It was a quiet day for me. I hid from the scorching heat in my cool air-conditioned lair working on cooking lunch, writing up the recipe for my cooking blog, and doing research. I had a bit of serendipity while doing a trace back on my blog referrals I found search engine query for "w.i boucher aircraft drawings". When I googled the query string I discovered a link to an article about bizarre Austrian aircraft on Dieselpunk.org where I was quoted in the article and my drawings of some of my odd bird were used. The lucky part was I found a key part of a mystery I had been searching for. It opened the path to find all the data I need to flesh out a profile and article.For that reason I can forgive the use of my drawings without asking first. Some times the universe gives, sometimes it takes, and sometimes it is just a case of quid pro quo.
It was another Wednesday night gaming with the Lost Boys. I will not bother with an after action report because it was the gamer's equivalent of an evening listening to Volgon poetry while wearing a fiberglass diaper. Yes it was D&D which by its very nature is rubbish. I find it is more rule play and roll play than role play. The last good game was when we were using The Mirror rules. The charm of that rule set is there are almost no rules, and dice rolling is a rare last resort action. I am a firm believer that it requires buying a series of books to play a game, flee, do not get sucked into that whirling vortex of madness.
The last days of the war was a time of incredible innovation. How long the war would last was unknown and designers were planning for the future. Aviation stood on the brink of a new level of sophistication. New construction methods, improvement of power plants, and refinement in weapons and ammunition would make the sky an even deadlier place to be. Competition between aircraft manufacturers led to a furious race for contracts with the military.
The Zeppelin-Lindau All Metal Experimental Fighter
The Zeppelin-Lindau D.I is better known as the Dornier D.I. It was an all-metal fighter and a milestone in aeronautical technology that would come to define modern aircraft. It was designed by Claude Dornier in early 1918 while he was working as an aeronautical engineer at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin company at Lindau-Reutin on the Bodensee.
A wooden mockup was inspected by Idflieg (Inspektion der Fliegertruppen, Inspectorate of Flying Troops) on February 11, 1918. Subsequently six aircraft were ordered (allotted s/n D.1750/18 to D.1755/18) Three of them were powered by a 160 hp Mercedes D.III, the other three by a BMW IIIa engine.
The D.I's layout was very advanced for its time. It featured an all-metal construction with stressed fuselage skinning and cantilever wings of torsion-box construction, and carrying a jettisonable fuel tank beneath the fuselage. The type incorporated many features well ahead of the contemporary state of the art. The upper wing was mounted on the fuselage with four wide, profiled struts, without any wires. The aircraft was full-metal, with smooth duralumin covering The D.I would have carried twin synchronized 0.312 in (7.92 mm) machine guns.
The maiden flight of the D.I happened on June 4th, 1918 by Dornier test pilot Vizefeldwebel Heinz Ruppert who flew D.1752/18 successfully. The profile shows D.1751/18 with its BMW engine. During the second fighter competition, held at Berlin between May 27 and mid-July, while flown by Hauptmann Wilhelm Reinhard (commander of Jagdgeschwader I), the D.1751/18 crashed when it shed the upper wing on July 3, 1918, killing the pilot. Just before the aircraft had been flown by Oberst-Leutnant Herman Göring (commander of Jasta 27), Hauptman Curt Schwarzenberger and Leutnant Constantin Krefft. The accident notwithstanding, other fighter pilots universally agreed that the D.I was "on average" superior to the other Mercedes engined fighters.
For the totally destroyed D.1751/18 a replacement aircraft was built with strengthened wing bracing and attachments. It received the s/n D.1751/18 (Ersatz) and participated in the third fighter competition, held October 10 to November 2, 1918. This resulted in an order for 50 aircraft, allotted the s/n D.1900/18 to D.1949/18.
Early 1919, when work was halted on the aircraft production upon enactment of the Armistice agreements, 50 % of the aircraft were ready and were hidden from the Inter-Allied Armistice Commission (IAAC).
In 1921, two aircraft were sold to the USA, one was evaluated by the USN, BuNo. A-6058, the other one received the USAAS s/n 68546 and was evaluated at McCook Field under the Project Number P-241, it was transferred to the McCook Field museum on May 14, 1923, however, it was surveyed on September 8, 1926. Another D-I was in Dornier factory museum and was destroyed by the Allies bombs during WW2. The Dornier D-I was an example that modern layout of an aircraft isn’t a guarantee for success.
- "Static Test of the Dornier D.I" Cross & Cockade (US) Volume 9, Issue 4 p 391
- Grosz, Peter M. "Dornier D.I" Windsock Mini Datafile number 12, Albatros Productions Limited