Airco DH.2

The Airco DH.2 was the second aircraft designed by Geoffrey de Havilland for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company and was the first real fighter of the Royal Flying Corps.


Development and construction:

The Airco DH.2 was designed as the predecessor model by Geoffrey de Havilland. It was a small version of the DH.1 and was intended as an armed, single-seat reconnaissance aircraft, but developed into the first fighter aircraft.

As a two-piece biplane it had fabric-covered wooden wings that were equipped with ailerons. The hull was again made of wood and the area between the engine and the rudder was also not covered.

Due to the smaller size of the aircraft was in contrast to the DH.1 slightly streamlined. In addition, the aircraft had with the 100-hp 9-cylinder engine Gnôme Monosoupape a stronger drive again worked as a pressure motor.

Slightly offset to the left, the Lewis machine gun was mounted. Mounts for four spare magazines were also installed in the cockpit.

On June 1, 1915, the first flight of the prototype took place. This idea led the British Ministry of Defense to order around 401 aircraft of this type.



Airco DH.2


Airco DH.2 of the 24th squadron


Drawing of an Airco DH.2




Use in the First World War:

The first aircraft was handed over on July 26, 1915 the fifth squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in France. On August 9, however, this came from a reconnaissance flight no longer back, instead, a German aircraft threw a few days later a message that the pilot Captain R. Maxwell-Pike crashed, was injured captured and succumbed to his injuries.

Subsequently, the order was made to the manufacturer company to make some changes and to start series production. From January 10, 1916, the 24th squadron was equipped with these aircraft, which previously had a mixed stock.

Due to the unfavorable center of gravity and the twist of the rotary motor in case of control errors, the aircraft was not easy to fly, the pilots had to complete prior to use, first flights to get used to. Also, the shooting with the machine gun caused problems because the pilot had to fly and shoot the plane at the same time. Therefore, the machine guns were often mounted by the pilots central so they could aim with the whole plane.

However, the aircraft also had an excellent view of the pilot, a good stability, maneuverability and climbing ability, so that the fighting against the otherwise superior Fokker E.III monoplane of the Germans could be compensated.

On April 2, 1916 could be achieved with an Airco DH.2 the first launch of a German aircraft. Over the next few months, the 5th, 11th, 18th, 29th and 32nd squadron were equipped with these aircraft. At the beginning of the Somme battle on July 1, 1916, the air superiority of the Germans could thus be broken.

With the German Albatros D.I, D.II and Halberstadt fighters deployed in the autumn by the newly formed squadrons of the fighter squadrons of air again shifted in favor of the Germans. The used on the British side Airco DH.2 were too slow and too poorly armed for the new German fighter pilots.

Even the installation of a more powerful engine could not prevent the DH.2 were replaced in March 1917 by the new Nieuport 17 aircraft. Only in Palestine and Macedonia they were still in use for several months longer.




Technical specifications:

Designation: Airco D.H.2
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Armed reconnaissance aircraft, Fighter aircraft
Length: 7,68 meters
Span: 8,61 meters
Height: 2,91 meters
Mass: 428 kg empty
Crew: Max. 1
Engine: a circulating engine Gnôme Monosoupape with 100 hp
Maximum speed: 150 km/h
Reach: Max. 2 hours and 45 minutes
Armament: a Lewis machine gun 7,7 mm






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.

Click here!



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.

Click here!



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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