The prototype AMC DH.2 (Aircraft Manufacturing Company de Havilland 2) first flew in June 1915 and was sent to the front for evaluation in late July where it was promptly captured by the Germans in early August. Undeterred by this not insignificant setback, development continued and full scale production began in November. This allowed 24 Sqn to be fully equipped with the DH.2 when they arrived in France during February 1916 where they, along with squadrons equipped with the FE.2b and French Neiuport 11, began putting an end to the 6 month long “Fokker scourge”. Although powered by essentially the same engine as the Fokker E.II & E.III the DH.2 was designed from the outset with maneuverability in mind and the wing warping Eindeckers proved no match in combat. It would take until July-August 1916 before the twin lMG 08 ‘Spandau’ armed Albatros D.1 and D.II biplanes would regain air supremacy for the Germans. By June-July 1917 the DH.2 had been replaced in front line service by the Nieuport 17 and DH.5, although they continued to serve in the Middle East well into 1918.
Early production DH.2 arrived with an impracticable flexible ‘wobbly’ Lewis gun mount, 2 bladed propeller, bungee or spring type aileron returns and had the 5 gallon emergency petrol tank fixed under the top wing center section. Other identifying features of early production aircraft are the small fairings at the rear of the nacelle, external magazine storage for 4x 47 round magazines, a single tube pitot head and the rudder control cable pulleys positioned slightly further forward in the nacelle. Like all new aircraft many unofficial and official changes would take place in service, some of which are noted here; the position of the emergency petrol tank directly above the hot engine was not thought to be ideal so it migrated to various positions on the top wing. Problems with the bottom longerons cracking lead to small inspection flaps being added just above the front undercarriage strut, the ‘wobbly’ Lewis gun mount was fixed to fire straight ahead and the capacity of the main petrol tank was increased. The instrument board layout could vary considerably as did, surprisingly, the front cowl. A 4 bladed propeller developed for another single seat pusher, the FE.8, was introduced in the middle of 1916 and improved performance. Any history of this aircraft here is of necessity very brief, therefore we encourage you to seek out the references mentioned below for a more thorough understanding of this interesting aircraft.
Arriving early in the war at a time when camouflage was only just being introduced, the DH.2 features many interesting colour scheme possibilities. Early DH.2 appear to have had their nacelles, metal and wood components and struts painted grey with fabric areas remaining clear doped Irish Linen. The desire to camouflage aircraft lead to ‘emergency’ applications of varnish tinted with liquid or ground pigments which were quite transparent, although slightly less so for the ground pigment versions, and ranged in colour from approximately FS14097 to 24098 for green and FS30118 to 20122 for the brown (Ian Huntley writing in Scale Models). While offering some protection from prying eyes these dyed varnishes offered no protection from the sun’s harmful rays and a line of opaque Protective Covering (PC) dopes were developed, the most infamous of which, PC10, was slowly introduced from April-May 1916. Prior to the introduction of PC10 it appears that ‘experimental khaki’ PC8 saw limited use and was, reportedly, a light brown similar to FS10266. Many aircraft exhibit evidence of being camouflaged with tinted green and/or brown varnishes and some may have received a coat of PC8 before PC10 was available in large quantities. All wood and almost all metal parts were painted grey and metal parts which were not grey appear be have initially been finished in black, although many were later overpainted with grey in service. Lanoe Hawker’s long serving DH.2 5964 would have received a roughly applied field application of PC10 on the nacelle and all upper surfaces of the wings and tailplane.