A.Jackson De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 (Putnam)
De Havilland D.H.3.
The D.H.3, Capt. Geoffrey de Havilland's third design for the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd., which appeared in 1916, was a large two bay biplane capable of bombing German industrial centres. Contrasting in every way with his previous small pusher fighters but owing something to the Royal Aircraft Factory's F.E.4, in the early design of which Capt. De Havilland had collaborated, the D.H.3 was equipped with two 120 h.p. Beardmore water-cooled engines in nacelles between the mainplanes. The long, slender, wire braced Warren girder fuselage was built of spruce, covered with plywood at the forward end and carried low to the ground on a wide track, short legged undercarriage. A pair of bumper wheels was provided under the nose. The four bladed, nine foot diameter pusher airscrews were carried clear of the mainplane trailing edges by short extension shafts and the D.H.3 was also the first aeroplane to feature the graceful curving rudder which was to become characteristic of almost every future de Havilland design. As might be expected on so large an aeroplane it was necessary to ensure good handling qualities by using an elevator with generous horn balances. The crew of three consisted of the pilot in an open cockpit just ahead of the mainplanes, and front and rear gunners whose cockpits were each equipped with two Lewis gun pillar mountings. For its day the D.H.3 had a very lively performance and when engaged on long range duties could carry a military load of 680 lb. and fuel for eight hours.
Only the prototype was built and this carried no serial number. A second version, carrying R.F.C. serial 7744, was powered by two 160 h.p. Beardmore engines and so modified as to warrant the designation D.H.3A. These modifications included the cutting back of mainplane trailing edges in order to obviate the use of engine extension shafts, while to lighten the controls still further, the rudder was given increased balance area. An order was placed for 50 production D.H.3As but when the first, A5088, was still under construction, the War Office shortsightedly cancelled the contract in the belief that strategic bombing of Germany was unnecessary and that the twin engined bomber was impracticable. Both prototypes were flown by pilots of the Upavon evaluation unit but were then relegated to the dump behind the Hendon hangars. It is said that the prototype D.H.3s were actually burning on the factory scrap heap on July 7, 1917 while London was being bombed by their German counterpart, the Gotha. This and later bombardments encouraged a rapid change of official attitude which resulted in the D.H.3 being redesigned and eventually built in quantity as the D.H. 10.
SPECIFICATION AND DATA
Manufacturers: The Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Hendon, London, N.W.9.
(D.H.3) Two 120 h.p. Beardmore
(D.H.3A) Two 160 h.p. Beardmore
Span 60 ft. 10 in. Length 36 ft. 10 in.
Height 14 ft. 6 in. Wing area (D.H.3) 793 sq. ft. (D.H.3A) 770 sq. ft.
Tare weight (D.H.3) 3,980 lb.
All-up weight (D.H.3) 5.810 lb . (D.H.3A) 5,776 lb.
Maximum speed 95 m.p.h. Initial climb 550 ft./min.
Endurance 8 hours Range 700 miles
Prototypes - D.H.3 unmarked, D.H.3A serial 7744
Others - 7745 and A5088 unfinished, A5089 to A5137 cancelled
F.Manson British Bomber Since 1914 (Putnam)
Airco D.H.3 and 3A
The famous pioneer designer/pilot, Geoffrey de Havilland, who had for three and a half years designed and flown aircraft at Farnborough before the War, had left to join The Aircraft Manufacturing Company in June 1914, his first two designs in his new appointment being the Airco D.H.1 and 2 fighters.
His next design, undertaken with at least some recollection of the early project studies that had resulted in the Factory's F.E.4, was the D.H.3. Although somewhat smaller than the F.E.4, de Havilland's design was prompted by a firm belief that the Army would express a determination to acquire a bomber capable of delivering a worthwhile bomb load against German centres of war production remote from the Western Front.
Being aware of the restrictions on the size of aeroplanes favoured by the War Office, de Havilland decided on relatively short-span, folding wings of moderate chord, but employed two 120hp Beardmore engines, driving two-blade pusher propellers through short extension shafts in order to keep the engine mass close the aircraft's centre of gravity without having recourse to large cutouts in the wing trailing edges for propeller clearance.
The structure throughout was of wood, the slender fuselage being a Warren girder built of spruce, wire-braced internally, and ply-covered over the forward half. The wings, rigged without stagger, carried generous, unbalanced ailerons on upper and lower surfaces and, like the rear fuselage and tail unit, were fabric-covered.
A wide-track undercarriage, with single mainwheels each side, was attached to the fuselage and the wings directly beneath the engine support struts, and was complemented by a bumper wheel on each side o f the nose. The three-man crew comprised pilot, and nose and midships gunners.
The first prototype D.H.3, not being built to a formal War Office contract, was not allocated a serial number, but was first flown by de Havilland, probably in late January or early February 1916. It demonstrated good handling qualities and a useful performance, and a production contract for 50 aircraft had already been placed by the War Office for an improved version, the D.H.3A, powered by 160hp Beardmore engines, driving four-blade pusher propellers without recourse to extension shafts.
By the time the second aircraft, No 7744, was flown, the acrimony, which had upset relations between the commercial aircraft manufacturers and the War Office over the alleged preferential regard held for the Factory's products, was beginning to influence decisions with regard to the issue of production contracts for 'privately' designed military aircraft. Consequently the contract for D.H.3As was cancelled; the quoted pretext was a shift in opinion at the War Office, that strategic bombing by aeroplanes was unlikely to influence the course of the War. In any case, opinions being expressed at the War Office were that large twin-engine bombers were impractical this despite the fact that the Admiralty's much larger and heavier Handley Page O/100 prototype had recently flown successfully.
The decision to cancel the second D.H.3A prototype and the production order may now be seen to have been one of the most ill-advised ever taken by the War Office with regard to military aeroplanes. Before a further six months had elapsed, the Army in France was locked in a calamitous battle on the Somme, with no effective bombers with which to support the soldiers on the ground, and with rapidly mounting losses. Appealing to the Admiralty, the War Office obtained some Short Bombers from the RNAS production - but never used them.
In all likelihood, the first production D.H.3As could have being entering operational service by the end of the summer of 1916 and, carrying six 112 lb bombs each, would have provided stimulating support for the Army at that critical time. Their presence in the front line would have demonstrated the feasibility of large bombers, and action to create an autonomous bombing force could have been initiated early in 1917; as it was, another year was to elapse before such action was taken.
Although the D.H.3 and 3A were both scrapped without full flight trials being completed*, they did provide de Havilland with the design basis o f a later twin-engine bomber, the D.H.10 which, flown in March 1918, was still awaited by the Service when the Armistice was signed.
* It has been suggested that the D.H.3A prototype was simply the D.H.3 prototype rebuilt. However, it is known that at least one photograph exists showing both aircraft, apparently complete, standing together.
Type: Twin pusher-engine, three-seat, three-bay biplane light bomber.
Manufacturer: The Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd., Hendon, London NW9.
Powerplant: D.H.3. Two 120hp Beardmore six-cylinder, water-cooled, in-line engines driving two-blade pusher propellers. D.H.3 A. Two 160hp Beardmore engines driving four-blade pusher propellers.
Structure: Wire-braced wooden structure, the forward section of the fuselage ply-covered, the remainder fabric-covered.
Dimensions: Span, 60ft 10in; length, 36ft 10in; height, 14ft 6in; wing area, 793 sq ft (D.H. 3A, 770 sq ft.)
Weights (D.H.3): Tare, 3,980 lb; all-up, 5,810 lb.
Performance (D.H.3): Max speed, 95 mph at sea level, 87 mph at 10,000ft; climb to 5,000ft, 16 min 12 sec; endurance, 8 hr.
Armament: Two 0.303in Lewis machine guns with pillar mountings on nose and midships gunners' cockpits; design provision for up to 680 lb of bombs, probably planned as six 112 lb bombs carried as three under each wing.
Prototypes: Two. The D.H.3 was first flown early in 1916 and apparently did not carry any serial number; the D.H. 3A carried No 7744. No production (50 aircraft, A5088-A5137, were ordered, but cancelled).
P.Lewis British Bomber since 1914 (Putnam)
Following the successful debut of his D.H.2 single-seat fighter, Geoffrey de Havilland turned his talents in the direction of the D.H.3, the first prototype of which was completed at the beginning of 1916. The new machine was notable as the first of many twin-engine de Havilland designs and was powered by a pair of 120 h.p. Beardmores at mid-gap between the folding three-bay wings. Extension shafts bore the two-blade pusher propellers behind the trailing edges. The fuselage was mounted so that its major portion was below the lower wings, resulting in the use of a short main undercarriage supplemented by a pair of wheels set well forward beneath the nose. Defensive positions were provided for two Lewis guns, one in the nose and the other at mid-fuselage.
7744, a modified D.H.3 designated D.H.3A, was also constructed. Alterations made included provision of two 160 h.p. Beardmore engines still driving pusher propellers but with four blades and without extension shafts. Instead, the trailing edges of the upper and lower wings received cut-outs to accommodate the blades. Other minor revisions were forwards-sloping exhaust pipes above the fronts of the cowlings and a slight increase in the area of the rudder’s balance portion.
On test the three-seat D.H.3A showed every promise of proving a most capable and efficient bomber, and production was started on an order for fifty when cancellation was made while the first example, A5088, was under construction by the Aircraft Manufacturing Company - Airco.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
D.H.3. The intended operational functions of this 1916 pusher twin continue to be speculative, but fighting appears to have been as dominant a requirement as bombing. The original D.H.2 offset-gun scheme was followed, there being a pillar mounting for a Lewis gun on each side of the front and rear gunner's cockpits. Bombing provisions are unknown, although the type was clearly intended for raids on German cities. The second prototype is said to have been blazing on a factory dump in July 1917 when Gothas were bombing London.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1919
This machine, produced in 1915, was never put into service. It is of interest, however, as one of the earliest attempts at building a twin-engined machine and as the ancestor of the De H.10.
Type of machine Biplane "Pusher" (2 engines)
Name or type No. of machine De H.3.
Span 60 ft. 10 In.
Gap, maximum and minimum 7 ft.
Overall length 36 ft. 10 in.
Maximum height 14 ft. 6 in.
Chord 6 ft. 9 In.
Total surface of wings, including
centre planes and ailerons 790.0 sq. ft.
Span of tail 23 ft. 2 in.
Total area of tail (empennage) 164.0 sq. ft.
Area of elevators 25.5 sq. ft. each.
Area of rudder 22.0 sq. ft.
Area of tin 13.0 sq. ft.
Area of each aileron 30,7 sq. ft.
Engine type and h.p. Two 130 h.p. Beardmore.
Airscrew, diam.. pitch and revs. 9.03 diam., 9.18 pitch, 1,400.
Weight of machine empty 3,982 lbs.
Weight of machine full load 5,776 lbs.
Load per sq. ft. 7.3 lbs.
Weight per h.p. full load 22.2 lbs.
Tank capacity in gallons 140 gallons.
Speed low down 95 m.p.h.
To 6,500 ft 24 mins.
Landing speed 53 m.p.h.
Disposable load apart from fuel 711 lbs.
Total weight of machine loaded 5,776 lbs.
Flight, January 9, 1919.
THE DE HAVILLAND, OR "AIRCO," MACHINES
The D.H. 3
While thus engaged upon the production of small pusher scouts, Capt. de Havilland foresaw the need for larger weight-carrying machines, and designed a twin-engine machine which became known as the D.H. 3. From the illustrations it will be seen that this machine was a fuselage biplane with the engines placed between the planes and the fuselage placed rather low down. The latter feature somehow gave the machine an appearance of being, as someone put it, "a flying-boat on wheels." The accommodation of the occupants - the D.H. 3 carried three - was designed with a view to giving the two gunners - or bomb-droppers, as the case might be - a good view in all directions. The front gunner's cockpit was in the extreme nose of the fuselage. The pilot occupied the middle seat, and the rear gunner's cockpit was placed well back, clear of the trailing edge of the planes. The engines, two Beardmore 120's, were mounted on Vee struts between the wings, and drove, through an extension of the shaft, the pusher screws, which both revolved in the same direction. The tank capacity was sufficient for a flight of 8 hours' duration, and as the military load was 680 lbs., the machine should have been quite a useful bomber, especially as her speed was 95 m.p.h. at low altitudes and only dropped to 88 m.p.h. at 9,500 ft. However, for some reason or other - we have no information on the subject, but it is not inconceivable that it may be connected with the frantic efforts that were about this time being made at the Royal Aircraft Factory to produce a satisfactory machine of similar type - the D.H. 3 was not produced in large numbers, and so it is really impossible to express an opinion of what would have been her capabilities on active service. Certainly in a later form - and along very similar lines except for the engine power, the type has been sufficiently successful. We are referring to the D.H. 10's and 10A's, which have an extraordinarily good performance. It might be mentioned that the body of the D.H. 3 was covered with three-ply wood, which further tended to make her resemble a flying-boat.