Saturday, September 3, 2011

Austria - 1917 Aviatik (Berg) D-I

The First Totally Austrian Fighter

My schedule has recently been thrown out of kilter. One reason is I have been busy researching Austrian aircraft. There are lots of different variants of their aircraft types, it comes down to knowing what the serial number indicates. Once I had that sorted out I could begin putting together my master aircraft files.

One thing which makes the process more time consuming is the hexagonal scheme used varies in color for each aircraft. It makes the process slower and more labor intensive than other aircraft types. The good thing is once I see the results it is very satisfying.

This is an Aviatik series 38 fighter which served in Flik 63J. The paint scheme is a streaked pattern which covered the fuselage, tail plane, part of he rudder and upper wing surfaces. The striped forward rudder adds a nice contrast to the finish.

This is an Aviatik series 138 from Flik 74J. The camouflage is the a hexagonal pattern which changes color in bands. The white section of the fuselage is marked with the name Mizzi, This was the personal marking for Korporal Josef Kunze. This example was from early 1918 before the change to the Maltese Cross.

The Aviatik series 338 served in Flik 1J and was flown by Oblt. Bela Macourek. The fuselage is the later model which has a more streamlined nose section. The power plant was more powerful than hose used in the earlier series. Once again the camouflage is a hexagonal pattern however the colors are different. The Maltese cross marks it as a late war aircraft i use after the spring of 1918. The side flash was a diagonal red, white and green stripe.

The Aviatik D.I, was a single-engine, single-seater fighter biplane. The Aviatik D.I represented the first wholly Austro-Hungarian designed fighter in the Austro-Hungarian Air Service (Luftfahrtruppen). It was also known as the Berg D.I or the Berg Fighter after its designer, Julius von Berg.

The D.I was a good combat aircraft. It was reasonably fast, had excellent flying characteristics and maneuverability, and could reach higher altitudes than most of its adversaries. In addition, it was provided with a roomy and comfortable cockpit which gave a good field of view.

Despite those desirable features, the new Aviatik fighter wasn't greeted with enthusiasm when it entered service in autumn 1917, as the type also had some serious defects which didn't endear it to its pilots. The early aircraft had structural deficiencies and their machine guns were installed beyond the reach of the pilot; if the gun(s) jammed, there was nothing he could do about it. These problems were later rectified with the strengthening of the airframe and the repositioning of the guns, but the main cause of complaints was the engine's tendency to overheat far too easily. To alleviate the cooling problems, operational units tended to fly their aircraft without the engine's top panels and sometimes also the side panels were left off.

The Aviatik D.I was manufactured under license by a numbers of subcontractors.

  • Austrian Aviatik built the 38, 138, 238 and 338 Series
  • Lohner built the 115 and 315 Series
  • Lloyd manufactured the 48, 248 and 348 Series.
  • MAG (Magyar Általános Gépgyár - General Hungarian Machine Works) built the 84 and 92 Series
  • Thöne und Fiala manufactured the 101 Series
  • WKF (Wiener Karosserie Fabrik - Vienna (Car)Body Factory built the 184, 284 and 384 Series.

Ordered but not build were the 215 and 201 Series from Lohner and ThÖne und Fiala respectively.

Work on the prototype began in August 1916, the first flight of the Aviatik D.I prototype, 30.14, took place on October 16, 1916 at Aspern, killing the test pilot.

Further modifications were made, and three more prototypes of the Aviatik D.I were manufactured, labeled 30.19 (for tests on the ground), 30.20 (for tests in flight) and 30.21 (as a reserve airframe). These prototypes differed from the production aircraft in having a single unsynchronized Schwarzlose machine gun above the top wing, firing over the propeller.

Tests of the modified aircraft were positive and the first unit to receive the first serial batch (with two synchronized Schwarzloses, one on each side of the cylinder block) of the Aviatik D.I was Fluggeschwader I (FLG I, later to be renamed to Flik 101G) on the Divac(a airfield in Slovenia.

The Austro-Hungarian aviation units used the D.I widely until the end of World War I on Eastern, Italian and Balkan fronts, mainly as an escort fighter for the 2-seater reconnaissance aircraft, as the most fighter units preferred the Albatros D.III in air superiority role.

The D.II was a version of the D.I with a cantilever lower wing. The model went into production in late 1918 in two Series (39 and 339), but the production aircraft were too late for operational service. The D.III high-altitude version with a 230 hp Hiero engine and the Dr.I triplane development remained as prototypes only.

The main differences between the Series were in the power of Austro-Daimler engines used (185 hp in the early production aircraft, 200 or 210 hp in the mid-production, and 225 hp in the last ones), in exact positioning of the machine guns, and in structural and radiator modifications.

Until the 31st October 1918 a number of 677 Aviatik D.I airframes of all batches were handed over to the Austro-Hungarian Air Force.


  1. Aviatik D.I. (2011, April 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:37, September 3, 2011, from
  2. Aviatik Berg D.I photos from the Vienna technical Museum</li>
  3. The Aerodrome page regarding the Aviatik D.I
  4. Holmes, Tony (2005). Jane's Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 0 0071 9292 4.
  5. Munson, Kenneth - Fighters, Attack and Training Aircraft 1914-19 ISBN 0-7537-0916-3


Paul´s Bods said...

Now those are colourfull!!!!!
I can´t begin to even imagine making one of those in 1/72nd!!!

Paul´s Bods said...

Oh yeh...and no..I don´t really like the all red colour schemes ;-D

Jon said...

I would of thought that the altitude advantage would of put this aircraft in great demand for air superiority.

W. I. Boucher said...

@Paul: It would be difficult but rewarding. From my research it looks like the colors of the hexagons varied by the individual plane. Add the fact that the colors change in different sections it might make it a nightmare. My suggestion would be make a line drawing of a hex pattern and then print it as a decal and hand paint the pattern colors. On the matter of the MVR Albatros I have done a lot of looking and I have not found a side view of the plane in question. From the poster it looks like the plane shown is all red. I have not found one used by him which has a varnished fuselage, red wings, tail section and turtle deck. I did find a list of all his planes and none match that scheme. There is one with varnished fuselage, wings, tail section and forward cowling. He had two Albatros D.V with similar paint schemes one was shot down on July 6, 1917. Serial Number D.4693/17 was flown between Nov./Dec. 1917 from the Aveesnes-Les-sec Aerodrome while he was commanger of JG#1.

@Jon: When looking at the production date it appears that the clock ran out by the time the prototype was ready to become a production aircraft. Since it was a pure fighter design it was no longer needed after hostilities ended. One factor which may have delayed the release could be lack of the engines needed for the high altitude flight.



The Angry Lurker said...

That hexagonal scheme is lovely but must have been a nightmare, any reason they adopted this scheme?

W. I. Boucher said...

@Fran I like the look of it too, luckily I have done several versions and it is a matter of skinning the drawing with it and then changing the colors one hexagon at a time. I would think that it was a printed cloth as used on many German and Austrian aircraft. The exact reason of why it was used is a mystery to me. It could be because it was easier to produce than the asymmetrical German style lozenge patterns or some of the more exotic Austrian patterns such as the swirl camouflage scheme. Another reason might be the fact the hexagon pattern started as a naval scheme and it was adapted to land based aircraft. Germany used their own version of hexagonal schemes on bombers and float planes.