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Friedrichshafen FF.33

Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Imperial Germany | 1914

"Friedrichshafen manufactured over 300 of its FF.33 series biplane fighters for service in World War 1."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/07/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Founded in 1912, Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen served the German Empire during World War 1 (1914-1918) as an aircraft maker, surviving the Armistice of 1918 and eventually folding 1923. Before their end arrived, the company produced some little-remembered warplanes of The Great War that included the useful FF.33 biplane floatplane for the Kaiserliche Marine (German Navy). The FF.33 first-flew in 1914 and entered service that year. About 315 of two major marks dotted the short-lived career of this aircraft.

As a floatplane, the FF.33 series held the inherent capability of landing and taking off from water sources which gave it a very useful advantage over swaths of open sea. A general biplane arrangement was used which incorporated an upper and lower wing assembly braced by wires and parallel struts. Two open-air, tandem cockpits were used by the two-crew. The engine was mounted to the nose in the usual way and a traditional tail unit was featured.

The initial production model became the FF.33 which carried a Mercedes D.II and only six of this mark were manufactured. The positions of the two crew were reversed in the follow-up FF.33b and power was not from a Maybach inline of 160 horsepower. Just five of this mark were built.

The FF.33e designated the primary reconnaissance mounts driven by a Benz Bz.III series inline and these also were given lengthened floatplanes for better water-running. The float under the tail was removed and communications gear fitted for the crew. About 180 of these were manufactured. These had a maximum speed of 68 miles per hour and endurance out to five hours.

The FF.33e gave rise to the FF.33f, a "fighting scout" variant, which incorporated a reduced wingspan and installed a pivoting machine gun. Five of this type were produced. The FF.33h sported aerodynamic refinements and fifty followed to this standard. The FF.33j also brought along refinements and held provision for communications gear. The FF.33l became the definitive fighting scout form with some 130 produced. These carried a fixed machine gun as armament. The FF.33e was a dual-control trainer offshoot.

The FF.39 was a refinement of the FF.33e model but finished with the Benz Bz.IV engine and fourteen were produced.

The FF.49b was a dedicated bomber form of the FF.49c and, again, reversed the crew positions. The observer's machine gun was deleted. Fifteen were produced. The FF.49c was an improved FF.39 with reinforced members, improved controlling and standard communications gear. The observer was given a trainable machine gun. Two-hundred of this mark were produced.

The FF.59a and FF.59b were one-off developmentals of the FF.39. The FF.59c had a modified tail unit and revised wing struts and wire bracing. The C.I became its own one-off of the FF.33l, a land-based version of the floatplane with a wheeled undercarriage installed.

Operators (beyond the German Empire) of the FF.33 series went on to include Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden. Hungarian FF.33s operated until 1920, Polished versions until 1922 and Finnish FF.33s lasted into 1923.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Friedrichshafen FF.33 Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
1 x Benz Bz.III inline piston engine developing 150 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
68 mph
110 kph | 59 kts
Max Speed
280 miles
450 km | 243 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Friedrichshafen FF.33 Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
33.5 ft
10.22 m
O/A Length
54.5 ft
(16.60 m)
O/A Width
12.3 ft
(3.75 m)
O/A Height
3,417 lb
(1,550 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Friedrichshafen FF.33 Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft .
1 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine gun, either in fixed, forward-firing mounting (synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades) or at the observer's rear-facing position on a trainable/flexible mounting.

Up to 8 x 26.4lb conventional drop bombs.
Notable series variants as part of the Friedrichshafen FF.33 family line.
FF.33 - Base Series Designation; initial production model with Mercedes D.II engine; six examples completed.
FF.33b - FF.33 model with reversed crew seating positions; fitted with Maybach inline engine of 160 horsepower; observer's trainable machine gun added; five examples completed.
FF.33e - Definitive reconnaissance model; fitted with Benz Bz.III engine; lengthened floatplanes; sans armament; communications gear fitted; 180 examples completed.
FF.33f - Fighting scout variant based in the FF.33e; decreased wingspan and overall length; observer's machine gun; five examples completed.
FF.33h - FF.33f with aerodynamic revisions and reworked bracing; observer's machine gun; 50 examples completed.
FF.33j - FF.33e model with aerodynamic revisions; communications gear supported.
FF.33l - Definitive fighting scout variant; aerodynamic refinements; single fixed, forward-firing machine gun fitted; 130 examples produced.
FF.33s - Dual-control dedicated trainer variant.
FF.39 - Revised FF.33e; fitted with Benz Bz.IV series engine; 14 examples completed.
FF.49b - FF.49c bomber variant; sans observer's machine gun; 15 examples completed.
FF.49c - Improved FF.39 with reinforced members and revised controlling; communications gear; observer's machine gun fitted; 200 examples completed.
FF.59a - One-off developmental based on the FF.39
FF.59b - One-off developmental based on the FF.39
FF.59c - FF.39 with revised strutworks and bracing wires.
C.I - One-off land-based fighter version of the FF.33l model; wheeled undercarriage.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Friedrichshafen FF.33. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 315 Units

Contractor(s): Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen GmbH - German Empire
National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Denmark National flag of Finland National flag of the German Empire National flag of the Netherlands National flag of Poland National flag of Sweden

[ Bulgaria; Denmark; Finland; German Empire; Netherlands; Poland; Sweden ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (68mph).

Graph Average of 75 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Image of the Friedrichshafen FF.33
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Friedrichshafen FF.33 Two-Seat, Single-Engine Floatplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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