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Siemens-Schuckert D.I

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The Siemens-Schuckert D.I was a German reverse-engineered copy of the French Nieuport 17 biplane fighter.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 7/31/2019
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Year: 1916
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Manufacturer(s): Siemens-Schuckert Werke - Germany
Production: 95
Capabilities: Fighter;
Crew: 1
Length: 19.69 ft (6 m)
Width: 24.61 ft (7.5 m)
Height: 8.50 ft (2.59 m)
Weight (Empty): 948 lb (430 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 1,488 lb (675 kg)
Power: 1 x Siemens-Halske Sh.I geared rotary engine developing 110 horsepower driving a two-bladed wooden propeller unit at the nose.
Speed: 96 mph (155 kph; 84 kts)
Ceiling: 26,247 feet (8,000 m; 4.97 miles)
Operators: German Empire
So desperate were the Germans of finding a counter to the French Nieuport 17 biplane fighter that they eventually ordered an exact, reverse-engineered copy of the aircraft through Siemens-Schuckert as the "D.I". Captured specimens allowed for a first-hand look at the intimate workings of the design and the Germans proceeded to reproduce the aircraft with German materials, weaponry, and powerplant. The German offshoot was as close to the French design as possible - its only problem being that it was that the French design was now more or less obsolete by the time the Germans were able to fly their version.

The D.I retained much of the external appearance settled by the Nieuport 11 models, yielding only subtle changes to the profile. German armament was 1 x 7.92mm LMG 08-15 machine gun (sometimes two guns) synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. The biplane wing assembly was faithful to the French design, incorporating a low upper section with a small-area lower section. Struts were of the V-style, The pilot's position was immediately behind the upper wing unit and directly aft of the engine installation. All other facets of the design mimicked that as found on the French fighter.

When introduced in 1916, the D.I was already an outclassed fighter in both German and Allied camps and was thusly forced as a trainer platform for the duration of its short career. The D.Ia was a one-off model with increased wing area. The D.Ib were two examples given Siemens-Schuckert Sh.I engines with high compression. The D.II served as a prototype platform and was outfitted with the Siemens-Halske Sh.III rotary engine of 160 horsepower within an enlarged fuselage design. Larger propeller blades were also fitted. This then spawned the D.IIa prototype followed by the D.IIb prototype before two examples of the D.IIc arrived in both "short" and "long" wingspan forms. The D.IIe was yet another prototype model before the D.III came online with its upgraded Siemens-Halske rotary engine of 160 horsepower. The line culminated with the D.IV which arrived late in the war. The D.V designation was for a proposed sesquiplane variant and D.VI was a parasol monoplane variant eventually becoming the E.I.

In any case, the Siemens-Schuckert contributions made little difference in the outcome of the war on the whole. Indeed the D.IV offshoot is considered by some as the best fighter of the whole war but only 123 were produced in 1918, arriving much too late. Production of the D.I mark included perhaps as little as 95 D.I aircraft - all manufactured under the Siemens-Schuckert Werke brand label of the German Empire.

D.I dimensions included a length of 19.7 feet, a wingspan of 24.6 feet and a height of 8.5 feet. Empty weight was 948lbs with a Maximum Take-Off Weight of 1,488lbs listed. Power was through a single Siemens-Halske Sh.I geared rotary engine developing 110 horsepower while driving a two-blade propeller assembly at front. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 96 miles per hour and service ceiling of about 26,245 feet.


1 OR 2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine gun synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Variants / Models

• D.I - Base series designation; relegated to pilot training; Nieuport 11 direct copy; 95 produced.
• D.II - Prototype; Siemens-Halske Sh III 160 horsepower rotary engine; larger fuselage to accomodate new engine; larger propeller blades.
• D.IIa - Prototype
• D.IIb - Prototype
• D.IIc - 2 Prototypes (long and short wing span versions)
• D.IIe - Prototype
• D.III - Upgraded powerplant to Siemens-Halske 160 horsepower rotary engine.
• D.IV - Late arriving and post-Armistice production variant; 60 produced.
• D.V - Proposed sesquiplane variant
• D.VI - Parasol Monoplane variant becoming the E.I.
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