Anatra D-Series - Russia, 1916
Detailing the development and operational history of the Anatra D-Series Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 10/25/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Anatra D-series biplane was one of the more forgettable local Russian biplane designs to emerge during World War 1.
The Anatra D was one of the few homegrown Russian aircraft developed for the Imperial Russian Air Force and operated during World War 1 (1914-1918). The aircraft served as a twin-seat reconnaissance platform and was built in 380 examples across the major and minor variants presented. The Anatra D was the Anatra company's first original design - the concern, owned by an Italian banker in Odessa - began operations producing a local copy of French Viosin aircraft. In the case of both designs, the aircraft were not fondly remembered.
The Anatra D-series aircraft were attributed to Elysee Alfred Descamps.
The Anatra D had its first-flight on December 19th, 1915, and appeared prior to the October Revolution of 1917 that kicked the Russian Empire out of World War 1 and into internal turmoil. Its design was influenced some by the German Aviatik biplane series captured during the earlier part of the conflict and attempted to carry over some of the series' better qualities. Wood and fabric (with some steel tubing and aluminum skinning) were involved in the construction and a twin-bay biplane wing arrangement was used. The wheeled undercarriage was fixed and the engine, driving a wooden two-bladed propeller, was appropriately situated at the nose. The crew of two, in open-air cockpits, sat in tandem within the slab-sided fuselage. The tail unit was traditional - a single vertical fin with low-mounted horizontal planes.
As completed, the type exhibited a wingspan of 40.6 feet, a length of 26.5 feet and a height of 10.4 feet. Weight was 1,905lb empty and 2,566lb gross. Armament was centered on 2 x 7.7mm machine guns - one in a fixed, forward-firing mount (Vickers) operated by the pilot (and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades) and the other on a trainable mounting for the rear gunner / observer (Lewis Gun). A modest bombload of 50 kg could also be carried aloft.
The Anatra D entered formal service during May 1916 and managed a career in the air until the early 1920s. To major types were produced during the period - the original D "Anade" model (170 examples) and the improved DS "Anasal" variant (184 examples - this name was formed from "Anatra Salmson"). The original Gnome Monosoupape rotary engines of 100 horsepower of the original aircraft proved highly unreliable and the design exhibited inherent structural weaknesses with overall shoddy construction. The DS model - first flown on July 16th, 1916) attempted to improve upon some of these deficient qualities by introducing a Salmson Canton-Unne water-cooled radial piston engine of 150 horsepower. While this helped to improve performance qualities some, it did little to endear the design to Russian airmen - who were more or less forced to fly the deathtrap under combat conditions.
The base aircraft design (DS model) could manage a maximum speed of 80 miles per hour up to a ceiling of 14,110 feet out to a range of 250 miles but little else. Reliability issues persisted and aircraft were known to inexplicably crash or break up in midair - leaving the Anatra aircraft to become one of the more forgettable Russian Empire aircraft ventures of World War 1. It continued for some time longer in service under the Soviet Air Force banner, at least until 1923. Other global operators became the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Czechoslovakia (postwar use of 23 aircraft), Hungary and Poland (postwar use of five aircraft).
The DDS was a limited-number variant fitted with the Salmson 9U radial piston engine of 160 horsepower which further increased performance figures (up to 90mph maximum speed). At least one Anatra "Anadis" was completed as a promising single-seat fighter in 1916 but not furthered into a serial production form.
The type was also in combat service during the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920.