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Salmson 2

France (1918)
Picture of Salmson 2 Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft

The Salmson 2 made up a large portion of French reconnaissance air power by the end of World War 1 in 1918.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Salmson 2 Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 4/3/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The French Salmson concern was founded in 1890 by Emile Salmson and produced a variety of automobiles prior to World War 1. Just prior to the war, Salmson turned to manufacture of aero engines and this continued throughout the conflict, well into the 1940s. Before the company went defunct in 1946, Salmson undertook various design and production initiatives regarding military-grade aircraft - among these being the "Salmson 2" biplane series of World War 1 fame.

The Salmson 2 was developed to a French Air Force requirement for a reconnaissance-minded platform intended to supplant the outgoing Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter and Dorand A.R. series in the same role. To this, Salmson developed a highly conventional biplane arrangement with a roughly streamlined fuselage mounting the engine at the front and a crew of two seated inline in separated, open-air cockpits. The wings sported equal span assemblies with parallel support struts and applicable cabling throughout. The empennage was traditional with a single vertical tail fin and associated horizontal tailplanes. The undercarriage was a fixed assembly of struts tied to the underside of the fuselage and lower wing assembly, sporting a pair of landing wheels. A simple tail skid assisted the rear of the aircraft when at rest.

As Salmson already held an established history of aero engine production, the Salmson 2 design made proper use of the in-house Salmson 9Za series radial piston engine outputting 230 horsepower and powering a wooden two-bladed propeller assembly. This supplied the completed airframe with a maximum speed of 116 miles per hour with a range out to 300 miles. The aircraft's service ceiling was listed at a useful 20,500 feet.

Consistent with other evolved designs of the war, the Salmson 2 showcased several machine guns for which to take to the offensive or defensive as the situation in the air permitted. The pilot managed a single 0.303 caliber Vickers machine gun mated to an interrupter gear controlling the propeller. This arrangement allowed for the firing of the machine gun through the spinning propeller blades without harm to the aircraft - a technology first perfected by the Germans in the war. The rear crewman - considered an observer in the reconnaissance role and gunner in the defensive role - managed a pair of 0.303 caliber Lewis machine guns on a trainable mount. His primary role was in defense of the critical rear quadrants of the aircraft as this was where pursuing intercepting enemy aircraft would most likely originate from.
Development of the Salmson 2 occurred in 1916 to which the aircraft was formally readied for its late-1917 introduction. Production eventually steadied to provide healthy, useful wartime numbers and some 3,200 units were completed in all. The Salmson 2 proved critical to French airborne operations in the final year of the war (1918) and its importance was exemplified in the production tally. Additionally, Arriving American forces were given the mount to the tune of 700 examples for their own reconnaissance purposes - further strengthening the type's overall reach and importance to the Allied war effort against the Central Powers. Salmson also provided a slightly modified trainer variant of their Salmson 2 with redundant controls for student and instructor. All told, the aircraft was a serviceable mount with a capable feel and appropriate armament and power. Several limitations in her design were common to other aircraft of the period - limited unobstructed vision from the cockpit, open-air communications between pilot and gunner and canvas-over-wood construction.

After the Armistice of November 1918, stocks of Salmson aircraft existed to the point that they could be sold off to interested allied nations in the post-war rebuilding world. Therefore, global operators emerged in Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Peru, Poland, Spain, the Soviet Union and Japan - hundreds were produced locally in Japanese factories. The series was also developed into a handful of forgotten and, ultimately, abandoned wartime variants including the strike-minded Salmson 4, the tactical reconnaissance Salmson 5 and the single-cockpit, twin-seat Salmson 7 reconnaissance platform. Some wartime Salmson 2s were, however, recovered and modified for the civilian passenger role as the "Salmson Limousine" - air travel beginning to take hold as an applicable mode of transportation in the post-war world.






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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (117mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Salmson 2's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
3200
3200


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: France
Service Year: 1918
Classification Type: Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Salmson - France
Production Units: 3,200
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Belgium; Czechoslovakia; France; Japan; Peru; Poland; Imperial Russia; Soviet Union; Spain; United States
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Salmson 2 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
27.89 ft


Meters
8.5 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
38.55 ft


Meters
11.75 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
9.51 ft


Meters
2.9 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
1,720 lb


Kilograms
780 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
2,866 lb


Kilograms
1,300 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Salmson 9Za radial piston engine developing 230 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
117 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
188 kph


Knots
102 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
311 mi


Kilometers
500 km


Nautical Miles
270 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
20,505 ft


Meters
6,250 m


Miles
3.88 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

1 x 0.303 Vickers fixed, forward-firing machine gun synchronized to fire through the propeller.
2 x 0.303 Lewis machine guns on trainable mount in rear cockpit.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Salmson 2 - Base Series Designation
• Salmson 2 A2 - Formal Military Designation
• Salmson 4 - Ground attack variant; limited production; eventually cancelled.
• Salmson 5 - Proposed wartime tactical reconnaissance variant; cancelled
• Salmson 7 - Proposed wartime tactical reconnaissance variant with single cockpit for both crew; cancelled.
• Salmson "Limousine" / Salmson 2 "Berline" - Converted wartime Salmson 2 production models for civilian airliner role.