The Junkers CL.I was something of a break-through aircraft design for its time, appearing during the latter stages of World War 1 (1914-1918). Due to production difficulties in war-torn Germany, the aircraft saw only limited manufacture numbering less than 50 units. Junkers approached the CL.1 with a largely metal design coupled to a low-wing assembly - this at a time when manufacturers favored fabric-over-wood aircraft utilizing an upper and lower wing assembly (biplane).
Development of the CL.1 was formed along the lines of the preceding all-metal designs in the Junkers D.I and the J.I. The CL.1 was given a standard operating crew of two seated in tandem with the pilot in the forward open-air cockpit and his gunner/observer in the rear cockpit. The engine was mounted at the front in the usual way with a single-finned tail unit at the rear. Power was served from a Mercedes D.IIIa series 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled, inline engine developing 180 horsepower. This, coupled to the airframe design, provided a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour with a service ceiling reaching 19,600 feet. The aircraft featured an armament suite of 3 x 7.92mm machine guns - two fixed, forward-firing and the third on a trainable mount in the rear cockpit - as standard along with provision for antipersonnel grenade dispensers mounted under the fuselage.
Despite the revolutionary design, German factories were heavily experienced in the rapid construction of fabric-over-wood aircraft and found the metal design of the CL.1 difficult to incorporate into well-accepted practices. The promising CL.I therefore foundered and held little impact by war's end. Despite the CL.1's failed showing, the concept of all-metal construction in aircraft grew into the norm heading into the interwar years. Indeed, all-metal aircraft were the norm during World War 2, making fabric-over-wood mounts largely obsolete.
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