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Aircraft of the Month

AIRCO DE HAVILLAND 9A

The Aircraft Manufacturing Company’s DH 9A, otherwise known as the “Ninak”, was a First World War development of the less than successful DH9 bomber.  The prototype, using a Rolls Royce Eagle engine, flew in March 1918 with the first production machine powered by the new 400 hp American Liberty engine quickly following on 18th April.  The DH9A entered RAF service with No 110 Squadron in July 1918 and, after the unit’s move to France at the end of August, was employed in the strategic bombing role.  A further 3 squadrons were equipped with the aircraft on the Western Front before the end of hostilities.

The DH9A was armed with a forward firing .303in Vickers machine gun and either one or two .303in Lewis guns mounted in the rear cockpit; it was capable of carrying a bomb load of up to 740 lb mounted on under-wing and fuselage racks.  The aircraft soon earned an enviable reputation for reliability and was popular with both pilots and gunner/observers.

After the war, the DH9A continued in service as the RAF’s standard light bomber and eventually equipped no fewer than 31 squadrons at home and abroad.  Its first post-war operations were in brief support of the “White Army” in the Russian Civil War until September 1919.  Thereafter the aircraft was deployed primarily in a colonial policing role being extensively used in the Middle East and on the North West frontier of India.  It continued in regular service until 1931, and was the first machine to equip the Auxiliary Air Force.

The DH9A saw service with the air arms of 9 other countries with considerable unlicensed production being undertaken in Russia for the Red Air Force.   Small numbers also equipped the US Marine Cops and the Royal Australian Air Force. A total of 1,998 aircraft were built excluding an approximate 2,400 unlicensed machines. A superbly restored DH9A can be seen at the RAF Museum, Hendon.

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