Thursday, July 21, 2011

Germany - 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg W.12

A Reliable German Naval Fighter

The German Designer Ernst Heinkel had the ability to "think outside of the box". He produced a series of successful float planes which had an outstanding service record. Several of his designs flew long after the war ended.

The Hansa-Brandenburg float planes are a fun subject for profiles. They are a sleek but slightly odd mix of elements such as inverted rudders, and a slightly bowed fuselage. The series has both biplanes and monoplane. All of them enjoyed success in war and many went on to serve in civilian aviation.

The Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 was a German biplane fighter floatplane of World War I. It was a development of Ernst Heinkel's previous KDW, adding a rear cockpit for an observer/gunner, and had an unusual inverted tailplane (which instead of standing up from the fuselage, hung below it) in order to give an uninterrupted field of fire. The aircraft's first flight was in early 1917.

The W.12 was powered by a Mercedes D.III 6-cylinder inline engine, producing160 hp (119 kW). The maximum speed of the W.12 was 99 mph (160 km/h) with a service ceiling of 16,405 ft (5,000 m). The aircraft's range was 320 mi (520 km) with an endurance 3 and a half hours. The armament consisted of 1 or 2 fixed forward 7.92 (0.312 in) LMG 08/15 machine guns and a single 7.92 (0.312 in) Parabellum MG14 on a flexible gun mount in rear cockpit.

The W.12's (under the Naval designation C3MG) served on the Western Front, based at the Naval air bases at Ostend and Zeebrugge. The aircraft had some success, and one shot down the British airship C.27. During the time it was operational, a total of 181 Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 were built. The aircraft served in the Kaiserliche Marine and Marine-Luchtvaartdienst.

In April 1918, a W.12 made an emergency landing in the neutral territory of the Netherlands, where it was interned and flight tested by the Dutch. In 1919 the government of the Netherlands bought a license to build the aircraft. Thirty-five Hansa-Brandenburg W.12's were subsequently manufactured by the Van Berkel company of Rotterdam as the W-A, serving with the Dutch Naval Air Service until 1933.


  1. Hansa-Brandenburg W.12. (2010, August 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:01, August 29, 2010, from
  2. Jackson, Robert, "The Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft", Parragon, 2002. ISBN 0-75258-130-9


The Angry Lurker said...

It's like a ski slope design at the rear, beautiful looking aircraft and very functional aswell.

Unknown said...

I have been looking for more paint schemes just so I cam do a few more. I like the look of it too.

Jon Yuengling said...

The rudder looks like it can be used when the aircraft is on the water and the tail is underwater.

Unknown said...

@Jon, if the rudder is in the water then the pilot is probably swimming for shore. One of the reasons for the up-swept aft fuselage was to keep it out of the water when it took off and landed. The upside down rudder was such a success it was a feature in all the later Hansa-Brandenburg float planes