Airco DH18

The first Airco type designed for commercial use, which became the first product of The De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd.
Front three quarter view of prototype DH18 G-EARI Front three quarter view of prototype DH18 G-EARI in the colours of Air Transport and Travel.
 
The De Havilland Aircraft Company DH18 was designed from the outset for use as a commercial transport, carrying a pilot and eight passengers. Its predecessors had simply been modified military types, converted to accept passengers.
 
The main cabin was enclosed in the centre fuselage, with the pilot seated in an open cockpit to the rear . It was a a single-engine biplane of large dimensions. The Napier Lion powerplant was housed in the nose section with wooden, 2 bay wire braced wings and a forward fuselage predominantly clad in plywood.
 
The prototype (G-EARI) first flew on 8th April 1920, carrying the Construction No. 1 of the newly formed De Havilland Aircraft Company.  Unfortunately, just 8 days later the aircraft was wrecked during a forced landing, shortly after take off from Croydon Airport.
 
All De Havilland DH18s were initially delivered to Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd (AT & T).
 
The second and third aircraft were initially constructed by Airco who were taken over by BSA when they eventually went bankrupt.  BSA however, decided against continuing aircraft production and the airframes were eventually completed at Stag Lane, Edgeware by the newly-formed De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd.
 
Built to order for AT & T, these aircraft featured a number of minor modifications and carried the designation DH18A.
 
AT & T eventually folded in 1921, due to 'unfair competition' from the French government-backed airlines . This had forced the UK authorities to commence its own state-funded air services with Instone Airlines.  Subsequently, the two AT & T DH18As were transferred to Instone, followed by a further example for their sole use.
 
2 further aircraft later were supplied to Instone to make up for a shortage in aircraft, these featuring plywood covered fuselages and being designated DH18B.  
 
One aircraft was later transferred to Daimler Airways for operation between Croydon and Paris.  However, just 2 days into service, DH18A (G-EAWO) had the unhappy distinction of being destroyed in the first ever mid-air collision between two commercial aircraft, coming together with Farman Goliath (F-GEAD) over northern France on 4th April 1922.
 
Production of all De Havilland DH18 variants totalled 6 aircraft, the only survivor being the second machine (G-EARO), which flew at Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough where it underwent miscellaneous trials until November 1927.
 
The De Havilland DH18 eventually retired from commercial service in 1923, with one aircraft having flown 90,000 miles without incident.  2 examples were seconded to the Air Ministry and took part in 'Ditching Trials' where one aircraft remain afloat for over 25 minutes.
 
 
Prototype Airco DH18 G-EARI in hangar Prototype Airco DH18 G-EARI in hangar.
 

Specification


Powerplant One 450 hp Napier Lion engine
Span 51 ft 3 in
Maximum Weight DH18A 6,516 lb; DH18B 7,116 lb
Capacity Pilot and seats for eight passengers in an enclosed cabin forward of the pilot
Maximum Speed 128 mph
Cruising Speed 100 mph
Range / Endurance 400 miles

 

Number built & Variants


DH18              Prototype G-EARI
DH18A Three aircraft G-EARO, G-EAUF, G-EAWO
DH18B Two aircraft with plywood-covered fuselages G-EAWW, G-EAWX

 

Survivors


There are no known original survivors.