Built in a large numbers, the French Salmson 2A2 was the most widely used reconnaissance aircraft in the final year of the First World War. So much was the amazement of the Japanese observers in France at its performance that several of these two-seater biplanes were sent to Japan and were later used to train the Japanese aircrew according to the most up-to-date flying techniques. Also, in 1919 the President of the Kawasaki Dockyard Company acquired not only the manufacturing rights to it, but also an army contract to build it. This became a reality in 1920 although the Japanese Army was only allowed to manu-facture engines. Salmson representatives filed a protest, but the two parties came soon to a mutual agreement and worked in collaboration thereafter.Otsu-1 was the first Japanese Army-built version of the French Salmson 2A2 produced in 1920. The Japanese-built 2A2 biplanes were almost identical to the original aircraft apart from minor modifications. Both the French and the Japanese experimented on alternative engines; however, due to overheating problems their production ceased. The modified Type Otsu-1 took part in the Russian Civil War in 1922 and had a wide range of uses including bombing, liaison, light cargo transport and ration re-supply to name just a few. It remained the Japanese Army’s principal reconnaissance aircraft until 1933. After their release from the military service their popularity rose when they were sold as military surplus to civilian pilots and were used as mail planes.
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The Salmson 2 was a French reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber from World War I and the interwar period. The machine was built in a biplane system, was characterized by a wooden structure and had a classic - fixed undercarriage. The flight of the prototype took place in 1916, and serial production continued in 1917-1918. About 3,200 machines of this type were built in its course. The drive was provided by a single Salmson 9Za engine with 230 HP. The deck armament consisted of three 7.7 mm machine guns.
The Salmson 2 was developed by Emil Salmson in connection with the requirements set by the French military aviation for a new light bomber from 1916. The machine turned out to be successful and, together with the Breguet 14, was the main reconnaissance and light bomber of the French military aviation in the period 1916-1918! During its construction, the experience gained from the construction and operation of the Salmson 1 (SM-1) aircraft was used. The Salmson 2 aircraft was characterized by very good piloting qualities, was stable and had good performance. Two main development versions were created in the course of production: SM-2A2 (reconnaissance version) and SM-2B2 (bomb version). Airplanes of this type, apart from France, also served in the aviation of Belgium, Japan, the USA and Poland. They were withdrawn from our aviation by 1923.