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Friedrichshafen FF.33

Imperial Germany (1914)
Picture of Friedrichshafen FF.33 Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Friedrichshafen manufactured over 300 of its FF.33 series biplane fighters for service in World War 1.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Friedrichshafen FF.33 Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 11/2/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©

Founded in 1912, Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen served the German Empire during World War 1 (1914-1918) as an aircraft maker, surviving the Armistice of 1918 and eventually folding 1923. Before their end arrived, the company produced some little-remembered warplanes of The Great War that included the useful FF.33 biplane floatplane for the Kaiserliche Marine (German Navy). The FF.33 first-flew in 1914 and entered service that year. About 315 of two major marks dotted the short-lived career of this aircraft.

As a floatplane, the FF.33 series held the inherent capability of landing and taking off from water sources which gave it a very useful advantage over swaths of open sea. A general biplane arrangement was used which incorporated an upper and lower wing assembly braced by wires and parallel struts. Two open-air, tandem cockpits were used by the two-crew. The engine was mounted to the nose in the usual way and a traditional tail unit was featured.

The initial production model became the FF.33 which carried a Mercedes D.II and only six of this mark were manufactured. The positions of the two crew were reversed in the follow-up FF.33b and power was not from a Maybach inline of 160 horsepower. Just five of this mark were built.

The FF.33e designated the primary reconnaissance mounts driven by a Benz Bz.III series inline and these also were given lengthened floatplanes for better water-running. The float under the tail was removed and communications gear fitted for the crew. About 180 of these were manufactured. These had a maximum speed of 68 miles per hour and endurance out to five hours.
The FF.33e gave rise to the FF.33f, a "fighting scout" variant, which incorporated a reduced wingspan and installed a pivoting machine gun. Five of this type were produced. The FF.33h sported aerodynamic refinements and fifty followed to this standard. The FF.33j also brought along refinements and held provision for communications gear. The FF.33l became the definitive fighting scout form with some 130 produced. These carried a fixed machine gun as armament. The FF.33e was a dual-control trainer offshoot.

The FF.39 was a refinement of the FF.33e model but finished with the Benz Bz.IV engine and fourteen were produced.

The FF.49b was a dedicated bomber form of the FF.49c and, again, reversed the crew positions. The observer's machine gun was deleted. Fifteen were produced. The FF.49c was an improved FF.39 with reinforced members, improved controlling and standard communications gear. The observer was given a trainable machine gun. Two-hundred of this mark were produced.

The FF.59a and FF.59b were one-off developmentals of the FF.39. The FF.59c had a modified tail unit and revised wing struts and wire bracing. The C.I became its own one-off of the FF.33l, a land-based version of the floatplane with a wheeled undercarriage installed.

Operators (beyond the German Empire) of the FF.33 series went on to include Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. Hungarian FF.33s operated until 1920, Polished versions until 1922 and Finnish FF.33s lasted into 1923.

Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (68mph).

    Graph average of 75 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Friedrichshafen FF.33's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: Imperial Germany
Year: 1914
Type: Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen GmbH - German Empire
Production: 315
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Bulgaria; Denmark; Finland; Imperial Germany; Netherlands; Poland; Sweden
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Friedrichshafen FF.33 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.




33.53 ft

10.22 m


54.46 ft

16.6 m


12.30 ft

3.75 m


3,417 lb

1,550 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Benz Bz.III inline piston engine developing 150 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.


68 mph

110 kph

59 kts


280 mi

450 km

Nautical Miles
243 nm

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (8):

1 x Machine gun, either fixed or at observer's position.

Up to 8 x 26.4lb conventional drop bombs.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• FF.33 - Base Series Designation; initial production model with Mercedes D.II engine; six examples completed.
• FF.33b - FF.33 model with reversed crew seating positions; fitted with Maybach inline engine of 160 horsepower; observer's trainable machine gun added; five examples completed.
• FF.33e - Definitive reconnaissance model; fitted with Benz Bz.III engine; lengthened floatplanes; sans armament; communications gear fitted; 180 examples completed.
• FF.33f - Fighting scout variant based in the FF.33e; decreased wingspan and overall length; observer's machine gun; five examples completed.
• FF.33h - FF.33f with aerodynamic revisions and reworked bracing; observer's machine gun; 50 examples completed.
• FF.33j - FF.33e model with aerodynamic revisions; communications gear supported.
• FF.33l - Definitive fighting scout variant; aerodynamic refinements; single fixed, forward-firing machine gun fitted; 130 examples produced.
• FF.33s - Dual-control dedicated trainer variant.
• FF.39 - Revised FF.33e; fitted with Benz Bz.IV series engine; 14 examples completed.
• FF.49b - FF.49c bomber variant; sans observer's machine gun; 15 examples completed.
• FF.49c - Improved FF.39 with reinforced members and revised controlling; communications gear; observer's machine gun fitted; 200 examples completed.
• FF.59a - One-off developmental based on the FF.39
• FF.59b - One-off developmental based on the FF.39
• FF.59c - FF.39 with revised strutworks and bracing wires.
• C.I - One-off land-based fighter version of the FF.33l model; wheeled undercarriage.