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The first operational bombing raid in the history of aerial warfare took place on November 21, 1914 when three Royal Navy Air Service planes attacked the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen, Germany. The aircraft used in that initial assault were Avro 504 two-seater biplanes designed by British aviation pioneer A.V. Roe - hence the name Avro.
The Avro 504 was one of the most versatile and long-lived military aircraft in aviation history. Roe built the prototype of the 504 in 1912, two years before the outbreak of the World War I.
Aviation historians have written glowingly of the 504, describing it as "superlatively sensitive, graceful and obedient." It was simple and light, yet strong and well balanced. In the air, the agile little craft could be looped, spun, rolled or flown for short distances upside down. Still, the sensitivity of the aircraft discouraged rough handling, for the Avro 504 responded without the slightest hesitation to a light hand on the controls.
The Avro 504 was normally powered by an 80 horsepower Gnôme rotary engine built in France, which gave a ship top speed of 80 mph. Several versions of the 504 were constructed during the First World War, and they served a variety of useful functions.
Designated as either the 504A, B, C, D, J, K or N, the aircraft was used by both the Royal Navy Air Service and the Royal Flying Crops as a trainer fighter or bomber and for long range reconnaissance. For Long-Distance flights, the front cockpit of the 504 was fitted with a large fuel tank which gave the plane eight hours of flying time.
The standard 504 fuselage was constructed of ash reinforced by wire and covered with fabric. The area around the cockpit was decked over with plywood. The wings had two main spars and ribs of spruce, and these, too, were wire- braced and fabric-covered.
As a fighter plane, the Avro 504 remained operational
right up to the end of World War I. And its life as a trainer was even longer, for
it was still being used as the standard training aircraft by the Royal Air Force as late
as 1933. Along with America's Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, it was also a favorite of the post-war
barnstorming pilots flying for exhibitions in many parts of the world.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004