Tuesday, December 16, 2008
DE HAVILLAND DH-4
|STANDARD DATA: Seats 2. Gross wt. 3,740. Empty wt. 2,440. Engine 420 hp Liberty.
PERFORMANCE: Top mph 124. Cruise mph 115. Stall mph 55. Initial climb rate 1,000. Range 350.
The DH-4 was the first combat plane to go into production in the United States. Over 3,400 of the type were built before production ceased at the war’s end in 1918. Armed with two Vickers guns on the cowl, two Lewis guns at the rear cockpit and 220 pounds of bombs in the wing racks, it became the first and only American-built plane to fly over enemy territory in World War I. After the Armistice, variations of the DH-4 remained with the military services as observation or transport planes until 1932. During the 1920s, DH-4s also achieved prominence as airmail carriers piloted by such luminaries as Charles Lindbergh. Generally, the type was very serviceable with tremendous load-carrying capability and good reliability; however, its early versions quickly achieved the inglorious title of “Flaming Coffins” because the fuel tanks had a habit of exploding. Though the problem was satisfactorily resolved after the first year of production, the title stuck. Scant few exist today.