Hansa-Brandenburg B.I (Type D/FD) Biplane Reconnaissance Aircraft
The Hansa-Brandenburg B.I was designed by Ernst Heinkel and was an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft of World War 1.
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Ernst Heinkel - whose German firm Heinkel would gain some level of notoriety in World War 2 - designed a series of reconnaissance aircraft for the Hansa-Brandenburg firm during World War 1. The B.I was one such aircraft, an unarmed two-seat reconnaissance platform that made its way to the frontlines for a time. Though a serviceable aircraft in her own right, the B.I went on to set the stage for the more capable C.I and C.II aircraft - these being armed reconnaissance versions with more capabilities - appearing from 1916 and onwards. First flight of the B.I occurred in 1914 with deliveries to the Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops of the Austro-Hungarian Empire thereafter.
The B.I fuselage took on a boxy-type appearance complete with slab sides, a straight-faced top and a somewhat-curved forward underside. The engine was fitted to the extreme forward of the design and powered a two-blade wooden propeller. As a biplane, the B.I featured an upper and lower wing assembly that saw both wings staggered in their placement and were of an unequal span (the upper assembly with a wider span). Each wing sported two bays with parallel struts and applicable cabling. The pilot sat direct aft of the engine compartment and behind and beneath the upper wing assembly. The pilot was accompanied by his observer who was situated directly behind him in a combined cockpit area - that is, there was not two distinct cockpits in the B.I, which was conventional in other two-seaters from other nations. The fuselage tapered off into the empennage that featured a single vertical tail fin and horizontal planes. The undercarriage of the B.I was nothing more than two braced and fixed main landing gear wheels coupled with a simple tail skid under the empennage. The B.I did not carry any armament for self-defense.
The B.I operated with an empty weight of 1,680lbs and a gross weight of 2,340lbs. Range was listed at 190 miles with a top speed equaling 78 miles per hour. A service ceiling of 10,500 feet was possible with a rate-of-climb of 430 feet-per-minute.
The B.I was produced in two major variants. While both retained their base military designation of "B.I", Hansa-Brandenburg assigned the company designations of "Type D" and "Type FD" to denote their difference in selected engines. The Type D model was the initial production form and powered by the Benz Bz.II series engine. The Type FD was the second production form and powered by the Benz Bz.III series engine of 160 horsepower.
Aero, a Czechoslovakian firm, produced the B.I in both wartime and in the after-years as the "Ae 10", with this experience proving priceless in development of other derivatives for the firm. Along with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Norway was another notable B.I user. Poland fielded the type in the post-war years with their Polish Air Force.