Monday, December 10, 2012

Britain - 1917 R.A.F. FE.9

Boldly Moving Forward Into the Past.

Life has been demanding of my free time. I hope my routine will settle down to normal chaos by the new year. It is good to be back. I need to post some of the work which has slipped through the cracks during the Fokker Dr.I renovation project. Today's post is one of the rare birds I have been working on.

Brief Overview of the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.9

The Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.9 was a prototype British two seat fighter-reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War. A single-engined pusher biplane of 1917, the F.E.9 had poor performance and handling, and only three were built.

In summer 1916, the Royal Aircraft Factory set out to design a replacement for its F.E.2b two-seat pusher fighter. The F.E.9 was of similar pusher configuration and therefore already obsolescent by the time it appeared in 1917. Although effective gun synchronizing gear was now available, which would allow a tractor design with superior performance to be designed, the factory chose to continue the pusher layout of the F.E.2 in its new two seat fighter, the F.E.9. Emphasis was placed in the design upon providing the gunner with a good field of fire and the pilot a good all-round view. Its nacelle extended well forward of the wings and was located high up in the wing gap to give a good field of fire for the observer, who was seated in the nose, ahead of the pilot, with dual controls fitted. It had unequal span, single-bay wings, with ailerons on the upper wing only with large horn balances (the amount of control surface forward of the hinge). It was powered by a 200 hp (149 kW) Hispano-Suiza 8 V8 engine, with the Royal Aircraft Factory having priority for this important and widely used engine.

Three prototypes and 24 production aircraft were ordered, with the first of three prototypes flying in April 1917. It was found to have a poor climb performance and handling, with the ailerons being overbalanced, which tended to force the aircraft onto its back in steep turns. In order to try and solve its handling problems it was fitted with various designs of aileron and rudders.

After service trials of the first prototype in France, Major General Hugh Trenchard recommended that development be stopped, despite this the second prototype flew in October 1917, with two-bay wings, which was passed to No. 78 Squadron based at Biggin Hill in the Home Defense role. The third prototype appeared in November 1917, and was used for trials at Farnborough until early 1918.

Although the 24 production aircraft were not completed, the F.E.9 did form the basis for the later N.E.1 night fighter and A.E.3 Ram ground attack aircraft.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

When Good Planes Go Bad

Fokker Dr.I Triplanes: When Good Planes Go Bad

Recently I had produced a lot of a Fokker triplane profiles. A recent count was 54 Dr.I profiles. I took break and worked on some new refined weapons, wing skids, high-light kit and assorted parts and While working adding newly finished parts upgrades to my Dr.I profiles based on an old but serviceable master file I noticed something was wrong. Not just wrong for one triplane, but for all of the current run of 54. I looked at the inverted V-strut and noticed it was on the wrong side of the machine guns. Finding the mistake does one thing, It lights a fire under me and gives me an excuse for a complete renovation . Here are a few of the new profiles from the Triplane Errata Project.

This was the bird which started the dominoes falling. I have to confess I have put off doing the iconic red and white Triplane. So many people have done their own version. I was afraid of a swarm of cliches to start creeping into my collection. Someone talked me down off the edge and I added them for the sake of completion. In the end it was when I looked and saw what was wrong.

Once I got the Red Barron sorted out and tucked away, I went looking for his next of kin. I've always liked his paint scheme better. Luckly I have my initial profile file to work from. Just add the new parts, tweak, save as a png to the drawings folder, save as thumbnail image resize, unsharpen mask, do some optimization to keep things snappy. To simplify I overwrite existing graphic with the new image so there is no need to change file calls in HTML. It helped sort out the steps to bare bones.

These are a couple of the new profiles from this week's crop. The easiest way to do this is working in batches. So far the count is a dozen in the can waiting to be turned into a pair of pngs. Baby steps, I'm still annoyd with the "I" struts. grrrrr. Ok that force me to to a refit sooner than later. Cheers I need a nap.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

An Apology and Explanation

Due to a series of accidents beyond my control I had experienced some down time on my domain. For the first time in 12 years of uninterrupted service All my sites were down due to a severe storm and the damage it wrought led to an 18 hour blackout. Because of an act of nature the graphic portion of this blog was unavailable.

Things are now back to normal and I hope it stays that way for the foreseeable future. Thank you for your patience and I hope there was a minimal amount of inconvenience. I will have a new post up as soon as possible.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Germany - 1918 - Zeppelin-Lindau CS.I

With a Little Help From my Friends!

One of the joys of illustrating the past is when friends set me down a new path to help bring rare birds to life. As stated previously I have been working on a project with a friend and fellow blogger, Gary C. Warne. He asked me if I had a profile for another plane flown in his new book, Bloodied Red Star. I checked and found I had started a master file for the plane. Rare was not good enough, Gary wanted an even rarer version of the prototype with the front mounted radiator. Luckily he had photos which made life easier. Once again we brought to life another rare bird.

If you have not read Gary's blog it is worth a visit. Follow his blog and read all about the latest developments and solid articles on Aviation.

The Shape of Things to Come: Zeppelin-Lindau CS.I

As the final months of World War One rolled on aviation development reached a new height. The last gasp race for military supremacy would establish a new vocabulary for aircraft design. The echos of this period influence the world of aviation design for decades to come.

This is the prototype of the Zeppelin-Lindau CS.I. The drawing shows the fuselage mounted "ear-style" radiators. and bulbous engine fairing. The camouflage is a three color marine hexagonal scheme. The rudder shows the structure of the wooden framing used to provide rigidity.

This example shows the front mounted radiator version. The rounded engine fairing is gone and the radiator is similar to the type used on the Zeppelin-Lindau Dornier D.I The finishing scheme is the same as used on the prototype.

Short Overview of the Zeppelin-Lindau CS.I

This experimental two-seat seaplane was designed By Claude Dornier at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH. Construction began in 1918. It was of all-metal construction except for the fabric-covered wing and cruciform tail surfaces. Ailerons were fitted with Flettner-type servos.

Armament consisted of 2 × forward-firing 0.312 in (7.92 mm) "Spandau" LMG 08/15 machine guns controlled by the pilot, and 1 × 0.312 in (7.92 mm) trainable Parabellum MG14 machine gun for observer. The machine was fitted with an Benz Bz IIIbo 8 cylinder liquid cooled V engine, 195 hp (145 kW). . The top speed of the Zeppelin-Lindau CS.I was 93.75 mph (150 kmh). Both nose and side radiator installations were tested.


  1. Zeppelin-Lindau (Dornier) CS.I(2012, August 10). In Myflyingmachines. Retrieved 22:34, August 11, 2012, from
  2. Gray, Peter; Thetford, Owen (1962). German Aircraft of the First World War (First edition ed.). London: Putnam.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Germany - 1918 - LVG C.VI

Out With the Old and In With the New!

I am still busy working on a new series of existing profiles based on newly made master files. I have been alternating between German two seat and British pusher aircraft. Today I will continue with German aircraft, constructed by LVG.

The Long Lived LVG C.VI

As the war entered it's last days aviation design was becoming more science than art. Well tested designs which were meant for combat in the Great War fought for newly formed fledgling air corps over the skies of Eastern Europe. Many of these designs slowly made their way into the world of civil aviation and served well into the next decade.

This example features a varnished wood fuselage and metal forward section. The wings and tail plane are covered in 5 color camouflage fabric. Dark on the top surfaces and light on the bottom surfaces. Balkan crosses are on the fuselage, rudder , the right and left sides of top upper wing surface and crosses on the bottom lower wing surface.A white stylized six-sided shooting star and the number 4 are located below the cockpit and observer position. The exhaust pipe is the curved split flow type.

This Polish LVG C.VI has been painted in a common two color pattern. The wings and tailplane is varnished linen on the lower surfaces. I am not sure about the upper wing surfaces. I assume the wings are the same brown used on the fuselage. The Polish are the bordered variety. They are positioned in the standard 2+2 pattern. There are several notable details. The observer's gun is is a ring mounted Lewis gun. The chimney-like exhaust pipe gives it a distinct look.

Eight new C.VI's were supplied by Germans on 27th February 1919. This aircraft took part in combat along at Polish front in March of 1919. The aircraft was piloted by German mercenary.

A Short Overview of the LVG C.VI

LVG C.VI. (2012, July 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

LVG C.VI was a German two-seat reconnaissance and artillery spotting aircraft used during World War I.

The aircraft was designed by Willy Sabersky-Müssigbrodt and developed by Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (LVG) in 1917. The C.VI was a further development of the C.V, which Sabersky-Müssigbrodt had made for his former employer DFW. It was lighter, smaller and aerodynamically refined, although its fuselage seemed more bulky. It was a biplane of mixed, mostly wooden construction. It featured a semi-monocoque fuselage, plywood covered. Rectangular wings of wooden and metal construction, canvas covered. Upper wing of slightly greater span, shifted some 10 in (25 cm) towards front. Vertical fin plywood covered, rudder and elevators of metal frame canvas covered, stabilizers (tail planes) of wooden frame canvas covered. Straight uncovered engine in the fuselage nose, with a chimney-like exhaust pipe. Two-blade Benz wooden propeller, 9.45 ft (2.88 m) diameter. Flat water radiator in central section of upper wing. Fixed conventional landing gear, with a straight common axle and a rear skid. Aircraft were equipped with a radio (Morse send only); transmissions were by means of an antenna which could be lowered below the aircraft when needed. The crew had parachutes and heated flying suits. A total of 1,100 aircraft of the type were manufactured.

Most LVG C.VIs were used by the German military aviation in last operations of World War I, mostly on Western Front, for close reconnaissance and observation.

After the war, Deutsche Luft-Reederei (DLR) used several C.VIs to provide mail and passenger transport service. The Polish Air Force used several aircraft during Polish-Soviet war (the first was left by the Germans, another was completed from parts in 1920, and several were bought abroad). Suomen ilmailuliikenne Oy purchased two C.VIs from a Swedish airline in 1923. The company went bankrupt in 1922, but would be a predecessor to Aero O/Y, in turn a predecessor of Finnair. The Finnish Air Force purchased two aircraft. One was destroyed in a spin in Santahamina in 1923. The other was used until the end of 1924. Several (at least eight) were used by Lithuania, two last ones survived until 1940. Three were used in Czechoslovakia, two in Switzerland (1920-1929), several in the USSR.

Today, there are three surviving C.VIs. One is on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, one at the Brussels Air Museum in Belgium and the one at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace in Paris


  1. LVG C.VI. (2012, July 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 21:20, July 16, 2012, from
  2. Heinonen, Timo: Thulinista Hornetiin - Keski-Suomen ilmailumuseon julkaisuja 3, Keski-Suomen ilmailumuseo, 1992, ISBN 951-95688-2-4
  3. Krzysztof Choloniewski, Wieslaw Baczkowski: Samoloty wojskowe obcych konstrukcji 1918-1939. Tomik 2 (Barwa w lotnictwie polskim no.7), WKiL, Warsaw 1987, ISBN 83-206-0728-0 (Polish language)
  4. Lewis, Michael: 1914-18 Connections website. Restoration of Brussels Air Museum LVG CVI

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Germany - 1917 - LVG C.V

All Work and No Play Makes Will...

Since I last posted things have been hectic. I just got completed a series of profiles for the book project I wrote about earlier and hope to be able to share them when the time is right. Site revisions and working up new profile masters and insignias, etc has been keeping me busy. I got sidetracked on a bit of engine building. Slowly I will have made a new set of detailed engines I can insert into the profile and dial in the size. It will help when doing types where only the engine is changed.

My latest profiles have been of LVG aircraft. I have saved posting the best types for last. In either numbers built, success, number of nations using them and length of service. The Late C class LVG aircraft were all these things.

Luftverkehrsgesellschaft m.b.H. (L.V.G. or LVG) was a German aircraft manufacturer based in Berlin-Johannisthal, which began constructing aircraft in 1912, building Farman-type aircraft. The company constructed many reconnaissance and light bomber biplanes during World War I.

The raid on London in 1916 was conducted by one LVG C.IV. It dropped its bombs near London Victoria station, but was shot down by French anti-aircraft gunners on its way home.

Besides the serial number little is known of this example. The colors are conjectural and based on a excellent profile done by Bob Pearson in 2000 for the L.V.G. C.V Datafile.

Polish Air Force

LVG C.V Poland 1920
LVG C.V Poland 1920

I have no solid information on this planes assignments or history. The color scheme was often used on this aircraft type. I have not sen a top view and at the moment thinking the upper wings are dark green to match the varnished linen on the lower wings. I would also assume the simple unbordered red and white check insignia are prominent on the top upper wing surface.

The profile is based on this LVG C.V when it served in unknown German training unit in France during the Summer and Autumn of 1918. While assigned to the International Contact Regiment, RKKVF, it flew the first Soviet international flight during the period of April12th through the 15th in 1918.The Russian pilot Khodorovich flew from Vinnitsa to Budapest. It was a 1062 km flight lasting a total of 8 flying hours.

A Short Overview of the LVG C.V

From Wikipedia, LVG C.V, ""

The LVG C.V was a reconnaissance aircraft produced in large numbers in Germany during World War I. It was a conventional two-bay biplane design of its day, with unstaggered wings of equal span and tandem, open cockpits for the pilot and observer. The ailerons, fitted only to the upper wing, featured aerodynamic balances that extended past the wingtips. The fuselage was a semi-monocoque construction skinned in wood.

Following the war, some C.Vs were used as civil transports, while some 150 machines captured by Polish forces were put to use by the Polish army.] Other post-war users included Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia; together operating about 30 aircraft.


  1. From Wikipedia, LVG C.V, ""
  2. Grosz, Peter M. "LVG C.V. Windsock Datafile 71": Berkhampstead: Albatross Productions. (1998).
  3. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Aerospace Publishing.
  4. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions.
  5. "World Aircraft Information Files". London: Bright Star Publishing.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Germany - 1916 AEG C.IV

Out With the Old, In With the New.

Part of my daily routine is looking over my profiles to see which ones annoy me enough to jump into action. Work I did years ago and had served well enough is no longer good enough. Sooner or later the axe will fall and the old is replaced with something less annoying for the moment.

The Stodgy but Dependable AEG C.IV

AEG C.IV s/n, C4762 - 1917

This example is sporting the mauve and green scheme with blue under surfaces. The crosses are bordered and the serial numbers are painted on the tail fin.

AEG C.IV s/n 2, C6674 - 1917

AEG C.IV s/n 2, C6674 - 1917

This is an example of the German brown and green scheme with blue under surfaces. The crosses are displayed on a white field as above the serial numbers are painted on the tail fin.

A Short History of the AEG C.IV

The AEG C.IV was a two-seat biplane reconnaissance aircraft produced by Allgemeine Elektrizitats-Gesellschaft (AG). The design was based on the C.II, but featured a larger wingspan and an additional forward-firing LMG 08/15 Spandau-type 0.312 in (7.92 mm) machine gun.

The C.IV was a conventional biplane. The wings featured and equal span upper and lower wing assembly with double bays and parallel struts. The forward portion of the fuselage was contoured , producing a n aerodynamic look while the rest of the body maintained a box-like appearance. Performance was good for the time with a top speed of 98 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 16,400 feet.

The aircraft entered active service during the spring of 1916. By June of 1917, no fewer than 150 examples were operating along the Western Front .

The AEG C.IV primarily served as reconnaissance aircraft from 1916 onwards though it also served as a bomber escort and saw service with the German air service until the end of the war. The design proved to be seriously under-powered for the bomber escort role. Nevertheless, the C.IV was easily the most successful of AEG's World War I B- and C-type reconnaissance aircraft, with some 400 being built and remaining in service right up to the end of the war.

A variant, the C.IV.N was designed specifically as a prototype night bomber in 1917, with the Benz Bz.III engine used in other C-types and a lengthened wingspan. Another variant, the C.IVa, was powered by a 180 hp (130 kW) Argus engine.

C.IV aircraft saw service with the Bulgarian Air Force and the Turkish Flying Corps.


  1. From Wikipedia AEG C.IV, ""
  2. The Great War Flying Museum
  3. Axelrod, Alan. "World War I". Indianapolis: Macmillan USA, Inc, 2000.
  4. Sharpe, Michael (2000). "Biplanes, Triplanes, and Seaplanes". London: Friedman/Fairfax Books. p. 14.
  5. Bullock, David L. Allenby's "War: The Palestine-Arabian Campaigns 1916-18". London: Blandford Press, 1988.
  6. Cron, Hermann. "Imperial German Army 1914-18". Solihull, West Midlands, UK: Helion & Company, 2002.
  7. Flanagan, Brian P.; Smith, Frank; and Raidor, Lonnie. "The Great War 1914-1918 - Chronology of Events of World War I: Cross and Cockade (US)", various volumes and issues covering the period 1916 to 1918. Cross and Cockade (US).
  8. Franks, Norman; Frank Bailey, and Rick Duiven "Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920". London: Grub Street, 1999.
  9. Franks, Norman; Frank Bailey, and Russell Guest. "Above the Lines". London: Grub Street, 1998.
  10. Groschel, Dieter H. M, "Ein Verlust der bayerischen Flieger-Abteilung 304 an der Palästina-Front 1918", Das Propellerblatt Nummer 7, 2003.
  11. Groschel, Dieter H. M. and Div Gavish. "Rudolf Holzhausen - Weltkriegsflieger, Dipolmat, und Historiker". Das Propellerblatt Nummer 9, 2004.
  12. Grosz, Peter M. "Windsock Datafile 67 AEG C.IV". Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, UK: Albatros Publications, Ltd., 1998.
  13. Imrie, Alex. "Pictorial History of the German Army Air Service 1914-1918". Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1973.
  14. Hoeppner, Ernest, General von. "Germany's War in the Air". Nashville, TN: The Battery Press, 1994.
  15. Nicolle, David. "The Ottoman Army 1914-18", Osprey Men-at-Arms Series No. 269. London, UK: Osprey Publications, Ltd 1994.
  16. Nikolajsen, Ole. "Pilot Fazil Bey Turkish Aviation Hero, Over the Front Volume 22 No. 3". Journal of the League of World War I Aviation Historians, 2007.
  17. Perrett, Bryan. "Megiddo 1918: The Last Great Cavalry Victory", Osprey Campaign Series No. 61. Botley, Oxford, UK: Osprey Publications, Ltd 1999.
  18. Rottgardt, Dirk. "German Armies' Establishment 1914/18", Volume 4: German Forces in the Middle East. West Chester, Ohio: The Nafziger Collection, Inc., 2007.
  19. Sanders, Liman, General von. "Five Years in Turkey". Nashville, TN: The Battery Press, 2000.
  20. Shores, Christopher; Norman Franks, and Russell Guest. "Above the Trenches. A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the British Empire Forces 1915-1920". London: Grub Street, 1990.
  21. WWI Aero, volume 107 (for C Types), Dec 1985
  22. Zankl, Reinhard. "Deutsche Flieger-Einheiten 1914-1918": Folge 3 - Flieger-Abteilungen. Das Propellerblatt Nummer 3, 2002.

I'd like to take time for a long overdue shout out to Patti Davidson-Peters, a new found friend and the webmaster at The excellent 93rd Aero Squadron web site There is much hard to find information about the 93rd Aero Squadron and is well worth a visit. Welcome aboard Patti!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bloodied Red Star

Bloodied Red Star by Gary C. Warne

I have been working in secret on a project with a friend and fellow blogger, Gary C. Warne. He asked me to to produce a series of profiles for his new book, Bloodied Red Star. Today he made it public with his current blog post Bloodied Red Star - 1st installment - Sequel to The Kaiser's Yanks. Stop by his blog and you can read all about the latest news.

Polish Albatros D.III (Oefag) Ba-253.224
Polish Albatros D.III (Oefag) Ba-253.224 for Bloodied Red Star by Gary C. Warne

One of the great things about the visual backdrop of the post-WWI conflict in Eastern Europe is the bewildering amount of aircraft types used in service. It has been great fun working with Gary to bring this era to life.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

France - 1915 Ponnier M.1

The Deservedly Unloved Ponnier M.1

First off I want to give special thanks for all the valuable input on the topic provided by several members at Friends of the League of WWI Aviation Historians on Facebook. Many thanks to Aaron Weaver for your help, and Gary Warne for the inspiration after beating me to the punch.

Sometimes designers create an aircraft which raises the bar for innovation. Many more times their hard work is in vain. There are designs so bad that redesigns just amount to putting lipstick on a pig. When the Russians accept the horrifyingly bad SPAD reject the offer of desperately needed aircraft, you know you have a turkey on your hands. This is the story of one of the most maligned airplanes which entered production.

This profile is of the original configuration which was flight-tested by a number of pilots, including Charles Nungesser and Jean Navarre. Notable is the small rudder similar in shape to early Nieuports. Also of interest is the mounting of the machine gun.

The profile shows one of the variants of the redesigned Ponnier M-1 in Belgian service. Le Vampire is the personal marking of Abel De Neef. We see the addition of a fixed tail fin and a fuselage mounted non-synchronized machine gun which used deflector gear similar to that used on the Morane-Saulnier Type N.

This redesigned Belgian Ponnier M.1 has the more standard mounting for the machine gun. The pilot for this aircraft is unknown.

This small fighter was designed and built in France, where a few were used as trainers. Belgium ordered 30 for front line use, but its extremely poor control caused the order to be cut to 10, or perhaps as many as 18, and it is not thought that any were actually used operationally.

Apparently the prototype was flight-tested by a number of pilots, including Charles Nungesser, who flew the M.1 on 29 January 1916. During that flight the aircraft crashed and Nungesser broke both legs and his jaw. From what I read the Po.M.1 was not put into production for the French military, yet some M.1s were sent to the training schools. None however equipped operational units.

Thirty were ordered by Belgium because of their inability to receive enough Nieuports. Discovering what the French already knew, these aircraft were modified by having the cone de penetration deleted, the tailplane and elevators enlarged, and a fixed fin fitted. Willy Coppens noted that the M.1 remained unstable even after these alterations and consequently the initial order of 30 was reduced to (approx.) 10, of which only a few, were ever used operationally.

Having an urgent need for new fighter aircraft the Belgian authorities ordered thirty Ponnier M.1's, although this machine was rejected by the French Armee de l'Air for being too dangerous to fly. Most Belgian pilots also refused to fly the Ponnier (of which only ten were delivered) and it was quickly withdrawn from use.

The justly deserved reputation of the Ponnier M.I did one thing... Even the Russians refused the offer from the French.


  1. Jim Davilla Rare Birds Ponnier M.1 Over the Front Volume 26, Number 1, Spring 2011, p. 76-86
  2. Ponnier M.1 - Their Flying Machines
  3. Ponnier M.1 - Belgian Wings
  4. Ponnier M.1 -
  5. M.1 - 1915
  6. Wrong airplane, wrong time Warnepieces

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Germany -1915 - Siemens-Schuckert Steffen R.I

Germany's Split Tail Giant.

When looking at the R Type giants the idea of form follows function goes out the window. Today's Giant is definitely unusual. Although it is a double boom aircraft it is unique is the use of vertically stacked booms instead of the more orthodox lateral arrangement used on other aircraft.

A Short History of the Siemens-Schuckert Steffen R.I

The Siemens-Schuckert Steffen R.I was a bomber aircraft designed and built in Germany from 1914.

December 1914 saw Siemens-Schuckert start the construction of a series of seven R aircraft, (Riesenflugzeug - giant aircraft) for the Imperial Military Aviation Service. These aircraft were essentially similar differing only in detail, engine installations and wing design. All of the seven Steffen designed aircraft were powered by three engines mounted in the forward compartment of the fuselage driving two tractor propellers mounted between the mainplanes via clutches, shafts and gearboxes.

The large forward compartment also housed the crew of between four and six in an enclosed cabin and open gun positions. Attached to the forward compartment were triangular section diverging booms, top and bottom, which supported the tail section, allowing the rear gunners, in positions between the boom attachments, a wide field of fire.

The R.I was used in non-operational roles at the eastern front and retained for training. R.II and R.III were used for training only, but R.IV, R.V, R.VI and R.VII were all used on operational missions by Rfa 501 (Riesenflugzeug abteilung) at Vilna on the eastern front.


  1. From Wikipedia Siemens-Schuckert Steffen R.I,
  2. Haddow, G.W. & Grosz, Peter M. The German Giants, The Story of the R-planes 1914-1919 London. Putnam. 1963.
  3. Gray, Peter & Thetford, Owen. German Aircraft of the First World War. London, Putnam. ISBN 0 370 00103 6

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remebering Those Who Gave All

No picture can convey it, nor poetry and fanfare give it more dignity and power. This is just a simple thank you to all who place their life in danger to protect our liberties each day. We honor your service and mourn the loss of those who fell in battle. We give thanks to those who returned shattered. May we make them whole again. Always remember they served of their own free will. We are in forever their debt.

Will Boucher - Memorial Day 2012

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Germany - 1918 - Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII

Riesenflugzeug Fever is Driving Me Crazy! (Baby!)

Slowly but surely I am working my way through a large number of 3 view plans to turn into profiles. I have taken a break from posting Staaken R types for the moment while I get more master files completed. I may start with the V.G.O series first. It provides a reference point design evolution of that family of giant aircraft. I think it is time for a side trip on our journey through the land of giants, so I'm going to work our way back in time to illustrate giant aircraft designed by Siemens-Schuckert Werke G.m.b.H., Siemensstadt. Berlin. My next post in the current series will be the on the Siemens-Schuckert Steffen R.I. I am still working on the master files for the R.III and 3 versions of the Forssman Giant.

A Short History of the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII

The Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII was a bomber aircraft designed and built in Germany.

Armed with the experience gained in the development of the Steffen R series, Siemens-Schuckert felt confident in their ability to produce even larger bombers. Their next project was developing a new design that dwarfed anything they had previously built. Their plan was to produce a six engined Riesenflugzeug for the Military Air Service.As with many of the other contemporary R projects the R.VIII had all six engines inside the fuselage, where they were tended by mechanics, driving two tractor and two pusher propellers, mounted between the main-planes, via leather cone clutches combining gearboxes, shafts and bevel gearboxes. Two aircraft were built but only the first, R23/16, was completed. Ground trials began in 1919, after the armistice. The trials were interrupted by a gearbox failure which resulted in a propeller breaking up and causing extensive damage to the aircraft.

The second airframe, R24/16 was never completed and the first not repaired after the ground running accident due to the Versaille Treaty restrictions. At the time of its completion the Siemens-Schuckert R.VIII was the largest complete airplane in the world, (the Mannesman-Poll triplane was to have been much bigger but was not completed before the Versaille Treaty restrictions were applied).


  1. Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI. (2012, May 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:11, May 17, 2012, from
  2. Mark's Lists German Giants Retrieved 01:01, May 17, 2012, from
  3. The Aerodrome Forum Zeppelin Staaken Type L Seeflugzeug Bomber Camouflage Retrieved 01:01, May 17, 2012, from
  4. E. Offermann, W. G. Noack, and A. R. Weyl, "Riesenflugzeuge, in: Handbuch der Flugzeugkunde" (Richard Carl Schmidt & Co., 1927).
  5. Haddow, G.W. & Grosz, Peter M. "The German Giants, The Story of the R-planes 1914–1919". London. Putnam. (1962, 3rd ed. 1988).ISBN 0-85177-812-7
  6. Gray, Peter & Thetford, Owen. "German Aircraft of the First World War". London, Putnam. (2nd Ed.) 1970. ISBN 0-370-00103-6
  7. Wagner, Ray and Nowarra, Heinz, "German Combat Planes", Doubleday, 1971.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Germany - 1918 - Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI, s/n 8301

When Knights Take Wing and Dragons Scourge the Land.

We all see history through rose colored glasses. Many see the fight in the air during the First World War as the last battle of knighthood. If the fighter and the pilot are the knight on a warhorse then the giant bombers were the dragons. Some may say the German lighter than air fleet should take precedence I have to say when it comes down to speed and survivability heavier than aircraft win that argument.

My search for all flying things large has been very satisfying. I feel like a kid looking up in rapt amazement at a museum display of dinosaurs. “How did it survive? when did it live? Why is it so darn big?” Even without all the questions answered, you took away this. Things can be as big as possible if you have enough energy to keep it running.

This is Number 8301, the first of the production series of Staaken giant float-planes. The colors are conjectural. From photos it appears but is not substantiated that the difference in the paint scheme is the s/n is 8303. Some photos show it used as a passenger aircraft, although they still carried military paint.

Some Personal Observations on the 8301

The German Naval Air Service had an interest in float-equipped seaplanes so it is no surprise they turned an eye to the prospect of a giant float plane. One Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI was ordered to be converted on September 5, 1917. The new was designated the Type L and issued the serial number 1432. The Zeppelin-Staaken Type L was powered by four Maybach engines using a 2 tractor, 2 pusher propeller configuration. Unfortunately the prototype crashed during testing on June 3, 1918.

The project did not die with the s/n 1432. The German Naval Air Service thought results were promising enough to continue development. They showed their confidence in the design with an order of four improved giant float-planes. The Type 8301 was developed from the Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI and the data from the Type L tests. Several important design changes made it an elegant. First change was elevating the fuselage above the lower wing which improved water clearance. To enhance mission flexibility, range became a major factor in mission success. The logical choice was to replace munitions with fuel. By eliminating the bomb bays, the range could be extended. With the extended flight time there was a need to shelter the crew from the elements. This was solved by enclosing the open gun position on the nose provided comfort and protection to the forward gun position. Production ended after the war, of the four aircraft ordered only three were delivered.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Germany - 1917 Zeppelin-Staaken R-type pt 2

In Search of Giants

Sometimes you can work as hard as you can, and on the surface you have nothing to show for your time and effort. This has been the case as of late. I have been doing a lot more research and preparing master files than finishing complete profiles. In some cases when I do finish a profile I am replacing an existing file with a new image. I have finished some new work, and will post them soon.

Recently I have been on a hunt for those giants of the air. It all started when looking for the largest of the float planes. That was where I found today's subject, the Zeppelin-Staaken Type L s/n 1432. After that I got stuck in looking for more types of Staaken R-Type aircraft. One additional benefit was discovering more information and fairly clear 3 views of other rare Giant class aircraft. Some days life is good.

This example of the Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI sports a fairly simple paint scheme. The crosses indicate the period was before the end of spring of 1918.

This is the prototype for large Staaken float planes. Sources state the color is a light gray over all. This plane crashed during test flights. There was enough interest in a float version and three serial numbers were reserved 8301 through 8303. It appears 8301 and 8303 were the only examples of that type completed by the end of the war.

A Short Overview of the Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI

The Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI was a four-engined German biplane strategic bomber of World War I, and the only so-called Riesenflugzeug ("giant aircraft") design built in any quantity. The R.VI was the most numerous of the R-bombers built by Germany, and also one of the first closed-cockpit military aircraft (but the first was Russian aircraft Sikorsky Ilya Muromets). The bomber was reputedly the largest wooden aircraft ever built until the advent of the Hughes H-4 Hercules built by Howard Hughes, its wingspan of 138 feet 5.5 inches (42.20 m) nearly equaling that of the World War II B-29 Superfortress.

In September 1914, at the start of World War I, Ferdinand von Zeppelin visualized the concept of a Riesenflugzeug (R) bomber, to be larger than the Gotha G. Using engineers from the Robert Bosch GmbH, he created the Versuchsbau Gotha-Ost (VGO) consortium in a rented hangar at the Gotha factory. Alexander Baumann became his chief engineer, although later the team included other noted engineers including Zeppelin's associate Claudius Dornier, Hugo Junkers and Baumann's protogé Adolph Rohrbach. All of these Zeppelin-Staaken Riesenflugzeug designs used some variation of push-pull configuration in the setup, orientation and placement of their power plants.

The first Riesenflugzeug built was the VGO.I flying in April 1915, using three Maybach Zeppelin engines; two pusher and one tractor. This was built for the German Navy and served on the Eastern Front Later modified with two extra engines, it crashed during tests at Staaken. A similar machine, the VGO.II was also used on the Eastern Front.

Baumann was an early expert in light-weight construction techniques and placed the four engines in nacelles mounted between the upper and lower wing decks to distribute the loads to save weight in the wing spars.

The next aircraft, the VGO.III was a six-engined design The 160 hp Maybach engines were paired to drive the three propellers. It served with Rfa 500.

In 1916 VGO moved to the Berlin suburb of Staaken, to take advantage of the vast Zeppelin sheds there. The successor to the VGO III became the Staaken R.IV, the only "one-off" Zeppelin-Staaken R-type to survive World War I, powered by six Mercedes D.III and Benz Bz.IV engines that powered three propellers, a tractor configuration system in the nose, and two pusher-mount on the wings. By the autumn of 1916, Staaken was completing its R.V, R.VI, and R.VII versions of the same design, and Idflieg selected the R.VI for series production over the 6-engined R.IV and other R-plane designs, primarily those of Siemens-Schuckertwerke AG.

With four engines in a tandem push-pull arrangement, it required none of the complex gearboxes of other R-types. Each bomber cost 557,000 marks and required the support of a 50-man ground crew. The R.VI required a complex 18-wheel undercarriage to support its weight, and carried two mechanics in flight, seated between the engines in open niches cut in the center of each nacelle. The bombs were carried in an internal bomb bay located under the central fuel tanks, with three racks each capable of holding seven bombs. The R.VI was capable of carrying the 1000 kg PuW bomb.

Although designed by Versuchsbau, because of the scope of the project, the production R.VI's were manufactured by other firms: seven by Schütte-Lanz using sheds at Flugzeugwerft GmbH Staaken, Berlin; six by Automobil und Aviatik A.G. (Aviatik) (the original order was for three); and three by Albatros Flugzeugwerke. 13 of the production models were commissioned into service before the armistice and saw action.

One R.VI was converted on September 5, 1917, into a float-equipped seaplane for the German Naval Air Service, with the designation Type L and s/n 1432, having Maybach engines. The Type L crashed during testing on June 3, 1918. The Type 8301, of which four were ordered and three delivered, was developed from the R.VI by elevating the fuselage above the lower wing for greater water clearance, eliminating the bomb bays, and enclosing the open gun position on the nose.

R.VI serial number R.30/16 was the first supercharged aircraft, with a fifth engine - a Mercedes D.II - installed in the central fuselage, driving a Brown-Boveri supercharger. This enabled it to climb to an altitude of 19,100 feet (5,800 m). This same aircraft was later fitted with four examples of one of the first forms of variable-pitch propellers, believed to have been ground-adjustable only.

The R.VI equipped two Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Army Air Service) units, Riesenflugzeug-Abteilung (Rfa) 500 and Rfa 501, with the first delivered June 28, 1917.

The units first served on the Eastern Front, based at Alt-Auz and Vilua in Kurland until August 1917. Almost all missions were flown at night with 1,700 pound (770 kg) bomb loads, operating between 6,500 and 7,800 feet (2,000 and 2,400 m) altitude. Missions were of three to five hours' duration.

Rfa 501 was transferred to Ghent, Belgium, for operations against both France and Great Britain, arriving September 22, 1917, at St. Denis-Westrem (Sint-Denijs-Westrem) airdrome. Rfa 501 later moved its base to Scheldewindeke airdrome south of group headquarters at Gontrode, while Rfa 500 was based at Castinne, France, with its primary targets French airfields and ports.

Rfa 501, with an average of five R.VI's available for missions, conducted 11 raids on Great Britain between September 28, 1917, and May 20, 1918, dropping 27,190 kg (29.97 short tons) of bombs in 30 sorties. Aircraft flew individually to their targets on moonlit nights, requesting directional bearings by radio after takeoff, then using the River Thames as a navigational landmark. Missions on the 340-mile (550 km) round trip lasted seven hours. None were lost in combat over Great Britain (compared to 28 Gotha G bombers shot down over England), but two crashed returning to base in the dark.

Four R.VI's were shot down in combat (one-third of the operational inventory), with six others destroyed in crashes, of the 13 commissioned during the war. Six of the 18 eventually built survived the war or were completed after the armistice.


  1. Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI. (2012, May 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:11, May 17, 2012, from
  2. Mark's Lists German Giants Retrieved 01:01, May 17, 2012, from
  3. The Aerodrome Forum Zeppelin Staaken Type L Seeflugzeug Bomber Camouflage Retrieved 01:01, May 17, 2012, from
  4. E. Offermann, W. G. Noack, and A. R. Weyl, "Riesenflugzeuge, in: Handbuch der Flugzeugkunde" (Richard Carl Schmidt & Co., 1927).
  5. Haddow, G.W. & Grosz, Peter M. "The German Giants, The Story of the R-planes 1914–1919". London. Putnam. (1962, 3rd ed. 1988).ISBN 0-85177-812-7
  6. Gray, Peter & Thetford, Owen. "German Aircraft of the First World War". London, Putnam. (2nd Ed.) 1970. ISBN 0-370-00103-6
  7. Wagner, Ray and Nowarra, Heinz, "German Combat Planes", Doubleday, 1971.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The CD Profile Project Take One

First Look: The CD Profile Project

I have been mulling over the question of whether or not to produce a series of profile CDs. At the moment I am thinking it would be best to start with the major aircraft companies, grouping the profiles by type. I am still not sure how many profiles I can get on a disc but experiments will establish that soon enough. This is the first draft at how the profiles will appear. The layouts are subject to change. The images I have posted are at reduced color depth to keep load time online to a minimum.

Warning This is a Test!

Albatros D.XI s/n D.2208/18

I welcome your feedback on this project. You can post it as a comment, or email me. I will take all serious ideas and constructive criticism and use them to create something people want.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Italy - 1917 Società Italiana Aviazione 7B

The Unfortunate Tale of the Underwhelming S.I.A. 7B

Aircraft design was more of an art than a science during the First World War. In many posts I have written about the problems experienced by Austrian designers while laboring down dead ends. The one saving grace for Austria was the inability of Italy to develop winning fighter and reconnaissance aircraft designs. Both Italy and Austria relied on designs created by their allies. For the most part Italy built planes from French designs. These include Macchi built versions of the Hanriot H.D.1, Nieuport 11-17, and the S.P.A.D. S.VII.

As with most examples the forward fuselage is bare metal. The height of the engine cover was very problematic for pilots since it blocked his forward field of vision.The roundels have a thin white border.

A Short History of the S.I.A. 7B

The Società Italiana Aviazione 7B was designed to replace the earlier pusher planes in service with the Italian air force. The SIA 7b was tested and approved for production in early 1917. The initial production aircraft were delivered to the reconnaissance squadrons in the summer of 1917. A later version had a different fairing of the fuselage decking. the SIA 7B proved extremely disappointing. Its workmanship was bad, and it suffered from wing failure, losing its wings in flight. Another fatal problem involved the Fiat engine mounted on this model which was notoriously troublesome. It was known to suffer from backfire at the carburetor and catching fire, much to the discomfort of the air crew. After a string of many fatal accidents this design was permanently withdrawn from service in June of 1918.


  1. SIA 7. (2009, November 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 02:15, July 7, 2010, from
  2. Swanborough, F. Gordon & Bowers, Peter M. "United States Military Aircraft Since 1909" (Putnam New York, ISBN 085177816X) 1964, 596 pp.
  3. Taylor, Michael John Haddrick "Janes Fighting Aircraft of World War I Random House Group Ltd. 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, 2001, 320 pp, ISBN 1-85170-347-0.
  4. Fahey, James C. "U.S. Army Aircraft 1908-1946" (Ships and Aircraft, Fall Church VA) 1946, 64pp.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Austria - 1917 Hansa-Brandenburg G.1

The Hansa-Brandenburg G.1 Bomber

Austria depended on German for many of their designs. That does not mean many attempts were not made to produce their own designs.Unfortunately most of their efforts did not pan out. The Hansa-Brandenburg G.1 Bomber is one of those attempts which did not exceed the performance of their German counterparts.

As with most of the examples of this type I have seen, the fuselage is varnished wood. The wings, tail plane and rudders are all varnished fabric. The aircraft is depicted as it was in early 1918, before the switch to the Baltic cross.

A Short History of the Hansa-Brandenburg G.1 Bomber

The Hansa-Brandenburg G.I was a bomber aircraft used to equip the Austro-Hungarian aviation corps in World War I. It was a mostly conventional large, three-bay biplane with staggered wings of slightly unequal span. The pilot and bombardier sat in a large open cockpit at the nose of the aircraft, with a second open cockpit for a gunner in a dorsal position behind the wings. An unusual feature was the placement of the twin tractor engines. While the normal practice of the day was to mount these to the wings, either directly or on struts, the G.I had the engines mounted to the sides of the fuselage on lattices of steel struts. This arrangement added considerable weight to the aircraft and transmitted a lot of vibration to the airframe.

A small initial production batch of six aircraft was delivered by March 1917, but were all grounded soon thereafter and put into storage due to a contractual dispute between the manufacturer and Flars (the Imperial and Royal Aviation Arsenal). When this was resolved, deliveries recommenced, although the size of the order was reduced, and the bombers were modified by Flars before being sent to the Divacca, on the Italian Front. Twelve aircraft were built by UFAG and differed slightly from the German-built machines.

The G.I eventually equipped three squadrons plus a replacement unit, but reports from pilots were unfavorable, especially in comparison to the Gotha G.IV that was becoming available. The Hansa-Brandenburg machine was therefore quickly relegated to training duties. In the three months that these aircraft had been at the front, they had only carried out a single successful sortie. As a footnote to the G.I's military service, the type also served as a test bed in experiments in mounting large-caliber cannon on aircraft; flying with nose-mounted 2 in (50 mm) and (separately) 2.75 in (70 mm) Skoda weapons, and a 1.46 in (37 mm) Skoda cannon mounted in the dorsal gunner's position.


  1. Hansa-Brandenburg G.I. (2010, December 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 06:03, March 12, 2011, from
  2. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 472.
  3. Hansa-Brandenburg Aircraft, 2010 Books LLC ISBN: 1155357191 ISBN-13: 9781155357195

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Austria - 1917 Lohner D.I 10.20 series 111

Some Times Life Just Gets Strange

Things have been hectic around the studio. I am supposedly officially retired and getting on with the work I choose. Unfortunately others I know seem to think since I am retired I have empty hours that I should fill with projects they want me to do for them. Add a internet connection issue and I have not had much chance to post or read the blogs of my friends. Hopefully things will settle down and I can get back to a normal (as normal as it gets in this madhouse) routine.

The Ill Fated Lohner D.I 10.20

I have previously posted one of the earlier prototypes of this type. I finally finished up the profile of the last incarnation of this design. Austria seemed to have a difficult time creating original designs which could compete with the aircraft of their enemies. They invested so much time and resources into inferior designs.

Lohner DI - 10.20 Type AA sn. 111.01

Lohner DI - 10.20 Type AA sn. 111.01 - 1917
Lohner DI - 10.20 Type AA sn. 111.01 - 1917

This is the original prototype, known as the type AA. Despite its sleek lines The performance left much to be desired. It was rebuilt with conventional wing struts and wires. This did yield any real advantage.

Lohner DI 10.20B sn. 111.02 - 1917

Lohner DI  10.20B sn. 111.02 - 1917
Lohner DI 10.20B sn. 111.02 - 1917

I had originally posted this profile a while ago. I include it here to show the evolution of the design. This nw build was the second attempt to solve the problems with the design. Once again the "I" struts have returned and the lines are still rather sleek. Unfortunately there was not much improvement in performance. As with the Type AA, the type B was retired.

Lohner DI 10.20 sn.111.03 - 1917

Lohner DI  10.20 sn.111.03 - 1917
Lohner DI 10.20 sn.111.03 - 1917

This is the final version of the Lohner D.I. Gone were the "I" struts and the fuselage was simplified. The rudder was smaller that the previous prototypes.

The Lohner Series 111 aircraft company was an Austria-Hungarian prototype single seat biplane built in 1917 by Lohnerwerke GmbH. The fuselage was a laminated wood construction. The wing struts were an "I" requiring no wires tor structural stability. Power was provided by an Austro-Daimler engine generating 185 hp (138 kW) The design went through several changes during the development process. Three prototypes were built. The performance of the aircraft was not an improvement on existing models already in production. Lackluster flight results led to Flars not approving the D.I for production.


  1. Grosz, Peter, the Austro-Hungarian Army Aircraft of World War One, Flying Machines Press, 2002, ISBN 1-891268-05-8

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Britain - 1915 Air Department Sparrow Scout

Things have been hectic. I am in the process of updating over 130 HTML documents and making master files for new planes. I decided today's post would be an aircraft I had put off finishing for a while now. A friend of mine posted an article about weird aircraft on and it spurred me on to finish a W.I.P. profile. I am glad I took the time to finish the profile. Now I have another strange bird in the box.

The Air Department's Failed Giant Killer

In the early war the perceived threat of German Zeppelins loomed large. Of course this was before it became apparent Germany had invested too much time and resources in white elephants. Britain made many attempts to design purpose built Zeppelin killers. The British Admiralty hoped the weapon needed to accomplish this mission would be the Davis two-pounder quick-fire recoilless gun. There would be several planes built to carry this weapon, although none proved to be acceptable. One of the earlier attempts was the Air Department Scout.

This is the first A.D.Sout flown during the R.N.A.S test trials. It was built by Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company. Notable is the Union Jack on the rudder and the red and white roundels on both the upper surface of the top and the bottom surface of the lower wing. Due to the height of the cockpit there are steps on the forward landing gear strut and in three places on the lower fuselage. The span of the oversize tail plane was 21 feet.

A Short Overview of the Air Department Sparrow

The AD Scout (later known as the Sparrow) was designed by Harris Booth of the British Admiralty's Air Department as a fighter aircraft to defend Britain from Zeppelin bombers during World War I.

This aircraft was an unconventional heavily-staggered, single-bay biplane, built to meet an Admiralty requirement for a fighter built from commercially obtainable materials and which could be armed with the Davis two-pounder quick-fire recoilless gun. The gun was mounted in the bottom of a short, single-seat nacelle, the top longerons were bolted directly to the main spars of the upper wing. The A.D. Scout was powered by a 100 hp Gnôme Monosoupape rotary engine driving a 9 ft pusher air-screw. The pilot had a excellent view in nearly every direction. A twin-rudder tail was attached by four booms, and it was provided with an extremely narrow-track "pogo stick" type undercarriage.

Four prototype aircraft were ordered in 1915. Two aircraft, (serial numbers 1452 and 1453) built by Hewlett and Blondeau Ltd of Leagrave, Beds. The remaining two (serial numbers 1536 and 1537) were built by Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company.

The four prototypes were all delivered to RNAS Chingford. The test trials flown by pilots of the Royal Naval Air Service were less than favorable. They proved the aircraft to be seriously overweight, fragile, sluggish, and difficult to handle, even on the ground. Due to the fact the Sparrow was considerably over-weight and difficult to handle in the air, all of the examples were scrapped.


  1. AD Scout. (2012, January 26). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 09:01, March 24, 2012, from
  2. A.D. Scout Retrieved 08:55, March 24, 2012, from
  3. Jackson, Aubrey Joseph Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 (1st ed.) 16 March 1989 pp. 98 - 101. London: Putnam & Company Ltd.. pp. 98 - 101. ISBN 0851778305.
  4. Lewis, Peter. The British Fighter since 1912 (4th ed.) 1979, pp. 392—393. London: Putnam & Company Ltd.. ISBN 0-370-10049-2.
  5. Mason, Francis K.. The British Fighter since 1912. Annapolis, USA: Putnam & Company Ltd.. ISBN 1-55750-082-7.
  6. Bruce, J.M.. War Planes of the First World War: Volume One Fighters. London: Macdonald 1965, p.5.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

America - 1918 RAF (Austin) SE.5a

The SE.5a In American Service

I am taking a break from the inter-war period, and getting back to work on my yet unpublished USAS section and started fleshing out the pages for the 4th Pursuit Group.

When many think of American squadrons serving in WWI the first thing that comes to mind is units flying French aircraft. This was not always the case. Several units flew both the British Sopwith Camel and the RAF SE.5a. Since I have been working on new master files for the SE.5a I thought it was high time to tackle examples which served in the American sector of the front.

The white markings are used by B flight. This aircraft does not carry a diamond insignia. The squadron insignia is a cartoon of a masked executioner on a on a white oval. The white bordered American fuselage roundels are the same size and location as was used in British service. The aircraft used by the 25th are painted in the standard British scheme of PC-10 and lower surfaces varnished linen. From what I have seen of photos the upper wing carried white identification numbers and the lower wing has the number in black..

This B flight SE.5a was the personal plane of the squadron leader, Captain Reed Landis. The red diamond on the vertical tail fin indicates a command plane. The white bordered roundels outside edge begins at the second wing spar.The wing markings are a command diagonal stripe on the left side and the number number on the right The finish is PC-10 as is the fuselage. The bottom wing is painted in a mirror of the top wing except the stripe and number are black on varnished fabric. The top of the fuselage has two white diamonds just aft of the head rest.

This aircraft has many details on the fuselage including a white bordered diamond which may mean it is a command plane. The blue markings indicate this plane flew with C flight. I am not sure about the scheme on the wings. There is still some debate if there were diamonds on the top of the fuselage as in number 13.

Creation of the 4th Pursuit Group

In the last days of the First World War American command created the 4th Pursuit Group. Several of the squadrons assigned to the 4th were formed around pilots who had served in the RAF before the American entry into the war.

The process of creating the 4th Pursuit Group began on October 25, 1918 at Toul, France. The unit was allocated to the new 2nd Army Air Service which had been formed on October 12. The first squadron assigned to the 4th PG was the 141st Aero Squadron which had begun operations two days earlier on October 23rd. Three other squadrons - the 17th, 25th, 148th joined the 141st at Toul in preparation for an offensive which was to begin on November 10th.

The Americans had requested the 17th and 25th squadrons be transferred back to American command for upcoming offensives. The the British agreed, but refused to allow them to take their planes with them, so the Americans arrived in Toul without airplanes.

A Short History of the 25th Aero Squadron

The unit was established as the 20th Aero Squadron in June 1917. It was later re-designated the 25th Aero Squadron after the United States entered into the war. The 25th was deployed to Europe, first to England, then to the Western Front in France in late October 1918. Assigned to the 4th Pursuit Group, 2nd Army Air Service, Toul Sector, however at that time the unit had not been issued any airplanes. The Squadron was made up of American pilots who flew with RAF S.E.5a Fighter Squadrons. Command of the squadron was given to Capt. Reed Landis who had 10 victories flying the SE5a with Royal Air Force 40th Squadron. The squadron finally received some British Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s and went operational flying one combat mission on 10 November 1918 the day before the war ended. It was demobilized after the 1918 armistice.

The 25th Pursuit Squadron, U.S.A.S was equipped with the British S.E.5a with the Wright-Martin built 180 hp Hispano-Suiza. The S.E.5a were built by Austin. The U.S.Army had a large order with Austin Motor Car Co. The 141st Pursuit was equipped with S.E.5a after the war.

The 25thused color to identify the different flights. Red was used for A flight, white for B flight, and blue for C flight.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Russia - 1923 Fokker C.I

Who's Got Fokker Fever? He's Got Fokker Fever!

I have been sitting on references for today's post for a while. Why has it taken so long? It was partly a matter of sloth, and a matter of dropping the ball in the 24/7 world of chaos I call my life.There has always been something calling for my immediate attention. It was time to not accept any more excuses and get it done.

Meet The Fokker D.VII's Big Brother.

The Fokker C.I was a two seat German reconnaissance aircraft based on the formidable Fokker D.VII. The C.I entered production soon after the flight test in the final days of World War I. None entered service and the finished examples and parts were smuggled into the Netherlands when Anthony Fokker fled a sinking ship of state. After setting p production in the Netherlands Fokker produced over 250 C.I for use by the Dutch, Danes, and Soviets.

The C.I was 1 inch (.03m) longer and 2 inches (.07m) taller than the D.VII. It had a wingspan 4 foot 6 inches (1.57m) longer. It weighed in at 345 pounds (157kg) heavier empty and 890 lb (405kg) more when fully loaded. The total load weight for the C.I was 882 pounds (400kg). The Speed and service ceiling were the main differences. The C.I was slightly slower but the service ceiling was much lower.

The Fokker C.I in Soviet Service

Fokker C.I, Unit and Crew Unknown, s/n H 08, 1923
Fokker C.I, Unit and Crew Unknown, s/n H 08, 1923

I have found several examples of C.I bearing the "H" (Cyrilic character for "N") on the fuselage and exact same paint scheme. All the examples have uncovered wire wheels and fuel tanks.

This profile is based on a coupe photos I saw. It has the Sphinx insignia of the squadron leader of № 1 OIAE, A.T.Kozhevnikov. The colors are conjectural. I used the same scheme as his Fokker D.VII.

This example is painted in winter colors and is fitted with pontoon like skis. The lack of a wheel allows viewing of an ael mounted secondary fuel tank. Also notable is the change to the observer cockpit which is outfitted with ring mount for the trainable gun.The box below the observer's position carry grenades. The C.I could carry up to 110 lb (50 kg) of disposable stores.

A Short Overview of the Fokker C.I

The Fokker C.I was a German reconnaissance biplane under development at the end of World War I. The design was essentially an enlarged Fokker D.VII fighter with two seats and a 138 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa engine. The C.I was originally developed to sell to the German Army. It never saw service in World War I, but Anthony Fokker managed to smuggle parts out of Germany at the time of the Armistice.

The prototype, V.38, was tested at Schwerin, and put into immediate production. After the armistice, production continued in the Netherlands.

The C.I went into Dutch service after 16 were ordered in February 1919. The USSR bought 42 C.Is. The C.Is served in the reconnaissance and trainer roles. The last C.I left service in 1936.


  • V 38: Prototype.
  • C.I: Two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, powered by a 185 hp (138 kW) BMW IIIa piston engine.
  • C.Ia: Improved version.
  • C.IW: Experimental float plane version.
  • C.II: Three-seat passenger transport version, powered by a 185 hp (138 kW) BMW IIIa piston engine.
  • C.III: Two-seat advanced trainer version of the C.I, powered by a 220 hp (164 kW) Hispano-Suiza engine.


  1. Fokker C.I. (2011, December 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 13:28, March 7, 2012, from
  2. Donald, David, ed. (1997). The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Prospero Books. pp. pg 427. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  3. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 402.
  4. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 894 sheet 33.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Russia - 1923 Fokker D.VII

Post Polish Russian War Soviet Aircraft

Someday I will learn how to be less obsessive, however I am not sure just when that will be. I have got stuck in to the inter war period. The depth of my madness can be measured in producing a total of 21 Fokker D.VII profiles in a single day. Add to that 4 new Nieuport 24 profiles and you can see what I mean. On the writing front, I have been working on my U.S.A.S section for my site. The structural part is in place. Now it is a matter of fleshing out the series of articles to bring it to life.

This example is the Fokker D.VII flown by A.T.Kozhevnikov. He was the squadron leader of № 1 OIAE. The sphinx was his personal insignia. There was only one photo of this aircraft and there is a debate whether the wings carried red stars. The colors used on the Sphinx is conjectural. Some believe the color on the head-dress were blue, others claim it was red. Blue is more in keeping with color choices used by the Egyptians.

I have not been able to find identification for the flights. This example is from a flight which used a curved white arrow as their insignia.

This flight used a white cat as their insignia.

This flight reversed the color scheme The red marking is a bunch of grapes on a white rudder.

This example shows the distinctive candy striped rudder see on many planes flying with the № 2 OIAE. The numbering conventions used by № 1 OIAE hold true. As with the previous examples use of red stars on the wings is conjectural.

A short History of Soviet Foker D.VII

After Anthony Fokker fled from Germany to the Netherlands with what was left of his inventory he needed a new large contract to rebuild is fortunes. He saw a perfect opportunity in selling arms to the Soviets. The market was wide open since no other weapon manufacturer would do business with the Bolsheviks. Fokker was not a man of deep political convictions, to him a customer is a customer, and Rubles spend just as well as Guilders. The Soviets contracted a large quantity of Fokker aircraft in during the early 1920's. These included 50 D.VII fighters, 42 C.III trainers, 3 C.1 two seaters, 52 D.XIII fighters. Fokker also sold the Soviets repair facilities for these aircraft.

The D.VII aircraft were delivered to Russia in two batches of 25. The first unit to receive them was the № 1 Otdelnaya Aviaeskadrilya (OIAE - independent squadron) was operational in Petrograd by December 1922 or early 1923. A second D.VII squadron № 2 OIAE was operational in Kiev by December 1922, guarding the Polish border. The aircraft of the squadron appear to have been divided into three flights of five plus a leaders aircraft. Each flight had its own tail marking and the aircraft of each flight were numbered 1 to 5.

The Fokker D.VII performed successfully in Soviet service for nearly a decade. The Soviets upgraded the D.VII in several ways including the installation of a wheel axle mounted auxiliary fuel tank. The D.VII remained in use as a trainer at least until the 1930's when it was phased out in favor of other more modern aircraft.