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Airco Aircraft

Airco Aircraft Information


Industry aviation

Successor: de Havilland
Founded: 1912
Defunct: 1920
Headquarters: The Hyde, UK
Key people: Geoffrey de Havilland

Aircraft Manufacturing Company - Airco - was established at The Hyde in Hendon, north London, England during 1912 by George Thomas. Geoffrey de Havilland joined two years later as the chief designer, on leaving his post with the Royal Aircraft Factory. His designs for Airco were marked with his initials "DH". The first great success was a pusher engine fighter DH.2 of 1916, that helped to defeat the "Fokker scourge" of 1915. More than 2,280 examples of the DH.6 trainer were built. The DH.4 and DH.9 were important light bombers of World War I - these types, and the DH.9A, a developed version that served for many years with the postwar Royal Air Force, formed the basis of early de Havilland designed airliners - including the company's DH.16 and DH.18 types which were operated by Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited, the first airline established in the United Kingdom, that was also owned by George Holt Thomas.

Following the cessation of hostilities the company's undue reliance on military orders became a handicap however and the company became bankrupt in 1920. Its assets were bought by the Birmingham Small Arms Company which did not pursue aviation-related business. The aviation related assets of the company were bought by Geoffrey de Havilland and he formed the de Havilland Aircraft Company in 1920.

List of Airco Aircraft

DH.1 (1915) - Two-seat biplane fighter with single pusher propeller
DH.2 (1915) - One-seat biplane fighter with single pusher propeller
DH.3 (1916) - Two-engine biplane bomber. Two prototypes only built; formed basis for later DH.10 design
DH.4 (1916) - Two-seat biplane day bomber with single tractor propeller
DH.5 (1916) - One-seat biplane fighter with single tractor propeller
DH.6 (1916) - Two-seat biplane training aircraft with single tractor propeller
DH.9 (1917) - Two-seat biplane day bomber with single tractor propeller.
DH.8 (1918) - Development of DH.9 with more powerful engine and greater wingspan
DH.10 Amiens (1918) - Two-engine biplane bomber. First prototype used pusher propeller; second prototype and production aircraft used tractor propellers
DH.11 Oxford (1919) Variant of DH.10 with radial engines. One prototype built; not produced
DH.16 (1919) - Variant of DH.9A with cabin for four passengers. Used as airliner
DH.18 (1920) - Single-engine biplane airliner. Cabin for eight passengers

Airco DH121/ Hawker Siddeley Trident project

In July 1956 British European Airways (BEA) issued a requirement for a medium-haul aircraft to replace their Vickers Viscount on their longer European routes with a jet-powered aircraft. Several designs were returned for this role, such as the Bristol 200, the Avro 740, the Vickers VC11 and De Havilland's Airco consortium DH.121. The DH.121 which would see service as the Hawker Siddeley Trident was selected as the winner in 1958.

The DH.121 was the first "tri-jet" design, the designers felt this offered the ideal tradeoff between economy and takeoff safety in case of an engine failure. The aircraft resembled a smaller DH Comet with three engines, including a tail design similar to the de Havilland Comet, as opposed to the T-tail later used. With the engines clustered at the rear as in the Sud Caravelle, which De Havilland's had also contributed design work, the wing was left free from engine mounts and was designed with a speed of over 600 mph being the goal. The DH121 was to be powered by 13,790 lbf (61.34 kN) Rolls-Royce Medway engines, have a gross weight of 150,000 lb (63,000 kg), a range of 2,070 mi (3,330 km), and seat 111 in a two-class layout. BEA felt the design was too large for their existing routes, and they had de Havilland redesign the aircraft to their new requirements. The result was an aircraft powered by much smaller Rolls-Royce Spey 505 engines, with a gross weight of 105,000 lb (48,000 kg),and a range of 930 miles (1,500 km), and seating for just 97 people. Other design changes included the use of the T-tail , as well as a new nose design, these changes made it look very different from the Comet-like original version. In 1958 it was confirmed by the British Government that it had given approval for British European Airways to conclude a contract with the Airco consortium for 24 DH.121 aircraft. At a cost about 29 million, for delivery between 1964 and 1966. 67 per cent of the financial risk was to have been borne by de Havilland, 22 per cent by Hunting Aircraft, 10 per cent by Fairey Aviation. The total cost of the installation and development of the engines was to be met by Rolls-Royce. Production facilities were available at Christchurch, at Hatfield, at Chester, and at Portsmouth; additional production facilities were available through Hunting Aircraft and Fairey Aviation at Luton and Hayes. However the AIRCO consortium which would also have included subcontracting support from Handley Page and Saunders-Roe failed to materialise and instead de Havilland was taken over by the Hawker Siddeley group in 1960, with the aircraft becoming the HS 121 Trident series.

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Source: WikiPedia

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