The one-off Friedrichshafen FF43 floatplane fighter prototype (detailed elsewhere on this site) failed to impressed German Navy authorities back in 1916 but the service though enough of the base design to order it in three prototype land-based forms. As such, the FF43 lost its twin floats (which permitted waterborne landings and take-offs) and was given a traditional "tail-dragger" wheeled arrangement. Three aircraft - known internally as "FF46" - were contracted for in September 1916 by authorities to serve under the "D.I" designation.
Like the FF.43 before it, the FF46 carried the proven Mercedes D.III V6 water-cooled inline piston engine of 160 horsepower, this used to drive a two-bladed, fixed-pitched wooden propeller at the nose in tractor fashion. The fighter seated one in an open-air cockpit and relied on a single-bay, unequal-span wing mainplane arrangement with parallel struts. The upper wing member was kept close to the fuselage and had a section of its trailing edge cut out to enhance pilot vision around his aircraft. Armament would centered on 2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings over the nose - synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades as was common to the time.
Despite the order for three total aircraft, just two prototypes would eventually be realized. The first was given vertical cabane-style struts at the wing members while the second offering differed in its implantation of splayed strut supports in an effort to further enhance pilot vision.
The FF.46 was not formally tested by the Germans until April of 1917 by which point the design had little to offer over its competitors. As such, no serial production was undertaken of the type and the two examples were later scrapped.
The FF.46 was the first in several biplane fighters that Friedrichshafen would offer during the war - contracts proving to be elusive. The company went defunct in 1923 and its production center taken over by Dornier.
Production 2 Units
Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen - German Empire
German Empire (cancelled)
- X-Plane / Developmental
21.16 ft (6.45 m)
29.69 ft (9.05 m)
9.51 ft (2.9 m)
1,510 lb (685 kg)
1,984 lb (900 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Friedrichshafen D.I production model)
1 x Mercedes D.III 6-cylinder water-cooled inline piston engine developing 160 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
109 mph (175 kph; 94 kts)
15,502 feet (4,725 m; 2.94 miles)
217 miles (350 km; 189 nm)
550 ft/min (168 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Friedrichshafen D.I production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 air-cooled, belt-fed machine guns over the nose in fixed, forward-firing mountings synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Friedrichshafen D.I production model)
FF.46 - Base series / company designation; two flyable prototypes completed and tested.
D.I - In-service designation of the FF.46.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Aviation developments similar to, or related to, the Friedrichshafen FF.46 (D.I)...
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