The Hansa-Brandenburg C.I was a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft seeing action with the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War 1. The C.I was another aircraft design by German engineer Ernst Heinkel who had also produced the preceding Hansa-Brandenburg B.I unarmed reconnaissance aircraft of 1914. Heinkel's work on the B.I no doubt played a role in the newer C.I which itself borrowed some of the previous design's style and construction technique. The C.I was enlisted for action from 1916 through to the end of the war, charged with aerial reconnoitering sorties, artillery spotting, photographic reconnaissance and some strike sorties using a modest supply of light-weight drop ordnance - in essence a sort of "multi-role" performer for its day.
The Hansa-Brandenburg featured two equal-span double-bay wings with parallel struts in a staggered biplane arrangement. The whole of the fuselage took on a box-type shape complete with flat side fabric-over-wood covering while sporting a smooth, curved forward underside. The engine was fitted to the extreme forward of the fuselage just ahead of the crew position. Instead of separate cockpits common to other aircraft of the time, the C.I made use of a connected, open-air compartment for her crew of two sitting back-to-back with the pilot ahead, just behind a windscreen, and the observer/gunner in a simplistic ringed "cage" to his rear. The pilot and upper wing positions were situated as such that the pilot could see over and above the top wing structure for improved vision. Armament was one or two 8mm Schwarzlose machine guns while a light bombload of up to 220lbs was possible. In earlier C.Is, only the observer was supplied a machine gun, this being in the rear cockpit. Other versions employed a second machine gun in the upper wing assembly for the pilot. Still other variations dropped the upper machine gun in favor of a synchronized system fitted along the portside of the fuselage. The undercarriage was conventional for the time, featuring a pair of main landing gear wheels on fixed struts and a simple tail skid under the empennage. The fuselage tapered into the empennage which sported a single vertical tail fin and braced horizontal planes. Power was supplied from a single Austro-Daimler water-cooled inline engine delivering 160 horsepower to a two-blade propeller (all this depending on the production model). Maximum speed was reported at 78 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 19,000 feet. The C.I featured a listed endurance time of about 3 hours. In all, the Hansa-Brandenburg proved a sound design and somewhat pleasing to look at.
Hansa-Brandenburg handled primary production of the C.I (84 produced under HB) while additional license-production was undertaken by both Phonix (Phonix Flugzeugwerke) and Ufag (Ungarische Flugzeugfabrik) in a variety of series batches that differed mainly in engine type and engine horsepower output. Phonix C.Is were produced in five major series and fitted Austro-Daimler and Hieros engines varying from 160 to 230 horsepower. Likewise, Ufag produced the C.I in six series batches using Austro-Daimler, Hieros, Mercedes and Benz engines ranging from 160 to 230 horsepower. Some 1,318 total C.Is were eventually produced.
The C.I saw action with the Austro-Hungarian Imperial and Royal Aviation Troops and proved a stable mount leading up to a lengthy career, quite the accomplishment for any aircraft featured in World War 1. Like other aircraft designs of the war, the C.I was progressively improved and had her career extended as a frontline implement by the arrival of newer engines wielding evermore power.
Along with the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Poland and Czechoslovakia also utilized the C.I, though this occurred in the post-war years to follow. Aero undertook production of the C.I in the ensuing inter-war years for Czechoslovakia under three major designations as the A-14, A-15 and the A-26 fitting a BMW IIIa powerplant of 185 horsepower produced under-license by Walter Aircraft Engines. Walter was a firm formed in 1911, beginning industrial production on motorcycles and (later) cars.
The Hansa-Brandenburg C.I may also be known as the Type LDD in some publications.