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Aircraft Manufacturing Company Ltd / Airco


In the summer of 1911 British businessman George Holt Thomas acqured the manufacturing rights from the Maurice and Henry Farman Aircraft Company to build their aircraft. At the same time he negotiated the rights to build the French Le Rhone and Gnome engines. Within nine months he had created the Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd, based at Hendon, London, and combined it with his two other companies, the Aeroplane Supply Company and Airships Ltd, with a capital of £14,700.
In the summer of 1912 a ‘Military Trials’ was held and the Aircraft Manufacturing Co submitted th Maurice Farman 70 hp biplane. The aircraft performed reasonably well but did not get a contract to build for the RFC. The company was awarded a £100 consolation prize.

For the next two years Holt Thomas acted just as an agent for the Farmans, and the company became “Airco”. Holt Thomas was approached bt Geoffrey de Havilland with the suggestion that they build their own aircraft. Holt Thomas offered him a job as a designer and to establish the firm's own design department at a salary of £600 plus commission on every aircraft sold.


Based at Hendon, London, the company made several types of military aircraft, generally known as D.H. rather than Airco. These were the D.H.1 and 1A two-seat pushers; D.H.3 and 3A twin-engined pushers; D.H.4 two-seat tractor (representing, as a fast day-bomber, one of the greatest aeronautical advances of the First World War); D.H.5 single-seat tractor with backward stagger; D.H.6 tractor trainer; D.H.9, an extensively developed D.H.4; D.H.9A, an even greater advance; D.H.10 and 10A, built in pusher and tractor forms (notably tractor); D.H.11 twin-engined bomber; and D.H.14 and 15 single-engined bombers.

Early civil transport types were the D.H.16 and D.H.18. Other companies controlled by Airco built flying-boats, air engines and airships. After the war Holt Thomas founded Air Transport and Travel Ltd. and the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. was shut down, making way for de Havilland Aircraft Co. Ltd.


The Airco name was temporarily revived January 1958 for production of D.H.121 jet transport.


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