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Hansa-Brandenburg D.I (Type KD)

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The Hansa-Brandenburg D.I was produced in limited numbers though it made several aces for Austria-Hungary during her tenure.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 4/10/2019
The D.I was another of Ernst Heinkel's aircraft designs for the Hansa-Brandenburg firm (known formally as Hansa und Brandenburgische Flugzeug-Werke) during World War 1. The single-seat aircraft was categorized as a fighter, achieved first flight in 1916 and entered service with Austro-Hungarian pilots in the fall of that year. Though not without some notable (rather poor) handling issues in-flight, the type served in some number through to the end of the conflict and was known to make aces of some of her pilots.

Externally, the D.I was definitely a unique sort of aircraft design even when compared to her contemporaries. The fuselage was a deep though straight-lined and aerodynamic affair. The fuselage made vision out of the cockpit somewhat poor, adding only insult upon injury by the use of a biplane wing arrangement and a large forward engine compartment. The fuselage featured a raised spine extended aft to the empennage which itself sported some interestingly designed tail surfaces - of note was the rather smallish vertical tail fin. The pilot sat just forward of amidships behind and under the upper wing assembly. The equal span wings consisted of an upper and lower wing assembly joined to one another and the fuselage via a complex arrangement of crisscrossing struts that only added to the aircraft's distinct look. The wings were staggered in their placement, with the upper assembly set forward of the lower. The undercarriage was made up of a pair of fixed main landing wheels on struts joined to the underside of the fuselage while a simple tail skid was affixed to the rear underside. The engine powered a two-blade wooden propeller set low in the forward fuselage.

The D.I was meagerly armed with a single 8mm Schwarzlose machine gun fitted to the upper wing assembly within a clumsy-looking fairing. This was brought about through necessity for the complexities involved in synchronizing the Schwarzlose to fire through the propeller proved something of a grand mechanical undertaking. Installation of the weapon in the chosen fairing arrangement proved a drawback as it situated the machine gun far from the pilot's reach should he need to unjam the weapon. Conversely, it allowed for unobstructed firing over any spinning propeller - in a way becoming a simple solution to a complex problem. Several early British mounts took the same design course until the introduction of synchronized firing in the West.

Performance from the single Austro-Daimler 6-cylinder, air-cooled inline engine of 185 horsepower brought about a maximum speed of 116 miles per hour, a service ceiling of up to 16,400 feet and an endurance time of 2.5 hours. Hansa-Brandenburg D.Is produced in Germany were powered by a 150 horsepower Austro-Daimler powerplant (the 185 horsepower D.Is were produced in Vienna). While Hansa-Brandenburg handled production of 50 D.Is, Phonix of Vienna license-produced the type in a further 72 examples.

In practice, the D.I was limited in capability from the start. Handling proved something of a challenge for any level of pilot for the deep fuselage worked against the small vertical tail fin, limiting lateral stability of the airframe and promoting poor spin recovery. These attributes no doubt were a limiting factor for the D.I was produced in a rather lowly sum of 122 examples.

The Hansa-Brandenburg D.I may also be known as the "KD" (abbreviation of "Kampf Doppeldecker") in some publications and carried the nicknames of "Spider" and "Coffin". The former was an indicator of the bracing used for the biplane wings while the latter was taken to be derogatory - a name fitting the treacherous nature of flying the machine. The D.I was further developed into the Benz Bz.III-powered KDW floatplane - also in 1916 - of which some 60 were ultimately produced.


Retired, Out-of-Service
[ 122 Units ] :
Hansa-Brandenburg - Germany / Phonix Flugzeug-Werke AG; Ungarische Flugzeugfabrik AG - Austria
National flag of Austria-Hungary Austria; Austria-Hungary
- Fighter
20.83 ft (6.35 m)
27.92 ft (8.51 m)
9.15 ft (2.79 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I (Type KD) production model)
Empty Weight:
1,477 lb (670 kg)
2,022 lb (917 kg)
(Diff: +545lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I (Type KD) production model)
1 x Austro-Daimler liquid-cooled 6-cylinder inline engine delivering 160 horsepower.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I (Type KD) production model)
Maximum Speed:
116 mph (187 kph; 101 kts)
Service Ceiling:
16,404 feet (5,000 m; 3.11 miles)
Maximum Range:
162 miles (260 km; 140 nm)
1,000 ft/min (305 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I (Type KD) production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 8mm Schwarzlose synchronized forward-firing machine gun fitted in a fairing over the upper wing assembly.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I (Type KD) production model)
D.I (Type KD) - Base Series Production Designation; produced by Hansa-Brandenburg in Germany and Phonix of Vienna; German-produced aircraft yeilded output of 150 horsepower while Vienna-produced aircraft fitted a 185 horsepower engine.

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