LVG B (Series)
Unarmed Reconnaissance Scout / Trainer Biplane Aircraft
The LVG B-series of twin-seat biplane aircraft was produced in three distinct variants.
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Prior to production of military aircraft, the LVG concern ("Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft") was focused on manufacture of dirigibles which proved useful in reconnaissance sorties and artillery spotting, however vulnerable they were to ground and aircraft fire. The LVG B-series of aircraft became the company's first foray into military aviation and consisted of a lightweight two-seat biplane design which saw service in World War 1. Categorized as a reconnaissance aircraft, the system and its crew were charged with reconnoitering over enemy held territory, detailing enemy movements and positions in after-action reports and debriefings alike. Unlike later two-seat reconnaissance platforms encountered during the war, the B-series was unarmed and wholly susceptible to all kinds of aerial and ground dangers.
The initial production model, the B.I, was of a typical biplane configuration with an upper and lower wing assembly of unequal span joined together by various struts and cabling. The wings sported double bays with parallel struts and shorter supports at the fuselage. The engine was fitted at the extreme forward end of the fuselage with a conventional three-plane tail section at the rear. Power was supplied by a Mercedes D.I series inline liquid-cooled piston engine developing 100 horsepower. This supplied the aircraft with a top speed of 65 miles per hour with a four-hour endurance window. The pilot and his observer sat in tandem aft of the cockpit and under the upper wing assembly - the pilot in the rear and the observer to his front. The undercarriage consisted of two main landing gear wheels supported by struts under the main bulk of the fuselage and a tail skid at the rear. As stated above, the B.I was unarmed.
The German Luftstreitkrafte (air force) took deliveries of the B.I and, shortly thereafter, LVG began offering an improved form under the new designation of "B.II". This version introduced a more powerful Mercedes inline engine outputting 120 horsepower. Additionally, the upper wing assembly sported a "cut-out" section intended to better the views from the pilot's position. A trainer derivative - the "B.III" - was also introduced to help train upcoming pilots in the nuances of flight. The B.III was given a reinforced understructure to help contend with "rough flying".
Due to the inherent limitations of the aircraft line as a whole and advancing aeronautical technology throughout the war, the B-series was eventually removed from active frontline reconnaissance duties and relegated primarily to training. From then on, it was formally replaced by more capable types.