Airco D.H.14 Okapi

The Airco D.H.14 Okapi was a single-engined day bomber designed to replace de Havilland's earlier single engined bombers, but that never progressed beyond the prototype stage. The D.H.4 had been the most effective British bomber of the First World War, and the D.H.9A was to be the mainstay of the post-war RAF. The D.H.14 was essentially a larger version of the D.H.9A, with a greater wingspan, longer fuselage and more powerful engine, in this case the planned 600hp Rolls-Royce Condor engine (in the D.H.14 this engine was limited to 525hp). 

Airco were given a contract to produce a prototype of the D.H.14 two weeks before the Armistice. Within a month it was being discussed as a possible replacement for the D.H.10 Amiens day bomber, but cost-cutting in the post-war RAF meant that the D.H.9A and the Vickers Vimy soldiered on, eliminating the need for the D.H.14. 

The D.H.14 was a conventional aircraft for the period, with a fabric covered wooden framework (strengthened with metal at key points), and the typical curved de Havilland rudder. The six 112lb bombs were carried internally and were relased by the gunner.

The first D.H.14 was completed as a private venture late in 1919. It was powered by a 450hp Napier Lion engine, and was intended to compete in the Daily Main transatlantic flight contest, but by the time the aircraft was completed Alcock and Brown had already made the first transatlantic flight. The aircraft then became F.S. Cotton's entry in the Australian Government England-Australia flight competition, but once again the contest was won before the aircraft was ready. F.S Cotton and W.A. Townsend then attempted to fly the aircraft to South Africa, but crashed in Italy on 4 February 1920. It was damaged again in a crash during the Aerial Derby of 24 July 1920.

The two remaining military D.H.14s were taken over by the new de Havilland Aircraft Co. Ltd. The first made its maiden flight in September 1920, and the second in December 1920. The two aircraft were used to help with the development of the Condor engine, before both were destroyed in separate accidents early in 1922.

Engine: Rolls-Royce Condor I
Power: 525hp
Crew: 2
Wing span: 50ft 5in
Length: 33ft 11.5in
Height: 14ft 0in
Tare Weight: 4,484lb
Empty Weight: 7,074lb
Max Speed: 122mph at 10,000ft
Armament: Twin Lewis guns plus fix forward firing Vickers gun
Bomb-load: Eight 112lb bombs

De Havilland Enterprises - A History, Graham M. Simons. Looks at the impressive range of aircraft produced by de Havilland, from the earliest flimsy biplanes, to the versatile Mosquito and on to the post-war jet age, including the famous Comet, the first jet airliner. A useful reference for anyone interested in de Havilland, and also a guide to just how far aircraft came in a single lifetime. Well illustrated and informative, this book covers an impressive amount of ground in just over 300 pages (Read Full Review)
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (1 April 2009), Airco D.H.14 Okapi ,

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