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Daimler CL.I (L8)

Two-Seat, Single-Engine Escort Fighter Prototype [ 1918 ]

The Daimler Cl.I escort fighter was the second biplane promoted by the company during World War 1 - only one was completed.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/07/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

During World War 1 (1914-1918), automotive specialist Daimler (Diamler-Motorengesellschaft-Werke) of the German Empire was asked by authorities to turn their attention towards fighter-building. This resulted in the concern establishing such a division in the summer of 1915 and, in 1917, engineers drew up plans for their first entry - the Daimler "D.I" (company designation of "L6"). The D.I was a largely conventional offering of the period, given equal-span, single-bay wing mainplanes, an open-air cockpit, twin machine guns (7.92mm), and a fixed "tail-dragger" undercarriage. Reviewed for type certification in March of 1918, the design was slightly modified to rectify several issues - resulting in a production contract handed down for twenty aircraft. However, just six were completed before the Armistice of November 1918 and deliveries did not commence until the month after.

During the war, the company went to work on another biplane type, this two-seater single-engine form intended for the bomber escort role while retaining fighter-like capabilities. The resulting design was the Daimler Cl.I - known internally as the "L8".

The aircraft sat its crew of two in tandem with the pilot at front and the gunner/observer to the rear in open-air cockpits. The engine was fitted at front in the usual way and well-streamlined in its housing as seen as the earlier L6 thanks to the large spinner. Again, the in-house Daimler D.IIIb V8 water-cooled engine of 185 horsepower was selected to power the type (driving a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller unit at the nose) and armament was reduced to just one 7.92mm air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun in a fixed, forward-firing mounting shooting through the spinning propeller blades (via "interrupter" gear). The loss of one forward-facing machine gun was offset by the addition of a single 7.92mm Parabellum type seated on a trainable mounting at the rear cockpit - giving better all-round coverage.

The over-under biplane wing arrangement was of unequal span, forming single bays with applicable cabling for support and parallel struts were again used in this Daimler design. Vision out-of-the-cockpit was as good as could be considering the mainplane's positions but a cut-out in the trailing edge of the upper wing member helped.

Despite all of the work and promise, the L8 was doomed by the arrival of the end of the war - this resulted in just one flyable prototype being realized. The project saw some renewed life in July of 1919 when the aircraft was offered to Chile for its air service but the offer was not taken up - bringing about an official end to the CL.I in full.

As it stood, the CL.I was flown to speeds of 93 miles-per-hour (cruising being closer to 85mph) - considerably slower than the earlier fighter-minded L6 - and had an endurance of about four hours in the air.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (Daimler) - German Empire
German Empire
Operators National flag of the German Empire
Service Year
Imperial Germany
National Origin
Project Status

General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

24.4 ft
(7.45 meters)
38.8 ft
(11.82 meters)
9.7 ft
(2.95 meters)
1,808 lb
(820 kilograms)
Empty Weight
2,712 lb
(1,230 kilograms)
Maximum Take-Off Weight
+904 lb
(+410 kg)
Weight Difference

1 x Daimler D.IIIb V8 water-cooled engine developing 185 horsepower driving two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
93 mph
(150 kph | 81 knots)
Max Speed
16,404 ft
(5,000 m | 3 miles)
186 miles
(300 km | 162 nm)
550 ft/min
(168 m/min)

MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

1 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 air-cooled, belt-fed machine gun in fixed, forward-firing mounting synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
1 x 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun on trainable mounting in rear cockpit.


CL.I - Base Series Designation; single flyable example completed.
L8 - Daimler company designation of the Cl.I.

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Image of the Daimler CL.I (L8)
Image from the Public Domain.

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