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Dorand AR

France (1917)
Picture of Dorand AR Observation Biplane Aircraft

The Dorand Ar series of observation biplanes served in some number during World War 1, with both the French and Americans.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Dorand AR Observation Biplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/3/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©

The Dorand AR series was developed for the French air service to replace the outmoded, two-seat Farman F.40 observation aircraft, a "pusher" engined design that had appeared in 1915 and went on to staff numerous air services around the world. However, the technology had formally met its match within the ever-evolving nature of war that was World War 1 and operational service was limited to just over a year before thought was given to formulating a successor aircraft. Thus came the "Dorand AR" ("Avion de Reconnaissance 1"), developed by French Captain Georges Lepere, which first took flight in September of 1916 and, after a short period of evaluation, was formally accepted into service with the French Air Force in April of 1917. The AR maintained an origin dating back to the original Dorand DO.1 of 1914. The aircraft received its formal designation from the Lieutenant Colonel (Dorand) heading up the state-operated Section Technique de l'Aeronautique at the time.

All told, the AR.1 was of a most basic design characterized by her wide-spanning biplane wing arrangement. The wings were dual-bay with parallel struts, were staggered to the rear in their placement, and operated via a network of cables. The lower wing assembly was connected to the fuselage indirectly by way of heavy duty struts. The fuselage sported slab siding and was general boxy in nature with the engine held in a compartment towards the front of the design and the empennage at the rear. The aircraft type was crewed by two personnel made up of the pilot and an observer with the former seated aft of the engine and the latter seated under and aft of the upper wing assembly in tandem, both cockpits being "open air" emplacements. The aircraft measured a wingspan of over 13 meters with a running length of 9 meters. Loaded weight was 1,250 kilograms. Power (for the base AR.1 production model - see variants) was supplied by a Renault 8 Bd V-type engine delivering 190 horsepower and provided a maximum speed of 153 kilometers per hour and a flying time of up to 3 hours. The listed service ceiling was in the vicinity of 5,500 meters. The engine powered a two-bladed wooden propeller system. The empennage sported a single vertical tail fin as well as two, all-surface moving horizontal tail planes. The undercarriage was fixed in place and consisted of two single-wheeled landing gear legs and a tail skid for basic ground support.
The pilot managed a single fixed, forward-firing .303 caliber Vickers type machine gun while the observer was afforded a trainable Lewis machine gun in either a single- or dual-gun mounting. The forward gun could be used to counter enemy aircraft or ground targets of opportunity while the rear gun was designed to protect the aircraft's vital rear quadrant from encroaching enemy aircraft. In addition to machine gun armament, the AR could be outfitted with up to 80 kilograms of ordnance, all held internally. The true nature of the AR was in its reconnaissance and observation role - not intended as a gunnery or dedicated bombing platform.

The Dorand design existed in several notable variants beginning with the initial production form designated simply as the AR.1. These were completed with the Renault 8 Bd series engines of 190 horsepower. The ARL.1 designation marked AR.1 production models revised to fit the Lorraine-Dietricj series engines of 185 horsepower. The second major production mark was the improved AR.2 which fielded a Renault 8 Gdy series engine of 200 horsepower, wing-mounted radiators (as opposed to front-mounted) and smaller-area wings. Similar to the ARL.1 conversion, the ARL.2 was nothing more than a revised AR.2 with a Lorraine-Dietrich engine of 240 horsepower.

The first Dorand AR production models reached the Western Front skies in early 1917 and would go on to form no fewer than thirteen French air service groups. The type was also fielded in number across five additional French squadrons along the Italian Front. In practice, the rather-limited Dorand AR design proved quite favorable for those called upon to fly her. She exhibited adequate qualities and proved reliable but generally suffered in overall performance due to the changing technology of war. By the end of her tenure, she was found to be much outclassed by more modern offerings from both sides of the conflict. The Dorand AR also staffed the inventory of the American Expeditionary Force by December of 1917, these fighting over the Western Front well into 1918 and purchased in over 100 examples to shore up the American's lack of available aircraft. The type was not very popular with the Yanks and ultimately developed the nickname of "Antique Rattletrap" to describe the type. American Dorand ARs were then relegated to the training of incoming American pilots when more suitable observation mounts became available.

Operators of the AR aside from France and the United States included Algeria, Greece and Serbia. The Kingdom of Serbia was able to stock four Dorand AR squadrons beginning in April of 1918.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (92mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
Graph showcases the Dorand AR.I's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
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Supported Mission Types:
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: France
Service Year: 1917
Classification Type: Observation Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Section Technique de l'Aeronautique - France
Production Units: 142
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
France; Greece; Serbia; United States
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Dorand AR.I model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.




29.99 ft

9.14 m


43.60 ft

13.29 m


10.83 ft

3.3 m


2,756 lb

1,250 kg


2,899 lb

1,315 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Renault 8Gdy inline piston engine delivering 190- or 200-horsepower.


92 mph

148 kph

80 kts


171 mi

276 km

Nautical Miles
149 nm


18,045 ft

5,500 m

3.42 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

1 x 7.7mm (0.303 caliber) Vickers machine gun in fixed, forward-firing position.
1 OR 2 x 7.7mm (0.303 caliber) Lewis machine gun(s) on trainable mount in rear cockpit.

Up to 176lbs of bombs held internally.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Variants: Series Model Variants
• AR.1 - Initial Production Model
• ARL.1
• AR.2 - Improved Production Model
• ARL.2