Schutte-Lanz D.I Single-Seat Biplane Fighter Prototype
The Schutte-Lanz D.I arrived at a time when multi-winged fighter aircraft were no en vogue - leaving just one flyable prototype completed.
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Air power would play a crucial role in World War 1 (1914-1918) and all major global players invested heavily in the newfound instrument-of-war. For the German Empire, there seemed no shortage of available types and this stock went on to include classic designs, "one-offs" and dedicated models to serve specific over-battlefield roles. One of the lesser-known contributors to the German cause was Schutte-Lanz, a concern better remembered for its commitment to rigid airships. Founded in 1909, the company also went on to design, develop and produce a series of fighting aircraft.
The line was begun by the Schutte-Lanz D.I designed by W. Hillmann and Walter Stein. It was of conventional arrangement and construction, the latter featuring a wooden substructure with fabric skinning. The biplane wing wings incorporated a staggered approach with single bays formed by the parallel struts in play. A single-seat, open-air cockpit was seated aft of the nose-mounted engine. The tail unit showcased a small-area vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes. As with other aircraft of the period, a tail-dragger undercarriage was used that was wheeled at the main legs and fixed in place during flight. In several respects, the design was influenced by the popular British-originated Sopwith Tabloid.
Power was derived from an Oberursel U.0 7-cylinder air-cooled rotary piston engine of 80 horsepower driving a two bladed propeller at the nose. This engine was a local copy of the French-made Gnome Rhone 7 rotary engine. Maximum speed reached 84 miles per hour.
Structurally the aircraft exhibited a length of 17.8 feet and a wingspan of 24.6 feet.
It is said that the D.I represented Germany's first true biplane fighter when it was flown for the first time in 1915. Prior to this, the monoplane was the king of the skies for authorities were not sold on the concept of a multi-winged platform just yet - mainly due to the fact that vision out-of-the-cockpit suffered mightily with the double-layer wings. Interestingly, all this would soon change during the course of the war where two-, three- and even four-winged aircraft began to gain more favor and popularity than the earlier monoplane.
Nevertheless, the D.I was tested during 1915 but failed to impress the proper authorities. The aircraft was modified some to become the D.II but this design appears to have had an even lesser impact. Only a single D.I was ever completed and flown.