Schutte-Lanz Dr.I Triplane Fighter Protoype
The Schutte-Lanz Dr.I triplane fighter failed to impress in the D-type competition of May-June 1918 - one flyable prototype was built.
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With the emergence of "triplane" fighters as viable fighting during 1917, many companies attempted such aircraft designs during World War 1 (1914-1918). A triplane wing arrangement offered inherently strong handling and lifting properties (at the expense of added drag and vision out-of-the-cockpit) which were sought after qualities by pilots caught up in close-in dogfighting where out-turning an opponent meant the difference between life and death. The German concern of Schutte-Lanz, who had been attempting to sell the German Air Service on fighter designs since earlier in the war, moved on the trend established by the British Sopwith Triplane by developing the Schutte-Lanz Dr.I triplane fighter.
At its core, the Dr.I was an offshoot of the earlier D.III biplane fighter attempt (detailed elsewhere on this site) save for the wing arrangement and a relocated tailskid. It retained the fuselage, undercarriage and tail section of its forerunner which accelerated development work considerably. The wings differed some in offering less surface area - an extra pair of wings was sandwiched between the upper and lower appendages and were joined both at the fuselage and at the N-strut support members. An interesting design note regarding the wings was the staggered placement of the lower-most appendage, this just slightly aft of the upper two planes - this quality believed to have improved downward vision for the pilot.
Power to the aircraft was from a Mercedes D.III six-cylinder inline liquid-cooled engine of 160 horsepower. This drove a two-bladed wooden propeller at the nose.
Armament would consist of the standard arrangement of 2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 series machine guns. These were set over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
The Dr.I was Schutte-Lanz's contribution to the second D-type competition that followed the first of early-1918. The second meeting was held from late-May to late-June that same year. However, the Dr.I failed to impress and the ultimately design fell to the pages of aviation history as a result. The age of the triplane had also ended with air services reverting back to tried-and-true biplane fighter types for the time being.