Tuesday, December 20, 2011

De Havilland Daylight Bomber in WW1

The Airco DH.4 was a highly-produced day bomber for Allied forces in the First World War.

With production numbering over 6,000 total units, the Airco / de Havilland DH.4 was another one of Geoffrey de Havilland's successful aircraft designs of the First World War (his legacy would later be solidified with the development of the World War Two DH.98 Mosquito series). The system was fielded en masse and proved to be a very capable system, so much so in fact, that the DH.9 - the planned successor to the DH.4 - could not even unseat the original DH.4 system. As such, the Dh.4 would enjoy a lasting legacy, achieving success in war time as the principle daytime bomber and in peacetime, serving the roles of aerial surveyor and crop duster well into the 1920's.


The DH.4 was designed to meet a specialized War Office specification and classified as a light daytime bomber. Though listed in this entry with "Airco" as the manufacturer, the aircraft was in fact produced by a variety of sub-contractors in England and the United States - with the United States accounting for nearly 5,000 units of the overall production total. British-produced units were often fielded with the Rolls-Royce brand engine generating 250hp whilst American models would feature the more powerful Liberty 12 400hp engine for use by the United States Army Air Service.


Crew accommodations for the DH.4 amounted to seating for two - the pilot and an observer/rear gunner. Seating, it should be noted, placed the pilot and rear gunner in distanced cockpits and as such, communications would have suffered somewhat in the midst of a firefight. The DH.9 series would remedy this by placing the pilot and rear gunner back to back, cockpits placed closer together. The pilot had access to twin Lewis-type 7.62mm machine guns in a forward fixed firing position. Additionally, the rear cockpit was fitted with twin 7.62mm Lewis machine guns as well, though these were trainable. External bomb provisions were limited to 460 lbs of ordnance.

Specifications for the Airco DH.4


Length: 30.68ft (9.35m)
Width: 42.39ft (12.92m)
Height: 10.99ft (3.35m)


Max Speed: 143mph (230kmh; 124kts)
Max Range: 478miles (770km)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,000ft/min (305m/min)
Service Ceiling: 21,998ft (6,705m; 4.2miles)

Accommodation: 2
Hardpoints: 2
Empty Weight: 2,392lbs (1,085kg)
Max. Weight: 3,479lbs (1,578kg)

Powerplant: Engine(s): 1 x Rolls-Royce Eagle VI inline engine generating 250hp.

Armament Suite:
STANDARD: 2 x 7.62mm Vickers machine guns (fixed, forward-firing); 2 x 7.62mm Vickers machine guns on trainable mount in rear cockpit.
OPTIONAL: Maximum External Bomb Loadout of 460 lbs.


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