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Zeppelin-Lindau D.I

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

Designed by Claude Dornier, who was employed at Luftschiffbau Zeppelin in Lindau, this aircraft featured an innovative all-metal stressed skin monocoque cantilever-wing biplane structure.

Despite its impressive design, the Zeppelin D.I did not have the opportunity to serve in active duty with the German Air Force, also known as the Luftstreitkräfte, during the First World War.

The Zeppelin D.I, sometimes referred to as the Dornier D.I or Dornier-Zeppelin D.I after the designer, was a product of the collaboration between Claude Dornier and Luftschiffbau Zeppelin.

Dornier, while working at the Lindau facility, developed this single-seat fighter plane with a unique stressed skin monocoque cantilever-wing biplane configuration.

The use of all-metal construction in the aircraft’s design was a notable feature, showcasing the advancements in aviation technology during that era.

However, despite its promising design, the Zeppelin D.I did not have the opportunity to be deployed in combat by the German Air Force during World War I.

Due to various circumstances, the Zeppelin D.I did not enter operational service with the Luftstreitkräfte. It is worth noting that the timing of its development played a significant role in this outcome.

By the time the Zeppelin D.I was ready for deployment, it was already too late to actively participate in the aerial warfare of World War I.

Nevertheless, the Zeppelin D.I remains an important milestone in aviation history, representing the ingenuity and technological advancements achieved during this period.

Although it did not see combat, its innovative design and construction techniques laid the foundation for future developments in fighter aircraft design.

Claude Dornier was a prolific aircraft designer who created several designs featuring an all-metal stressed skin monocoque structure.

One of his most notable designs was the Dornier D.I, which was the first fighter aircraft to feature this construction.

Although production of the D.I was halted before any production versions were completed, it was still a groundbreaking aircraft that paved the way for future designs.

In addition to its innovative construction, the Dornier D.I also featured several other design elements that improved its performance and safety.

One such feature was an external fuel tank, which was designed to reduce the risk of inflight fires.

Some sources suggest that this tank may have been jettisonable, further enhancing the aircraft’s safety.

The Dornier D.I also boasted thick-section cantilever wings, which improved its aerodynamics and overall performance.

This design feature was later incorporated into the Dornier Do H Falke monoplane, which was developed from the D.I.

The Do H Falke featured an enlarged upper wing to compensate for the removal of the lower wing, making it a unique and innovative aircraft in its own right.

Seven prototypes were constructed as part of the development program, but their operational use was never realized due to the conclusion of World War I.

In May and June 1918, as well as in October, pilots from the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Force) assessed the aircraft.

Tragically, on 3 July 1918, German ace Wilhelm Reinhard lost his life due to a structural failure, even though the aircraft was supposed to have been grounded for structural enhancements.

There were reports indicating that the aileron controls were excessively heavy and that the climb rates at higher altitudes were unsatisfactory.

Following the installation of a more potent BMW IIIa inline-six liquid-cooled engine, which significantly reduced the time required to reach an altitude of 5,000 m (16,000 ft) from 25 minutes to 13 minutes, an order was placed for 50 aircraft, either in October or November.

However, production was abruptly halted after the armistice in early 1919, leaving these aircraft approximately 50 percent complete.

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

These aircraft were obtained for the purpose of evaluating the innovative construction techniques employed 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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