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Schutte-Lanz Dr.I

Imperial Germany (1918)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Schutte-Lanz Dr.I Triplane Fighter Protoype.

 Entry last updated on 11/6/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Schutte-Lanz Dr.I  
Picture of Schutte-Lanz Dr.I Triplane Fighter Protoype

The Schutte-Lanz Dr.I triplane fighter failed to impress in the D-type competition of May-June 1918 - one flyable prototype was built.

With the emergence of "triplane" fighters as viable fighting during 1917, many companies attempted such aircraft designs during World War 1 (1914-1918). A triplane wing arrangement offered inherently strong handling and lifting properties (at the expense of added drag and vision out-of-the-cockpit) which were sought after qualities by pilots caught up in close-in dogfighting where out-turning an opponent meant the difference between life and death. The German concern of Schutte-Lanz, who had been attempting to sell the German Air Service on fighter designs since earlier in the war, moved on the trend established by the British Sopwith Triplane by developing the Schutte-Lanz Dr.I triplane fighter.

At its core, the Dr.I was an offshoot of the earlier D.III biplane fighter attempt (detailed elsewhere on this site) save for the wing arrangement and a relocated tailskid. It retained the fuselage, undercarriage and tail section of its forerunner which accelerated development work considerably. The wings differed some in offering less surface area - an extra pair of wings was sandwiched between the upper and lower appendages and were joined both at the fuselage and at the N-strut support members. An interesting design note regarding the wings was the staggered placement of the lower-most appendage, this just slightly aft of the upper two planes - this quality believed to have improved downward vision for the pilot.
Power to the aircraft was from a Mercedes D.III six-cylinder inline liquid-cooled engine of 160 horsepower. This drove a two-bladed wooden propeller at the nose.

Armament would consist of the standard arrangement of 2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 series machine guns. These were set over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

The Dr.I was Schutte-Lanz's contribution to the second D-type competition that followed the first of early-1918. The second meeting was held from late-May to late-June that same year. However, the Dr.I failed to impress and the ultimately design fell to the pages of aviation history as a result. The age of the triplane had also ended with air services reverting back to tried-and-true biplane fighter types for the time being.
Schutte-Lanz Dr.I Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Imperial Germany
Year: 1918
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Type: Triplane Fighter Protoype
Manufacturer(s): Schutte-Lanz - German Empire
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: 20.51 ft (6.25 m)
Width: 26.28 ft (8.01 m)
Height: 9.84 ft (3.00 m)
Empty Weight: 1,653 lb (750 kg)
MTOW: 1,984 lb (900 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Mercedes D.III 6-cylinder liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 160 horsepower and driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 115 mph (185 kph; 100 kts)
Maximum Range: 283 mi (455 km; 246 nm)
Service Ceiling: 19,685 ft (6,000 m; 3.73 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,000 ft/min (305 m/min)

2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine guns set over the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

Operators List
Imperial Germany (cancelled)

Series Model Variants
• Dr.I - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed.