam & Company Ltd.. ISBN 0-370-10049-2.
  5. Mason, Francis K.. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, USA: Putnam & Company Ltd.. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
  6. Bruce, J.M.. War Planes of the First World War: Volume One Fighters. London: Macdonald 1965, p.5.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

America - 1918 RAF (Austin) SE.5a

The SE.5a In American Service

I am taking a break from the inter-war period, and getting back to work on my yet unpublished USAS section and started fleshing out the pages for the 4th Pursuit Group.

When many think of American squadrons serving in WWI the first thing that comes to mind is units flying French aircraft. This was not always the case. Several units flew both the British Sopwith Camel and the RAF SE.5a. Since I have been working on new master files for the SE.5a I thought it was high time to tackle examples which served in the American sector of the front.

The white markings are used by B flight. This aircraft does not carry a diamond insignia. The squadron insignia is a cartoon of a masked executioner on a on a white oval. The white bordered American fuselage roundels are the same size and location as was used in British service. The aircraft used by the 25th are painted in the standard British scheme of PC-10 and lower surfaces varnished linen. From what I have seen of photos the upper wing carried white identification numbers and the lower wing has the number in black..

This B flight SE.5a was the personal plane of the squadron leader, Captain Reed Landis. The red diamond on the vertical tail fin indicates a command plane. The white bordered roundels outside edge begins at the second wing spar.The wing markings are a command diagonal stripe on the left side and the number number on the right The finish is PC-10 as is the fuselage. The bottom wing is painted in a mirror of the top wing except the stripe and number are black on varnished fabric. The top of the fuselage has two white diamonds just aft of the head rest.

This aircraft has many details on the fuselage including a white bordered diamond which may mean it is a command plane. The blue markings indicate this plane flew with C flight. I am not sure about the scheme on the wings. There is still some debate if there were diamonds on the top of the fuselage as in number 13.

Creation of the 4th Pursuit Group

In the last days of the First World War American command created the 4th Pursuit Group. Several of the squadrons assigned to the 4th were formed around pilots who had served in the RAF before the American entry into the war.

The process of creating the 4th Pursuit Group began on October 25, 1918 at Toul, France. The unit was allocated to the new 2nd Army Air Service which had been formed on October 12. The first squadron assigned to the 4th PG was the 141st Aero Squadron which had begun operations two days earlier on October 23rd. Three other squadrons - the 17th, 25th, 148th joined the 141st at Toul in preparation for an offensive which was to begin on November 10th.

The Americans had requested the 17th and 25th squadrons be transferred back to American command for upcoming offensives. The the British agreed, but refused to allow them to take their planes with them, so the Americans arrived in Toul without airplanes.

A Short History of the 25th Aero Squadron

The unit was established as the 20th Aero Squadron in June 1917. It was later re-designated the 25th Aero Squadron after the United States entered into the war. The 25th was deployed to Europe, first to England, then to the Western Front in France in late October 1918. Assigned to the 4th Pursuit Group, 2nd Army Air Service, Toul Sector, however at that time the unit had not been issued any airplanes. The Squadron was made up of American pilots who flew with RAF S.E.5a Fighter Squadrons. Command of the squadron was given to Capt. Reed Landis who had 10 victories flying the SE5a with Royal Air Force 40th Squadron. The squadron finally received some British Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s and went operational flying one combat mission on 10 November 1918 the day before the war ended. It was demobilized after the 1918 armistice.

The 25th Pursuit Squadron, U.S.A.S was equipped with the British S.E.5a with the Wright-Martin built 180 hp Hispano-Suiza. The S.E.5a were built by Austin. The U.S.Army had a large order with Austin Motor Car Co. The 141st Pursuit was equipped with S.E.5a after the war.

The 25thused color to identify the different flights. Red was used for A flight, white for B flight, and blue for C flight.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Russia - 1923 Fokker C.I

Who's Got Fokker Fever? He's Got Fokker Fever!

I have been sitting on references for today's post for a while. Why has it taken so long? It was partly a matter of sloth, and a matter of dropping the ball in the 24/7 world of chaos I call my life.There has always been something calling for my immediate attention. It was time to not accept any more excuses and get it done.

Meet The Fokker D.VII's Big Brother.

The Fokker C.I was a two seat German reconnaissance aircraft based on the formidable Fokker D.VII. The C.I entered production soon after the flight test in the final days of World War I. None entered service and the finished examples and parts were smuggled into the Netherlands when Anthony Fokker fled a sinking ship of state. After setting p production in the Netherlands Fokker produced over 250 C.I for use by the Dutch, Danes, and Soviets.

The C.I was 1 inch (.03m) longer and 2 inches (.07m) taller than the D.VII. It had a wingspan 4 foot 6 inches (1.57m) longer. It weighed in at 345 pounds (157kg) heavier empty and 890 lb (405kg) more when fully loaded. The total load weight for the C.I was 882 pounds (400kg). The Speed and service ceiling were the main differences. The C.I was slightly slower but the service ceiling was much lower.

The Fokker C.I in Soviet Service

Fokker C.I, Unit and Crew Unknown, s/n H 08, 1923
Fokker C.I, Unit and Crew Unknown, s/n H 08, 1923

I have found several examples of C.I bearing the "H" (Cyrilic character for "N") on the fuselage and exact same paint scheme. All the examples have uncovered wire wheels and fuel tanks.

This profile is based on a coupe photos I saw. It has the Sphinx insignia of the squadron leader of № 1 OIAE, A.T.Kozhevnikov. The colors are conjectural. I used the same scheme as his Fokker D.VII.

This example is painted in winter colors and is fitted with pontoon like skis. The lack of a wheel allows viewing of an ael mounted secondary fuel tank. Also notable is the change to the observer cockpit which is outfitted with ring mount for the trainable gun.The box below the observer's position carry grenades. The C.I could carry up to 110 lb (50 kg) of disposable stores.

A Short Overview of the Fokker C.I

The Fokker C.I was a German reconnaissance biplane under development at the end of World War I. The design was essentially an enlarged Fokker D.VII fighter with two seats and a 138 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa engine. The C.I was originally developed to sell to the German Army. It never saw service in World War I, but Anthony Fokker managed to smuggle parts out of Germany at the time of the Armistice.

The prototype, V.38, was tested at Schwerin, and put into immediate production. After the armistice, production continued in the Netherlands.

The C.I went into Dutch service after 16 were ordered in February 1919. The USSR bought 42 C.Is. The C.Is served in the reconnaissance and trainer roles. The last C.I left service in 1936.


  • V 38: Prototype.
  • C.I: Two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, powered by a 185 hp (138 kW) BMW IIIa piston engine.
  • C.Ia: Improved version.
  • C.IW: Experimental float plane version.
  • C.II: Three-seat passenger transport version, powered by a 185 hp (138 kW) BMW IIIa piston engine.
  • C.III: Two-seat advanced trainer version of the C.I, powered by a 220 hp (164 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine.


  1. Fokker C.I. (2011, December 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:28, March 7, 2012, from
  2. Donald, David, ed. (1997). The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Prospero Books. pp. pg 427. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  3. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 402.
  4. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 894 sheet 33.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Russia - 1923 Fokker D.VII

Post Polish Russian War Soviet Aircraft

Someday I will learn how to be less obsessive, however I am not sure just when that will be. I have got stuck in to the inter war period. The depth of my madness can be measured in producing a total of 21 Fokker D.VII profiles in a single day. Add to that 4 new Nieuport 24 profiles and you can see what I mean. On the writing front, I have been working on my U.S.A.S section for my site. The structural part is in place. Now it is a matter of fleshing out the series of articles to bring it to life.

This example is the Fokker D.VII flown by A.T.Kozhevnikov. He was the squadron leader of № 1 OIAE. The sphinx was his personal insignia. There was only one photo of this aircraft and there is a debate whether the wings carried red stars. The colors used on the Sphinx is conjectural. Some believe the color on the head-dress were blue, others claim it was red. Blue is more in keeping with color choices used by the Egyptians.

I have not been able to find identification for the flights. This example is from a flight which used a curved white arrow as their insignia.

This flight used a white cat as their insignia.

This flight reversed the color scheme The red marking is a bunch of grapes on a white rudder.

This example shows the distinctive candy striped rudder see on many planes flying with the № 2 OIAE. The numbering conventions used by № 1 OIAE hold true. As with the previous examples use of red stars on the wings is conjectural.

A short History of Soviet Foker D.VII

After Anthony Fokker fled from Germany to the Netherlands with what was left of his inventory he needed a new large contract to rebuild is fortunes. He saw a perfect opportunity in selling arms to the Soviets. The market was wide open since no other weapon manufacturer would do business with the Bolsheviks. Fokker was not a man of deep political convictions, to him a customer is a customer, and Rubles spend just as well as Guilders. The Soviets contracted a large quantity of Fokker aircraft in during the early 1920's. These included 50 D.VII fighters, 42 C.III trainers, 3 C.1 two seaters, 52 D.XIII fighters. Fokker also sold the Soviets repair facilities for these aircraft.

The D.VII aircraft were delivered to Russia in two batches of 25. The first unit to receive them was the № 1 Otdelnaya Aviaeskadrilya (OIAE - independent squadron) was operational in Petrograd by December 1922 or early 1923. A second D.VII squadron № 2 OIAE was operational in Kiev by December 1922, guarding the Polish border. The aircraft of the squadron appear to have been divided into three flights of five plus a leaders aircraft. Each flight had its own tail marking and the aircraft of each flight were numbered 1 to 5.

The Fokker D.VII performed successfully in Soviet service for nearly a decade. The Soviets upgraded the D.VII in several ways including the installation of a wheel axle mounted auxiliary fuel tank. The D.VII remained in use as a trainer at least until the 1930's when it was phased out in favor of other more modern aircraft.