De Havilland DH-4: From Flaming Coffin to Living Legend (Famous aircraft of the National Air & Space Museum 7)
By Walter J. Bayne
Publisher: Prentice Hall & IBD 1984 119 Pages
PDF 96 MB
Maligned by the public and the news media, viewed with mixed emotions by the men who serviced and flew it, the de Havilland DH-4 emerged as the only American-produced aircraft to see combat service during World War I, and endured for years thereafter because of a fortuitous combination of circumstances and good basic design.
Walter J. Boyne has told the history of this wonderful airplane with characteristic candor, attention to detail, and the imaginative use of personal vignettes that blend the human element with the necessary technical details. The DH-4 was based on a design by the brilliant British engineer, Geoffrey de Havilland, and was the very fortunate result of extraordinary measures taken by the U.S. government and industry as the U.S. entered the war in Europe. Proper funding, organization, and industrial mobilization eventually led to production of over 4,800 DH-4s in the United States, most of which were built by the Dayton-Wright Airplane Company.
As a warplane, the DH-4 performed its combat role as bomber and observation plane in excellent fashion. Despite operational problems due to design deficiencies and production defects, the DH-4 gradually came into its own, and by the end of the war in 1918, American pilots and their DH-4s had become a proficient fighting team. Its abbreviated combat tour merely set the stage for the DH-4's illustrious postwar service in both military and civilian roles. Surplus DH-4s appeared in films, patrolled for forest fires, and flew the mail. The airplane continued to perform numerous functions for the Army and Navy, many of which are highlighted by Boyne through the use of personal recollections by such famous figures as Jimmy Doolittle, Leigh Wade, and Lawrence Craigie. The remembrances of these renowned airmen and generals add substance and humor to the account of the decade of the 1920s.
The story of the restoration of the National Air and Space Museum's DH-4, Dayton-Wright's No. 1 prototype, is told by the skilled craftsmen who actually performed the work. The narration is technical, but understandable, and also thoroughly entertaining, and should have considerable appeal to amateur and professional craftsmen alike.
Appendices compare the DH-4's performance to that of other well-known World War I aircraft, and the airplane holds up quite well with its competition in many respects. The performance summaries and other technical data in the appendices are fitting conclusions to this seventh volume in the Famous Aircraft of the National Air and Space Museum series.
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