Airco D.H.4

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Airco D.H.4
Airco DH-4.jpg
Role Light Bomber/Reconnaissance
Manufacturer Airco
Designer Geoffrey de Havilland
First flight Aug 1916 [1]
Introduction 6 March 1917 [2]
Primary users RAF Type A Roundel.svg U.K. (RFC/RAF)
US Army Air Roundel.svg U.S.A.
Number built 1449 British, 1213 USA
Wingspan 12.9 m (42 ft 5 in) [3]
Engine 250-375hp Rolls-Royce Eagle inline or
400hp Liberty inline [note 1]
Armament 1-2×sync. fixed Vickers [note 2] and
1-2× flexible rear Lewis
200 kg (450 lb) of bombs
Crew 2

Rolls-Royce-Engined DH.4

The Airco D.H.4 was the first British plane designed specifically as a day-bomber. While it was originally designed for the 160hp Beardmore or 230hp BHP engine, but it is perhaps fortunate that the BHP production was delayed and the 250hp Rolls-Royce Eagle was available instead. The Eagle was an excellent engine and it only got better with successive marks, culminating with the 375hp Eagle VIII. Westland-built D.H.4s for the RNAS fitted twin Vickers guns for the pilot. When introduced the D.H.4 outperformed all other twin-seaters of its class and could outrun many enemy fighters. Its greatest weak spot was the long distance between the pilot and observer, making cooperation difficult, a fault that was corrected in the Airco D.H.9. DH4s served from March 1917 through to the Armistice, performing bombing, observation, photography, anti-Zeppelin, and anti-submarine duties. [2] The D.H.4 was one of the great designs of World War One. It served on the Western Front, Italy, Aegean, Macedonia, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and during the Russian Revolution. An RNAS DH4 took down Zeppelin L.70 in August 1918.[1]

Liberty-Engined DH.4

After America's entry into the Great War, there were high hopes that the country's industrial might could be turned to aircraft manufacturing. Things never go as easily as expected, and the development of a two-seater based on the British DH4 with the 400hp Liberty engine faced repeated delays. After several delays to both the airframe and engine, Fisher, Standard, and Dayton-Wright built DH4s. While 1,213 were shipped to France, only 196 saw front-line combat.

Though the DH4 design had been already eclipsed by its first American use in July 1918, the US Air Service did not have alternatives. The DH4 holds the distinction of being the only fully American-built land warplane to see action in the war.

D.H.4 Performance[4]
EngineSpeedClimbSvc. CeilingAbs. CeilingEndurance
250hp Eagle III192 km/h (119 mph)[4][5]2,000 m (6,500 ft) in 8:55, 3,000 m (10,000 ft) in 16:25[4]4,900 m (16,000 ft)[4][5]3:30[4][5]
375hp Eagle VIII230 km/h (143 mph)[4][3]2,000 m (6,500 ft) in 5:09, 3,000 m (10,000 ft) in 9:00[4][3]6,700 m (22,000 ft)[4][3]7,200 m (23,500 ft)3:45[4]
400hp Liberty201 km/h (125 mph)3,000 m (10,000 ft) in 14:005,900 m (19,500 ft)3:00

For more information, see Wikipedia:Airco DH.4.


Game Data

Wings of Glory

Official Stats
Maneuver Damage Dmg Points Max Alt. Climb
H A/A or A/B or B/B 15 15(UK) or 12(USA) 2(UK) or 4(USA)
Card Links

Blue Max/Canvas Eagles

Aircraft Chart

Miniatures and Models

1:144 Scale

1:285/6mm/1:288 Scale

1:300 Scale

1:350 Scale

1:600 Scale


Orthographic Drawings


  1. Also fitted to production machines were the 230hp B.H.P, 200hp R.A.F. 3a, and 260hp Fiat engines.[2]
  2. American-built machines used Marlin machine guns.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Updated card
  1. 1.0 1.1 Lamberton, p.36.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Bruce'69, p.166.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Lamberton, pp.214-215.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Bruce'69, pp.178-179.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Munson, p.60.
  • J.M. Bruce. British Aeroplanes 1914-18. Great Britain, Funk & Wagnalls, 1957, 1969. ISBN 0370000382
  • Jon Guttman, Windsock Datafile 101: American DH4. Great Britain, Albatros Publications Ltd., 2003. ISBN 1-902207-56-4
  • Kenneth Munson, Bombers: Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft, 1914-1919. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1968, Blandford Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0753721711
  • W.M. Lamberton and E.F. Cheesman, Reconnaissance & Bomber Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War. Great Britain: Harleyford Publications Ltd., 1962. ISBN 9780900435027