Airco DH.2 & DH.5 (Replicas): Gimme Two !!

Gorgeous photo of a pair of New Zealand replicas of the Airco fighter stable: a DH.2 pusher and its intended replacement, the DH.5 “back-staggered” tractor biplane. As a replacement the DH.5 failed miserably for many reasons, both real and imaginary. First, its clumsy looking configuration and structural problems rumours (unjustified) contributed to its unpopularity. Worse, the poor high-altitude performance didn’t help either. To add to all that, when the DH.5 showed up in service (Spring 1917) there were already better fighters available: read Camels & S.E.5‘s. Half thousand of them were produced nevertheless and they served quite decently on ground-attack duties. The DH.5’s sturdiness and good low-altitude behaviour were definitive assets there, yet they remained as unloved as always.

Impeccable photo, methinks.


Fokker Dr.I: Walkin’ the Tri.

Superb action photo of a Fokker Triplane of the Jasta 27 taken at Halluin-Ost near Flanders, May 1918. The Dr.I was already an obsolescent design by then, yet still very useful in good hands. Those ground crewmen aided in guiding the fighter during its cumbersome ground running prior to take-off.

By the way, at that time the Jasta 27 Staffelführer was a guy called Hermann Göring.

Sopwith 1½ Strutter: In the beginning….

Gorgeous pastel photo of a Sopwith 1/2 Strutter (some name) taking off from HMS Barham’s B turret in 1917(?). The ship was fitted with a pair of very concise flying-off platforms mounted on the roofs of its “B” and “X” turrets from which both fighters and recon aircraft could be launched. Recovery was another very different matter. The battleship lost those platforms in the 1930’s to be replaced by a more efficient catapult and seaplane combo.

Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 “Harry Tate”: Rehearsing.

The “very British” R.E.8 was designed in 1916 as a replacement for the deadly -for their crews- B.E.2. Curiously, they persevered in the R.E.8 with the same formula of B.E.2: a highly stable platform to aid in recon/observation duties. Some modification cured in part that defect, besides, it was better armed and a little more powerful,… and that sure helped. Built in huge numbers (more than 4,000), these ungainly aircraft never gained much acclaim with the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) crews, but they gave a decent service and fought bravely until the end of WW1.

Lovely atmospheric Imperial War Museum pic. These blokes are getting ready to do a test run of the 140hp RAF 4a. Always a fan of those RAF air-cooled V12 engines and their stunning Laminated mahogany four-bladed props..

Fokker V.8: Doubling the stakes.

German WW1 multiplane craziness Wacko level. After his successful Dr.I triplane, the always empirical Anthony Fokker -for the good and the bad- decided that why not more wings. Against the desires of the real technical brain of the company, Reinhold Platz, Fokker took his unsuccessful V.6 triplane repositioned the triplane wings and added just behind the cockpit a second set of biplane wings producing in the process this bizarre quintuplane. The first flight at the hands of Fokker himself in October 1917 was enough to show how wrong he was. Stubborn he persevered with a second flight undertook after some modification, to no avail.

Well-known pic of this bold contraction. He should have used two sets of triplane wings….., while he was at it.

Fokker Dr.I (replica): Once in a lullaby.

Mikael Carlson’s Dr.I, with its French-built Le Rhône 9J rotary smoking gently, over the idyllic South of Sweden. One of the gems build by this Sweden’s aviation “Renaissance” man. In addition to this super triplane, he has also produced a pair of Thulin As (Bleriot XI’s), a lovely Tummelisa and a gorgeous Fokker D.VII. All with contemporary engines. This extraordinary character, an expert in early aviation, also flies his “babies” with serious panache and elan.

Photo: Daniel Karlsson (Aeroplane Monthly, July 2016 issue).