DH 2 vs Albatros D I/D II
Western Front 1916
Flown by Victoria Cross recipient Lanoe Hawker and the members of No 24 Sqn, the ungainly yet nimble DH 2 helped the Allies attain air superiority over the Somme in early 1916 and hold it through the summer. With its rotary engine 'pusher' configuration affording excellent visibility and eliminating the need for a synchronized machine gun, the DH 2 was more than a match for anything the Germans could put in the air. That is, until the arrival of the Albatros D II, a sleek inline-engined machine built for speed and with twin-gun firepower. Thus, the later part of 1916 saw an epic struggle in the skies above the Somme pitting the manoeuvrable yet under-gunned DH 2s against the less nimble yet better armed and faster Albatros D IIs. In the end the Germans would regain air superiority, three squadron commanders – two of whom were considered pinnacles of their respective air forces – would lose their lives, and an up-and-coming pilot (Manfred von Richthofen) would triumph in a legendary dogfight and attain unimagined heights fighting with tactics learned from a fallen mentor.