Halberstadt CL.II Escort Biplane Fighter / Ground Attack Aircraft
Nearly 1,000 of the Hablerstadt biplane aircraft were produced during World War 1 - serving as escort fighters and ground attack platforms.
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It was the Halberstadt D.IV fighter that served as the basis for the CL.II escort fighter / ground attacker. The original D.IV was rejected by the German Air Service due to pilot vision out-of-the-cockpit and only saw three aircraft produced but it was this very design that influenced the upcoming CL.II, developed to a two-seat, defensive-minded patrol and pursuit requirement for the Germans of World War 1 (1914-1918). The CL.II fulfilled this role quite well and was produced to the tune of 900 examples.
The CL.II originally emerged under the designation of "C.II" during 1916 but this was reworked to become the "CL.II" in the summer of 1917. Like other aircraft in the Halberstadt stable, the CL.II carried a single 7.92mm LMG 08/15 synchronized machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing mounting for the pilot. Armament was augmented by the rear crewman being given management of a single 7.92mm LMG 14 series machine gun atop a flexible mounting. To fulfill the ground attack aspect of the requirement, the aircraft could be laden with up to five 22lb "Wurfgranaten 15" series trench mortar fragmentation bombs and ten stick grenades. Power was from a Mercedes D.III 6-cylinder inline engine of 160 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller at the nose. A biplane wing arrangement (staggered) was used with parallel strutworks as was a fixed undercarriage (wheeled at the main legs) and open-air cockpits for the two crewmembers.
First-flight was had during early 1917 which led to a first-order placed in May. In August of that year, the aircraft was readied for battle and began arriving in useful numbers. Once in action, the series was well-regarded for its handling and power as well as good vision out-of-the-cockpit. In a matter of weeks, it proved itself one of the more valuable aircraft in service to the Germans as the type could engage air and ground targets with equal lethality - as well as defend itself when necessary. It also served as an escort to larger, slower and more vulnerable warplanes when needed, such was its over-battlefield flexibility.
To make up the 900-strong total, Halberstadt received no fewer than five total production batch orders and this accounted for at least 700 aircraft with manufacture ranging into the middle part of 1918. Bayerische FlugzeugWerke (BFW) supplied the other 200 aircraft in the total.
The CL.IIa was the sole variant of the CL.II line, this model carrying a BMW IIIa series engine and trialed for a time in frontline actions. It did not see quantitative production figures.
Both Lithuania and Poland became post-war operators of the CL.II.
As finalized, the CL.II could manage a maximum speed of 103 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 16,600 feet. Endurance was three hours and climb to 16,400 feet took forty minutes. Empty weight was 1,700lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 2,500lb.