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Gotha G.

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Gotha G.IV

Role Bomber

Manufacturer Gothaer Waggonfabrik

Siemens-Schuckert Werke

Designer Hans Burkhard

First flight 1916

Introduction March 1917

Primary user Luftstreitkrfte

Produced 1916 to 1917

Number built 230

The Gotha G.IV was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkrfte (Imperial German Air
Service) during World War I.


1 Development
2 Production
3 Operational history
o 3.1 Postwar decommission
4 Operators
5 Specifications (early Gotha-built examples)
6 See also
7 Notes
8 References

[edit] Development
Experience with the earlier G.III showed that the rear gunner could not efficiently
operate both the dorsal and ventral positions. Hans Burkhard's ultimate solution was the
Gotha tunnel, a trough connecting an aperture in the upper decking with a large
opening extending across the bottom of the rear fuselage. The Gotha tunnel allowed the
top-side gun to fire through the fuselage at targets below and behind the bomber. A
separate ventral 7.92 mm (.312 in) machine gun could still be mounted, and there was
even a provision for a fourth machine gun on a post between the pilot's and
bombardier's cockpits, although this was rarely carried due to the weight penalty.

The G.IV introduced other changes. The fuselage was fully skinned in plywood,
eliminating the partial fabric covering of the G.III. Although it was not the reason for
this modification, it was noted at the time that the plywood skinning enabled the
fuselage to float for some time in the event of a water landing. Furthermore, complaints
of poor lateral control, particularly on landing, led to the addition of ailerons on the
lower wing.

[edit] Production
In November 1916, the Gothaer Waggonfabrik received a production order for 35
aircraft; this was subsequently increased to 50 in February 1917. A further 80 aircraft
were ordered from the Siemens-Schuckert Werke (SSW) and 100 from Luft-Verkehrs-
Gesellschaft (LVG). Compared to the Gothaer aircraft, these license-built aircraft were
slightly heavier and slower because Idflieg specified the use of a strengthened airframe.
In order to counteract this, SSW built a number of highly-modified examples, including
one driven by tractor instead of pusher engines, one with an extra bay added to its wing
cellule, two with a new airfoil section for the wings, and one with a supercharger. None
of these modifications had been fully evaluated by the end of the war. Late-production
SSW G.IVs also usually incorporated the Stossfahrgestell auxiliary nosewheels and
Flettner servo tabs developed for the G.V. Responding to a different performance issue,
LVG overcame the tail heaviness of its machines by increasing the sweepback of the
wings. Late production by SSW and LVG became obsolete, hence many aircraft were
finished as trainers with lower performance engines (Argus As.III or NAG C.III). The
SSW-built trainers relocated the fuel tanks from the engine nacelles to within the
fuselage, as on the G.V.

[edit] Operational history

In March 1917, the G.IV entered service with Kagohl 1, which was redesignated
Kagohl 3 upon receipt of the new machines, and the G.IVs were soon to be put to use in
Operation Trkenkreuz - the strategic bombing of London. This was delayed when
practice missions revealed faulty engine bearings that had to be replaced, and that the
prevailing winds were stronger than expected, requiring the addition of extra fuel tanks.
Additionally, it was discovered that the design of the fuel system prevented the main
tanks from being completely utilised, and this problem had to be addressed as well.

Around 30 LVG-built G.IVs were fitted with Hiero engines and 8 mm (.315 in)
Schwarzlose machine guns for Austro-Hungarian service. Another one was
experimentally fitted with a 20 mm Becker cannon for ground attack.

[edit] Postwar decommission

All surviving Gotha aircraft were destroyed in accordance with the terms of the Treaty
of Versailles. The sole known exception was one Gotha G.IV in Polish possession[1].

[edit] Operators
o Luftstreitkrfte
o Royal Netherlands Air Force

Only one G.IV, forced landing on 18.08.1917 at Nieuweschans, Groningen, due

to destruction of one of the propellers over the Tutjeshut (sgt Lok received a
gold watch for this accomplishment). The aircraft was repaired only to crash on
the first test flight two months later in Soesterberg. Written off from register
1919, Dutch number LA-50 (1917 allocation) and G-700 (1918).

o Polish Air Force

The single remaining G.IV was found by Polish forces in Pozna during the
Greater Poland Uprising of 1918 and 1919. Once repaired, the aircraft joined the
21. Eskadra Niszczycielska (21st Destroyer Squadron) on April 30, 1920. After
brief operational use in the Polish-Soviet War, the aircraft was withdrawn from
service in the summer of 1920 due to lack of spare parts.

Fokker Dr.I
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Jump to: navigation, search

Fokker Dr.I

Role Fighter

Manufacturer Fokker-Flugzeugwerke

Designer Reinhold Platz

First flight 5 July 1917

Primary user Luftstreitkrfte

Number built 320

The Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker (triplane) was a World War I fighter aircraft built by
Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918. It
became renowned as the aircraft in which Manfred von Richthofen gained his last 19
victories, and in which he was killed on 21 April 1918.


1 Design and development

2 Operational history
o 2.1 Wing failures
o 2.2 Experimental engines
3 Postwar
4 Replica aircraft
5 Variants
6 Operators
7 Specifications (Dr.I)
8 See also
9 References
o 9.1 Notes
o 9.2 Bibliography
10 External links

[edit] Design and development

V.4 prototype

In February 1917, the Sopwith Triplane began to appear over the Western Front.[1] The
Sopwith swiftly proved itself superior to the Albatros fighters then in use by the
Luftstreitkrfte.[2][3] Fokker-Flugzeugwerke responded by converting an unfinished
biplane prototype into the V.4, a small, rotary-powered triplane with a steel tube
fuselage and thick cantilever wings,[4] first developed during Fokker's government-
mandated collaboration with Hugo Junkers. Initial tests revealed that the V.4 had
unacceptably high control forces resulting from the use of unbalanced ailerons and

Instead of submitting the V.4 for a type test, Fokker produced a revised prototype
designated V.5. The most notable changes were the introduction of horn-balanced
ailerons and elevators, as well as longer-span wings. The V.5 also featured interplane
struts, which were not necessary from a structural standpoint, but which minimized
wing flexing.[6] On 14 July 1917, Idflieg issued an order for 20 pre-production aircraft.
The V.5 prototype, serial 101/17, was tested to destruction at Adlershof on 11 August

[edit] Operational history

Triplanes of Jasta 26 at Erchin, France

Jasta 12 flightline at Toulis, France

Fokker produced two pre-production triplanes, designated F.I, which could be

distinguished from production Dr.I aircraft by a slight curve to the tailplane leading
edge. These aircraft, serials 102/17 and 103/17, were the only machines to receive the
F.I designation.[8] They were sent to Jastas 10 and 11 for combat evaluation, arriving at
Markebeeke, Belgium on 28 August 1917.

Richthofen first flew 102/17 on 1 September 1917 and shot down two enemy aircraft in
the next two days. He reported to the Kogenluft (Kommandierender General der
Luftstreitkrfte) that the F.I was superior to the Sopwith Triplane.[9] Richthofen
recommended that fighter squadrons be reequipped with the new aircraft as soon as
possible.[9] The combat evaluation came to an abrupt conclusion when Oberleutnant
Kurt Wolff, Staffelfhrer of Jasta 11, was shot down in 102/17 on 15 September, and
Leutnant Werner Voss, Staffelfhrer of Jasta 10, was killed in 103/17 on 23 September.

The remaining pre-production aircraft, designated Dr.I, were delivered to Jasta 11.[10]
Idflieg issued a production order for 100 triplanes in September, followed by an order
for 200 in November.[11] Apart from minor modifications, these aircraft were almost
identical to the F.I. The primary distinguishing feature was the addition of wingtip
skids, which proved necessary because the aircraft was tricky to land and prone to
ground looping.[12] In October, Fokker began delivering the Dr.I to squadrons within
Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader I.

Compared with the Albatros and Pfalz fighters, the Dr.I offered exceptional
maneuverability. Though the ailerons were not very effective, the rudder and elevator
controls were light and powerful.[13] Rapid turns, especially to the right, were facilitated
by the triplane's marked directional instability.[13] Vizefeldwebel Franz Hemer of Jasta 6
said, "The triplane was my favorite fighting machine because it had such wonderful
flying qualities. I could let myself stunt looping and rolling and could avoid an
enemy by diving with perfect safety. The triplane had to be given up because although it
was very maneuverable, it was no longer fast enough."[14]

As Hemer noted, the Dr.I was considerably slower than contemporary Allied fighters in
level flight and in a dive. While initial rate of climb was excellent, performance fell off
dramatically at higher altitudes due to the low compression of the Oberursel Ur.II, a
clone of the Le Rhne 9J rotary engine.[15] As the war continued, chronic shortages of
castor oil made rotary operation increasingly difficult. The poor quality of German
ersatz lubricant resulted in many engine failures, particularly during the summer of
The Dr.I suffered other deficiencies. The pilot's view was poor during takeoff and
landing.[17] The cockpit was cramped and furnished with materials of inferior quality.[18]
Furthermore, the proximity of the gun butts to the cockpit, combined with inadequate
crash padding, left the pilot vulnerable to serious head injury in the event of a crash

[edit] Wing failures

Heinrich Gontermann's crashed Dr.I (serial 115/17)

On 29 October 1917, Leutnant der Reserve Heinrich Gontermann, Staffelfhrer of Jasta

15, was performing aerobatics when his triplane broke up.[20] Gontermann was fatally
injured in the ensuing crash landing. Leutnant der Reserve Gnther Pastor of Jasta 11
was killed two days later when his triplane broke up in level flight.[20] Inspection of the
wrecked aircraft showed that the wings had been poorly constructed. Examination of
other high-time Dr.Is confirmed these findings. On 2 November, Idflieg grounded all
remaining triplanes pending an inquiry. Idflieg convened a Sturzkommission (crash
commission) which concluded that poor construction and lack of waterproofing had
allowed moisture to destroy the wing.[21] This caused the wing ribs to disintegrate and
the ailerons to break away in flight.[21]

In response to the crash investigation, Fokker improved quality control on the

production line, particularly varnishing of the wing spars and ribs, to combat moisture.
Fokker also strengthened the rib structures and the attachment of the auxiliary spars to
the ribs. Existing triplanes were repaired and modified at Fokker's expense.[22] After
testing a modified wing at Adlershof, Idflieg authorized the triplane's return to service
on 28 November 1917.[23] Production resumed in early December. By January 1918,
Jastas 6 and 11 were fully equipped with the triplane. Only 14 squadrons used the Dr.I
as their primary equipment. Most of these units were part of Jagdgeschwadern I, II, or
III.[24] Frontline inventory peaked in late April 1918, with 171 aircraft in service on the
Western Front.[11]

Despite corrective measures, the Dr.I continued to suffer from wing failures. On 3
February 1918, Leutnant Hans Joachim Wolff of Jasta 11 successfully landed after
suffering a failure of the upper wing leading edge and ribs.[25] On 18 March 1918,
Lothar von Richthofen, Staffelfhrer of Jasta 11, suffered a failure of the upper wing
leading edge during combat with Sopwith Camels of No. 73 Squadron and Bristol F.2Bs
of No. 62 Squadron.[26] Richthofen was seriously injured in the ensuing crash landing.

Postwar research revealed that poor workmanship was not the only cause of the
triplane's structural failures. In 1929, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
(NACA) investigations found that the upper wing carried a higher lift coefficient than
the lower wing at high speeds it could be 2.55 times as much.

The triplane's chronic structural problems destroyed any prospect of large-scale

orders.[27] Production eventually ended in May 1918, by which time only 320 had been
manufactured.[28] The Dr.I was withdrawn from frontline service as the Fokker D.VII
entered widespread service in June and July. Jasta 19 was the last squadron to be fully
equipped with the Dr.I.[29]

Surviving triplanes were distributed to training and home defense units. Several training
aircraft were reengined with the 75 kW (100 hp) Goebel Goe.II.[30] At the time of the
Armistice, many remaining triplanes were assigned to fighter training schools at
Nivelles, Belgium, and Valenciennes, France.[31] Allied pilots tested several of these
triplanes and found their handling qualities to be impressive.[31]

[edit] Experimental engines

Several Dr.Is were used as testbeds for experimental engines. One aircraft, designated
V.7, was fitted with the Siemens-Halske Sh.III bi-rotary engine.[32] The V.7 exhibited
exceptional rate of climb and ceiling, but it proved difficult to handle.[32] Serial 108/17
was used to test the 118 kW (160 hp) Goebel Goe. III, while serial 469/17 was used to
test the 108 kW (145 hp) Oberursal Ur. III.[33] None of these engines were used on
production aircraft.

[edit] Postwar

Fokker Dr.I (serial 152/17) on display at the Zeughaus

Very few triplanes survived the Armistice. Serial 528/17 was retained as a testbed by
the Deutschen Versuchsanstalt fr Luftfahrt (German Aviation Research Institute) at
Adlershof. After being used in the filming of two movies, 528/17 is believed to have
crashed sometime in the late 1930s.[34] Serial 152/17, in which Manfred von Richthofen
obtained three victories, was displayed at the Zeughaus museum in Berlin.[34] The
triplane was destroyed by an Allied bombing raid during World War II. Today, only a
few original Dr.I artifacts survive in museums.

[edit] Replica aircraft

While no Dr.I airframes survive, large numbers of flying and static replicas have been
built. In 1932, Fokker built a Dr.I from the spare parts of various aircraft. The
reproduction appeared in the 1939 film D III 88. Bitz Flugzeugbau GmbH built two Dr.I
replicas for use in Twentieth Century Foxs 1966 film The Blue Max.

Large numbers of replica aircraft have been built for both individuals and museums.
Due to the expense and scarcity of authentic rotary engines, most airworthy replicas are
powered by a Warner Scarab or Continental R-670 radial engine.[35] A few, however,
feature vintage Le Rhne 9 or reproduction Oberursel Ur.II rotary engines.

[edit] Variants
V.4 - Initial prototype
V.5 - First production prototype
V.6 - Enlarged prototype with Mercedes D.II engine
V.7 - Prototype with Siemens-Halske Sh.III engine

[edit] Operators
German Empire


[edit] Specifications (Dr.I)

Data from Quest for Performance[36]

General characteristics

Crew: One
Length: 5.77 m (18 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 7.20 m (23 ft 7 in)
Height: 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 18.70 m (201 ft)
Empty weight: 406 kg (895 lb)
Loaded weight: 586 kg (1,292 lb)
Powerplant: 1 Oberursel Ur.II 9-cylinder rotary engine, 82 kW (110 hp)
Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0323
Drag area: 0.62 m (6.69 ft)
Aspect ratio: 4.04


Maximum speed: 185 km/h at sea level (115 mph at sea level)
Stall speed: 72 km/h (45 mph)
Range: 300 km (185 mi)
Service ceiling: 6,095 m (20,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 5.7 m/s (1,130 ft/min)

Lift-to-drag ratio: 8.0


2 7.92 mm (.312 in) "Spandau" lMG 08 machine guns.

[edit] See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Sopwith Triplane
Sopwith Camel

[edit] References
[edit] Notes
1. ^ Franks 2004, p. 9.
2. ^ Franks 2004, p. 21.
3. ^ Leaman 2003, pp. 30, 32.
4. ^ Leaman 2003, p. 34.
5. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 226.
6. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 228.
7. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 229.
8. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 231.
9. ^ a b Weyl 1965, p. 232.
10. ^ Leaman 2003, p. 53.
11. ^ a b Franks and VanWyngarden 2001, p. 22.
12. ^ Leaman 2003, p. 96.
13. ^ a b Leaman 2003, p. 95.
14. ^ VanWyngarden 2004, p. 75.
15. ^ Nowarra 1990, p. 12.
16. ^ Franks and VanWyngarden 2001, p. 83.
17. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 245.
18. ^ Weyl 1965, pp. 244-245.
19. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 410.
20. ^ a b Weyl 1965, p. 233.
21. ^ a b Weyl 1965, pp. 233-234.
22. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 235.
23. ^ Weyl 1965, pp. 238-239.
24. ^ Franks and VanWyngarden 2001, p. 55.
25. ^ Franks and VanWyngarden 2001, p. 25.
26. ^ Franks and VanWyngarden 2001, pp. 26-27.
27. ^ Weyl 1965, p. 236.
28. ^ Gray and Thetford 1962, p. 100.
29. ^ Leaman 2003, p. 69.
30. ^ Leaman 2003, p. 222.
31. ^ a b Weyl 1965, p. 246.
32. ^ a b Weyl 1965, p. 248.
33. ^ Weyl 1965, pp. 249-250.
34. ^ a b Leaman 2003, p. 181.
35. ^ Nowarra 1990, p. 47.
36. ^ Loftin 2004, Table I.

[edit] Bibliography