Aviatik C.I Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft
The German Aviatik C.I was designed from the outset with military use in mind, sporting a single 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun for self-defense.
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Aviatik (Automobil und Aviatikwerke) of Germany was already involved in aircraft designs from the outset of the war, graduating from the copying of French designs to producing their own new design in the Aviatik B.I. Following that, Aviatik produced their first full military-ready design in the Aviatik C.I series, a biplane reconnaissance aircraft that would serve effectively along the Front.
The C.I was a single-engine, twin-seat biplane with a Mercedes D.II 6-cylinder engine producing upwards of 120 horsepower and driving a two-blade propeller. The system followed suit with the previous B.I in that the observer was seated in the front - just behind the engine - and the pilot was at rear. This time, the forward observer was afforded a single 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun on a flexible mounting. Though in theory, this seemed to improve upon the previous B.I system, it was soon found that the field of fire for the observer was quite restricted and the rearward seating position of the pilot was ill-suited when compared to other aircraft types coming out at the time. As such, later examples of the C.I began seating the observer (with gun) to the rear and the pilot forward, but still aft of the engine. This provided the pilot a better field of vision forwards and out of the cockpit while expanding the field of fire for the rear observer. This new arrangement produced the designation of "C.Ia".
In the end, the C.Ia performed admirably well throughout its frontline tenure, undertaking a host of reconnaissance sorties. The C.I series as a whole would be replaced by the improved C.II, which would sport an even more powerful engine, but this time showcasing the Benz brand as opposed to the Mercedes found in other Aviatik models.