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Aviatik D.I (Berg D.I)

Biplane Fighter

Austria-Hungary | 1917

"The Aviatik D.I became the first indigenously-designed fighter to be built in Austria."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/08/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Aviatik D.I served the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a fighter and reconnaissance escort through the final years of World War 1. The system eventually proved a capable combat aircraft with good speed, climbing ability and service ceiling after the original design was made clear of its inherent deficiencies. The D.I was designed to replace the Hansa-Brandenburg D.I series (a biplane designed by Ernst Heinkel and appearing in 1916 and leaving an ace-making yet fatally accident-prone legacy). Nevertheless, the D.I fought on until the closing bell of World War 1 and was produced in upwards of 700 examples. The Aviatik D.I holds the distinction of becoming the first indigenously-designed fighter to be build in whole in Austria.

The D.I began life in prototype form in August of 1916 with a first flight recorded on January 24th, 1917. The test flight proved fatal, however, and took the life of its test pilot. As such, the initial design was revised to compensate for defects and three more prototypes soon emerged, each charged with a distinct development purpose as well as its 8mm Schwarzlose machine gun fitted to the top wing assembly. After additional testing, production aircraft were ordered and delivered - these with the synchronized (via a propeller interrupter gear) 2 x 7.92mm Schwarzlose forward-firing machine guns along the upper sides of the engine.

Design-wise, the Aviatik D.I was of a conventional single-seat biplane arrangement. Wings were fitted as an upper and lower staggered assembly of equal span with parallel struts and single bays. The engine - an Austro-Daimler water-cooled inline producing 200 horsepower - was fitted to the extreme forward portion of the fuselage and powered a two-blade propeller. The undercarriage was of a fixed arrangement and made up of two main landing wheels and a tail skid. The spacious cockpit was situated aft of the engine at about amidships and offered a relatively good field of vision (as good as vision gets in a biplane). The pilot sat behind the upper wing assembly (which was held relatively close to the top of the engine compartment) behind a simple windscreen in an open-air cockpit. The fuselage tapered into the empennage which featured a single large vertical tail fin and applicable horizontal planes. Performance specifications included a top speed of 115 miles per hour, a service ceiling of approximately 20,100 feet and operational endurance totaling 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Though primary manufacture of the Aviatik D.I was handled by Austrian Aviatik, license-production was also undertaken at multiple facilities during her tenure. These included Lohner, Lloyd, MAG, Thone und Fiala and WKF under various batch series designations and differed mainly in horsepower output of their selected Austro-Daimler engines. In all, roughly 700 of all types were produced from 1917 into 1918. Deliveries began in the Fall of 1917 and continued on into October of 1918.

When in action, early-form D.Is exhibited engine overheating issues and structural weaknesses (namely the fabric tearing away from the understructure or loss of parts and wings while at high speeds). The guns on the original production models were also situated well out of reach of the pilot meaning that a jammed gun stayed jammed until the pilot landed his mount for repairs. As production continued, the structure received attention in areas and was reinforced based on pilot feedback. Likewise, the guns were now moved within reach of the pilot. Engine overheating was solved in-the-field by simply flying without the engine covers on.

The Aviatik D.I also went under the known names of "Berg Fighter" or "Berg D.I" in reference to its designer, Julius von Berg. Austro-Hungarian air elements flew their D.Is in good numbers until the end of the war.

The D.I appeared in a revised form as the D.II with a cantilever low wing assembly. The D.II was produced in limited quantities in two batches beginning in 1918 but arrived too late to see useful delivery to combat units. The D.I was also considered in a few other notable "one-off" prototype forms - mainly the D.III, a high-altitude variant fitting a Hiero engine of 230 horsepower and the Dr.I, a triplane design based on the D.I biplane.

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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 Aviatik D.I Biplane Fighter.
1 x Austro-Daimler liquid-cooled 6-cylinder inline piston engine developing 200 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
115 mph
185 kph | 100 kts
Max Speed
20,177 ft
6,150 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
225 miles
362 km | 195 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 Aviatik D.I Biplane Fighter.
31.7 ft
9.65 m
O/A Length
26.2 ft
(8.00 m)
O/A Width
8.1 ft
(2.48 m)
O/A Height
1,475 lb
(669 kg)
Empty Weight
1,878 lb
(852 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 Aviatik D.I (Berg D.I) Biplane Fighter .
2 x 8mm Schwarzlose machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
Notable series variants as part of the Aviatik D.I (Berg D.I) family line.
D.I - Base Production Biplane; 700 examples produced from 1917 to 1918.
D.II - Based on the D.I; cantilever lower wing assembly; production beginning 1918 in Series 39 and Series 339 marks.
D.III - High-altitude variant; fitted with Hiero piston engine of 230 horsepower.
Dr.I - Proposed Triplane Development; prototype forms only.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Aviatik D.I (Berg D.I). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 700 Units

Contractor(s): Osterreichisch-Ungarische Flugzeugfabrik Aviatik - Austria
National flag of Austria National flag of the Austro-Hungarian Empire National flag of Hungary

[ Austria-Hungary ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (115mph).

Graph Average of 90 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
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
1 / 1
Image of the Aviatik D.I (Berg D.I)
Image from the Public Domain.

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 Aviatik D.I (Berg D.I) Biplane Fighter appears in the following collections:
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