Aviatik (Berg) 30.40: Above reproach.

This pretty parasol monoplane was developed in Austria-Hungary during the late part of WW1 as a high altitude fighter to be employed mainly over the Italian front. Not a clean sheet design, this monoplane took as a basis the previous Aviatik 30.27 biplane, in fact, it was also powered by a 160hp Steyr-built Le Rhône rotary engine. Only this prototype was built. First flown the summer of 1918, it arrived already too late.

Superb looking machine, in my humble opinion.


L.V.G C.II: Do a double take.

By 1915 the aerial activities became more hazardous with the appearance of effectively armed scout aircraft putting an end to unarmed first-line activities. One fast answer was to arm former unarmed two-seaters. The C.II was precisely that. The Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft just took their previous B.II two-seat reconnaissance design, reversed the seats layout (pilot ahead instead of behind) and put a Parabellum machine gun at the rear. A more powerful Mercedes engine was added too. The C.II entered service in late-1915 and around three hundred were built. One particular claim of fame of this otherwise pedestrian design was that one of them became the first fixed-wing aircraft to bomb London in Nov. 1916.

Gorgeously sharp stereo photo composition converted into a charming GIF of a C.II captured by the French.

Parnall Panther: Naval “Swiss” Knife.

Naval carrier aviation owes the British a lot in terms of pioneering and innovation. Some times their pioneering went a bit too wild. Originated in the later part of WW1, the Panther was a carrier-based spotter/reconnaissance aircraft designed by the former Admiralty’s Air Department employee Harold Bolas. Of wooden monocoque fuselage construction, this dumpy single-bay biplane was powered by that jewel that was the 230hp Bentley BR2 rotary engine.
First flown in 1917, the prototypes good qualities earned Parnall a massive order (300). The end of the war tamed those expectations a bit and only half of the order were produced by the Bristol Aeroplane Company after some contract problems and discords. Troublesome due to their temperamental and obsolescent Bentleys and questionable arresting gear system, the Panthers served in the pair of British carriers (HMS Argus and Hermes). A dozen of them went to Japan and a few to both US and Spain.

Not the prettiest of things, but sure one with a certain kind of “beauty.” Specially noteworthy is the original folding fuselage hinged to allow for stowage of the type aboard the ship. That feature, the flotation bag stored in the rear half of the fuselage and the hydrovane in the landing gear are visible in this photo of Panther’s sixth and last prototype (N.96).

Fokker Dr.I (Replica): “Fly on your way like an eagle.”

The superb former John G. Day’s Fokker Dr.I replica 403/17 G-CDXR now owned by Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson. Dickinson, an avid and utterly able flyer, uses it as part of the Great War Display Team. This team re-enacts Great War air battles at airshows across the UK. This replica is powered by a Warner Super Scarab S50 engine and has the markings enployed by Lt. Johann Janzen of the Jasta 6, JG 1. Curiously, Mikael Carlson’s Dr.I wears also the very same livery.

Not a particular fan of his kind of music, but boy, he sure is a character. Photo source.

Gabardini monoplane (Ga.2): Camminatore per aviatori.

The Gabardini monoplane was a successful pre-WW1 monoplane powered by the then usual 50hp rotary engines (mainly, Gnômes) which gained some notoriety in Italy in the usual public displays. Sound yet somehow clumsy-looking, these sturdy monoplanes easily found later a profitable bellicose utilization. A considerable number of them served during WW1 as a training aircraft for the pilot-hungry Italian military aviation, both as flyers and engineless as static ground simulators.

The pop-bellied Gabardini didn’t lose much grace with that four-wheeled undercarriage. It sure came handy when teaching “greenhorn” flyers.

Fokker V.17: Winner of my heart (IV).

The V.17 was the first Fokker fighter monoplane built after their famous early war Eindeckers. Embodying all Reinhold Platz‘s ideas about aircraft cleanliness, this cute little fighter appeared in December 1917. Very related structurally to the Dr I, its shoulder cantilever wing had plywood covering instead of fabric though.
The V.17 was one of the plethora of fighter presented by Anthony Fokker at the 1st of 1918 German fighter contests. In there it proved to be too underpowered with its meagre 110hp Oberursel UR II so its ascensional speed was poor. Its mid-wing location was also questioned because it caused poor downward-forward visibility. Those defects condemned the V.17 to remain an unique prototype. Platz persisted anyway.

Fokker D.VII (A.O.W): Early Morning Dress.

The Albatros Werke company produced the D.VII under licence both in Johannisthal and in Schneidemuhl, the latter the Ostdeutschen Albatros Werken (O.A.W). The Albatros’ D.VII were renowned by their high standard of manufacture quality; much better than Fokker’s.

Superb digital artwork of a dawn patrol O.A.W-produced D.VII. Characteristic of those licence-built Fokkers was the Lozenge fabric (a five-color here) used on all surfaces except the nose. In the green painted engine cowling mauve stains were applied in a “Giraffe” style.

Artist: David Bracher.