Skip to main content

Sometimes a change of scene works wonders – for an aircraft, as well as a person. It was the middle of World War One, and the French aircraft company Société Anonyme des Appareils d’Aviation Hanriot had become a successful producer of licence-built Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter aircraft.

A decision was made to try to break into the market for single-seater fighters; the task was given to Pierre Dupont, who produced a design with many features of the earlier Sopwith aircraft, particularly the ’1 1/2 strut’  (or ‘W’) arrangement of interplane struts; also, the nose and tail sections were typically ‘Sopwith’ . The Hanriot HD.1 was made as light as possible - the wings had main spars of duralumin and ribs of plywood – since the chosen engine was the nine-cylinder Le Rhone 9jb rotary of 120 hp, giving a maximum speed of 115 mph. Weight was a major consideration, and lead to the decision to arm the HD.1 with only one Vickers .303 machinegun, when the standard fighter armament of both sides was at least two machineguns, at this stage of the war. The French did not adopt this highly manoeuvrable fighter to replace the Nieuport 17, as Hanriot had hoped, instead prefering the fast SPAD 7.

Fortunately, the HD.1 was saved from obscurity by two Allied powers, Belgium and Italy. Both the Aviation Militaire Belge, and the Aeronautica del Regio Escercito adopted the HD.1 as their standard fighter of the late war period; the Italian company, Nieuport-Macchi, negotiated a manufacturing licence building 900 examples, many more than the Hanriot concern did, at 125. Tenente Silvio Scaroni (1893 – 1977), the second ranked WW1 Italian ace, had 26 kills – four on the Nieuport 17, the remainder on the HD.1.  However, perhaps the most famous exponent of the HD.1 was Willy Coppens, (1892 – 1986), Baron de Houthulst, who was decorated more than 20 times by Belgium, Dahomy, France, Italy, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. Coppens had 37 kills, a total which included 27 balloons. Some pilots tried to boost the HD.1′s firepower by installing a second Vickers .303″ machinegun, but the increased weight affected performance markedly. In Coppen’s case, he had an experimental Vickers machinegun of 11 mm calibre fitted to one of his personal aircraft, and found that the weight of fire was greatly increased and the effect, especially against balloons, was just what he had hoped for. Towards the end of the war a small number of French-built HD.2 aircraft (a modified type) were passed to the United States Navy; these were fitted with float undercarriages. Also, Italy sold 16 refurbished examples of the HD.1 to Switzerland, in 1921. These were used by the Fliegertruppe as advanced trainers until 1930; one preserved example still exists, and is on display at Dübendorf, Switzerland.

Here we see a rare, genuine HD.1 (Serial No. 75) in the restored Grahame-White Factory section of the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon. Used by 1 em Escadrille de Chasse, Aviation Militaire Belge, according to RAF sources it was flown post-war at an international aerobatics championship at Nice, France in March 1922, by no less than Willy Coppens, who despite having lost most of his left leg during the war, strapped his other leg to the rudder bar – and won! It was disposed of in 1934, being put on the Belgian Register as OO-APJ. When the aircraft was seen in a dilapidated state by no-less a person than Richard Shuttleworth, he purchased it for just £15, and registered it as G-AFDX. Restored to flight status, it flew until a 1939 landing accident at Old Warden. Following the death of Richard Shuttleworth during the war, the stored remains were exported to the U.S.A. in 1962, where it was restored, and flown once more.

In 1978, the aircraft was donated to the RAF Museum, Hendon and completely re-built at the Museum’s Restoration Centre at Cardington. Initially displayed in the main museum building at Hendon, (between the SE.5a and Westland Wallace, if I remember correctly), when the magnificent Grade II* Listed Building, the Grahame-White Factory, was restored on the Hendon site, the Hanriot was moved in there along with the bulk of the World War One collection.

The HD.1 is a little-known, but undoubtedly important, aircraft of World War One. We are very fortunate to see this fine example displayed in such an appropriate setting.

Originally posted to Kossack Air Force on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:00 PM PST.

Also republished by World War One Aircraft.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site