Century Aviation

1918 DeHavilland DH-4 Mail Plane


Fantasy of Flight
Polk City, FL

In October we delivered a1918 DeHavilland DH-4B U. S. Air Mail version to Kermit Weeks and the Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, FL. Kermit Weeks purchased a number of DH-4 projects several years ago. These projects were part of the Tallman/Mantz collection, the Hollywood stunt pilots. They were built by a gentleman named Specth who was building them for Frank Tallman. The projects had been in storage since that purchase. Two of the airframes are being restored for Kermit Weeks/ Fantasy of Flight. The first airframe is a DH-4BM Airmail airframe, into which we incorporated an original airmail airframe including a set of Loening Hi-lift aluminum wings. This original aircraft was #358. Only 10 sets of Loening Hi-lift, Hi-Altitude wings were built. From photos and archive information, we found that seven of the sets went to the Army Air Corps for evaluation. The other three sets went to Air Mail airplanes. Of these three, only one had the large landing light on the right outboard wing struts that you see in the photograph. This set of wings and the landing light that goes with them are the only full set left in existence.

The wings used solid spruce spars with all of the ribs made of aluminum. We were able to save most of the original ribs with only minor repairs. To the fuselage provided we added empennage, tail feathers, landing gear, plywood and metal cowlings. We also built the fuel and oil tanks, restored the radiator louver system, finished all of the control systems and completed the cockpit including a wicker pilot’s seat.

Kermit’s shop at Fantasy of Flight will complete the Liberty engine overhaul, have the instruments certified, fabric and paint the wings and tail surface. They are also supplying the propeller, wheels and tires. When it’s complete, this DH-4 will be flyable and Kermit plans to fly it.