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Aircraft Manufacturing Company Ltd / Airco DH 2

 

aircodh2

 

A conventional two -bay biplane of pusher configuration, the fuselage was curved along the front and top surfaces with slab sides and a flat underside - and held the armament, pilot, controls, fuel and engine. The pilot sat in an open-air cockpit "tub". A single machine gun was fitted to the front of the fuselage. Fuel was held directly aft of the pilot in one tank, and ahead of the engine, the latter mounted to the extreme end of the fuselage rear with a two-blade wooden propeller. Wings were in a two-bay with parallel struts additionally held by cabling. Both upper and lower wings sported slight dihedral. The empennage tapered off to become a single vertical tail fin with a high-mounted horizontal plane affixed. The undercarriage was fixed in place and featured two large main landing gear wheels attached to the fuselage underside. The rear of the aircraft was supported by a simple tail skid.

Armament consisted of a single semi-trainable .303 Lewis type machine gun fed by a 47-round drum magazine. The machine gun could be mounted within three pre-set positions, allowing the pilot to fix the weapon at advantageous angles of fire. This proved highly impractical once in action. These three pre-set positions became largely ignored as most pilots soon learned to fix the machine gun in place and aim the entire aircraft at the intended target instead. Major Lance Hawker produced a fixed clip and even revised the gunsight for improved accuracy by allowing for leading of the target. Once enacted, the new clip and gunsight - along with the fixed machine gun - lessened the pilot's workload substantially.

The prototype first flying in 1915, it began powered by a 100-hp Gnome Monosoupape engine. After trials in Britain, the prototype was issued to No 5 squadron RFC in France for further testing by July of 1915, but was destroyed following enemy action on August 9, 1915.

The D.H.2 was considered worthy of series production and initial deliveries began in late 1915 to No 24 Squadron, which was sent to France in February 1916 with 12 D.H.2s as the first-ever British squadron to be equipped with single-seat fighters.

With its small speed range and sensitive controls the D.H.2 caused some handling problems for pilots initially, but it was accepted as a highly manoeuvrable little fighter.

Modifications were made to the nose of the nacelle; the ammunition was carried in drums on external racks on each side of the cockpit; and the revised fuel system comprised a gravity tank fitted either under or on top of the upper mainplane on the port side. Production models retained the Gnome engine, as comparative trials with a 110-hp Le Rhone 9J powerplant revealed that this gave an inferior performance.

At least one DH.2 fell to German guns, but within time, she formed the ranks of No. 24 Squadron who first netted an aerial victory with a DH.2 on April 2nd, 1916. The DH.2 essentially became the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) first "true" dedicated fighter platform.

The first Imperial German Monoplane was downed by a DH.2 on April 25th, 1916. In June alone, DH.2 pilots racked up a further 17 enemy aircraft. A further 15 were counted in August and another 15 were netted in September. Ten more enemy aircraft were tallied in November.

Along the Western Front, the DH.2 had met her match by the new breed of German and Austro-Hungarian fighter by December 1916. On December 20th, 1916, five out of six DH.2s were lost in one aerial fight against just five Albatros D.III series fighters. Phasing out of the D.H.2 began in France in March 1917, though D.H.2s serving in Palestine with No 11 Squadron, and with No 47 Squadron and a joint RFC/RNAS squad-ron in Macedonia, had a slightly longer ser-vice life. Two were evaluated at Home Defence stations in Britain in 1917 but were unable to cope with the Zeppelin raiders.

No fewer than 100 DH.2s were retained on the British mainland to help train a new generation of fighter pilot, where they served until 1918. By the fall of 1918, the DH.2 was officially retired from any active service with the RFC.

The RFC remained the sole operator of the DH.2. She served within squadrons No.5, No.11, No.17, No.18, No.24, No.29, No.32, No.41, No.47 and No.111.

In total 453 D.H.2 were built.

 

dh2
 
 
Airco DH.2
Engine: 1 x Gnome Monosoupape, 100hp
Wing span: 8.61 m / 28 ft 3 in
Length: 7.68m / 25 ft 2½ in
Height: 2.91 m / 9 ft 6½ in
Wing area: 23.13 sq.m / 249 sq.ft
Empty weight: 423 kg / 943 1b
Loaded weight: 654 kg / 1,441 lb
Maximum level speed at sea level: 150 km/h / 93 mph / 81 kt
Maximum Range: 249 miles / 400km
Endurance: 2 hours 45 minutes
Rate-of-Climb: 545ft/min / 166m/min
Climb to 1830m /6,000ft: 11 minutes
Service Ceiling: 14,000 ft / 4270 m
Armament: 1 x 7.62mm forward-firing Lewis machine gun on flexible mount.
Crew: 1
 
Airco DH.2
Engine: 1 x Le Rhone 9J, 110 hp
Wing span: 8.61 m / 28 ft 3 in
Length: 7.68m / 25 ft 2½ in
Height: 2.91 m / 9 ft 6½ in
Wing area: 23.13 sq.m / 249 sq.ft
Empty weight: 455 kg / 1004 1b
Loaded weight: 702 kg / 1547 lb
Maximum level speed at sea level: 143 km/h / 92 mph
Maximum Range: 249 miles / 400km
Endurance: 2 hours 45 minutes
Rate-of-Climb: 545ft/min / 166m/min
Climb to 1830m /6,000ft: 11 minutes
Service Ceiling: 14,000 ft / 4270 m
Armament: 1 x 7.62mm forward-firing Lewis machine gun on flexible mount.
Crew: 1
 
Airco DH.2
Engine: 1 x Clerget 9Z, 110 hp
Wing span: 8.61 m / 28 ft 3 in
Length: 7.68m / 25 ft 2½ in
Height: 2.91 m / 9 ft 6½ in
Wing area: 23.13 sq.m / 249 sq.ft
Empty weight: 428 kg / 943 1b
Maximum take-off weight: 654 kg / 1,441lb
Maximum level speed at sea level: 150 km/h / 93 mph / 81 kt
Maximum Range: 249 miles / 400km
Endurance: 2 hours 45 minutes
Rate-of-Climb: 545ft/min / 166m/min
Climb to 1830m /6,000ft: 11 minutes
Service Ceiling: 14,000 ft / 4270 m
Armament: 1 x 7.62mm forward-firing Lewis machine gun on flexible mount.

Crew: 1

 

dh2-ld

 


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