Airco D.H.1

The Airco D.H.1 was an early reconnaissance aircraft of the British Royal Flying Corps, which was used from 1915 onwards. As a better engine became available, the aircraft was already outdated.


Development and construction:

In 1914, aircraft designer Geoffrey de Havilland moved from Royal Aircraft Manufacturing to Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco). Since he was previously involved in the development of F.E.2 aircraft significantly, his first design was based at Airco strongly to this.

At the beginning of the First World War, work on the new aircraft began. The pilot and the observer were in two open tandem cockpits at the bow of the aircraft, with the observer, who was also operating the machine gun, sitting slightly below the pilot.

Since there were no synchronized with the gearbox machine guns at this time, the drive was mounted as a pressure motor behind the cockpit. The first 107 aircraft had to be equipped with a Renault engine with 70 hp, since the originally planned Beardmore engine with 120 hp at this time was not available in sufficient quantities and was needed for other aircraft. It was not until 1916 that the more powerful engines were available in sufficient quantities, and the second series could be equipped with them, making another 70 aircraft built and classified as Airco D.H.1a version.

The two-piece biplane had wings made of a wooden structure covered with fabric. The area between engine and rudder was only connected by rods and not spanned.

In January 1915, the first flight of the prototype took place in Hendon. Despite the weak engine, the aircraft could perform a relatively convincing performance.



Side elevation of an Airco D.H.1




Use in the First World War:

From July 1916, the first aircraft were delivered to the front and assigned to the 14th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps, mainly for the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.

The aircraft were used as a companion for the bombers or reconnaissance planes.

On 2 August 1916, the only confirmed firing of an enemy aircraft by an Airco D.H.1 could be listed. The last use of these aircraft took place on March 5, 1917 as accompaniment of bombers who bombed targets in Tel el Sheria.

Even with the introduction of a more powerful engine, the remaining Airco D.H.1 aircraft were withdrawn from the front and served together with the Airco D.H.1a only for training.



Airco D.H.1




Technical specifications:

Designation: Airco D.H.1
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Reconnaissance plane
Length: 8,57 meters
Span: 12,49 meters
Height: 3,36 meters
Gewicht: 615 kg empty
Crew: Max. 2
Engine: a Renault engine with 52 kW (70 hp)
Maximum speed: 130 km/h
Reach: unknown
Armament: a Lewis machine gun 7,7 mm




Designation: Airco D.H.1a
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Reconnaissance plane
Length: 8,82 meters
Span: 12,49 meters
Height: 3,40 meters
Gewicht: 730 kg empty
Crew: Max. 2
Engine: a Beardmore engine with 120 hp
Maximum speed: 141 km/h
Reach: unknown
Armament: none






You can find the right literature here:


The First Air War, 1914-1918

The First Air War, 1914-1918 Hardcover – December 1, 1990

In this concise study, Kennett tells the complete story of World War I's air battles, from Eastern to Western front, from the skies of Europe and its seas to those of the Middle East and Africa.

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Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide)

Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide) 2nd Edition

Illustrated with detailed artworks of combat aircraft and their markings, Aircraft of World War I: The Essential Aircraft Identification Guide is a comprehensive study of the aircraft that fought in the Great War of 1914–18. Arranged chronologically by theatre of war and campaign, this book offers a complete organizational breakdown of the units on all the fronts, including the Eastern and Italian Fronts. Each campaign includes a compact history of the role and impact of aircraft on the course of the conflict, as well as orders of battle, lists of commanders and campaign aces such as Manfred von Richtofen, Eddie Rickenbacker, Albert Ball and many more. Every type of aircraft is featured, including the numerous variations and types of well- known models, such as the Fokker Dr.I, the Sopwith Camel and the SPAD SVII, through to lesser-known aircraft, such as the Rumpler C.1, and the Amstrong Whitworth FK8. Each aircraft profile is accompanied by exhaustive specifications, as well as details of individual and unit markings. Packed with more than 200 color profiles of every major type of combat aircraft from the era, Aircraft of World War I 1914–1918 is an essential reference guide for modellers, military historians and aircraft enthusiasts.

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World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF

World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF Hardcover – June 13, 2011

Jack McCleery was born in Belfast in 1898, the son of a mill owning family. He joined the RNAS in 1916 as a Probationary Flight Officer. During the next ten months he completed his training at Crystal Palace, Eastchurch, Cranwell, Frieston, Calshot and Isle of Grain, flying more than a dozen landplanes, seaplanes and flying boats, gaining his wings as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant. In July 1917 he was posted to the newly commissioning aircraft carrier HMS Furious, which would be based at Scapa Flow and Rosyth. He served in this ship until February 1919, flying Short 184 seaplanes and then Sopwith 1½ Strutters off the deck. He also flew a large number of other types during this time from shore stations at Turnhouse, East Fortune and Donibristle.

He served with important and well-known naval airmen including Dunning, Rutland (of Jutland) and Bell Davies VC. He witnessed Dunning’s first successful landing on a carrier flying a Sopwith Pup in 1917 and his tragic death a few days later. He also witnessed the Tondern raid in 1918, the world’s first carrier strike mission. He took part in more than a dozen sweeps into the North Sea by elements of the Grand Fleet and Battle Cruiser Fleet. He carried out reconnaissance missions off the coast of Denmark, landing in the sea to be picked up by waiting destroyers. He witnessed the surrender of the High Seas Fleet. Promoted to Captain, he acted as temporary CO of F Squadron for a time postwar.

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A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness

A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness Paperback – June 25, 2014

A deeply personal and revealing eyewitness narrative of one airman's life as a bomber pilot in England 's RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) in WWI. It is a true story, an adventure, and a war memoir carefully constructed from Captain Donald E. Harkness's unpublished diaries, letters, sketches and photographs - only recently uncovered nearly a century later - that documented his remarkable experiences and military adventures over England, France and Belgium. The first book written by a highly decorated WWI flyer from New Zealand that captures the "behind the scenes" life of RNAS pilots, as well as the surprises, terrors, traumas, humor, and sheer excitement of an aerial form of combat never before experienced by anyone, anywhere - and only eleven short years after the Wright Brothers historic flight at Kitty Hawk. With a talent for writing, Don begins an epic journey at a major turning point in history when the world is poised at the dawn of flight, and bracing itself for unknown dangers of unprecedented sophistication and savagery. Don's journal reveals unique insights and vivid imagery of another time and experience, to wit: - the terror and devastation of a Zeppelin bombing raid in London - the training regimen of early flying schools, and their serious & comic episodes - the wonder, awe, and poetry of flying aloft in the majestic heavens - vivid bombing raids, plus the raid that earned him the DSC - his crash-landing and capture - working with the underground to help downed pilots evade capture - London's unrestrained exuberance on Armistice Day; . . . and much, much more.

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