William W. Whitson


from Test of Battle

(Photographs reprinted by permission of the
San Diego Air and Space Museum)

British Aircraft

Airco DH2 The Aircraft Manufacturing Company (AIRCO) produced the prototype of the De Havilland 2 in July, 1915. It was a single-seat pusher with a 100hp Gnome rotary engine, permitting the pilot to fire a single machine gun forward. (Click here for more detailed description)
AVRO 504

On November 21, 1914, an Avro 504 made the first bombing raid in history against the airship sheds at Friedrichshafen. Three of the planes were converted later to single seat fighter status and served as late as 1918. In August, 1917, (Click here for more detailed description)

Bristol Scout Although the Bristol Scout first appeared in February, 1914, it was so light that its 80hp Gnome rotary engine gave it had an extraordinary speed of 97mph and an equally extraordinary ceiling of nearly 16,000 feet. Pilots loved the little machine because it was feathery light on the controls and a pleasure to fly. (Click here for more detailed description)
Morane Bullet Type N By 1913, the French had become very sophisticated with streamlined monoplanes. Early in 1914, Raymond Saulnier designed synchronizing gear, but temporarily abandoned the effort. In March, 1915, a pilot (Roland Garros) flew a Morane Saulnier Type "N" Bullet to Villacoublay to collaborate with Saulnier to place steel plates on the propellor to permit firing through the propellor arc. (Click here for more detailed description)
Nieuport 17 In August, 1916 the Nieuport 17 was the best French-built fighter at the Front. .Armed with a single machine gun on top of the wing, it had a sea-level speed of 107 mph and a ceiling  of 17,400 feet.  It had a range of about two hours (200 miles) and a rate of climb of 650 feet per minute. (Click here for more detailed description)
SE-5 The prototype S.E.5 was powered by a new 150hp Hispano-Suiza engine. It had a new Constantinesco synchronizing gear. Superior to the Albatros DIII, DV and Fokker Dr-1 Triplane, the S.E.5 was able to hold its own against the formidable Fokker D-VI through 1918. (Click here for more detailed description)

German Frontline Aircraft - 1916

Albatros C-III The Albatros C.III was first introduced in early 1916, and became the workhorse for the German Army for photo-reconnaissance, observation and light bombing (maximum of 200 pounds).(Click here for more detailed description)
Albatros D-1

The Albatros D.I came out in August, 1916. It was strengthened and streamlined with a unique plywood shell, powered by a 160hp Mercedes engine and armed with twin Spandau machines guns synchronised to fire through the airscrew arc. The D.I proved to be overwhelmingly superior in speed and firepower and otherwise comparable to the Nieuport 17 and other contemporary Allied fighters.(Click here for more detailed description)

Fokker D3 First designed in late 1915 to replace the so-called "Eindekker" monoplane, the Fokker D.I and D.II mounted a single machine gun and used primitive wing-warping. Its 13,000 foot ceiling and its slow rate of climb put it at a disadvantage against the Nieuport 17. (Click here for more detailed description)
Halberstadt The single-seat fighter, Halberstadt D.II, was redesigned and went into production in early 1916. Only eighty-five were built. With a speed of only 90mph and a ceiling of 10,000 feet, it was not competitive with more advanced Allied designs like the Nieuport 17 and was used primarily to escort reconnaissanceplanes. (Click here for more detailed description)
Roland C-II The Roland C.II "Whale" first appeared in October, 1915. Covered with plywood and streamlined, it carried a Spandau firing forward and a Parabellum on a ring mount firing to the rear. With a speed of over 100mph and a ceiling of over 16,000 feet, it could compete with the best Allied fighters. In the summer of 1916, (Click here for more detailed description)

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