U.S. Air Service




Salmson 2A2

Aircraft 6 and Ground Crew, 12th Aero Squadron

Development and Operation

It was soon recognized by the Aviation Militaire that not only were the A.R. 1's and A.R. 2's underpowered, but also the Sopwith 1A2 Strutters were both too fragile and carried an inadequate payload. In 1916, therefore, the Aviation Militaire established a requirement for a 2-seat reconnaissance machine capable of carrying a crew of two, several machine guns, and a wireless set. The Société des moteurs Salmson designed a biplane based on their knowledge gained from the production of the Sopwith machines.

The Salmson 2 was powered by a 230 hp Salmson 9Za engine. The wings were of equal span with ailerons on both upper and lower wings. Armament consisted of a single fixed machine gun for the pilot and a twin machine gun configuration for the observer. The Salmson underwent STAé testing on 29 April 1917 and its performance was judged to be good. A production order was placed and eventually 3200 aircraft were manufactured. As the war progressed field modifications were carried out to allow the Salmson to carry 230 kg of bombs for ground attack duties.

The AEF air service purchased 705 Salmson 2's. The first 18 were delivered in April 1918 and were used to replace A.R. 1's and Sopwith 1 Strutters. Salmson 2's saw duty in the following 1st Army with: 1st Corps Observation Group {1st and 12th Observation Squadrons}; 3rd Corps Observation Group {88th and 90th Corps Observation Squadrons}; 5th Corps Observation Group (99th and 104th Observation Squadrons}; 7th Corps Observation Group {258th Corps Observation Squadron}; and the 1st Army Observation Group {24th and 91st Army Observation Squadrons}. In addition, the 167th Corps Observation Squadron of the 2nd Army Observation Group used the Salmson.

The first Salmsons supplied to the 1st and 12th Aero Squadrons had a Lewis gun mounted on the upper wing. This position degraded performance so severely that they were removed. Some Salmsons were reequipped with a modified Lewis gun manufactured by the Savage Arms Co. Also, in some machines the pilot's Vickers gun was replaced by Marlin machine guns.


Aircraft and Flight Characteristics
[For aircraft equipped with a 230 hp Salmson 9Za engine]

Wing Span

11.75 m


8.5 m


2.9 m




700 kg


1,290 kg

Maximum Speed


   Sea Level


   2000 m

186 km/hr.

   4000 m

173 km/hr.

   5000 m

168 km/hr.



   1000 m

3 minutes 18 seconds

   2000 m

7 minutes 13 seconds

   4000 m

17 minutes 20 seconds

   5000 m

27 minutes 30 seconds


6250 m


500 km


1. French Aircraft of the First World War
by Davilla, Dr. James and Arthur M. Soltan

2. Photo Courtesy of Jason Hanson whose grandfather Leonard is on the left.

To find other Doughboy Features visit our

Directory Page

For Great War Society
Membership Information

Click on Icon

For further information on the events of 1914-1918 visit the homepage of

The Great War Society

Additions and comments on these pages may be directed to:
Michael E. Hanlon (medwardh@hotmail.com) regarding content,
or toMike Iavarone (mikei01@execpc.com) regarding form and function.
Original artwork & copy; © 1998-2000, The Great War Society