Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Austria - 1918 Phönix C.I

The Mystery of the Elusive C.I

As I have said Austrian aviation during the Great War can be filled with twists and turns. It has driven many to despair trying to establish what company made which plane. Slowly but semi-surely I have tried to make sense of a bewildering amount of contradictory and down-right erroneous information.

Phönix C.I series 121

Phönix C-1 sn 121.72 - 1918
Phönix C-1 sn 121.72 - 1918

This example is painted in a two color scheme with rounded edges between colors. The tail plane is red with a white stripe. The aircraft shows both an Iron and a Maltese cross.

This example is painted in a speckled multiple color scheme The lower wing and tailplane surfaces are doped cloth. The distinctive scalloped rudder still has the old style Iron cross.

UFAG C.I series 161

UFAG C-1 sn 161.67 - 1918
UFAG C-1 sn 161.67 - 1918

The two color scheme employs the later Austrian two color saw-tooth edged camouflage. The differences between the UFAG and Phönix designs are very easy to see.

This is another flavor of the later Austrian two color saw-tooth edged camouflage. The differences the rudder construction between these UFAG examples might make you think they had different manufacturers. When in doubt look for the serial number.

The Phönix C.I was an Austro-Hungarian First World War reconnaissance and general-purpose Biplane built by the Phönix Flugzeug-Werke.

There is much confusion surrounding Austrian aircraft identification. Part of the problem stems from the fact Camillo Castiglione owned Phönix, Hansa-Brandenburg, and UFAG as part of a monopoly. Each of these three companies built versions ot the Hansa-Brandenburg C.I. There was a certain amount of sharing of design directions. Design features used in one company's aircraft would be incorporated into the other companie's designs.

To identify the company who actually produced a particular version of the C.I you need to examin the serial number. The first part of the number is the code for the manufacturer.

  • (UFAG) Ungarische Flugzeugfabrik A.G. / Budapest: Series 161
  • (Phönix) Phönix – Flugzeugwerke Wien-Stadlau: Series 123
  • (Lloyd) Ungarische Lloyd- Flugzeugfabrik – Budapest: Series 49

The Phönix C.I was the first original design developed by the Phönix Flugzeug-Werke It was based on the Hansa-Brandenburg C.II that Phönix were building under license. A conventional biplane with a rear fuselage/tailplane similar to aircraft designed by Ernst Heinkel. The C.I had a fixed trail skid landing gear and was powered by a Hiero 6-cylinder inline piston engine, it had two tandem open cockpits for the pilot and observer/gunner. The company built 110 C.Is and then entered service with the KuKLFT in early 1918.

After the First World War 30 aircraft were built by the Swedish Army engineering department but they were fitted with a 220 hp (164 kW) Benz inline engine.


  1. Phönix C.I. (2010, September 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:40, March 25, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ph%C3%B6nix_C.I&oldid=385776342
  2. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). Orbis Publishing.
  3. Grosz, Peter M., George Haddow and Peter Schiemer. "Austro-Hungarian Army Aircraft of World War I". Boulder, CO: Flying Machines Press, 2002. ISBN 1-89126-805-8.


The Angry Lurker said...

They really are nice looking aircraft, damn good getting the details and putting it together.

Unknown said...

Thanks Fran, I did have fun doing the profiles and being able to learn something new. Austria keeps you on your toes, there seem to be more exceptions than rules.

Bill said...

It is completely astonishing to me that the tailplanes of so many of these aircraft are so small!

Thank you for your excellent work, and please let me know when I can buy a CD!



Unknown said...

@Bill: Thanks for your comments. The rudder/tailplane question is something which I wondered about too. It may be due to the fact smaller tailplanes were one piece affairs which could be rotated easier than a larger one. In their defense, designers were still writing the book on aviation construction. We are sure to see many wrong choices while they sorted things out.

The small size of fighters is a byproduct of design constraints and logistical considerations. The power generated by of most engines in use was an issue. It effects the power to weight ratio. Fuel consumption and use of materials made small light weight aircraft very attractive. Ease of repair, maneuverability and the ability to move aircraft units by rail were also valid reasons.