The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (Airco) DH14 was a large single engine, two bay biplane designed as a potential replacement for the DH9A. It was known at the time as the 'Okapi' (a forest giraffe with zebra type markings) that fascinated Geoffrey de Havilland.
Powered for the Airco DH14 was supplied by the 600 hp Rolls-Royce Condor engine, equipped with a large rectangular radiator, similar to that on the Liberty-engined DH9A.
Three aircraft were built although due to the end of the War, the RAF were in no hurry to accept them, so it was actually the 3rd of these aircraft that was the first to fly.
Completed at Hendon as a DH14A long-range civil aircraft (J1940 - G-EAPY) and fitted with a 450 hp Napier Lion engine, it flew on 4th December 1919.
The aircraft was then purchased by FS Cotton, who intended to use it to try for the £10,000 prize for the first Australian to fly between England and Australia. Unfortunately, events overtook him and the prize had already been won by Ross & Keith Smith in their Vickers Vimy (G-EAOU), before he was ready to depart.
Cotton later attempted a flight in the Airco DH14A, modified with a four wheel undercarriage, between London and Cape Town. Setting off on 4th February 1920, the flight was unsuccessful, with the machine being damaged by an accident during a forced landing at Messina on 23rd February 1920.
Ultimately, the Airco DH14A was repaired and entered by Cotton into the 1920 Aerial Derby, during which it suffered a further accident. Once repaired once more, it eventually received its planned military serial (J1940).
The Airco DH14A joined its two Airco DH14 counterparts (J1938 and J1939), both of which had been completed for the military in late 1920, by the newly formed De Havilland Aircraft Company at Stag Lane, Edgware. They were used for endurance testing and development of the Rolls-Royce Condor engine at Martlesham Heath.
One aircraft (J1940) was eventually used for comparative trials alongside the two Condor-powered aircraft whilst one of these (J1939) was later fitted with a 600hp Condor IA engine. Both Condor-powered aircraft were written off in accidents by April 1922.
The Airco DH14/14a design was abandoned in 1922.
|Powerplant||DH14: 525 hp Rolls-Royce Condor I twelve cylinder engine; DH14A: 450 hp Napier Lion|
|Span||50 ft 5 in|
|Maximum Weight (DH14)||7,074 lb|
|Capacity||Pilot and rear gunner positions; provisions for six 112 lb bombs. Forward firing synchronised Vickers machine gun and single Scarff-mounted Lewis gun for self-defence.|
|Range / Endurance||DH14: 5 hours; DH14A: Quoted as 18 hours or 2,000 miles range|
|Maximum Speed (DH14)||126 mph at sea level; 122 mph at 10,000 ft|
Numbers Built & Variants
|Three aircraft only||Two DH14 (J1938, J1939) and one civil DH14A (G-EAPY, later J1940)|