Airco DH3 at Hendon Flying Grounds 1916
Airco DH3 at Hendon Flying Grounds 1916
The Airco DH3 with its twin pusher engines was developed as a private venture by Airco and as the name suggests it was Geoffrey de Havilland's third design for The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco).
Despite its early promise whilst on the drawing board and was almost immediately considered a failure.
Airco DH3 with folded wings
The folding wings of the DH3 2nd prototype made storage and transport much easier
Powered by two 120 hp Beardmore engines driving pusher propellers, the Airco DH3 flew for the first time in January or February 1916, and although it was one of the first aircraft to provide a long range bombing capability over targets such as Berlin, the prospect of such a requirement was considered to be impractical.
A second prototype Airco DH3A (7744) was powered by 160hp Beardmore engines, the first aircraft having been found to have inadequate performance.  The engines were mounted between the wings, a revolutionary concept for the time and although the War Office placed an order for 50 aircraft, it was subsequently cancelled as strategic bombing was considered not to be worthwhile.  
Both prototype Airco DH3's were scrapped in 1917, as de Havilland moved quickly on to the Airco DH4, one of the most successful aircraft of World War 1 and one which made Geoffrey de Havilland a multi-millionaire.

Specification (DH.3)

Power plant
Two 120 hp Beardmore engines driving pusher propellers (DH3a two 160 hp Beardmore)
60 ft 10 in
Maximum Weight
5,180 lb
Pilot and front and rear gunner positions; intended bomb load 960 lb. Single Lewis guns (front and mid-fuselage) for self-defence.
Maximum Speed
95 mph at sea level
8 hours (700 mile range)


Number built

 Airco DH3 / Airco DH3A  2 prototypes





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