Airco DH.2 Airplane Videos and Airplane Pictures

Airco DH.2 Video - UK's only flying DH.2 - Wickenby Airfield

Airco DH.2 Aircraft Information

Airco DH.2

Airco DH.2

Airco DH.2

Role: Fighter
Manufacturer: Airco
Designed by: Geoffrey de Havilland
First flight: July 1915
Primary user: Royal Flying Corps
Number built: 453
Developed from: Airco DH.1

The Airco DH.2 was a single-seat biplane "pusher" aircraft which operated as a fighter during the First World War. It was the second pusher design by Geoffrey de Havilland for Airco, based on his earlier DH.1 two-seater. The DH.2 was the first effectively armed British single-seat fighter and enabled Royal Flying Corps (RFC) pilots to counter the "Fokker Scourge" that had given the Germans the advantage in the air in late 1915. Until the British developed an interrupter gear to match the German system, pushers such as the DH.2 and the F.E.2b carried the burden of fighting and escort duties.

Design and development

Early air combat over the Western Front indicated the need for a single seat fighter with forward firing armament. As no reliable interrupter gear was available to the British, Geoffrey de Havilland designed the DH.2 as a smaller, single seat development of the earlier two seat DH.1 pusher design. The D.H.2 first flew in July 1915.

The D.H.2 was armed with a single .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun which was originally able to be positioned on one of three flexible mountings in the cockpit, with the pilot transferring the gun between mountings in flight at the same time as flying the aircraft. Once pilots learned that the best method of achieving a kill was to aim the aircraft rather than the gun, the machine gun was fixed in the forward-facing centre mount, although this was initially banned by higher authorities until a clip which fixed the gun in place but could be released if required was approved. Major Lanoe Hawker devised the clip. He also improved the gunsights, adding a ring sight and an "aiming off model" that helped the gunner allow for leading a target.

The majority of D.H.2s were fitted with the 100 hp (75 kW) Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine, but later models received the 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhxne 9J.

A total of 453 D.H.2s were produced by Airco.

Operational service

Airplane Picture - Early DH.2 taking off from airfield at Beauvel, France

Picture - Early DH.2 taking off from airfield at Beauvel, France

After evaluation at Hendon on 22 June 1915, the first DH.2 arrived in France for operational trials with No. 5 RFC Squadron but was shot down and its pilot killed (although the DH.2 was recovered and repaired by the Germans). No. 24 Squadron RFC, the first squadron equipped with the DH.2 and the first complete squadron entirely equipped with single-seat fighters in the RFC (or, incidentally, any other flying service), arrived in France in February 1916. The DH.2 ultimately equipped seven fighter squadrons on the Western Front and quickly proved more than a match for the Fokker Eindecker. DH.2s were also heavily engaged during the Battle of the Somme, No. 24 Squadron alone engaging in 774 combats and destroying 44 enemy machines. The DH.2 had sensitive controls and at a time when service training for pilots in the RFC was very poor it initially had a high accident rate, gaining the nickname "The Spinning Incinerator", but as familiarity with the type increased, it was recognised as very manoeverable and relatively easy to fly. The rear mounted rotary engine made the DH.2 easy to stall, but also made it highly maneuverable.

The arrival at the front of more powerful German tractor biplane fighters such as the Halberstadt D.II and the Albatros D.I, which appeared in September 1916, meant that the DH.2 was outclassed in turn. It remained in first line service in France, however, until No. 24 and No. 32 Squadron RFC completed re-equipment with Airco DH 5s in June 1917, and a few remained in service on the Macedonian front and in Palestine until late autumn of that year. By this time the type was totally obsolete as a fighter, although it was used as an advanced trainer into 1918.

DH.2s were progressively retired and at war's end no surviving airframes were retained. In 1970, Walter M. Redfern from Seattle, Washington built a replica DH.2 powered by a Kinner 125-150 hp engine and subsequently, Redfern sold plans to home builders. Currently a number of the DH.2 replicas are flying worldwide.


United Kingdom

Royal Flying Corps
No. 5 Squadron RFC
No. 11 Squadron RFC
No. 17 Squadron RFC
No. 18 Squadron RFC
No. 24 Squadron RFC
No. 29 Squadron RFC
No. 32 Squadron RFC
No. 41 Squadron RFC
No. 47 Squadron RFC
No. 111 Squadron RFC

Specifications (DH.2)

Data from Warplanes of the First World War - Fighters Volume One

General characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 25 ft 2 in (7.69 m)
Wingspan: 28 ft 3 in (8.61 m)
Height: 9 ft 6 in (2.91 m)
Wing area: 249 ft (23.13 m)
Empty weight: 942 lb (428 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 1,441 lb (654 kg)
Powerplant: 1x Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine, 100 hp (75 kW)


Maximum speed: 93 mph (150 km/h) at sea level
Range: 250 mi (400 km)
Service ceiling: 14,000 ft (4,265 m)
Rate of climb: 545 ft/min (166 m/min)
Wing loading: 5.79 lb/ft (28.3 kg/m)
Power/mass: 0.069 hp/lb (110 W/kg)
Endurance 2 hours
Climb to 5,000 ft (1,500 m) 24 minutes 45 seconds


1 x .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun using 47-round drum magazines

DH.2 aces

Distinguished pilots of the DH.2 included Victoria Cross winner Lanoe Hawker (eight victories), who was the first commander of No 24 Squadron and ace Alan Wilkinson. The commander of No. 32 Squadron, Lionel Rees won the Victoria Cross flying the D.H.2 for single handedly attacking a formation of 10 German two-seaters on 1 July 1916, destroying two. James McCudden became an ace in DH.2s to start his career as the Commonwealth's fourth ranking ace of the war.

German ace and tactician Oswald Boelcke was killed during a dogfight with No. 24 Squadron D.H.2s, however, this was due to a collision with one of his own wingmen, Erwin Bxhme.

Fourteen aces scored five or more aerial victories using the DH.2; many went on to further success in later types also. They are listed below, followed by the number of their victories in the DH.2:

Patrick Anthony Langan-Byrne --;10 victories
Alan Wilkinson --; 10 victories
Selden Long --; 9 victories
Arthur Gerald Knight --; 8 victories
Eric C. Pashley --; 8 victories
John Oliver Andrews --; 7 victories
Sidney Cowan --; 7 victories
Hubert Jones --; 7 victories
William Curphey --; 6 victories
Stanley Cockerell --; 5 victories
Henry Evans --; 5 victories
James McCudden --; 5 victories
Robert Saundby --; 5 victories
Harry Wood --; 5 victories

Related development

Airco DH.1

Comparable aircraft

Vickers FB.5
RAF F.E.2b
Breguet 5


Bruce, J.M. Warplanes of the First World War - Fighters Volume One. London: MacDonald & Co., 1965.
Cheesman , E.F., ed. Fighter Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War. Herts, UK: Harleyford, 1960.
Goulding, James. Interceptor: RAF Single Seat Multi-Gun Fighters. London: Ian Allen Ltd., 1986. ISBN 0-7110-1583-X.
Guttman, Jon. Pusher Aces of World War 1. Jon Guttman. Osprey Pub Co, 2009. ISBN 1846034175, 9781846034176.
Jackson, A.J. De Havilland Aircraft since 1909. London: Putnam, Third edition, 1987. ISBN 0 85177 802 X.
Mason, Francis K. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1992. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
Raleigh, Walter. The War In The Air: Being the Story of the part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force, Vol I. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, First edition 1922, 2002 (reprint). ISBN 978-1843424123.
Sharpe, Michael. Biplanes, Triplanes, and Seaplanes. London: Friedman/Fairfax Books, 2000. ISBN 1-58663-300-7.

Airco DH.2 Pictures and Airco DH.2 for Sale.

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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