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DFW T.28 Floh (Flea)

Imperial Germany (1915)

Detailing the development and operational history of the DFW T.28 Floh (Flea) Biplane Fighter Prototype.

 Entry last updated on 4/5/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  DFW T.28 Floh (Flea)  
Picture of DFW T.28 Floh (Flea) Biplane Fighter Prototype

The proposed DFW T.28 Floh biplane fighter held several inherent flaws in its design - the greatest of these was its deep fuselage which limited forward vision.

Perhaps one of the ugliest biplane fighters ever designed, the DFW T.28 "Floh" ("Flea") was the product of Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke of the German Empire during World War 1 (1914-1918). It achieved its monumental first flight in 1915 as the war in Europe raged on. The T.28 was developed along the lines of a high-speed fighting biplane but held such poor qualities for the role that it became a largely forgotten entry as the wartime fighters went. Key deficiencies in the design included extremely poor forward visibility due to the deep fuselage, a rather ultra-thin fuselage design which gave the aircraft its ungainly appearance, and oversized tailplanes which added something of a comical design element.

It is perhaps best that the sole prototype crashed when attempting its first landing - reducing the chance that the design would be picked up for wartime production by the German air service.

Design-wise, the T.28 mimicked established biplane fighter characteristics of the day - a two-wing mainplane structure (single bay, parallel interstruts), a fixed wheeled undercarriage and open-air cockpit for its single pilot. The engine drove a two-bladed wooden propeller mounted at the nose in the usual way. Dimensionally, the aircraft was small by the standards of the day, showcasing a length of 14.8 feet and a wingspan of 21.3 feet. Empty weight was 925 lb against a gross weight of 1,435lb. Power was served through a Mercedes D.I water-cooled inline piston engine developing 100 horsepower. Maximum speed reached 112 miles per hour during a first flight and armament was rather modest - just 1 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing position.

The Floh came about during late 1915 as chief designer Hermann Dorner attempted to develop a compact, fast and agile fighter to compete with emerging Allied types (the air war of World War 1 was one of won-lost initiatives). The result was one of the more unique offerings of the World War 1 fighters and certainly one of the more forgettable entries. Construction incorporated the usual fabric-over-wood approach and, while the Floh achieved an impressive 100+ mile per hour top speed in testing, it suffered damage upon landing which hampered the project's reach. By the time it could be relevant again, attention on the part of German authorities had shifted to more traditional fighter designs and arrangements with better performance and armament support.
Any available statistics for the DFW T.28 Floh (Flea) Biplane Fighter Prototype are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).
DFW T.28 Floh (Flea) Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Imperial Germany
Year: 1915
Type: Biplane Fighter Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke (DFW) - Imperial Germany
Production: 1
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 1
Length: 14.76 ft (4.5 m)
Width: 20.34 ft (6.20 m)
Height: 7.55 ft (2.30 m)
Empty Weight: 926 lb (420 kg)
MTOW: 1,433 lb (650 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Mercedes D.I water-cooled inline piston engine developing 100 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller in the nose.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 112 mph (180 kph; 97 kts)

1 x 7.92 Spandau LMG 08/15 machine gun

Operators List
Imperial Germany (abandoned)

Series Model Variants
• T.28 "Floh" - Base Series Designation; sole prototype completed and flown.