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In-Box Review
Airco de Havilland DH 2
The world’s first true fighter aeroplane
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612

by: Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]

aircraft history,

The lack of a reliable synchronized gun gear in 1915 was the main reason that the Royal Flying Corps considered pusher type aircraft were for military operations. The Germans had gained a decided advantage in the air war with the Fokker gun gear that armed that company’s Eindecker type aircraft. The100 hp “Gnome” Monosoupape (mono-soo-pop) powered, single seat scout named the DH 2 was the brain child of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company’s Mr. Geoffrey de Havilland. In truth it was simply a scaled down version of his earlier 100 - 120 hp Beardmore powered, two seat pusher, the DH1a. The completed prototype appeared at Hendon on 1 June, 1915. It was sent to France on 26 July and on 9 August 1915 armed with a forward firing Lewis gun the prototype #4732 was going through front line evaluations while assigned to 5 Sqdn RFC. It was brought down behind German lines by a crew from No. 2 Marine Flieger Abteilung based at Moorsele. Rebuilt in the Moorsele workshops and put through German evaluations she gave up her secrets. Nevertheless the DH 2 went into production and served as the mainstay of several RFC units well into early 1917. The squadron selected to be the first equipped with the DH 2 was 24 Sqdn RFC. They arrived at their assigned base at Bertangles France on 10 February 1916.


On a black and stormy night, in the Ukraine, lightning ripped the skies near castle Roden. Deep in the bowels of the old north tower, the dark robed, design wizards huddled over a boiling cauldron and poured liquid styrene into their newest molds. In the eerie half light of the whirring, hissing and crackling machinery, magic wands are waved, switches are thrown and an aged hand spreads techno-dust. Then a gaunt, pale, half crazed figure in a medical smock steps up to the mold box and holds his stethoscope to the outer casing. As he listens he commands, silence ! A wizard turn to the 1923 Philco radio and turn down the blasts of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein.” Moments later, suddenly the doctor cries out, “Its Alive!!! . . . its alive!!! Thus another scale wonder is born. Roden’s long awaited, highly anticipated Airco De Havilland DH 2 (#612 ) plastic parts are all we have come to expect from a company that is a leader in the manufacture of WWI aviation modeling subjects. If you plan to rig your build begin with general clean up, seam removal and pre-drilling all rigging pilot holes.

the build,

Step 1. Begins with the cockpit interior components. The type of instrument panel arrangements provided is for the late production machine. There are note providing decal locations for each instrument. The layout appears to have the decals representing the instrument faces assigned numbers to direct their placements. They are clock; altimeter; air speed indicator; and tachometer.

Step 2. In the small section of the flooring (12 A ), the rudder bar ( 9 A ) and its support block.

Step 3. Assembles the and the main oil tank ( 6 & 7 A ) Normally this unit had a canvas bag fitted over it.

Step 4. Next is the Lewis gun Mk II / gun pivot ( 4 A) also a 47 round ammunition drum (9 C ).
Just a historical note here. The double drums or 97 round types were developed about November - December 1915. Records give the credit to its creation to either Major Hawker and Air Mechanic French of No. 24 Squadron RFC or members of the armoury section of No. 18 Squadron RFC.

Step 5. The 47 round ammunition drums (9 C X 4 ) and external storage bins for those ammo drums (5 C X 2 .)

Step 6. Here the seat supports ( 11 C X 2 & 3 C X2 ) are joined and the seat (5 & 28 A) will sit atop this assembly.

Step 7. The “Gnome” Monosoupape (mono-soo-pop) 100hp rotary engine (1 Z ) has the crank case cover ( 3 Z ) push rods (2 Z ) and induction tube ( 20 A ) added retainer flange ( 4 Z )and retainer cap (5 Z ) are assembled here. The term “monosoupape” means single valve. In some cases these rotaries were replaced by LeRhône 110hp 9J and Clerget 110hp types. I will replace the plastic push rods (2 Z ) with cut and blackened brass rod types. Check your references.

Step 8. Assembles the landing gear ( 4, 7, 15 C, X 2, 41 & 43 A ). Note the correct layout of the landing gear legs and do not attempt to rig yet. The completed landing gear assembly should be installed on the fuselage and all joints thoroughly set before rigging.

Step 8a. A sprue brace is cut away on the lower wing. This area will have the fuselage nacelle inserted later.

Step 9. The pilot’s left half of the nacelle ( 1 A ) has the late production type magneto switches (21 A ) wiring harness (42 A ) and external ammunition bin assembly from step 5 are added.

Step 10. The pilot’s right half of the nacelle ( 2 A ) has the adjustable incidence assembly ( 23, 38 & 39 A ), the oil pulsator glasses and the external ammunition bin assembly from step 5 are added.

Step 11. Finally the nacelle, cockpit and lower wing assemblies are united. The compass (10 A ) fits to the lower section of the Lewis gun pivot column (19 A). The control column and its stabilizer bar ( 37 A ) added to the elevator control bar 16 A). A lap belt should be scratch built and attached to the internal framework. Then add the and the main oil tank facade from step 3. Note that the instructions advise you only dry fit (don’t glue) the engine belly panel ( ) The rotary engine cradle ( 24 A ) can be added here. These last items are to be trapped between the fuselage sides (1 & 2 A ) when the sides are united and glued together. Next you add this shelf assembly to the floor assembly from step 2. Later the bar ends (16 A ) will be added and if rigged will connect to the actuation horns on the horizontal tail surfaces ( 3 A ). Check step 18 for the rigging diagrams.

Step 12a & b. Has you adding the gravity fuel tank to the top wing ( 1 B ) location suiting the profile you have chosen. The gravity feed fuel tank ( 29 A ) appears to be one of the 5 & 3/4 gallon versions.

Step 13. Add the assembled rotary engine from step 7. Uniting wings and struts is not as tricky as one might think. Since the interplane struts ( 1 C X 4 8 C X 2 & 15, 17 A ) are all installed vertically without incidence (forward angles) or stagger (lateral angles.) I recommend attaching the interplane struts to the top wing and when partially dry complete the attachment to the lower wing using a temporary jig made from children’s “Lego” blocks. When set and dry then add the cabane struts ( 2 & 6 C X 2 ) Also for those of you unfamiliar with the type the outer wing panels upper and lower were both interchangeable. In several cases British cockades were seen in unusual positions because of “in the field replacements.” Check your references. On this part the forward most filler cap is for the main fuel tank and the rear most filler cap is for the oil tank. Adds the air induction tube ( 22 A ) in the top of the upper rear cowling.

Always remember to leave the finishing of the upper wing top surface and the lower wing under surface until you have done all you want to with the rigging. Then finish these surfaces by filling the rigging pilot holes, sanding flush and paint. The smaller the holes the less to repair.

Step 14. Here you unite the vertical fin & rudder ( 40 A ) with the horizontal stabilizer and elevators (3 A ). Set these control surfaces in sympathy to the cockpit controls.

Step 15. The seemingly delicate tail surfaces ( 3 & 14 A ) and booms ( 12 C X 2 & 34 A) gain a very reasonable amount of strength when assembled and thoroughly dry. I have put a good deal of thought into this and have come up with several methods for rigging. For the sake of the average builder lets keep it simple. The thickness of the wings allows the “Cats cradle” method of rigging to be attained easily. Drilling holes into the wings for monofilament then anchoring the ends in place with cyanoacrylate glues. The tail booms were metal on the original aircraft but here your working with plastic. DO NOT drill into the plastic tail booms!!!

Step 16. Also add the elevator actuation pivots ( 10 C.) See rigging diagram. next then add the landing gear and finally the propeller to the fuselage assembly. The smaller compass fairing ( 30 A ) was seen on some of the 1st production types #5916 - 6015. The larger compass fairing (25 A ) began appearing with in later part of the first production and then on into the other subsequent production airframes. Components were at times swapped for what was available during maintenance. A small sliding trap door ( 31 A ) is added here. I would replace the tail unit and aileron control horns (13 C X 2 & 14 C X 4 ) for aftermarket brass items.

Step 17. At first a two bladed propeller was the standard. After the last weeks of January 1916 it seems the four bladed propeller ( 35 A ) began being installed on all of the DH 2 types. Other existing machines were retrofitted as they became available for maintenance. I would replace the aileron control horns ( 14 C X 4 ) for aftermarket brass items. Finally the Lewis gun assembly from step 4 is added.

Step 18. So the reasonable option is to anchor your rigging material ends to the upper and lower ends of the vertical struts on the boom sides (12 C X 2 ) closest to the rotary engine. These will be angled to the direction that they will travel to the next locator hole. With these ends anchored securely in this area the other ends can be pulled through the locator holes in the wings and horizontal tail surfaces. Next I recommend attaching the booms to their wing slots first. Then add the tail surfaces. Then at this time complete the rigging. Anchor your loose ends by pulling them taut with the free weight of wooden clothes pins and applying a small drop of cyanoacrylate glue to these rigging pilot holes in the wings. Let thoroughly dry before you release the clothes pins and clip the excess rigging lines flush with the wing surface.

In truth you should have accomplished the rigging as you progress through your build. The landing gear is the next area to rig. The most difficult part of this build is getting the rigging right from the elevators to the cockpit nacelle. The rigging between the wings is easily accomplished by step13 if you have prepped well.

kit decals,

1. DH 2 7901 from “B” flight , 32 Sqn RFC flown by Captain L.P. Aizelwood in France, September 1916.
2. DH 2 6015 flown by Major W. B. Rees Cmdr of 32 Sqn RF C France, July 1916.
3. DH 2 7651 from “C” flight, 32 Sqn RFC flown by 2/Lt. E. Wagner France, January 1917.
4. DH 2 7925 from “C” flight, 29 Sqn RFC flown by 2/Lt. H.A.Hallam, France November 1916.

Kit plastic,

The box contains 93 plastic parts, instructions and decals.


Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 20 #1 1989 Part 1.
Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 20 #3 1989 Part 2.
Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 21 #3 1990 Part 3.
Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 22 #1 1991 Part 4.
Cross & Cockade Intl. Vol. 22 #4 1991 Part 5.
“The de Havilland D.H.2" by J. M. Bruce, Profile Publications , 1966.
“The Royal Flying Corps in WWI” by R. Rimell, Vintage Warbirds #1, Osprey Pub. 1985
“Thorpe Park’s Pusher” by J. Hall, Aeroplane Monthly Pp. 72-75 1980.

* The term “...world’s first true fighter aeroplane” was coined by WWI aviation “Guru” Ray Rimell.


I have to give it to Roden they do great kits. The DH 2 is a beauty right out of the box. In today’s modeling community there are those who just don’t care for super-detailing and photoetch parts. On the other hand there are those who crave the acid etched metal, silver nickel coated origami parts. Roden has realized this and caters to modelers who want detail in plastic right out of the box. This is Roden's meat and potatoes and we as modelers are blessed with another one of their fine kits.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE
Highs: Excellent details over all. more than just an average subject choice.
Lows: The vertically split fuselage nacelle means you will have to be very careful when erasing this seam..
Verdict: As an all plastic kit this is a great kit for your growing collection.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:32
  Mfg. ID: #612
  Suggested Retail: $58.49 MSRP
  Related Link: Squadron.com
  PUBLISHED: Jun 09, 2009
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Roden!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Stephen T. Lawson (JackFlash)

I was building Off topic jet age kits at the age of 7. I remember building my first WWI kit way back in 1964-5 at the age of 8-9. Hundreds of 1/72 scale Revell and Airfix kits later my eyes started to change and I wanted to do more detail. With the advent of DML / Dragon and Eduard I sold off my ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Stephen T. Lawson [ JACKFLASH ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


I really liked the review, particularly the 'manufacture' section. As I leered at it with my one good, unclouded eye, and rubbed the hump on my back, I smiled, and thought,"very good, Master." Matt
JUN 10, 2009 - 12:19 PM
I just ordered mine. Sooooo many kits, Sooooo little time.
JUN 12, 2009 - 10:26 AM
The good news from Santa's workshop is that I will have the Eduard DH 2 to review and augment this build!
DEC 04, 2009 - 09:41 AM
The DH-2 in the stash will be happy about this one . I already pre-order this one at the LHS . Seat doesn't look to bad , but I will try and weave my own . I'm curious to see how they did the pulleys . Is it the same as their DH-2 profipack ....guess I have to wait for the review . Looking for forward to the review Stephen !
DEC 04, 2009 - 01:18 PM
As with the other 1/32 scale sets the Eduard PE comes in one of two sets. The prepainted self adhesive set (2 frets) Click here. Or the interior set (1 fret) Click here.
DEC 05, 2009 - 05:25 PM
The day after Christmas a parcel arrived including the extensive Eduard PE #32645!
DEC 26, 2009 - 10:04 AM

What's Your Opinion?

Click image to enlarge
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612
    DH 2 in flight
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612
    DH 2 1916
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612
    Sketch of the late production cockpit
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612
  • Airco De havilland DH 2 #612