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Zeppelin-Lindau D.I

The Zeppelin D.I, also known as the Zeppelin-Lindau D.I or Zeppelin D.I (Do) in German records, was a notable single-seat fighter aircraft.

It was designed by Claude Dornier of Luftschiffbau Zeppelin in Lindau and boasted an innovative design with an all-metal stressed skin monocoque and cantilever-wing biplane structure.

However, despite its advanced design, the Zeppelin D.I did not see active service with the German Air Force, the Luftstreitkräfte, during World War I.

The aircraft, occasionally referred to as the Dornier D.I or Dornier-Zeppelin D.I, was the result of a collaboration between Claude Dornier and Luftschiffbau Zeppelin.

Claude Dornier, while at the Lindau facility, developed a single-seat fighter plane featuring a distinctive stressed skin monocoque cantilever-wing biplane configuration.

The aircraft’s all-metal construction was a significant advancement in aviation technology at the time.

Despite its innovative design, the Zeppelin D.I was not deployed in combat by the German Air Force during World War I.

Various factors prevented the Zeppelin D.I from entering operational service with the Luftstreitkräfte, with the timing of its development being a crucial factor.

By the time the Zeppelin D.I was prepared for deployment, World War I’s aerial warfare was nearing its end, making its active participation unfeasible.

However, the Zeppelin D.I is still recognised as a significant achievement in aviation history, showcasing the era’s ingenuity and technological progress.

Despite not engaging in combat, its pioneering design and construction methods provided a blueprint for subsequent advancements in fighter aircraft design.

Claude Dornier, a renowned aircraft designer, contributed numerous designs that incorporated an all-metal stressed skin monocoque structure.

One of his most significant contributions was the design of the Dornier D.I, the first fighter aircraft to incorporate such construction.

Despite the cessation of the D.I’s production before any production models were finished, it remained a revolutionary aircraft that set the stage for subsequent designs.

The Dornier D.I was also distinguished by various other design features that enhanced its performance and safety, including an external fuel tank intended to diminish the danger of inflight fires.

According to some reports, this tank might have been designed to be jettisonable, thereby increasing the aircraft’s safety even further.

The Dornier D.I was notable for its thick-section cantilever wings, which enhanced its aerodynamic efficiency and overall performance.

This design element was subsequently integrated into the Dornier Do H Falke monoplane, derived from the D.I.

The Do H Falke was distinguished by an expanded upper wing that compensated for the absence of the lower wing, thus establishing it as a distinct and innovative aircraft.

Although seven prototypes were built during the development phase, they were never deployed operationally due to the end of World War I.

Pilots from the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Force) conducted assessments of the aircraft in May and June 1918, and again in October.

On July 3, 1918, the German ace Wilhelm Reinhard tragically perished due to a structural failure, despite the aircraft being scheduled for grounding to receive structural enhancements.

Reports had surfaced of the Aileron controls being overly heavy and climb rates at high altitudes being unsatisfactory.

After equipping the aircraft with a stronger BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine, which cut the time to ascend to 5,000 m (16,000 ft) from 25 to 13 minutes, an order for 50 aircraft was placed in either October or November.

Yet, the armistice of early 1919 abruptly ceased production, leaving the aircraft about 50 percent complete.

Nonetheless, the US Navy and the US Army Air Service acquired two examples in 1921, which were delivered in 1922.

These aircraft were procured to assess the innovative construction techniques used in their design.


BMW engine




6.37 m (20 ft 11 in)

Upper wingspan

7.8 m (25 ft 7 in)

Upper Wing chord

1.4 m (4 ft 7 in)

Lower wingspan

6.5 m (21 ft 4 in)


2.6 m (8 ft 6 in)

Wing area

18.7 m2 (201 sq ft)

Empty weight

725 kg (1,598 lb)

Gross weight

885 kg (1,951 lb)


1 × BMW IIIa water-cooled 6-cylinder inline engine,

138 kW (185 hp)


2-bladed Axial, 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) diameter fixed pitch wood propeller


Maximum speed

200 km/h (120 mph, 110 kn) at sea level

Service ceiling

8,100 m (26,600 ft)

Time to altitude

13 minutes to 5,000 m (16,000 ft)


2 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) fixed forward-firing LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns


German Aircraft of the First World War-Peter Gray & Owen Thetford.

Dornier D.I. Windsock Mini datafile. Vol. 12-Peter Grosz.

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