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Daimler D.I (L6)

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Imperial Germany | 1918

"Twenty Daimler D.I biplane fighters were contracted for by the German government - just six were completed before the Armistice of November 1918."

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.
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft's (Daimler) experience in the automotive business prior to World War 1 (1914-1918) gave the company an advantage when it turned its attention to helping out the Imperial German war effort. By request of the German government itself, the company formed an aeroplane-making division in the middle of 1915 to help meet wartime demand for fighters. This resulted in their first venture into the field - the Daimler "D.I" biplane fighter, known to the company as the "L6" (design attribution given to Karl Schopper).

The aircraft followed basic form and function of existing types namely due to expediency. An over-under biplane wing arrangement was used (single bay, equal span) that incorporated parallel struts and support cabling. The mainplanes were fitted well ahead of midships but aft of the nose. The nose section housed the engine through a rounded, streamlined design approach to promote aerodynamic efficiency. An open-air cockpit was used to give the pilot the best possible all-around visibility - though this was mainly hampered by the biplane wing arrangement, a common failing of many fighters of the period. The upper wing member was, however, held relatively low against the top of the fuselage, giving the pilot a better view out over the aircraft thanks to a cut-out section of trailing edge. The fuselage was rounded for its length and tapered towards the rear at which point a traditional three-planed tail arrangement was featured. For ground-running, a strutted twin-wheeled main landing gear held up most of the weight of the aircraft - a simple tailskid bringing up the rear.

The engine of choice became the all-new, in-house Daimler D.IIIb V8 water-cooled/liquid-cooled piston engine developing an impressive 185 horsepower while driving a two-bladed (fixed pitch) wooden propeller at the nose in tractor fashion.

Armament were twin 7.92mm LMG 08/15 series air-cooled, belt-fed machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades by way of "interrupter" gear.

Dimensions of the finalized form included a running length of 23.10 feet, a wingspan of 32.5 feet, and a height of 9 feet. Empty weight measured 1,655lb against an MTOW of 2,040lb.

Because of engine issues, the L6 struggled to see its first flight, managing to reach its flight testing phase only in November of 1917 and this lasted into March of the following year. During this time, imbalance (tail heaviness) was addressed by reworking the mainplane's interior cellule arrangement. Once the issue was ironed out, the aircraft could be moved on to government hands for type testing/certification (as part of the second "Idflieg" fighter competition of 1918) and this was recorded in July of 1918.

During this showing, the aircraft exhibited power loss at high altitudes, restricting its operating ceiling. Nevertheless, the potential - and need - was there and German authorities contracted for an initial batch of twenty of the fighters that same month. However, before serial production could really ramp up, the war ended with the Armistice of November 1918 - first-deliveries of these fighters did not occur until December and, even then, just six were ultimately completed before the Armistice itself.

As tested, the aircraft had a maximum speed of 114 miles-per-hour with an endurance window of about two hours. Time to 19,700 feet was around 30 minutes. These figures placed the new fighter on par with other late-war offerings - offering nothing new nor better and was of largely conventional design and performance.

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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 Daimler D.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
1 x Daimler D.IIIb V8 water-cooled engine developing 185 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
115 mph
185 kph | 100 kts
Max Speed
19,685 ft
6,000 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
230 miles
370 km | 200 nm
Operational Range
655 ft/min
200 m/min
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 Daimler D.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
24.0 ft
7.30 m
O/A Length
32.5 ft
(9.90 m)
O/A Width
9.0 ft
(2.75 m)
O/A Height
1,653 lb
(750 kg)
Empty Weight
2,039 lb
(925 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Daimler D.I (L6) Biplane Fighter Aircraft .
2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 air-cooled, belt-fed machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings over the nose synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
Notable series variants as part of the Daimler D.I (L6) family line.
D.I - Base Series Designation; six examples completed.
L6 - Daimler company designation of the D.I.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Daimler D.I (L6). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 6 Units

Contractor(s): Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (Daimler) - German Empire
National flag of the German Empire

[ German Empire ]
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Image of the Daimler D.I (L6)
Image from the Public Domain.

Going Further...
The Daimler D.I (L6) Biplane Fighter Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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