Dayton-Wright D.H.4 Liberty

The De Havilland D.H.4 was the first purpose-designed British bomber, and was one of the most successful aircraft of WWI. Nearly 1500 were built in the United Kingdom, and almost 5000 were built in the United States by several manufactures, with the majority coming from the Dayton-Wright Company. After the war, many D.H.4s were converted for the US Postal Department to establish an airmail service. The US Army continued using D.H.4s until 1932.

This painting illustrates a D.H.4 from the 50th Aero Squadron, Air Service, US Army crash landing in the no-man’s-land mud of the Western Front. Sergeant First Class John P. Aikins, my father, was in a similar incident as a rear gunner/observer aboard a 828 Aero Squadron D.H.4 while serving in France with the Army Air Service from September 1, 1918 until returning to the United States on September 5, 1919.