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World War One: Airco DH.5

The Vintage Aviator's replica DH.5 is the only representative of its type in the world today, despite the fact that approximately 550 were built during 1916-1917. The photos and video on this page illustrate the unusual backward stagger configuration of this aircrafts' upper wing. By positioning the upper wing toward the rear of the cockpit, Geoffrey de Havilland was able to produce an aircraft that significantly improved the pilots (forward) field of vision.


Originally designed in 1916 when the DH-2 and FE-8 pusher aircraft were still in widespread use, this design was an attempt to provide a combat aircraft with the performance of a 'tractor' aircraft, but with the better forward field of vision common to the older 'pusher' types.

Airco DH5Designed to replace the Airco DH.2, this was the first of the de Havilland designs to include a Constantinesco interupter mechanism to allow a forward firing machine gun to fire through the propellor arc.

The DH.5 was effectively replaced by the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a in January 1918, after which it was relagated for use as an advanced trainer for a short period before becoming competely obsolete. 

The Omaka Fighter Collection aircraft is painted in a scheme representing A9242, one of the aircraft operated by No 2 Sqd Australian Flying Corps, during the second half of 1917 (this unit was originally designated 68 Sqd (Australian) RFC).

The text on the side of the aircraft reads:

New South Wales Nš14 Battleplane

Subscribed & Collected By Women of New South Wales

Airco Dh5which indicates that this is one of the 'Presentation Aircraft' purchased for the AFC by public fund rasing efforts.

One report on the aircraft noted:

2 Sqd AFC was the first fighter squadron of the Australian Flying Corps reach the western front....Stationed mainly in the Ypres area they continually came across the elite squadrons of the German Air Service and acquitted themselves well. When they entered the war on the western front in September 1917, 2AFC was flying the D.H 5... (which) was a poor performer at altitude and outclassed by the Albatros. Subsequently 2AFC used their machines predominantly in the ground attack and ground support roles.

In late December 1917 the D.H 5's were replaced with S.E.5.a's and the squadron became a full fledged scout (fighter)squadron.

The DH.5 flying with the earlier Airco DH.2, and a much later Geoffrey de Havilland deisgn, trhe DH.82a Tiger Moth.


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