by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
HistoryEarly combat experience showed up two serious design concerns. An underpowered motor and the other flaw - the pilot and gunner sat some considerable distance from each other (the space between them was occupied by the fuel tank) and it greatly complicated communication between the crew during flight. The designers completely changed the outlines of the nose and central part of the fuselage. Now the pilot and the gunner were positioned immediately next to each other and the nose of the airplane gained a semi-streamlined form. The airplane, now known as the D.H.9, was fitted with the B.H.P. engine, and based upon previous calculations, its performance in comparison was hoped to be improved: Flight tests of the D.H.9 took place in July 1917, and the results featured some unpleasant surprises: the (Beardmore-Halford-Pullinger) B.H.P. engine was not able to develop its projected power and was limited to 230 h.p., was actually worse than its predecessor's. A modified version of the B.H.P. engine was fitted to the airplane, the Siddeley Puma, however it still did not approach the promised 300hp. Another attempt was an exchange of the B.H.P. for the Fiat A-12 engine, an Italian near equivalent of the Siddeley Puma.
In the middle of 1917, while the D.H.9 was undergoing testing. As from the very beginning it was intended to replace the D.H.4. The order for the 700 DH.4 airframes was changed to DH.9 machines withthe Siddeley Puma being installed in the production aircraft,
The first production machines were delivered to front line squadrons at the end of 1917, and by the beginning of 1918 the number of aircraft at the Front was already quite substantial. But as soon as operations with the D.H.9 in combat conditions began, it became clear that it bordered upon a complete catastrophe. The situation appeared to be so dire, that the Chief of the Air Staff, Gen. Hugh Trenchard, sent an official query to the Air Ministry concerning the responsibility of government officials who had equipped the air force with such an inadequate aircraft. Its mediocre flying performance was compounded by the unreliable Siddeley Puma engine.
Within the space of a few months in 1918 just two Royal Air Force squadrons at the Western Front lost over 50 machines of this type in combat, and about 100 were unserviceable due to their unreliable engines. Eventually the D.H.9 began to be removed from squadrons tasked with the strategic bombing of Germany. Some of these machines were sent to the Near East, others were put to use on coastal patrol. At the end of the war the quantity which had been delivered to the military was more than impressive, about 3,200 units. A further 800 were built in post-war months.
The combat career of the airplane was not finished with the signing of the Armistice Agreement. In 1919 many D.H.9 types were sent to the rebellious colonies of British Empire, quite apart from many airplanes being bought by Belgium, Canada, the USA, Estonia, Chile, Latvia, Peru, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Greece and Romania. Some airplanes reached Russia complement of the British Expeditionary Corps, where they were later passed on to the forces of the White Army of General Denikin. During the civil war a few machines were appropriated by the Red Army. The active service of the D.H.9 lasted the longest in the dominion of South Africa and in Spain. In South Africa there were still some machines of this type employed in training in 1938, and in Spain a small number of them were flown during the initial stages of the civil war. The "Unluckiest Airplane of WWI" remained in operational use more than twenty years after the end of the Great War.
The kitRoden's DH 9 kit #423 arrives packed in the typical Roden top-opening box that is tightly packed with sprues!
231 plastic pieces in the kit including sheet of film for windscreens.
Decals are for built airframes.
The parts are quite cleanly moulded, but there is a touch of flash here and there, plus some sink-marks (particularly noticeable on the front fuselage sides where there's detail moulded on the inside). On the plus side, ejector-pin marks are few and far between and kept pretty much out of sight. Generally, there's little to worry experienced modellers and clean-up should be quite straightforward.
Detail consists of some engraved lines, raised items like louvres and subtle lacing on the fuselage and lightly depicted fabric effect on the flying surfaces. Wing ribs are slightly raised on upper surfaces and recessed on the undersides (as though the fabric has sagged under gravity a little. There are no rib tapes depicted, so some modellers may wish to add these as appropriate.
As Aeroscale Managing Editor Rowan Baylis once said ". . . full test fit is impractical because, if nothing else, this kit is all about options. . ." It could be built in three different varitions and this means a choice of fuselage tops and nose panels, meaning the fuselage has little rigidity until the various sub-assemblies are fitted for real. Nevertheless, taping the fuselage parts together is encouraging and they fit snugly on the lower wing.
The kit features a reasonably detailed cockpit although the inclusion of some photoetched details such as seat harness and gunsights would have been a nice touch to include. for the different colour schemes. There’s a selection of machine guns, with single, or twin forward-firing Vickers guns, two types of Lewis guns and a three types of bombs.
As may be becoming clear, this kit isn't suitable for beginners - and probably wouldn't really make a good choice for a first biplane kit for modellers with a little experience either. While the overall construction isn't particularly complex, the two-bay wings will be best done using a "lego" block jig. There are no safe short cuts to an easy assembly - all the struts are separate and using the jig I mentioned a good idea to keep everything lined up straight and plum.
InstructionsThe instructions are well drawn, but careful study is paramount due to the number of options offered. They include helpful rigging diagrams, but it does not show the double-wires RAFwires as noted on the original. Colour matches call for Testors Model Master paints.
Decals1. Airco (de Havilland) DH9, No.211 Sqn RAF. Pedre Synthe, France, flown by Capt. J A Gray. This aircraft was shot down and landed in Holland on June 27, 1918. Its crew was interned. Later it served with the Netherlands Army as deH443.
2. Airco (de Havilland) DH9, No.47 Sqn RAF, British Expeditionary Corps in Russia, Chorny Yar, Volga river region, August 1919.
3. Airco (de Havilland) Dh9, First Volunteer Unit of the Russian Army, Crimea, May-June 1920, used by General-Major V Tkachoff.
4. Airco (de Havilland) DH9, "white 8". Red Army Fleet, Middle Asia, 1922-1923.
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