Книги

Arms & Armour
A.Imrie
German Naval Air Service
72

A.Imrie - German Naval Air Service /Arms & Armour/

Flugmaat Franz Wangemann of the Marinefeldjagdstaffel with his Albatros D III, D2288/16, at Aertrycke aerodrome in April 1917. This unit, under Leutnant zur See Sachsenberg, operated with success in the area of the Fourth German Army occupied by the Marine Corps. As aerial fighting activity increased, the Staffel was joined by other naval landplane fighter units until, towards the end of 1918, the five Marinefeldjagdstaffeln were formed into the Marinefeldjagdgeschwader under Sachsenberg. It had a strength of over 50 fighters.
Engine change at Aertrycke. The reliability of aero-engines increased steadily as the war progressed and by 1918 the 165hp Mercedes six-cylinder water-cooled engine was relatively trouble-free. Such mechanical failings as did appear were usually rectified without having to take the engine out of the airframe. A serious problem is indicated here; even the wing radiator has been removed. While the replacement engine for this Albatros D Va of I Marinefeldjagdstaffel hangs on the block and tackle of the sheer-legs, the unserviceable motor on its temporary transport (which uses aeroplane wheels) is at the right, beside the cradle for moving the engine to the overhaul shop.
Since the Navy had no facilities of its own for training single-seat pilots, when Fokker E monoplanes were introduced into naval landplane units, naval pilots were sent to the single-seater School attached to Kampfeinsitzerstaffell (Kest I) on Sonthofen aerodrome near Mannheim. The first pilot to undertake this conversion course was Flugmaat Boedicker, seen (left) with his Army instructor and Fokker E15/15 at Mannheim. Boedicker returned to II Marine-Feldflieger-Abteilung at Neumunster in December 1915 and flew the first Fokker E allocated to the Marine Korps.
Fokker E III LF199 of I Marine-Feldflieger-Abteilung gets away in a cloud of castor oil smoke. In mid-September 1916 there were some 40 single-seat land fighters on naval charge, most of them Fokker E monoplanes. While a number of these were concentrated at 11 Marine-Feldflieger-Abteilung at Neumunster as a Kampf-Einsitzer-Kommando, at least half of the fighter strength was deployed in the Luftschiff-Hallenschutz-Staffeln (Airship Shed Defence Units) at Nordholz, Tondern and other airship bases.
Men who had served under Sachsenberg in Flanders answered the call for volunteers to defend Germany's eastern borders against advances being made by the Red Army in the Baltic States, and served in the flying section of the Marinefreikrops. Seen here at Peterfelde near Mitau, Latvia, in April 1919 in front of a Fokker D.VIII are (left to right) Vizeflugmeisters Sawatsky, Antonious, Mayer, Zenzes, Sharon, Goerth and Engelhardt.
Kampfgeschwader Sachsenberg's first base was the airship station at Wainoden in Kurland. Equipped with the latest products of the German aviation industry and using Schlachtstaffel tactics, it provided valuable support for the ground forces. Here using the airship shed guidance rails as chocks is a Junkers D I all-metal cantilever single-seater, with an LVG C VI and two Junkers CL I two-seaters in the background.
The land-based Riesentlugzeug (Giant Aeroplane) was evaluated as a possible addition to the naval airship for bombing and longrange scouting purposes. However, experience with RMLl (Reichs Navy Landplane 1) was plagued with difficulties. Engine troubles and structural failures of undercarriage assemblies were eventually overcome and the aircraft participated in some bombing operations on the Eastern Front, until, on a fully loaded night take-off late in August 1916, a double engine failure resulted in this crash into a Russian forest.
Earlier we left RML1 in a Russian forest... The machine was completely rebuilt and was modified to take an additional two engines. At this time a transparent Cellon covering to reduce the effect of searchlight illumination was under consideration and the fuselage and tail unit were covered with this material. On the first test flight on 10 March 1917, at Staaken aerodrome near Berlin, engine failure resulted in an asymmetric flight condition, which was compounded by a control system malfunction. The pilots could not prevent the machine from crashing into the corner of one of the airship sheds.
AGO C-I одной из разведывательных эскадр германского военно-морского флота.
Since the first naval landplanes were training machines, or Schulflugzeuge, they were allocated consecutive serial numbers prefixed by the letter 'S'. This system was continued on all naval landplanes, which naturally included front-line machines, until October 1915 when all naval landplanes were given the more appropriate prefix of the letters 'LF', meaning Land Flugzeug. This is an Ago C I pusher twin-boom biplane seen at Johannisthal before the prefix change.
Korvettenkapitan Goltz, Kommandeur of the FMF, with one of his Albatros B I school machines at Johannisthal. In August 1914 the RMA actioned the pre-war-conceived FMF plan for handling the large number of direct entrants from civilian life required to provide sufficient personnel suitable for training in the trades of pilot, observer and mechanic for both landplane and seaplane units. The FMF was absorbed into the Marine-LandfIieger-Abteilung in October 1915, which formation was then responsible for the supply of personnel to all naval landplane formations.
Vizeflugmeister Kirmss with Albatros B I S77 of I Marine-Landflieger-Abteilung at Morseele aerodrome, May 1915. Naval air observers (land or sea) did not have to hold commissioned rank, as was required in the Army Air Service. The weapon is a 25-shot Mauser Selbstladegewehr (semi-automatic rifle) and its effectiveness, used from the front cockpit, restricted by bracing wires, struts and the rotating wooden propeller, could not have been great; yet this comprised the only armament for the majority of naval two-seat landplanes until August 1915, when examples of the Albatros C I, armed with a machine-gun on a rotatable ring on the rear observer's cockpit, began to arrive.
Tarmac scene at Johannisthal in early 1915 NFW and LVG training aircraft used by the FMF (Freiwilliges MarinefIiegerkorps - Volunteer Naval Flying Corps) in front of the airship sheds. Almost all flying instruction concentrated on the take-off and landing phases of flight. Flying tests consisted of successfully carrying out a number of 'figure-of-eights' flown at an altitude of 200 metres and landings made within a given distance from a specified point on the aerodrome. The nose of the airship 'Hansa', seen in the far building, has been marked with the German national insignia on its undersurfaces.
Two-seater crew of an LVG C I of Il Marine Feldflieger-Abteilung at Mariakerke in Flanders. The observer at right with the 25cm hand-held camera is Leutnant Theo Osterkamp, who later became one of the top-scoring naval fighter plilots; he was credited with 31 victories and was awarded Germany's highest military decoration, the Ordre Pour le Merite on 2 September 1918.
Kampfgeschwader Sachsenberg's first base was the airship station at Wainoden in Kurland. Equipped with the latest products of the German aviation industry and using Schlachtstaffel tactics, it provided valuable support for the ground forces. Here using the airship shed guidance rails as chocks is a Junkers D I all-metal cantilever single-seater, with an LVG C VI and two Junkers CL I two-seaters in the background.
Not only did two-seat high-performance landplanes like this Halberstadt CL II serve in the two Marine Schlachtstaffeln on ground support work with the naval infantry, and on oversea air-fighting duties as required, but a number were also used at night by a special naval unit (Masosta) under Leutnant Majewski against the frequent penetrations of Handley Pages bombing the U-boat installations at Bruges.
In order to evaluate current foreign marine aircraft techniques several machines were bought from other countries, including an Avro 503 seaplane from Britain. Following acceptance tests, the Avro was flown to Heligoland for the Autumn Fleet manoeuvres by Langfeld, carrying a passenger, in September 1913. This was the first flight by a seaplane from the German mainland to Heligoland. Four seaplanes were deployed in the manoeuvres, but three of them were considered unsuitable for operational use; the Avro, however, generally gave excellent results.
Putzig, near Danzig, was selected as the site for the German naval Flugversuchstation (Flight Experimental Station) since it possessed a wide flat area of grassland, providing a natural land aerodrome, and a coastal area protected from rough wave conditions by the Hela peninsula, giving an excellent seaplane harbour - thus meeting both of the requirements for the operation of amphibious aircraft. The machines seen here in 1913 are the Albatros monoplane, designed by Ernst Heinkel and flown with success by Helmuth Hirth in the Bodensee Competition, and the Avro (D12) bought from Britain.
British Felixstowe F.2A twin-engined flying-boat 4305 from Great Yarmouth burning on the water off Lowestoft on 31 July 1918, yet another victim of the speedy Brandenburg W29 and the aggressiveness of Christiansen's IC Staffel. Once again Leutnant Ehrhardt secured photographs of the action, and his series of six pictures showed that the boat had been hit and set on fire in the air during the first attack by the five-strong W29 formation. Previous encounters with these boats by the slower Brandenburg W12 had not always been successful, but the extra speed of the new monoplane meant that closure to effective firing range was now assured.
Early in the morning of 12 August 1915 Flight-Lieutenant Levy in Sopwith Schneider 3717 left Felixstowe on a patrol to the North Hinder lightship. Apparently on his own initiative, he flew on to Zeebrugge where he dropped his bombs on the Mole but was brought down by the carrier pigeon loft attendant whose accurate fire hit the Schneider's petrol tank, causing the engine to stop. Although making a successful forced landing on the water, Levy was unable to get the engine going, so he kicked the floats in, sinking his seaplane before being captured. The Schneider was salvaged, however, completely rebuilt and flown at Zeebrugge. It ended its days in the DELKA travelling exhibition of captured Allied aircraft.
Albatros W5 845 dropping a practice torpedo. Three torpedo Staffeln worked up in a Sonderkommando (Special Command) at Flensburg from mid-1916, but their operational success on both East and West Fronts was not great due to the poor performance and seaworthiness of the underpowered twin-engined seaplanes used for this duty. Various manufacturers produced torpedo seaplanes, but all were of neccessity lightly built and were demanding to fly. Eventually this weapon was discarded and the aircraft were used for other work such as mine-laying or, when fitted with extra fuel tanks, for long-range oversea reconnaissance.
From March 1912 it was laid down that all German naval aeroplanes had to be of amphibian configuration, a difficult requirement to meet with the marginal engine power then available. By discarding the wheels fitted to the central Coulmann float of the Albatros WD3 (70hp Mercedes), Oberleutnant zur See Langfeld was able to make the first water take-off on 5 July 1912. When the wheels were fitted again, a system was used that enabled them to be raised clear of the water. To reduce water resistance further and allow acceleration to flying speed, the wing tip floats could also be raised by means of the large handwheel on the port side of the nacelle.
Official dissatisfaction with the slow progress of the marine aeroplane led to the first German Seaplane Competition, held at Heiligendamm in August-September 1912. Various manufacturers submitted what were basically landplanes fitted with floats, and although only two (Aviatik and Albatros) met the requirements, the official view was that the problems of amphibian operation had been solved. In a further internal selection, the RMA (Reichs Marine Amt - German Admiralty) purchased this Albatros (80hp Argus) entry from funds raised by the West Prussian section of the Deutscher-Luftflotten-Verein.
When HMS Maori, engaged in sketching salient features on the Belgian coast, hit a mine off Blankenberghe and sunk on 7 May 1915, her yard-arm and this flag remained above the water. Despite rough seas, Oberleutnant zur See Drekmann (right) landed his Friedrichshafen FF29 209. Then, with his observer, Fahnrich zur See von Bliicher, hanging on to the starboard front interplane strut with an open clasp knife held in his teeth, pirate fashion, Drekmann managed after several attempts to position von Bliicher so that he could cut the flag free. A hazardous take-off followed and the plucky fliers brought their booty back to Zeebrugge. (British destroyers at sea flew either the Red Ensign or the Union Flag from their yard-arms for recognition purposes, but the Germans did not know this and were puzzled as to why a Royal Navy vessel should be flying the 'Red Duster'!)
Friedrichshafen FF33E 501 at Travemunde during the winter of 1915/16. The machine has been cleared for flight, indicated by the 'Flugbereit' notice displayed between the floats. Although when delivered this aircraft was a bombing machine, wireless telegraphy appears to have been fitted retrospectively; the windmill-driven generator can be seen fitted to the side of the fuselage near the observer's cockpit.
Nine Freidrichshafen FF33 about to leave the ramp at Libau on 12 September 1916 to join with aircraft from Windau and Angernsee for a combined operation of some 20 seaplanes against Russian naval forces in the Gulf of Riga. This action saw the first operational use of twin-engined torpedo-carrying seaplanes, but their primary target, the battleship Slava, was not hit. The ship on the left in this picture is the seaplane-carrier SMS Glyndwr.
Zeebrugge was the largest and most active of the Flanders coastal air stations and the number of aircraft operated by the different units based there sometimes exceeded 50 seaplanes, although the normal establishment was 35 aircraft. Seen here is a train-load of Friedrichshafen FF33s in late 1917, a type that gave excellent service but which was then being replaced by the higher-performance Brandenburg W12.
When SMS Wolf left Kiel on 30 November 1916 on a 15-month voyage, during which she traversed three oceans as a commerce raider, she carried a Friedrichshafen FF33E seaplane on board for scouting purposes. Named 'Wolfchen', the seaplane played an important part in Wolf's marauding activities and carried out over 50 flights in this role. This photograph, taken on 6 March 1918, shows the aircraft redecorated after its triumphant return; during the voyage 'Wolfchen' was operated without the display of any national insignia other than the German War Ensign, which was flown from the innermost starboard rear interplane strut as occasion demanded.
Crew of 'Wolfchen', Leutnant zur See Stein (left) and Oberflugmeister Fabeck pose in front of their seaplane on 6 March 1918 after their long voyage, during which Wolf sank, mined or captured 28 Allied vessels, and returned home loaded with booty from her victims. For much of the time the aircraft was exposed on deck to tropical heat and heavy rain; extensive renovation was necessary to her fabric-covered surfaces, the mainplanes eventually being re-covered in heavyweight silk overpainted with grey oil paint.
Friedrichshafen FF33L 1010 being retrieved from the Baltic following an accident on the bombing range of the observers' school at Wiek on the island of Rugen, summer 1918. Powered by a 150hp Benz engine, this aircraft had an unrestricted front-line designation and was known as a CHFT type, meaning that it was equipped with a movable gun for the observer and was fitted with wireless telegraphy transmitting and receiving equipment.
Friedrichshafen FF41A twin-engined torpedo seaplane 997 entering the water; the wheeled chassis under the floats being restrained through ropes by the handling crew. When in deep enough water the buoyancy of the floats lifted the aircraft from the wheeled chassis, which was then retrieved and usually stowed on the slipway for a reverse operation when the seaplane returned.
Only one Gotha Ursinus seaplane was used by the Navy, being allocated number 120. It is shown on 19 March 1916 on one of its operational flights, when in company with five other seaplanes from Zeebrugge it dropped bombs on Dover, Deal, Ramsgate and Margate, causing 14 fatalities among the civilian population.
Large calibre bombs were not used against ship targets; from the beginning the principle of dropping a stick of at least five bombs straddling a target was maintained. Experience with the bombsights then in use showed that this was the correct approach. Torpedo-carrying aircraft could carry eight 58kg bombs, and it was the fifth bomb of an eight-bomb stick that sunk the Russian destroyer Stroiny. A Gotha WD 14 bomb load of approximately 300kg is shown here, made up of 10kg bombs, a size commonly used on seaplanes. They are retained by a simple carrying strap across the tail of the bombs. no specially designed bomb cradles being required.
Oskar Ursinus (Editor of Flugsport magazine) designed a single-seater to embrace several features intended to obtain the very best performance from the 150hp Benz six-cylinder engine. Built by Flugmaschinen Rex GmbH and allocated naval number 782, the aircraft is shown at Warnemunde during evaluation in April 1917. The most revolutionary feature of the design was its retractable float undercarriage. The pilot manually operated a small differential winch which reduced the lengths of the bracing cables on one diagonal of the undercarriage struts and lengthened corresponding cables on the other diagonal, allowing the floats to be cranked to the 'up' position. They were retracted forward against the airflow; this kept the centre of gravity forward and also assisted with float extension. In the event, the aircraft was never flown, since during initial taxiing trials at 900rpm the machine nosed over. After further investigation the design was abandoned.
Ursinus Seaplane - floats retracted
Tarmac scene at Johannisthal in early 1915 NFW and LVG training aircraft used by the FMF (Freiwilliges MarinefIiegerkorps - Volunteer Naval Flying Corps) in front of the airship sheds. Almost all flying instruction concentrated on the take-off and landing phases of flight. Flying tests consisted of successfully carrying out a number of 'figure-of-eights' flown at an altitude of 200 metres and landings made within a given distance from a specified point on the aerodrome. The nose of the airship 'Hansa', seen in the far building, has been marked with the German national insignia on its undersurfaces.
By mid-1916 the need for single-seat seaplane fighters of good performance caused orders to be placed with various manufacturers for prototype aircraft to be powered by either the Benz or Mercedes six-cylinder engines of 150hp. The first aircraft to be delivered to the seaplane experimental and acceptance centre at Warnemunde (SVK and SAK) was the Rumpler 6BI numbered 751 at the end of August. Following acceptance, it was sent to Zeebrugge where it is seen on its railway car with Leutnant Bucker in the cockpit.
Sablatnig SF2 two-seat reconnaissance seaplanes about to leave the Angernsee naval air station, late 1916. Like most seaplanes used for this purpose during the first two years of the war, they carried no defensive armament. The observer occupied the front cockpit and the windmill generator for his WIT equipment can be seen at this location. Machines were operated in pairs so that one could assist the other in the event of engine or any trouble that necessitated a forced landing at sea.
Only a few days after its acceptance on 23 September 1916, this Brandenburg KDW (748), flown by Leutnant Hammer from the Baltic air station at Angernsee, forced a large four-engined Russian Sikorsky to land by repeated attacks. Despite this initial success the KDW was unpopular with its pilots; it was said to be heavy and difficult to fly, and had such a poor forward view that it was considered unsuitable for air fighting due to the constant risk of collision that this imposed. It was known as the 'Spider' in service, due to the unusual star-strut arrangement of its interplane bracing struts. A total of 58 machines of the type was delivered, latterly having a 160hp Maybach engine in place of the 150hp Benz installed in the first production machines.
Christiansen flying one of the early production Brandenburg W12 seaplanes powered by a 150hp Benz engine. This aircraft, 1183, served at Zeebrugge for eight months before it was destroyed in a bombing attack on the Mole on 10 May 1918. Designed by Ernst Heinkel late in 1916, the W12's performance was equal to that of the single-seat seaplanes then in service. Capable of 160km/hr (100mph), its rate of climb and general manoeuvrability made it popular with the crews, who gave it the name 'Kamel'.
Carrier-pigeons formed an important part of the equipment of seaplanes. The birds were released with position information if a machine was forced to land on the water, and many crews and aircraft were saved as a result. While Brandenburg W12 1399 at Zeebrugge is bombed-up prior to flight, pigeons are checked into their special wicker basket for stowing on board.
Brandenburg W19 from Norderney showing the white chevron unit marking on the rear fuselage. This aircraft was an enlarged, more powerful version of the W12 with an extended radius of action, but before it reached the front in any numbers it, in its turn, had been outdated by the Brandenburg W29 monoplane.
Three Brandenburg W29s of Christiansen's IC Staffellanding back at Zeebrugge. The Mole, a mile-long 80yd-wide curved breakwater of solid concrete, jutted out into the sea and afforded the necessary protection to the twin piers (seen in the background) that guarded the entrance to the inner basins and the Bruges Canal. Seaplane operations took place in this sheltered area, and regardless of the state of the outer sea, it was unusual if seaplanes could not operate when required.
Brandenburg W29 2532 was from a 30-aircraft production batch ordered in April 1918. Powered by a 150hp Benz engine and fitted with two forward-firing machine-guns, it was accepted by the Navy in late July and is shown wearing the double white bands on the rear fuselage that denoted the Starboard Watch of Norderney Naval Air Station.
Christiansen in Brandenburg W29 2512 (left) over the naval air station at Kiel-Holtenau en route to Zeebrugge. As soon as aircraft of this type had passed their acceptance trials, Christiansen journeyed to Warnemunde with his crews and flew the machines to Zeebrugge. The first five seaplanes collected in this manner landed at Zeebrugge on 1 July 1918 and were used operationally the following morning.
Fighting seaplanes operated alone initially, but the emergence of Allied formations over the sea and the example provided by the fighter formation work in the German Army Air Service led to the establishment of the 'C-Staffeln' which operated in strengths of 3, 5 or 7 machines. These units did not confine themselves to pure aerial fighting but undertook reconnaissance work in all its forms. This is a C-Staffel of five Brandenburg W29 monoplanes from Borkum, identified by the white oblique band carried on the fuselage ahead of the tail unit.
On 6 July 1918 Christiansen's IC Staffel flying five W29 monoplanes caught the British submarine C-25 on the surface off the British coast and immediately attacked it. During the action some 5,000 machine-gun rounds were fired at the boat and it was sufficiently disabled to prevent its being able to submerge. By now out of ammunition, the W29s were forced to return to Zeebrugge. During this action Leutnant Ehrhardt was able to secure some remarkable photographs; this one taken over the pilot's shoulder shows the low altitude used on the seaplanes's firing passes.
Close-up of the nose of a Brandenburg W29 showing details of radiator, cowling and the forward-firing LMG 08 with its ammunition chute. The instability of phosphorus cartridges caused the weapons section of the SVK to investigate the internal ammunition stowages on forward-firing seaplane guns. It was found that the W29 installation raised the temperature of the ammunition by 15°C due to the proximity of the engine mass. At outside air temperatures of 25°C the final temperature was sufficiently below the 50° danger point that induced spontaneous combustion of the unreliable cartridges, and the W29 was given a clean bill of health.
Curtiss flying-boat D18 approaching the slipway at Kiel-Holtenau. Continued evaluation of the flying-boat type of marine aircraft resulted in the RMA ordering examples from Albatros, Oertz and Friedrichshafen, as well as continuing to purchase foreign flying-boats, including a Sopwith Bat-Boat powered by a 200hp Canton-Unne. However, this configuration never really found favour for operational use.
This Bleriot monoplane landing on the Zeebrugge Mole was captured from the Belgian forces during the German advance in Planders. It was allocated the official naval landplane serial number S 96 and was in continuous use until autumn 1915, when its 80hp Gnome rotary engine was 'redirected' to power one of the new Fokker E monoplanes, engines for which were in short supply.
Mobilization seaplanes on the ramp at Kiel-Holtenau in August 1914. Aircraft identified in this early wartime photograph include: Rumpler 4BIl (150hp Benz) from Warnemunde, Sopwith Bat-Boat 44 (which was never used operationally but merely for short local flights), Friedrichshafen FF19 23 and Albatros B I on floats, which was another machine taken over on the outbreak of war at Warnemunde. All aircraft are carrying red streamers from the bottom wings near the tips for identification purposes and are marked with the Iron Cross type of national insignia.
Basic flying training was initially given at schools run by the aircraft manufacturers. Here, in November 1914, a class of naval ab initio pilots at Gotha Waggonfabrik's aerodrome pose with their Taube. They are wearing 3/4-length coats, trousers and leggings made of leather, which despite lack of lining were all surprisingly warm, being windproof. Gloves, padded crash helmets with goggles and long woollen scarves complete the official issue of flying clothing assigned to the trainee aviators.
Seaplanes were allocated consecutive numbers which at first were prefixed with 'D' for Doppeldecker (biplane) or 'E' for Eindecker (monoplane); however, after number 20 had been issued, the use of the prefix was discontinued. Shown here is Ago pusher seaplane D15 at Kolberg on 12 February 1914; built in 1913, this machine was powered by an 80hp Argus engine. The marine number marked on the nacelle is also carried on the outer surfaces of the outboard rudders. Following mobilization, 'Kiel' was additionally marked on the outboard sides of the floats.
Although flying-boats continued to be evaluated, the Germans considered the twin-float seaplane to possess better seaworthiness, especially in the rough wave conditions that exist in the North Sea. It was the reliable performance of the Avro 503 that confirmed this thinking and the RMA asked several manufacturers to produce seaplanes based on the Avro concept. This is the Ago which used the same engine as the Avro (100hp Gnome), ten machines being ordered in February 1914 in the first series order by the RMA.
Putzig, near Danzig, was selected as the site for the German naval Flugversuchstation (Flight Experimental Station) since it possessed a wide flat area of grassland, providing a natural land aerodrome, and a coastal area protected from rough wave conditions by the Hela peninsula, giving an excellent seaplane harbour - thus meeting both of the requirements for the operation of amphibious aircraft. The machines seen here in 1913 are the Albatros monoplane, designed by Ernst Heinkel and flown with success by Helmuth Hirth in the Bodensee Competition, and the Avro (D12) bought from Britain.
Torpedo-mine loaded in the torpedo crutch of a Brandenburg GW twin-engined torpedo seaplane. This weapon contained 95kg of high explosive and had to be laid from the usual torpedo dropping height of 6-8 metres (20-25ft) to prevent damage to the mine's mechanism. To gauge this height accurately at night, a weighted line was extended in a similar manner to a trailing wireless aerial. When the weight touched the surface, the drag of the water operated contacts that illuminated a light in the pilot's cockpit, indicating that the height was right for release.
Brandenburg W477, its 160hp Mercedes engine running, is lifted off its railway car by crane and swung out to clear the Zeebrugge Mole prior to being lowered into the water. The observer, who was responsible for the correctness of the lifting shackle, is standing on the edge of his cockpit ready to release the crane's hook when lowering is complete. The Rating (extreme right) walking away with the tail line prevents the aircraft from turning out of wind while suspended from the crane. Containers for fuel, oil and water can be seen on the railway car.
Brandenburg W477 moving away from Zeebrugge Mole after having been lowered by crane to the water. Depending on the wind speed and direction, sometimes full deflection of the control surfaces was needed in order to 'sail' the seaplane in the desired direction, especially if taxiing downwind, as here. This machine was based at Zeebrugge from September 1915 and took part in several bombing raids against the United Kingdom, usually crewed by Leutnants Rolshoven (pilot) and von Frankenburg (observer).
Albatros GmbH of Johannisthal were awarded a five-aircraft order, their Avro version being powered by either the 100hp Argus or Mercedes six-cylinder water-cooled engine. Three machines were to be fitted with wireless receiving equipment, and the weight of this plus the necessary 6 metres high aerial mast seen here, had to be carried during the acceptance trials. The contract stipulated that the machine's performance had to equal that of the Avro and that the two aircraft without wireless equipment were to be fitted with dual flying controls.
Albatros seaplane on the Muggelsee near Berlin. Training new pilots to fly seaplanes was undertaken at Putzig Naval Air Station in West Prussia from October 1914, but eventually the bulk of initial water flying was done in special training sections of the operational air stations, since it was found that it was easier for pupils to appreciate the practical requirements of front-line seaplane handling and thus convert more readily to the operational types of seaplane in a front-line air station environment.
Mobilization seaplanes on the ramp at Kiel-Holtenau in August 1914. Aircraft identified in this early wartime photograph include: Rumpler 4BIl (150hp Benz) from Warnemunde, Sopwith Bat-Boat 44 (which was never used operationally but merely for short local flights), Friedrichshafen FF19 23 and Albatros B I on floats, which was another machine taken over on the outbreak of war at Warnemunde. All aircraft are carrying red streamers from the bottom wings near the tips for identification purposes and are marked with the Iron Cross type of national insignia.
This LVG D4 biplane (later designated S110), powered by a 150hp Benz, had its wing area increased by the insertion of an extra bay and, having a split axle undercarriage and heavy-duty tyres, was used by Kapitan Friedlainder early in 1915 to investigate the art of dropping a missile of torpedo weight. Sheet lead nailed to the wooden dummy, seen here in its rack under the fuselage, increased its weight on successive experiments, as a result of which Friedlander was able to make the first torpedo drop over water at Travemiinde on 11 June 1915. In September two torpedoes were dropped that ran true through the water, proving that this type of torpedo release was capable of operational use.
Three examples of the Brandenburg W20 single-seat flying-boat were built, the so-called 'type' aircraft which was the example of any new design evaluated by the seaplane experimental centre (SVK) at Warnemunde before being accepted for naval use (by the SAK). 1552 is seen on 14 March 1918. Intended to be carried as an aerial scout on submarines, it did not see operational service. The W20 was designed to be assembled and dismantled very quickly, using the minimum of hand tools; individual components were stowed in watertight air tubes on the submarine's deck.
Following the occupation of the Belgian coast, a seaplane base was established at Zeebrugge in December 1914. Aircraft were kept in the railway station hall at the end of the Mole, fully assembled on specially constructed flat railway cars which carried tools, fabric, dope, etc for minor repairs, as well as supplies of water, fuel and oil. Locomotives were kept with steam up and were always available to pull the trains out on to the Mole and up to the cranes used to lift and lower the seaplanes to the water. In this early 1915 scene no national insignia are displayed on the upper wing surfaces of these Friedrichshafen FF29 seaplanes or the Oertz flying-boat numbered 46, but wing undersurfaces were marked spanwise with the straight-sided cross, as seen on the Oertz's rudder.
Friedrichshafen FF19 seaplanes 25 and 26 enjoying unusually calm sea conditions in the Heligoland Bight. They were part of a five-aircraft order placed in February 1914, harbingers of the three-bay Friedrichshafen seaplane layout that became the FF33 when powered by the 150hp Benz and the FF49 when the 200hp Benz was used. This basic design, developed over the following two years, had not been improved upon for general workaday duties by the time of the Armistice, and the later models were the most widely used reconnaissance seaplanes in service.
Mobilization seaplanes on the ramp at Kiel-Holtenau in August 1914. Aircraft identified in this early wartime photograph include: Rumpler 4BIl (150hp Benz) from Warnemunde, Sopwith Bat-Boat 44 (which was never used operationally but merely for short local flights), Friedrichshafen FF19 23 and Albatros B I on floats, which was another machine taken over on the outbreak of war at Warnemunde. All aircraft are carrying red streamers from the bottom wings near the tips for identification purposes and are marked with the Iron Cross type of national insignia.
Following the occupation of the Belgian coast, a seaplane base was established at Zeebrugge in December 1914. Aircraft were kept in the railway station hall at the end of the Mole, fully assembled on specially constructed flat railway cars which carried tools, fabric, dope, etc for minor repairs, as well as supplies of water, fuel and oil. Locomotives were kept with steam up and were always available to pull the trains out on to the Mole and up to the cranes used to lift and lower the seaplanes to the water. In this early 1915 scene no national insignia are displayed on the upper wing surfaces of these Friedrichshafen FF29 seaplanes or the Oertz flying-boat numbered 46, but wing undersurfaces were marked spanwise with the straight-sided cross, as seen on the Oertz's rudder.
Since seaplane engines could not be run up to test their power output and serviceability immediately before flight when on the water, this was done either on the ramp before launching or, as shown here, with a Zeebrugge Friedrichshafen FF49C, before lifting the aircraft by crane for lowering to the water. To the rear of the floats can be seen the flat railway car used to move the seaplane from its hangar to the crane.
Beaching party, suitably attired in waterproof suits, bringing in Friedrichshafen FF49C 1778. When beaching did not allow seaplanes to run up the slipway to have the wheeled chassis fitted, the aircraft was stopped a few yards from the shore and the aircrew were taken off pick-a-back style; the handling crew then walked the machine on to the wheeled chassis and pulled the aircraft up the ramp out of the water.
Friedrichshafen FF49C from Norderney investigating a suspicious sailing ship. Vessels stopped in prohibited areas and found to have contraband goods aboard were either directed to a German port or destroyed. Initially airships were used for this surveillance, since they could provide crew members to take over shipboard duties, but the risk to the large hydrogen-filled airships was quickly deemed to be too great and this duty was performed by seaplanes for most of the war.
This Rumpler C VII, C8179/17, was on the strength of the Seefrontstaffel (Seefrosta). Flown by Leutnants Voigt and Rowehl, it carried out many long-range reconnaissance flights, some of over three hours' duration, extending to the English coast, into the Thames Estuary and the Channel. Undertaken in conditions of good visibility, such forays gathered much information concerning shipping movements, especially activities on the coastal explosive mine net barrages that protected the safe lanes used by Allied shipping.
Mobilization seaplanes on the ramp at Kiel-Holtenau in August 1914. Aircraft identified in this early wartime photograph include: Rumpler 4BIl (150hp Benz) from Warnemunde, Sopwith Bat-Boat 44 (which was never used operationally but merely for short local flights), Friedrichshafen FF19 23 and Albatros B I on floats, which was another machine taken over on the outbreak of war at Warnemunde. All aircraft are carrying red streamers from the bottom wings near the tips for identification purposes and are marked with the Iron Cross type of national insignia.
Despite the inscription on this contemporary postcard and the use of a Rumpler rudder, 'Kiel 55' was an early Albatros seaplane, and is shown being towed after retrieval in the Baltic. The crew have carried out the laid-down survival drill well. They have chopped off the outer wing panels to prevent them becoming waterlogged, thus reducing the risk of capsizing; and to 'lighten ship', heavy components from the engine have been detached and dumped overboard. This procedure enabled twin-float seaplanes to remain afloat for long periods in sea conditions well in excess of their seaworthiness rating. Many crews were saved as a result.