The DH9 in Estonian Military Service

1. de Havilland DH9
Serial no. 17 (formerly RAF H9133), Estonian Air Company, 1919. Aircraft is finished in PC 10 Varnished Linen on uppersurfaces, with Battleship Grey fuselage panels. Undersurfaces and wheel covers are Clear Doped Linen. The Estonian triangular insignia of (from outside) Mid Blue, Black and White is present on the fuselage and wings, but outlined in White. Estonian colours also decorate the rudder and part of the fin. Serial and code numbers are White.

2. de Havilland DH9
Serial no. 30 (formerly RAF D660), Estonian Air Company, 1919. Aircraft is finished in an identical fashion to scheme 1 above. This aircraft crashed on 11 February 1920. Note the slightly different proportions of the Estonian triangle. This non standardisation is evident on many Estonian aircraft of the time. There are also remaining traces of RAF roundels on the wing surfaces.

3. de Havilland DH9
Serial no. 31 (formerly RAF H9157), Estonian Air Company, 1919-22. Aircraft is finished in an identical fashion to scheme 1 above, except that the Estonian tail marking does not extend onto the fin. Note the elongated proportions of the fuselage Estonian triangle.

The first Estonian DH9s were purchased from ex-RAF stocks by the provisional Estonian government in 1919, which was engaged in the struggle for independence from Russia, whilst at the same time contending with German Landswehr formations and a combination of White Russian and Red formations.

The first batch of eight DH9s had all arrived by Summer 1919, along with a selection of other British aircraft including nine Avro 504Ks and six Short 184s. These new aircraft had a minimal effect on the progress to the war - only 25 operational sorties were made by the Estonian Aviation Company, these by the same two pilots!

In 1925 the Estonian Air Force was reorganised into three divisions, each attached to an Army group, and the surviving DH9s were assigned to the 1st Division at Rakvere. The DH9s soldiered on until the summer 1933, when the last active example, flown by Lt. August Mae, lost its undercarriage on a hangar roof at Rakvere. The DH9 was succeeded in Estonian service by four Letov S-228E bombers, purchased from Czechoslovakia in 1932.

Pictures and text taken from Issue 6 of Insignia Magazine.

All pictures and text © Blue Rider Publishing 2013