Race planes of the 1930s' - The Darmstadt D-22

By Willie Bodenstein


A development of the Darmstadt D-18 designed by F. Fecher, the D-22 was a slightly enlarged, more streamlined and more powerful German sports-plane built to compete in the 1932 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe.

The Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe was an international aeronautical speed competition which was created on 25 August 1909 by the French oil magnate Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe. The race was reinstated three times through the years at the initiative of the Aéro-Club de France and later by Deutsch de la Meurthe's widow Suzanne.

Photo by L'Aerophile magazine / commons.wikimedia.org

The trial was to be run in two 1,000 km stages separated by a 90-minute refuelling stop and was limited to aircraft with an engine capacity not exceeding eight litres. The starting point of the race was still at Étampes. Suzanne Deutsch de la Meurthe offered one million Francs in prize money while Ministère de l'Air (Air Ministry) offered another three million.

The D-22 boasted a wooden construction with a cantilever biplane and oval cross-section fuselage skinned with plywood and fabric on parts of the single-spar wings. This could, as was required by the rules of the competition, be dismounted and folded rearwards. The crew of two sat in tandem in open cockpits each with its own with windshield. The landing gear was fixed with a tail skid. The engine was mounted in the fuselage nose and drove a two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller.

Propulsion was from a 75.7 kW (101.5 hp) Argus As 8 4-cylinder inverted air-cooled, in-line piston engine driving a 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller which powered the D-22 to a top speed of 230 km/h (140 mph, 120 kts).

Two were built but only one, a D-22A flew in the cup. Not having flaps or slats, she was severely handicapped in the landing trials, eventually finishing 35th out of 43 contestants. However, after this she improved her score after a rally around Europe, where she took the 4th place with a cruise speed of 205 km/h (127 mph; 111 kts). In the maximum speed trial, the D-22A was beaten only by the five Heinkel He 64s, reaching 230.7 km/h (143.4 mph; 124.6 kts). As a result, she eventually finished 17th overall.

Sold in 1933, she competed for several more years in various events.

Classic Aircraft

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