Czech-based Aero's first aircraft commitment was post-World War 1 serial production of the Austro-Hungarian Hansa-Brandenburg B.I biplane trainers in 1919. Their next attempt became the first indigenous Czech fighter design in the Aero Ae.02 of 1920. However, no takers meant that only one flyable prototype was completed. This also proved the case with the Ae.04 of 1921, an evolved form of the Ae.02, as low interest led to a single example being completed.
This work did set the stage for the ultimate version of the aircraft series to take form in the Aero A.18 which first-flew in March of 1923. Design was once-again attributed to Antonin Vlasak and Antonin Husnik. The aircraft saw more commercial success than its predecessors as a production batch of 20 were realized before the end. The type would fly for the Czechs until the German invasion of their country in 1939 - long after production had ceased.
The A.18 was the evolved form of the preceding Ae.04 itself and carried a similar biplane wing arrangement. Among this were many hold-over traits of World War 1-era warplanes: an open-air cockpit, fixe undercarriage and mixed construction. The A.18 followed more a requirement from the Czech Army than previous Aero fighter designs and benefitted from the earlier commitment, also being developed alongside the Aero A.19 and A.20 models and showed enough to be selected against these challengers.
The BMW IIIa 6-cylinder water-cooled inline piston engine of 185 horsepower used in the Ae.04 was retained as was an armament suite of 2 x 7.7mm Vickers Machine Guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. Ailerons were now relocated from their overhanging position along the upper wing to the wing tips proper. The cockpit was positioned aft of the upper wing assembly and given a relatively commanding view over his aircraft. The upper and lower wing members were connected via parallel struts as opposed to the think I-struts of the Ae.04 and Ae.02.
Performance-wise the A.18 could reach a maximum speed of 142 miles per hour with a range out to 250 miles. Its service ceiling was 30,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was 1,930 feet per minute.
From the aforementioned first-flight arrived a contract for twenty aircraft and all went on to serve the Czech Air Force. From this stock two were modified independently as "A.18B" and "A.18C" to serve as racing platforms and these were displayed to great effect during the Czech Aero Club's air races of 1923 and 1924.
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