Airco DH.4 Liberty

The Airco DH.4 was a British two-seat biplane day bomber of the First World War. It was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland (hence “DH”) for Airco, and was the first British two-seat light day-bomber to have an effective defensive armament.

The DH.4 was developed as a light two-seat combat aircraft, intended to perform both aerial reconnaissance and day bomber missions. One of the early aims of the design was for it to be powered by the newly-developed Beardmore Halford Pullinger (BHP) engine, capable of generating up to 160 hp. During its first years of flight, it was tried with several different engines, perhaps the best of which was the 375 hp (280 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle engine.

The DH.4 performed its first flight in August 1916; less than a year later, it entered operational service in France on 6 March 1917 with No. 55 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

The majority of DH.4s were actually manufactured as general purpose two-seaters in the United States, the majority of which were intended to be used in service with the American expeditionary forces being deployed to fight in France.

It was not until 1918 that the first American-built DH.4s came off the production line. Several different manufacturers, including the Boeing Airplane Corporation, Dayton-Wright Airplane Company, the Fisher Body Corporation, and the Standard Aircraft Corporation produced this Americanized variant of the DH.4, featuring over 1,000 modifications from the original British design, to equip the American air services. A total of 9,500 DH.4s were ordered from American manufacturers, of which 1,885 actually reached France during the war. In American production, the new Liberty engine, which had proved suitable as a DH.4 power plant, was adopted.

Introduction: March 1917
Primary users: RFC / RAF, RNAS, United States Army Air Service
Number built: 6,295, of which 4,846 were built in the United States.
Crew: two
Length: 9.35 m
Wingspan: 13.21 m
Powerplant: The Liberty L-12 was an American 27-litre water-cooled 45° V-12 aircraft engine of 400 hp
Maximum speed: 230km/h

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