Книги

Aeronaut
M.Schmeelke
"Torpedo Los!"
151

M.Schmeelke - "Torpedo Los!" /Aeronaut/

Early Torpedo Bomber Experiments

Albatros S.69 Torpedo Bomber Prototype

  Two different single-engine biplane designs were built to the initial naval torpedo bomber requirement. One was the Albatros B.I S.69 and the other was an LVG. Both were three-bay biplane landplanes. Although the Albatros prototype had a split under-carriage to enable the torpedo to be mounted at the aircraft's center of gravity, the rest of the airframe was visually similar to the three-bay Albatros B.I. Albatros was the largest aircraft German aircraft manufacturer and LVG was the next largest. However, neither were important in torpedo plane production. Evaluation of the Albatros and LVG single-engine, landplane prototypes resulted in all subsequent torpedo bombers being twin-engine floatplanes.
Albatros B.I S.69 is shown here after modification for torpedo carrying trials by the German Navy.
Albatros B.I S.69 was converted to conduct torpedo-dropping trials and is seen here with the small-caliber it was designed to carry. The landing gear was modified to enable the torpedo to be carried. The trials were considered to be unsuccessful and all later WWI German torpedo bombers were floatplanes. (Peter M. Grosz Collection/SDTB)
Albatros W.1 Marine Number 55 assigned to the Kiel Naval Air Station.
SFS Kiel-Holtenau also provided Albatros WDD (55) for Torpedoflieger training. It was written off on 16 December 1916 after an accident. Here it is seen after a forced landing, which may be the accident that caused it to be written off.
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.
Albatros W.1 Marine Number 55 was assigned to the Kiel naval air station. It has side radiators and tail float and the main floats are of revised design. The wings have been roughly cropped; likely as a result of a forced landing at sea with the crew chopping off the outer wings to make the aircraft more stable on the water while awaiting rescue. (Peter M. Grosz Collection/SDTB)
German Torpedo Aircraft

Albatros

  Albatros Gesellschaft fur Flugzeug Unternehmungen m.b.H, at Berlin-Johannisthal was the producer of the Albatros W3 and W5 type aircraft. Albatros W3 (527) was first referenced in documents on July 9, 1916; but was destroyed by fire following an accident on July 18. Prior to the accident, W3 (527) served with the Torpedo-Versuchs-Kommando (TVK, torpedo experimental command) in Eckernforde. Albatros W5 (845 - 849) did not arrive in Warnemunde until July 1917; only Nos. 845, 846, and 847 were ready for use at the front lines as GT type aircraft in August 1917. On May 11, 1916 SVK communicated to the seaplane bases that, aluminum fuel lines, particularly on Albatros aircraft, were prone to clogging. A few days later, on May 29, 1916, SVK issued orders for all filters, fuel lines, and tanks to be emptied and cleaned after each flight.



Albatros W.3 Torpedo Bomber Prototype

  The Albatros W.3 was ordered in October 1915 and delivered in July 1916. It was the first torpedo bomber built by Albatros and only a single prototype, Marine Number 527, was built.
  The W.3 was a twin-engine floatplane with its two 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines mounted as pushers. To improve streamlining the pusher propellers had spinners. The large, boxy radiators were mounted at the top front of the nacelles. The wood structure was typical of Albatros practice of the time and the design had typical Albatros lines. The design provided for a torpedo carried under the fuselage and semi-recessed to reduce drag.
  Little is known about the W.3's handling qualities, but the overall design was worthy of development into the very similar Albatros W.5 that was essentially the production version of the W.3 prototype.


Albatros W.5 Torpedo Bomber

A batch of five Albatros W.5 torpedo bombers, Marine Numbers 845-849, was ordered in July 1916, the same month the W.3 was delivered. Apparently the priority of the W.5 was fairly low as deliveries of the five aircraft were stretched out from May 1917 to January 1918.
  The W.5 was essential a refined derivative of the original W.3 and shared many similarities with the earlier design. Wing span and length of the W.3 and W.5 were the same and both types were powered by two 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines mounted as pushers. Like the W.3, the W.5 had propeller spinners and provision for a single torpedo mounted below the fuselage, although the torpedo recess under the fuselage was larger in the W.5. The radiators and engine nacelles of the W.5 were more refined for lower drag with better cooling. Photos of Marine Number 845 show ailerons on the upper wing only like the W.3, but apparently lateral control needed improvement because Marine Number 847 had ailerons on all four wings connected by an actuating strut. The SVK drawing of the W.5, which indicated it applied to all five Marine Numbers built, show ailerons on all four wings, so that was intended as the standard configuration. It is not known if MN 845 was later modified to have four ailerons or left in its original configuration. The floats of the W.5 were enlarged compared to the W.3.
  The small production order is an indication that the W.5's performance was below that of its Gotha and Brandenburg competitors, and the leisurely delivery schedule reflects the low priority given torpedo bombers after the Navy abandoned aerial torpedo attacks due to the vulnerability of the attacking aircraft.


German Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Albatros W.5 Gotha WD11 Gotha WD14 Brandenburg GW Friedrichshafen FF41AT
Number 5 17 52* 21 8
* 69 ordered, production was curtailed by the Armistice.
There were a number of prototype torpedo bombers; this table shows only production types. The Albatros W.5 was produced in the smallest quantity of any production type, an indication of its relative merit. The Gotha WD14 received by far the largest orders. It was also the only aircraft in the table powered by 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engines; the others were all underpowered by 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines.
The sole Albatros W 3, serial 527, three seat torpedo bomber. Powered by two 160hp Mercedes D IIIs, the W 3 had a top level speed of 83mph at sea level. Delivered to the navy in July 1916, the W 3 led to the generally similar W 5 design, of which four were built and delivered between May 1917 and January 1918.
Albatros W3 (527) during construction showing the wings are not complete.
This view of the completed Albatros W.3 emphasize the attention paid to streamlining this large biplane floatplane. The pusher propellers featured spinners and the large block radiators were carefully streamlined into the engine nacelles. (Peter M. Bowers Collection, Museum of Flight)
Marine Number 845 was the first of five W.5 ordered. The photo shows that ailerons were fitted to the upper wing only, while the SVK drawing shows ailerons were to befitted to all four wings. The rudder has a curved trailing edge; later aircraft and the SVK drawing feature a rudder with straight trailing edge.
Quarter view of a W.5 in the final configuration with ailerons on all four wings connected by an actuating strut. (Peter M. Bowers Collection/Museum of Flight)
Front view of a W.5 in the final configuration with ailerons on all four wings connected by an actuating strut. In this view a torpedo is being carried. (Peter M. Bowers Collection/Museum of Flight)
An Albatros W.5 is brought to the Station from target boat T107.
Albatros W5 845 dropping a practice torpedo in the Flensburg Fjord. 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.
Albatros W4 Marine #911 after tactical markings were added at Windau. It escorted torpedo bombers. This fighter was flown by Lt.z.S. Schulz, who downed three aircraft while flying it.
Albatros W4 Marine #965 outside its hangar. This was one of the W4 fighters based at Windau assigned to escort the torpedo bombers.
A WD14, perhaps Marine Number 1415 but the number is not legible. As a result of trials, ailerons were added to the lower wings and the rudder area was increased to improve control with one engine out.
Friedrichshafen FF33H #744 This aircraft was a lead aircraft for torpedo planes operating from Angernsee, hence the red stripes to make it easier to see.
Several aircraft at Angernsee during the Summer of 1916. At the right is FF33E No. 659, in which Ltn.zS. Rahtz (p) and Flgzgobmtr. Stolle (o) attacked Runo on 17 August 1916, just subsequent to the Russian night raid on Angernsee. Third from the left is Hansa-Brandenburg flying boat No. 513, frequently flown by Flgmr. Thiedemann (p)/Flgmt. Jacob (o), who were credited with one confirmed victory during the Summer of 1916.
A closer look at Hansa-Brandenburg flying boat No. 513 (center aircraft; enlargement of photo facing page).
FF33E No. 660 operated from Angernsee from early June through 12 August 1916, where it was normally flown by Ltn.z.S. von Dewitz (p)/Flgzgobmtr Dettmering (o). It had arrived at Libau on 25 May, and first appeared in the Angernsee war diary on 7 June. On 12 August this machine was flown to Windau, where it may have been transferred to the Santa Elena. It turns up once in the Holtenau war diary in August 1917, and on 30 November was at the repair facility at Danzig, where it was noted as being earmarked for the flying school at Holtenau.
Mothership Santa Elena was part of the "Albion" mission with four aircraft.
FF33H (664) is parked in front of hangar 3 at Angernsee in its destroyed state. (NARA)
Hangar 3 at the Angernsee Seaplane Station. (NARA)
This view of FF33H Nr. 695 flying over the flat Courland terrain may well have been taken from FF33H Nr. 731 when these two aircraft visited Angernsee from the seaplane tender Santa Elena. With the Santa Elena in the Baltic from 9 August, 1916 through 15 December, Nr. 695 was normally flown by Flugmeister Buhl (p)/Oberflugmeister Muller (o), but it isn't known who flew it to Angernsee.
This aircraft, an armed class C, was the first aircraft of the 5th FF33H production batch ordered in April 1916. The red identification pennants can be seen attached to both #695 and the aircraft from which the photo was taken.
Aircraft of a Staffel lined up on the jetty and ready for a raid on Oesel. (Karl-Heinz Caye)
Friedrichshafen FF33H Marine Number 731 enroute to Angernsee.
Friedrichshafen FF33H Marine Number 744 serving at Angernsee. This aircraft was equipped as a lead aircraft for torpedo attacks by torpedo planes operating from Angernsee. Hence the diagonal red stripes to make it more visible, rare color for these mostly anonymous floatplanes.
Seaplanes from Norderney station. A Gotha WD14 long-range reconnaissance aircraft is pictured in the background on the right side of the image.
Seeflieger from the Windau and Angernsee Stations also supported the German landing on the Baltic Isles.
Float breakage at Windau.
FF33L C2MG #1123 at left and a companion FF33L, possibly C2MG #1124 (#1094?), at right, are ready for their next mission from Angernsee in 1917. The FF33L was smaller and more streamlined than earlier FF33 variants, giving it better speed and maneuverability. That, coupled with its fixed gun for the pilot, enabled it to undertake more aggressive missions than its antecedents, making it the transition stage to a true floatplane fighter.
FF33 aircraft from Windau Station continuously surveyed the ships of the Baltic fleet.
German Torpedo Aircraft

Flugzeugbau-Friedrichshafen

  Like Albatros, the Flugzeugbau-Friedrichshafen (FF) at Lake Constance, also approached the development of a torpedo aircraft with much hesitation. Following the RMA's January 1915 request, the SVK issued a catalog of requirements. With Friedrichshafen already operating at full capacity to fill contracts for their reliable seaplanes, production of the FF35 was delayed until February 2, 1916. On May 24, 1916, SVK testing runs were completed at Warnemunde. The performance of the FF35, which was equipped with two 160 HP Daimler-Mercedes D III engines, proved satisfactory; however, as a T-aircraft, it had already been surpassed by its competition in terms of engineering. It is doubtful the second FF35 (Navy No. 310) was actually built. The Navy purchased the FF35 (300) and placed it in service on bombing missions at Seeflugstation Angernsee beginning in May 1916. Furthermore, No. 300 served repeatedly as a test aircraft of the SVK. In September 1916, it was listed in the naval files with the BFTMG classification. This indicated the subsequent installation of a radio device.
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Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bombers

  Before WW1, relatively unsuccessful attempts to drop anti-ship torpedoes from aircraft were carried out in Italy, Great Britain, and the USA. No torpedo bombers were available in Germany, and a quick solution had to be found. The result was land airplanes were converted to carry torpedoes. Both LVG and Albatros built prototypes but tests soon revealed a distinct lack of success.
  By the end of 1914 the German Navy defined the requirements for a new torpedo bomber. The crew should be two men and the aircraft should be able to carry a heavy, 700 kg torpedo. Flight endurance must be three to four hours. The German Navy sent development orders to several companies, including Albatros, Brandenburg, Gotha, and Friedrichshafen. As builder of the greatest number of floatplanes for the German Navy, Friedrichshafen was obviously interested in responding to the torpedo floatplane requirement.


Friedrichshafen FF35

  Friedrichshafen's initial torpedo bomber design was the FF35 that was ordered in February 1915 handed over to the SVK more than a year later, on May 24, 1916, after a maiden flight earlier in 1916. This prolonged development time was due to the factory being fully employed in projects. Powered by a pair of 160 hp Mercedes D.III engines mounted as pushers, the FF35 was a conventional biplane floatplane. The engines were mounted in boxy nacelles with radiators at the front. The aft section was plywood for greater strength and the elevator was raised to protect it from sea spray. The main fittings were forged from steel. The aircraft was designed for a crew of three, a pilot and two gunners, one of whom was also the torpedo aimer. One aircraft, Marine Number 300, was built. Some records indicate a second FF35, Marine Number 310, was built, but official SVK records show only the first aircraft being ordered and delivered, with the block of Marine Numbers from 301-400 being left open.


Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bomber Specifications
Specification FF35 FF41a FF41at FF53
Engines 2x160 hp Mercedes D.III 2x150 hp Benz Bz.III 2x150 hp Benz Bz.III 2x260 hp Mercedes D.IVa
Span (Upper), m 23.74 22.00 22.00 -
Span (Lower), m 21.02 20.97 20.97 -
Length, m 13.50 13.70 13.70 -
Height, m 4.50 4.65 4.65 -
Wing Area, m2 100.00 112.50 112.50 -
Empty Wt., kg 2,292 2,300 2,288 -
Loaded Wt., kg 3,543 3,670 3,701 -
Max. Speed, km/h 114 125 121 -
Cruise Speed, km/h - 115 - -
Climb to 500 m - - 9 minutes -
Climb to 800 m - - 16-18 minutes -
Climb to 1,000 m - - 20-25 minutes -
Range, km 770 575 605 -
Crew 3 3 2 3
Armament 726 kg torpedo & 1-2 Parabellum guns 726 kg torpedo & 1 Parabellum gun 726 kg torpedo & 1 Parabellum gun -


Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bomber Production
Type FF35 FF41A Unknown* FF41AT FF53
Quantity 1 1 1 8 3
Marine Numbers 300 678 735 996-1000 & 1208-1210 1663-1665
* This aircraft was powered by two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines. It was ordered in May 1916 and the order was cancelled on 18 November 1917.
Side view of the FF35 prototype torpedo bomber on its beaching dolly.
Side view of the FF35 prototype torpedo bomber on its beaching dolly outside the assembly hall.
The FF35 (300) is pushed down the slipway into the water at Angernsee Station.
Side view of the FF35 prototype torpedo bomber in the water. The German Navy was always short of aircraft, so sometimes used prototypes operationally, and the FF35 was one of those. The FF35 flew limited operations from Libau in May 1916 and flew a number of missions from Angernsee over the next four months before being returned to Germany.
German Torpedo Aircraft

Flugzeugbau-Friedrichshafen

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  On February 19, 1916, RMA tasked the Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen with the development of an additional torpedo aircraft, the FF41AT, Navy Nr. 678. Based on a wealth of gathered information from experiences using land-based aircraft FF36 and FF38 (Fdh. G.I/G.II), the FF41AT was developed within just a few months, and was delivered to Warnemunde on August 30, 1916. Test flights for 678 were executed swiftly, and the aircraft entered active service on November 4, 1916. According to reports by pilots, however, the FF41AT was not useable as a torpedo aircraft. Carrying a torpedo, 678 only managed to reach a maximum altitude of 100 meters. Consequently, the FF41AT was utilized as a bomber aircraft, or for minelaying. FF41AT, Navy No. 996 - 1000 and 1208 - 1210 had been designed with a gap that could accommodate a torpedo; this also proved useful for the attachment of bombs and mines. Aircrews considered FF41AT to be a bomber with very good characteristics;
  "The FF T-aircraft perform very well in a glide."
  "FF41AT 997 and 998. Dropping mechanism and height measuring line for 10 m indication work well."
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Friedrichshafen FF41A & FF41AT

  The FF41A was an improved development of the earlier FF35. The aircraft was ordered in February 1916 and was delivered on 30 August 1916. The FF41A was powered by a pair of 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines mounted in tractor configuration and had a central fin and three rudders. The Benz engines were more readily available because the Mercedes was in great demand by other high priority aircraft types, especially the Roland C.II at the time of the order, and later Albatros fighters. The engines were mounted in streamlined, sheet-metal nacelles with the radiators mounted above the engines. Compared to the FF35 the wing span was slightly reduced but wing area was increased to support the slightly higher gross weight on slightly less power. Like the earlier FF35, there were three crew positions, but only one machine gun was provided. A single aircraft, Marine Number 678, was built.
  Another Friedrichshafen torpedo plane of unspecified type, Marine Number 735 powered by two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines, may have been an intermediate step between the FF41A and FF41AT, but with different powerplants. One prototype was ordered in May 1916 but the order was cancelled on 18 November 1917.
  The FF41AT was a slightly modified version of the FF41A with a modified fuselage and a single fin and rudder. The engines, dimensions, and armament were the same as the FF41A, but the crew was reduced to two, a pilot and torpedo aimer/front gunner. The first batch of five FF41AT aircraft, Marine Numbers 996-1000, was ordered in October 1916, and the first three aircraft were accepted in May 1917, with the fourth in June and the fifth in July. A second production batch of three aircraft, Marine Numbers 1208-1210, were ordered in January 1917; two from this batch were delivered in July and the third in August.
  On the afternoon of August 21, 1917, Ltn.z.See Wolfram Eisenlohr was aircraft commander of FF41AT Marine Number 1000 flown by Flugobermaat Gruber when they sighted two Russian destroyers at anchor about a nautical mile from the south-eastern coast of Oesel Island in the Gulf of Riga. Eisenlohr directed Gruber to immediately return to their base at Windau to avoid alerting the Russians they had been discovered. Later that day three FF41AT bombers from Windau, each loaded with eight 50 kg bombs in the ventral tunnel designed to hold a torpedo, took off at twilight to attack the destroyers.
  The aircraft found the two Russian destroyers at the location where Eisenlohr had seen them earlier, and initiated a bombing attack from an altitude of 600 meters. The destroyers and land batteries immediately commenced heavy anti-aircraft fire. Eisenlohr, the observer and aircraft commander of the second of three aircraft in the flight, observed the first bomber, which dropped four bombs on each destroyer, miss its targets, all the bombs falling short, with the final bomb in the string falling about 10 m short.
  Eisenlohr determined to hit his target by dropping all eight of his bombs on one destroyer. He attacked the first destroyer, the Stroini, and the fifth bomb in his string of eight scored a direct hit amidships. A plume of fire shot up from the Stroini, which sank in shallow water. The third FF41AT missed its target with all bombs. For his victory, Eisenlohr was awarded the Naval Victory Trophy on March 22, 1918. It turned out the Stroini had run aground, which is why it was in the same location for the bombing attack.
  Eisenlohr also commanded mine-laying missions in the FF41AT. These missions were normally flown at night and the 750 kg (1,654 pound) mines were dropped from an altitude of only 6-8 meters, with a trailing antenna to gauge the altitude. When the tip of the Schlepp antenna touched the water, a small light went on in the pilot's cockpit to indicate he was at the proper altitude.


Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bomber Specifications
Specification FF35 FF41a FF41at FF53
Engines 2x160 hp Mercedes D.III 2x150 hp Benz Bz.III 2x150 hp Benz Bz.III 2x260 hp Mercedes D.IVa
Span (Upper), m 23.74 22.00 22.00 -
Span (Lower), m 21.02 20.97 20.97 -
Length, m 13.50 13.70 13.70 -
Height, m 4.50 4.65 4.65 -
Wing Area, m2 100.00 112.50 112.50 -
Empty Wt., kg 2,292 2,300 2,288 -
Loaded Wt., kg 3,543 3,670 3,701 -
Max. Speed, km/h 114 125 121 -
Cruise Speed, km/h - 115 - -
Climb to 500 m - - 9 minutes -
Climb to 800 m - - 16-18 minutes -
Climb to 1,000 m - - 20-25 minutes -
Range, km 770 575 605 -
Crew 3 3 2 3
Armament 726 kg torpedo & 1-2 Parabellum guns 726 kg torpedo & 1 Parabellum gun 726 kg torpedo & 1 Parabellum gun -


Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bomber Production
Type FF35 FF41A Unknown* FF41AT FF53
Quantity 1 1 1 8 3
Marine Numbers 300 678 735 996-1000 & 1208-1210 1663-1665
* This aircraft was powered by two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines. It was ordered in May 1916 and the order was cancelled on 18 November 1917.


German Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Albatros W.5 Gotha WD11 Gotha WD14 Brandenburg GW Friedrichshafen FF41AT
Number 5 17 52* 21 8
* 69 ordered, production was curtailed by the Armistice.
There were a number of prototype torpedo bombers; this table shows only production types. The Albatros W.5 was produced in the smallest quantity of any production type, an indication of its relative merit. The Gotha WD14 received by far the largest orders. It was also the only aircraft in the table powered by 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engines; the others were all underpowered by 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines.
FF41AT MN 1000; on 21 August 1917 this aircraft, commanded by Ltn.z.S. Wolfram Eisenlohr, bombed and sank the Russian destroyer Stroini.
Friedrichshafen FF 41A, serial 679, the first of three of these three-seat torpedo bombers to be built for the navy in late 1916-early 1917. Seen here at Zeebrugge on the Belgian coast, the FF 41A used two 150hp Benz Bz IIIs, giving it a top speed of 77.7mph, with a range of 357 miles. The Pintsch torpedo aiming device is attached to the nose. There is no torpedo attached. The FF41 AT turned out to be unsuitable for use as torpedo aircraft.
FF41A Marine Number 678 torpedo bomber with torpedo under test before markings were applied of the engine nacelles were fitted.
FF41A Marine Number 678 torpedo bomber with torpedo under test before the engine nacelles were fitted.
The FF41A prototype torpedo bomber afloat outside the assembly hall before its Marine Number and national insignia were applied and engine cowlings were fitted.
The sole FF41A prototype torpedo bomber afloat outside the assembly hall before its Marine Number and national insignia were applied and engine cowlings were fitted. The multiple rudders are visible.
The sole FF41A prototype torpedo bomber afloat outside the assembly hall before its Marine Number and national insignia were applied and engine cowlings were fitted. The multiple rudders are visible.
FF41 AT torpedo bomber being inspected by dignitaries.
FF41 AT (with a mine tank) flew at the Angernsee Seaplane Station in Courland in October 1917.
Marine Number 997, the second FF41AT torpedo bomber built, is being eased into 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. The production FF41AT aircraft were flown extensively on operations in the Baltic, but these missions were primarily mine laying, conventional bombing, and maritime reconnaissance, not torpedo bombing.
Marine Number 999, the fourth FF41 AT torpedo bomber built. (The Peter M. Bowers Collection/The Museum of Flight)
Marine Number 1000, the fifth FF41AT torpedo bomber built and the last aircraft of the first production batch, being loaded with a torpedo.
Marine Number 1000, the fifth FF41AT torpedo bomber built and the last aircraft of the first production batch.
Marine Number 1000, the fifth FF41AT torpedo bomber built and the last aircraft of the first production batch photographed at Windau.
Seaplanes in Windau. (KMF)
Torpedo aircraft and other floatplanes at Windau. (KMF)
A Friedrichshafen FF41 AT at Angernsee with supporting personnel.
Group photo with an FF41 AT in Windau, 1917.
FF41 AT torpedo bomber in Estonian service postwar. This aircraft carries number "55" on the fuselage side and an interesting personal marking on the nose. (Courtesy F. Gerdessen)
A FF41 AT torpedo bomber in Estonian service postwar. This aircraft carries number "55" on the fuselage side and an interesting personal marking on the nose. (Courtesy F. Gerdessen)
German Torpedo Aircraft

Flugzeugbau-Friedrichshafen

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  The Type FF53 (Navy No. 1663 - 1665) was built strictly for use as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft; it was taken into service in Friedrichshafen in August 1918.



Friedrichshafen FF53

  The final Friedrichshafen twin-engine floatplane, the FF53, was ordered in June 1917 as a torpedo bomber. When delivered in July 1918 it was intended for long-range maritime reconnaissance and bombing, not torpedo bombing. This was a large, more powerful aircraft resembling a floatplane derivative of the Friedrichshafen G.IIIa or G.IV land plane bombers. Like the G.IIIa, it was powered by two 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa engines, but unlike the G.IIIa the engines were mounted as tractors to keep the propellers out of the water spray from the floats.
  Three aircraft, Marine Numbers 1663-1665, were ordered. Photographs verify that at least MN 1663 was completed. Its first flight was on July 30, 1918, and it was handed over to the SVK in August. However, SVK delivery records after the end of June 1918 are not available, so it is not certain the last two aircraft were completed. By this time the Navy had abandoned torpedo bomber operations so the FF53, now intended for long-range maritime reconnaissance, must have had low priority as the Gotha WD.14 was already fulfilling that role. Ironically, the FF53 finally had the more powerful engines needed to carry a heavier torpedo or bomb load compared to previous Friedrichshafen torpedo bombers, but to no avail. Unfortunately, no specifications for the FF53 have survived.


In Retrospect

  Torpedo planes were built in only small numbers due to mediocre results and vulnerability of the bombers to anti-aircraft fire during their torpedo run, when they had to maintain a constant course, speed, and altitude before releasing the torpedo. The torpedo bombers were large, slow aircraft flying at extreme low altitude, making them ideal targets for anti-aircraft gunners aboard ship. As a result, torpedo bombing was abandoned after modest successes and most missions flown by these aircraft were reconnaissance, bombing, and mine laying.


Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bomber Specifications
Specification FF35 FF41a FF41at FF53
Engines 2x160 hp Mercedes D.III 2x150 hp Benz Bz.III 2x150 hp Benz Bz.III 2x260 hp Mercedes D.IVa
Span (Upper), m 23.74 22.00 22.00 -
Span (Lower), m 21.02 20.97 20.97 -
Length, m 13.50 13.70 13.70 -
Height, m 4.50 4.65 4.65 -
Wing Area, m2 100.00 112.50 112.50 -
Empty Wt., kg 2,292 2,300 2,288 -
Loaded Wt., kg 3,543 3,670 3,701 -
Max. Speed, km/h 114 125 121 -
Cruise Speed, km/h - 115 - -
Climb to 500 m - - 9 minutes -
Climb to 800 m - - 16-18 minutes -
Climb to 1,000 m - - 20-25 minutes -
Range, km 770 575 605 -
Crew 3 3 2 3
Armament 726 kg torpedo & 1-2 Parabellum guns 726 kg torpedo & 1 Parabellum gun 726 kg torpedo & 1 Parabellum gun -


Friedrichshafen Torpedo Bomber Production
Type FF35 FF41A Unknown* FF41AT FF53
Quantity 1 1 1 8 3
Marine Numbers 300 678 735 996-1000 & 1208-1210 1663-1665
* This aircraft was powered by two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines. It was ordered in May 1916 and the order was cancelled on 18 November 1917.
German Torpedo Aircraft

Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG, Gotha

  With the Gotha company already having gained experience in designing twin-engine bombers, the RMA subsequently ordered the company to build a T-aircraft in February 1915. Dipl.-Ing. Karl Rosner, the chief designer of Abteilung II at Gotha, delivered the type WD7 (Marine No. 119) to the SVK in January 1916. Although the 119 was not yet a torpedo aircraft, it is considered to be the forerunner of the later Gotha torpedo aircraft. Tests of the 119 at Warnemunde were successful and the RMA ordered a series of other torpedo training aircraft, the Gotha WD7 (No. 670 - 676). They, too, were unable to drop torpedoes, as they were equipped with bracing struts between the floats. By August 1916, all seven Gotha WD7s had been delivered to the SVK and were later used as training aircraft at both Kiel-Holtenau and Flensburg. With the Gotha WD7 (670) practical innovations were made again and again by the SVK. At Warnemunde, various engine installations were also tried, with 130 hp Hiero engines from Austria-Hungary being temporarily installed. In February 1916, the RMA placed a further order with the Gothaer Waggonfabrik, for the type WD11. The WD11 (Marine No. 679) had for the first time a recess for the torpedo, the so-called torpedo trough, on the underside of the fuselage. In this trough-like recess, the torpedo was coupled into the holding device at a 50 degree angle. An advantage of the WD11 was the seating position of the torpedo layer in the fuselage bow, with the pilot sitting directly behind him, shifted to the right. This made it possible to communicate easily. WD11 No.679 was followed by further orders for Gotha WD11 aircraft with Navy Nos. 991-995, 1211-1213, and 1372-1379. But before the torpedo aircraft could be considered "front-ready", i.e., suitable for frontline use, there was still a long way to go. In the documents of the Seaplane Test Command (SVK) and the Torpedo Test Command (TVK) there are many reports regarding these details. Items involved were not only the basic construction, but particularly the struts from the fuselage to the floats, the torpedo and mine mount on the fuselage, as well as the armament. The engines were also replaced more frequently; the Gotha WD7 (675 and 676) received more powerful 120 hp Argus engines instead of the 100 hp Daimler. The WD7 (676) was still at Warnemunde in June 1917 and was used to test a movable 2 cm Becker cannon mounted in the bow position of the aircraft. On the WD11 (679) tail-heaviness had to be addressed and the motors received new acetylene starters. On 17 October aircraft No. 679 was accepted by the Maritime Aircraft Acceptance Commission (SAK) and handed over to the Special Command Edler in Flensburg. However, it was damaged there on October 31, 1916 and had to be returned to Warnemunde for repair. It was not until 5 December 1916 that the Gotha WD7 (679) arrived again at the SoKo in Flensburg.
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Gotha WD7 Specifications
Engines: 2 x 120 hp Mercedes D.II (119)
2 x 100 hp Mercedes D.I (670-675)
2 x 120 hp Argus As.II (676)
Wing: Span Upper 16.80 m
Span Lower 14.80 m
Area 55.5 m2
General: Length 11.30 m
Height 3.90 m
Empty Weight 1275 kg
Loaded Weight 1785 kg
Maximum Speed: 128 km/h
Climb: 1000m 9.5 min
2000m 40 min
Service Ceiling: 3500 m
Range: 475 km
Note: Performance specs for #119


Gotha Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Qty Marine Numbers Notes
WD7 1 119 Prototype. Assigned to Zeebrugge, lost on first combat sortie.
   7 670-676 Used to train torpedo crews. 676 had 120 hp Argus As.II engines.
Gotha WD7 #119, Flgmstr. Kaspar & Flgmstr. Rund, April 1916
Gotha WD7 (670) was transported to Kiel as a training aircraft on July 1, 1916.
Gotha WD7 672 souvenir picture.
Gotha WD7 672 on the slipway in Flensburg.
Gotha WD7 (675) in Flensburg, December 1916. (KMF)
III.T-Flugzeuggruppe drops practice torpedoes in the Bay of Kiel, from their Gotha WD7 trainers. (KMF)
Above: Broken float on Gotha 672 in Flensburg. (KMF)
Below: Gotha WD7 672 accident in Apenrade. The aircraft was recovered by SMS Nautilus and transported to Fahrensodde. (KMF)
German Torpedo Aircraft

Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG, Gotha

  With the Gotha company already having gained experience in designing twin-engine bombers, the RMA subsequently ordered the company to build a T-aircraft in February 1915. Dipl.-Ing. Karl Rosner, the chief designer of Abteilung II at Gotha, delivered the type WD7 (Marine No. 119) to the SVK in January 1916. Although the 119 was not yet a torpedo aircraft, it is considered to be the forerunner of the later Gotha torpedo aircraft. Tests of the 119 at Warnemunde were successful and the RMA ordered a series of other torpedo training aircraft, the Gotha WD7 (No. 670 - 676). They, too, were unable to drop torpedoes, as they were equipped with bracing struts between the floats. By August 1916, all seven Gotha WD7s had been delivered to the SVK and were later used as training aircraft at both Kiel-Holtenau and Flensburg. With the Gotha WD7 (670) practical innovations were made again and again by the SVK. At Warnemunde, various engine installations were also tried, with 130 hp Hiero engines from Austria-Hungary being temporarily installed. In February 1916, the RMA placed a further order with the Gothaer Waggonfabrik, for the type WD11. The WD11 (Marine No. 679) had for the first time a recess for the torpedo, the so-called torpedo trough, on the underside of the fuselage. In this trough-like recess, the torpedo was coupled into the holding device at a 50 degree angle. An advantage of the WD11 was the seating position of the torpedo layer in the fuselage bow, with the pilot sitting directly behind him, shifted to the right. This made it possible to communicate easily. WD11 No.679 was followed by further orders for Gotha WD11 aircraft with Navy Nos. 991-995, 1211-1213, and 1372-1379. But before the torpedo aircraft could be considered "front-ready", i.e., suitable for frontline use, there was still a long way to go. In the documents of the Seaplane Test Command (SVK) and the Torpedo Test Command (TVK) there are many reports regarding these details. Items involved were not only the basic construction, but particularly the struts from the fuselage to the floats, the torpedo and mine mount on the fuselage, as well as the armament. The engines were also replaced more frequently; the Gotha WD7 (675 and 676) received more powerful 120 hp Argus engines instead of the 100 hp Daimler. The WD7 (676) was still at Warnemunde in June 1917 and was used to test a movable 2 cm Becker cannon mounted in the bow position of the aircraft. On the WD11 (679) tail-heaviness had to be addressed and the motors received new acetylene starters. On 17 October aircraft No. 679 was accepted by the Maritime Aircraft Acceptance Commission (SAK) and handed over to the Special Command Edler in Flensburg. However, it was damaged there on October 31, 1916 and had to be returned to Warnemunde for repair. It was not until 5 December 1916 that the Gotha WD7 (679) arrived again at the SoKo in Flensburg.
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  Acceptance of Gotha WD11 series (991-995) to Warnemunde went off without any major problems. Delivered in March 1917, WD11 No. 991 was ready for acceptance by April 1917. This was followed by the remaining aircraft thru May 1917, after having been installed with the Anschutz-Gyro-Inclinometer in airframe Nos. 991, 992, 993, and 996. The third series of the Gotha WD11 (1211-1213) were delivered to Warnemunde in June 1917. With WD11, Marine No. 1211, the height detection device of the company Fa. Optische-Signale m.b.H. Berlin and the Arnhem communication apparatus were tested in May 1917. The on-board telephone headset/microphone system allowed for clear communication between the pilot and the torpedo layer during the flight without auditory interference.
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  In August 1917 Gotha WD14 (1415) and WD11 (1378) could be handed over to the front stations of the North Sea. The Gotha WD11 (1377) was equipped with navigation lights for the first time, red and green lights on the wingtips and a white one at the end of the fuselage which were clearly visible at several hundred meters, but they could be dimmed from the cockpit by use of a rotary switch. The G-planes of the Gothaer-Werke had reached series maturity by the summer of 1917, so there was little to change in the subsequent series. During testing at Warnemunde, the I.T-Staffel tested the Gotha aircraft during a relay exercise at Flensburg in August 1917 and the crews were very satisfied with the aircraft. In October and November 1917, WD14 Marine Nos. 1418 to 1428 were delivered to Warnemunde. The WD14, Navy No. 1429, followed in December 1917, the delay was due to the subsequent installation of the onboard communication equipment (Arnheim's communication apparatus), with which the three-man crew could communicate during the flight. The Gotha WD14, from No. 1617, became the 17th machine to receive a modified fuselage. In the fuselage nose, the rotating LVG gun ring was installed in the machine gunner's position. In addition, 10 x 10 kg of bombs could be carried, placed in boxes in the front of the fuselage.


Gotha WD11 Specifications
Engines: 2 x 160 hp Mercedes D.III
Wing: Span Upper 22.50 m
Span Lower 21.00 m
Area 104 m2
General: Length 13.45 m
Height 4.75 m
Empty Weight 2146 kg
Loaded Weight 3583 kg
Maximum Speed: 120 km/h
Climb: 1000m 12 min
1500m 20 min
Service Ceiling: 3200 m
Range: 500 km



Gotha Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Qty Marine Numbers Notes
WD11 1 679 Prototype.
   5 991-995
   3 1211-1213
   8 1372-1379


German Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Albatros W.5 Gotha WD11 Gotha WD14 Brandenburg GW Friedrichshafen FF41AT
Number 5 17 52* 21 8
* 69 ordered, production was curtailed by the Armistice.
There were a number of prototype torpedo bombers; this table shows only production types. The Albatros W.5 was produced in the smallest quantity of any production type, an indication of its relative merit. The Gotha WD14 received by far the largest orders. It was also the only aircraft in the table powered by 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engines; the others were all underpowered by 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines.
Gotha WD11 #991, Lt.z.S. Lowe & Lt.z.S. Thomsen, July 1917
Gotha WD11 MN993, Summer 1917
Side view of the prototype WD11, Marine Number 679, afloat in the Gotha factory pond. The attachment and mounting of the aileron servo is clearly seen. To enable it to carry a torpedo, the WD11 was built as lightly as possible and as a result was a fragile aircraft. The powerplants were 160 hp Mercedes D.III engines.
Gotha WD.11 Marine Number 991 plane sank a freighter with a torpedo, becoming one of the few successful torpedo bombers of the war.
The Gotha WD11 aircraft were assigned to the Torpedo-Staffel. On 9 July 1917 Marine Number 991 was brought down by anti-aircraft fire from a ship it was attacking. The crew, Lt. Lowe and Lt.Thomsen, was rescued.
Gotha WD11 (993) being hoisted into the water.
Gotha WD11 Marine Number 1376 of the third production batch was ordered in February 1917 and was attached to the 1.Torpedoflugzeug Staffel in Windau. The torpedoman had elaborate aiming gear and a flexible machine gun. Pictured on the far right on the float is Flug-Obermaat Gerhard Hubrich.
Closeup of Gotha WD11 G 1376 in Windau, 1917, showing the forward gunner's station and left engine.
Gotha WD11 photographed with ground crew
Ground crewmen attach beaching trolleys to Gotha WD11 137X at Windau after the Zerel raid of 8 October 1917. (KMF)
Gotha WD11 overhead Flensburg Fjord.
A Gotha WD11 overflying a cruiser in the Bay of Kiel.
TeKa mine laying exercise in the Bay of Kiel.
Gotha WD11 taxiing up to a boat retrieving it. Two 160 hp Mercedes D.III engines powered the type; enabling the type to carry a torpedo. However, it was under-powered when doing so; the replacement type designed for this role, the Gotha WD14 was powered by 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engines.
The torpedoman's Pintsch aiming device in the nose of a Gotha WD11.
In the bow turret of a Gotha WD11. From left to right: Ltz.S. Rowehl, Lt.z.S. Schurer and Flugobermaat Hubrich. On October 16, Hubrich/Rowehl flew bomb attacks on Russian targets in Gotha WD11 (G 1376), using 58 kg bombs.
Gotha WD11 (679) was transferred from Warnemunde to Flensburg on October 17, 1916. Following a breakage on October 31, 1916, 679 was transported back to Warnemunde for repairs. (KMF)
Above: Gotha WD11 (679) was transferred from Warnemunde to Flensburg on October 17,1916. Following a breakage on October 31,1916, 679 was transported back to Warnemunde for repairs. (KMF)
Below: The floats on Gotha aircraft were again proven to be weak by the wreck of WD11 679. (KMF)
German Torpedo Aircraft

Gothaer Waggonfabrik AG, Gotha

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  The Gotha WD14 (801) had little luck. When the type TMG with 2 x 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines was delivered on 29 January 1917 in Warnemunde, the rudder responses were not satisfactory. Consequently, on 27 February 1917, the SVK requested enlarged rudders from Gotha, which weren't installed on the 801 until 17 March 1917. The modifications improved the flight characteristics satisfactorily. The aircraft reacted immediately to the rudder inputs and the speed measured with an airspeed indicator was 124 km/h. After the landing of the factory pilot, the experienced torpedo pilot Lt.z.S. Heinz Scheurlen took off in Gotha WD14 (801) to check the performance. An aileron jammed, as well as the aileron assist servo, and the 801 slipped from a height of about 20 m and fell into the water. Fortunately, Heinz Scheurlen was rescued from the destroyed aircraft with only minor injuries.
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  In light of the widening role of the aircraft as a long-range reconnaissance aircraft, the now described G-Type, the Gotha WD14, was also installed with an HFT wireless system. The T-aircraft became G2MGHFT class aircraft, with two machine guns and wireless transmitter equipment, as well as four-man crew. In order to minimize the physical strain on the pilot during flights of several hours duration, the SVK required that the elevator control be transferable either to the left or right. This enabled the pilot and observers to be able to alternate in operating the steering. On 11 July 1917, Gotha G (1415), powered by 2 x 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines, arrived at Warnemunde. The first tests had already shown that the HFT wireless area in the rear machine gun cockpit was very prone to engine noise interference. Hearing the incoming wireless signals was nearly impossible, so the HFT position was relocated, being separated from the pilot's cockpit with a hinged panel. Also the auxiliary fuel tank could not be connected because of the bomb/torpedo release mechanism. It was not possible to transfer fuel from the auxiliary tank to the main fuel tank within the fuselage, an important aspect for a long-distance reconnaissance aircraft flying far above the open sea. Not until August 1917 would the problems of the fuel tank connections be finally rectified. In the next series, starting with Navy No. 1617, the tanks were then fitted with a four-way petcock valve, which made fuel transfer possible. In addition, a fuel gauge was installed for the auxiliary tank, replacing the previously supplied sight glass. Flight tests with the Gotha G 1415 revealed that the fully equipped aircraft with three-man crew and (HFT and 2 MG) stably flew even with only one engine (portside). On the other hand, the 1415, when powered only by the starboard engine, handled much worse in the air. At 10 m altitude she lost 2 m in height after 3-4 minutes. The cause was certainly due to the clockwise rotation of the propeller, the torque pushing the aircraft additionally to the left. The speed of No. 1415 loaded with a torpedo could be measured at 134.4 km/h. In the SVK report, the engineers criticized the technical performance of WD14 (1415), which had deteriorated, when compared with Navy No. 801. The main reason for this were the structural reinforcements caused by use of thicker wood. The total weight of the 1415 had increased by 80 kg.
  In August 1917 Gotha WD14 (1415) and WD11 (1378) could be handed over to the front stations of the North Sea. The Gotha WD11 (1377) was equipped with navigation lights for the first time, red and green lights on the wingtips and a white one at the end of the fuselage which were clearly visible at several hundred meters, but they could be dimmed from the cockpit by use of a rotary switch. The G-planes of the Gothaer-Werke had reached series maturity by the summer of 1917, so there was little to change in the subsequent series. During testing at Warnemunde, the I.T-Staffel tested the Gotha aircraft during a relay exercise at Flensburg in August 1917 and the crews were very satisfied with the aircraft. In October and November 1917, WD14 Marine Nos. 1418 to 1428 were delivered to Warnemunde. The WD14, Navy No. 1429, followed in December 1917, the delay was due to the subsequent installation of the onboard communication equipment (Arnheim's communication apparatus), with which the three-man crew could communicate during the flight. The Gotha WD14, from No. 1617, became the 17th machine to receive a modified fuselage. In the fuselage nose, the rotating LVG gun ring was installed in the machine gunner's position. In addition, 10 x 10 kg of bombs could be carried, placed in boxes in the front of the fuselage.


Gotha WD14 Torpedo & Long-Range Reconnaissance Plane Si Bomber

  Designed by Rosner and Klaube, the Gotha WD14 was essentially an enlarged WD11 powered by more powerful 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines mounted as tractors. The SVK praised the side-by-side seating of the pilot and observer, which facilitated coordination between them during target acquisition and torpedo launch. A third crewman had a flexible Parabellum LMG 14 machine gun and an aft turret.
  During trials of the prototype, Marine Number 801, ailerons were added to the lower wings and the rudder area was increased to improve control with one engine out.
  The first production series, Marine Numbers 1415-1430, had ailerons on all wings and balanced rudders. By the time these aircraft were delivered torpedo attacks had been shown to incur heavy losses with limited results, so the aircraft were modified for long-range reconnaissance with droppable fuel tanks in the torpedo bay. The next production series, Marine Numbers 1617-1631, had a gun turret in the nose and provision for bombs for use as a maritime reconnaissance bomber. The final production series, Marine Numbers 1946-1970, were designed for long-range maritime reconnaissance with droppable fuel tanks replacing the torpedo. This series had an additional central rudder for increased
controllability, but were still viewed as unsuitable for poor aileron and rudder response. Only nine of this series were accepted before the Armistice.
  A total of 69 WD14s were ordered (801, 1415-1430, 1617-1631, 1651-1662, 1946-1970), of which 52 were delivered (1629-1631 were cancelled and the Armistice stopped deliveries of the last 14). Designed as a torpedo bomber, the WD14 was re-cast as a long-range reconnaissance bomber after it was determined that torpedo attacks were ineffective and too dangerous. Moreover, although more powerful than the WD11, the WD14 was still underpowered and its control response was not satisfactory.


Gotha WD14 Specifications
Engines: 2 x 220 hp Benz Bz.IV
Wing: Span Upper 25.00 m
Area 133 m2
General: Length 14.40 m
Height 5.00 m
Empty Weight 3090 kg
Loaded Weight 5000 kg
Maximum Speed: 126 km/h
Climb: 1000m 17.1 min
2000m 45 min
Service Ceiling: 3000 m
Duration: 1300 km


Gotha Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Qty Marine Numbers Notes
WD14 1 801 Prototype. Initially ailerons on upper wings only, then added to lower wings and fins and rudders enlarged.
   16 1415-1430 Modified for long-range maritime reconnaissance and bombing.
   15 1617-1631 1617—1628 equipped for long-rang maritime reconnaissance.
   12 1651-1662 Equipped for long-range torpedo missions.
   25 1946-1970 Equipped for long-range reconnaissance. Central rudder added.
Note: 52 WD14s were produced; 1629-1631 were cancelled and 14 of the final production batch were not delivered due to the Armistice.


German Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Albatros W.5 Gotha WD11 Gotha WD14 Brandenburg GW Friedrichshafen FF41AT
Number 5 17 52* 21 8
* 69 ordered, production was curtailed by the Armistice.
There were a number of prototype torpedo bombers; this table shows only production types. The Albatros W.5 was produced in the smallest quantity of any production type, an indication of its relative merit. The Gotha WD14 received by far the largest orders. It was also the only aircraft in the table powered by 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engines; the others were all underpowered by 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines.
Gotha WD14 #1416, August 1917 (Profile based on #1415 at Norderney, for which we have a reference photo.)
The uncamouflaged Gotha WD14 prototype marine number 801. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
A WD14, perhaps Marine Number 1415 but the number is not legible. As a result of trials, ailerons were added to the lower wings and the rudder area was increased to improve control with one engine out.
Side view of a production Gotha WD14. Marine number 1427 was touched out of the original print. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
Compared to the prototype, production WD14 aircraft were camouflaged with printed fabric, had a cockpit with a flexible machine gun in the nose, had larger rudders, and had ailerons on all wings. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
The Gotha WD14 was a large floatplane designed as a torpedo bomber. Power was from two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines. The German Navy had decided torpedo bombers were too vulnerable to shipboard anti-aircraft fire by the time the WD14 was available and the aircraft was used for long-range maritime reconnaissance. Production aircraft were camouflaged overall with fabric printed with hexagonal shapes, despite the official late-war naval camouflage specifying this fabric on the upper surfaces only. The aircraft is MN 1617. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
Gotha WD 14, No. 16xx on the slipway at Sylt station in summer of 1918.
WD14 #1946 was the first aircraft of the last production batch. An additional central rudder was fitted to this batch to improve controllability. The batch was not completed due to the Armistice. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
This appears to be WD14 Marine Number 1946. This view clearly shows the additional central rudder added to the last series to improve control response. The new insignia was standardized 30 March 1918. WD14 #1946 was transferred from Warnemunde to Wiek or Bug on 2 October 1918.
WD14 Marine Number 1946 of the last series as photographed after modification on 14 June 1918. Equipped for long-range reconnaissance with a droppable fuel tank replacing the torpedo, the additional central rudder is just visible.
The Gotha WD14 was a large floatplane designed as a torpedo bomber. Power was from two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines. The German Navy had decided torpedo bombers were too vulnerable to shipboard anti-aircraft fire by the time the WD14 was available and the aircraft was used for long-range maritime reconnaissance. Production aircraft were camouflaged overall with fabric printed with hexagonal shapes, despite the official late-war naval camouflage specifying this fabric on the upper surfaces only. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
A torpedo aircraft at the SVK at Warnemunde.
Seaplanes from Norderney station. A Gotha WD14 long-range reconnaissance aircraft is pictured in the background on the right side of the image.
WD14 Marine Number 1429 was transferred from Flensburg to List on 17 December 1917, but was noted as being dismantled at List on 9 March 1918.
Takeoff preparations for a Gotha WD.14 at List/Sylt station.
Production WD14 aircraft taxiing. Most production aircraft had a nose turret. The engines were mounted as tractors to keep the propellers clear of water spray. (Peter M. Grosz collection, STDB)
Late production Gotha WD14 in the water.
WD14 cockpit with some instruments and controls labeled.
On March 17, 1917, Lt.z.S Scheurlen crashed in Flensburg with Gotha WD14 (801). Fortunately, Heinz Scheurlen was only slightly injured.
Above: Flug-Obermaat Esser and a mechanic crashed from an altitude of 25 meters on 14 Jan. 1918 during a test flight in Gotha WD.14 (1418). Both were unharmed.
Below: The bottom of the fuselage and wings on Gotha WD.14 (1418) were also covered with Navy camouflage fabric.
Gotha WD.14 (1418) crashed at Zeebrugge on January 14, 1918.
Officer and sailor posing with MN 513. Note the position of the cross on the hull.
Brandenburg FB 513 was assigned to the fighter group an Angernsee to escort torpedo planes.
Several aircraft at Angernsee during the Summer of 1916. At the right is FF33E No. 659, in which Ltn.zS. Rahtz (p) and Flgzgobmtr. Stolle (o) attacked Runo on 17 August 1916, just subsequent to the Russian night raid on Angernsee. Third from the left is Hansa-Brandenburg flying boat No. 513, frequently flown by Flgmr. Thiedemann (p)/Flgmt. Jacob (o), who were credited with one confirmed victory during the Summer of 1916.
A closer look at Hansa-Brandenburg flying boat No. 513 (center aircraft; enlargement of photo facing page).
Brandenburg NW 755 in Flensburg. (KMF)
Brandenburg NW (755) was recovered following its landing accident in Flensburg.
German Torpedo Aircraft

Hansa-Brandenburg

  The Hansa-Brandenburg Werke in Briest an der Havel delivered the Brandenburg GW (Marine No. 528) as a torpedo aircraft on 8 February 1916 at Warnemunde. A lot of things had to be changed during the course of testing. Twice the flight tests ended in mishaps, so that the 528 was temporarily removed from the list of seaplanes on 28 October 1916 and 17 February 1917. On December 12, 1916, a heating device for the G/125 torpedo type was installed. On naval vessels a heating device was installed in the torpedo launch tubes. The torpedo was warmed to prevent the internal mechanical components from freezing. In the aircraft, this was replaced by an electrical heating system powered by a Dynamo. The device was successfully tested until 2 January 1917, whereby fire danger was also excluded by test firing torpedo G/125. On 5 March 1917, Brandenburg GW 528 was transferred to the Torpedo Werft Kiel for training purposes. The first series aircraft (Marine No. 620 - 624) were followed by a second series, Navy Nos. 646 - 650. Hansa Brandenburg made various structural improvements to the follow-up series (700 - 704), which were delivered thru March 1917. The pilot now sat in the fuselage front cockpit, shifted slightly to the left and flew the actual torpedo attack. The Brandenburg GW 624 and 704 were used for experiments at the bomb facility. Here arrived the release mechanism for 58 kg bombs and the Pintsch bombsite for installation. On the last series of Brandenburg torpedo aircraft (1080 - 1084), the designers shortened the fuselage, so that the torpedo protruded by about 50 cm beyond the fuselage. The Brandenburg G (1081) received aluminum floats from the Zeppelin-Werke-Lindau (ZWL) in September 1917 before being sent to the Front.
  However, due to their light construction, the Brandenburg torpedo aircraft had severe structural weaknesses, which were already apparent before deployment. Even in Kiel, the Brandenburg GW (649) did not withstand the torpedo load. On June 15, 1916, Flugmeister Becher and Flug-Maat Mensing dropped two torpedoes on torpedo boat T31. While the first torpedo hit T31 without any problems, the starboard float's front, middle strut buckled on the second approach. Hansa-Brandenburg expressed the suspicion that the torpedo dropping mechanism had not worked correctly. The torpedo must have damaged the strut. After Kptlt. Ernst Kuffner, as speaker of the TVK, re-examined the Brandenburg 649 dropping device and found no error, Ernst Heinkel travelled to Kiel with a master craftsman. The Master of the Works subjected the Brandenburg T aircraft to a thorough inspection and re-tensioned all the aircraft. However, this did not solve the problems of the Brandenburg T-aircraft, as the I.T-Staffel quickly discovered at its location in Angernsee. Nevertheless, the I. and II.T-Staffeln had to fly missions with the Brandenburg GW until 1918. As squadron leader of the 2nd T-Staffel, Olt.z.S. Wedel complained about the poor flight characteristics of the Brandenburg GW in a report to the SVK Warnemunde in May 1917:
  “The Brandenburg T-aircraft have never had good climb capability, but it has now decreased even more. Flies no higher than 600 to 700 meters with torpedo. Despite a longer take-off run, without wind the planes can no longer get out of the water.
  When our own [torpedo boat] flotilla was being hunted by destroyers on May 10, T-aircraft 700 and 701 should have taken off quickly for attack.
  701 only came out of the water with great difficulty, 700 not at all. When the Zeebrugge Locks were shelled on 12 May 1917, it was the other way around.
  Even new fabric covering did not change the climbing performance.
  Of the two Gotha T-aircraft delivered [Gotha WD11 T991 and T992], which appear to have significantly better climbing performance, the first is only today, 9 days after the arrival from the B.-No. G.73 on 7 May 1917, declared Front ready. The second Gotha T-aircraft takes just as long to get clear. Please exchange 700 and 701 for Gothas as soon as possible and replace them with 2 x 220 hp aircraft as soon as possible."


Brandenburg Type GW

  According to its designer, the GW floatplane was based on the twin-engined GF bomber. The family development is readily seen in the appearance of the machine. This large floatplane was developed during 1916 to carry a 725-kg torpedo, hence T Class. The prototype, MN 528, had triple vertical tail surfaces, as did the first production batch and part of the second. This was simplified to a single rudder and fin on later production machines. The drag-inducing frontal radiators of the prototype were replaced by flush-mounted aerofoil radiators on the rest of the batch of floatplanes. GW machines carried starting devices for the engines. One defensive Parabellum machine gun was provided. The prototype passed its tests in January 1916 at Warnemunde. The German Navy ordered a further 20 of these aircraft after successful testing of the prototype.
  The twin Mercedes engines were mounted in nacelles between the wings on each sides of the fuselage. The rudder was balanced being above the fin and below the fuselage. A large triangular fin was mounted atop the fuselage. The twin floats were mounted directly below each engine nacelle. A single machine gun was provided for defence. It was reported back to the test command that it took over an hour to reach cruising altitude.
  Although each batch was different they were all designated Type GW and were duly recorded as such in the SVK drawings. The prototype and early production machines had triple rudders. MNs 700-704 had a more rounded nose and a single rudder. This batch was constructed between September 1916 and January 1917. MNs 1080-1084 had short noses and were constructed between September and November 1917. They saw service from Zeebrugge and other North Sea bases.
  The kuk Kriegsmarine received a single GW (MN 701) in late November 1917 that received the Austro-Hungarian serial T1 (T2 and T3 were Gotha WD.14 biplanes).


Brandenburg GW Production
Marine Numbers Class Delivered Notes
528 T Jan. 1916 Prototype. Triple rudders.
620-624 TMG Aug.-Oct. 1916 Machine gun provided for defence. Revised tailplane, triple rudders.
646-650 TMG Apr.-July 1916 Transition between triple & single rudders in this batch.
700-704 T Nov.1916-Mar.1917 Single rudder. Gunner to rear. 701 to Austro-Hungarian Navy.
1080-1084 T Sept.-Nov. 1917 Revised tailplane, balanced elevators.



German Torpedo Bomber Production
Type Albatros W.5 Gotha WD11 Gotha WD14 Brandenburg GW Friedrichshafen FF41AT
Number 5 17 52* 21 8
* 69 ordered, production was curtailed by the Armistice.
There were a number of prototype torpedo bombers; this table shows only production types. The Albatros W.5 was produced in the smallest quantity of any production type, an indication of its relative merit. The Gotha WD14 received by far the largest orders. It was also the only aircraft in the table powered by 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engines; the others were all underpowered by 150 hp Benz Bz.III engines.



Brandenburg Type GDW

  As the designation shows, the Class T floatplane GDW was a development of the GW designed to carry the heavier 825-kg torpedo, the extra power being supplied by a pair of 220-hp Benz engines. Only a single aircraft, MN 746, was built. The prototype was modified after its acceptance by the SVK as photographs show that the rudder was now an inverted L shape and did not extend below the fuselage. A large triangular fin was fitted. The elevators were now balanced and in two pieces. The SVK drawing shows MN 746 with plain elevators and a large rudder with balance surfaces above and below the fuselage. The machine must have been modified after initial testing. Again a single machine gun provided defence. The pilot and gunner were both situated towards the wing trailing edge, in close proximity for communication. The pilot would have had little view above due to being situated almost completely below the upper wing. The wings were constructed in seven sections, the outer panels being swept back from the engine nacelles.
  It is thought the GDW was utilized for training as no further development took place. Production of such large aircraft in small numbers was typical of the times. Aircraft were constantly evolving and the skilled factory workers could produce a prototype in a relatively short time. Until a machine had flown there was no way of knowing if the design would perform as predicted by the aeronautical engineering science of the day.
Brandenburg GW #646
Brandenburg GW #650
Brandenburg GW #700. GWs of the third production batch were delivered between Nov. 1916 & March 1917. In this batch the gunner was moved aft.
Brandenburg GW #701 in service with the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine. The red stripes were added to clearly identify this aircraft because it was the only one of its type in the Adriatic.
The prototype GW torpedo bomber that was allocated the Marine Number 528.
The prototype GW torpedo bomber that was allocated the Marine Number 528.
Brandenburg GW, Marine Nr. 622, in Flensburg. (KMF).
Brandenburg GW 624 with an attached torpedo, Flensburg, December 1916. On December 5, 1916, the aircraft was equipped with an Anschutz-inclinometer in Warnemunde.
Brandenburg GW 624 is brought back to the Station by T107 following engine trouble.
Brandenburg GW 624 was crossed off the aircraft list after an accident on October 2,1917. (KMF)
Brandenburg GW, Marine Nr. 622 and 624, in Flensburg. (KMF).
Brandenburg GW 648, later T3, was transported from Warnemunde to the SoKo in Kiel on May 13,1916.
Brandenburg T3 (Marine Nr. 648) in the hangar following the Russian bomb attack. Lt.z.S. Max Stinsky and Flugmeister Neuerburg formed a permanent crew on T3.
Damaged Brandenburg T3 in hangar 3 at Angernsee. (NARA)
Brandenburg GW 649 at the Briest plant in the spring of 1916. The upper fuselage trim was likely made of aluminum sheet metal. The aircraft was used as the I.Frontstaffel's (I.F-Staffel) T4 in Courland.
Brandenburg GW 650 from the second production batch at the Briest plant in the spring of 1916. The upper fuselage trim was likely made of aluminum sheet metal. The aircraft was used as the I.Frontstaffel's (I.F-Staffel) T5 in Courland.
Loading a torpedo onto GW MN 650. This was part of a set of propaganda photographs.
An early GW on the beach.
A Brandenburg GW in Flensburg in the summer of 1916. Flugmaat Gerhard Hubrich is pictured in the nose turret.
One of the 1.Torpedo-Staffel Hansa Brandenburg GW torpedo aircraft near the shore at Angernsee. This view clearly shows the inward slanting struts, which were a characteristic of many of this company's designs.
The four torpedo aircraft of the 1.Torpedo-Staffel on the launching ramp at Angernsee. These four machines were numbered T1 through T4, and were first declared ready to be flown at Angernsee on 12 August 1916. By 26 August the damage done by the Russian night raid of 16/17 August had been repaired, and the four machines were placed on the launching ramp. During 1.Torpedo-Staffel's significant attack of 12 September the last two machines seen here, T1 and T2, were flown by Flgmr. Becher (p)/Ltn.z.S. Thomsen (o) and Ltn.z.S Scheuerlen (p)/Flgmt Mensing (o), respectively.
Brandenburg GW (700) with an attached torpedo, preparing for departure from the pier in Zeebrugge.
Brandenburg GW in Flensburg Fahrensodde. Cruiser Hertha is pictured in the background; it was used as living quarters and torpedo training ship. (KMF)
Judging by the color scheme this photograph also shows MN 701. This is an unusual application of the hexagon camouflage scheme as the hexagons usually did not cover the sides of German marine aircraft. Many Gotha torpedo planes also had the hexagonal fabric on their sides.
The sheer size of these floatplanes is well illustrated in this photograph of the launching of MN 704. Note that the fuselage cross is plain without any outline. The aileron servo tabs that reduced the pilot's control forces are clearly shown; these performed the same function as the Flettner servo tabs that later appeared on Gotha and Friedrichshafen bombers and are especially significant technology at this early date.
Brandenburg GW 1081 was received by SVK in Warnemunde on September 30,1917. The aircraft was equipped with aluminum floats by Zeppelin-Werke-Lindau (ZWL) and was then sent to the front.
Close-up view of a GW's float and engine mounts.
TeKa mine.
Brandenburg GW (Marine Nr. 528) in flight.
The GDW was powered by 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines and had a wingspan of 24.5 meters.
Brandenburg GW crash landing in Kiel. On October 23, both engines failed on 621; the aircraft was completely destroyed during the emergency landing.
Marine #748 was the first KDW prototype. It was finished in stained wood for the fuselage and floats and clear-doped linen flying surfaces.
KDW #748, the machine used by Lt.d.RMI Fritz Hammer at Angernsee to bring down Sikorski IM-6 on 23 Sept 1916. The basic sturdiness of the design was tested during Hammer's running combat, in which he made four separate passes at the Russian bomber, once nearly losing control when he was caught in the turbulence of the bomber's wake. Note the position of the machine gun, which was so far forward that the muzzle can be seen close to the radiator.
Hammer criticized the inaccessibility of the gun on the starboard side of #748, clearly out of reach, after his combat with the Sikorski. According to Hammer he might have been able to clear the simple jam that occurred on his fourth pass had he been able to reach this gun.
MN 1180 on the beach has the blue-grey fuselage that allows the markings to stand out. Brandenburg W12 #1180 was one of the escort fighters for Gotha WD11 torpedo bomber attacks in the Baltic in late 1917. (AHT AL0225-27)
Karl Krieger, flightpioneer, in 1912.
The Krieger monoplane from 1914 looks modern beyond its time.
German Torpedo Aircraft

  Luftverkehrsgesellschaft m.b.H, Berlin Johannisthal also delivered a torpedo aircraft in February 1915. The LVG biplane was built as a torpedo carrier at the instigation of Korvettenkapitan Konrad Friedlander. Friedlander had been put in charge of RMA special projects, including the development of torpedo aircraft since August 1914. According to LVG files, the aircraft was used as a Navy trainer. The project itself ended up similar to the Albatros B.I (land aircraft 69); the aircraft were overloaded and underpowered, and for use as a Torpedo aircraft unthinkable.



Early Torpedo Bomber Experiments

  Two different single-engine biplane designs were built to the initial naval torpedo bomber requirement. One was the Albatros B.I S.69 and the other was an LVG. Both were three-bay biplane landplanes. Although the Albatros prototype had a split under-carriage to enable the torpedo to be mounted at the aircraft's center of gravity, the rest of the airframe was visually similar to the three-bay Albatros B.I. Albatros was the largest aircraft German aircraft manufacturer and LVG was the next largest. However, neither were important in torpedo plane production. Evaluation of the Albatros and LVG single-engine, landplane prototypes resulted in all subsequent torpedo bombers being twin-engine floatplanes.

LVG Torpedo Bomber Prototype

  The official designation for the LVG torpedo bomber prototype, if it actually had one, is uncertain. It has been called the 'LVG 1915' and has serial C.I 10 on the rudder, but its official designation is unknown. It was built to a German Navy requirement for a torpedo bomber and flight trials proved that it could carry the weight.
  This large, three-bay biplane was derived from the two-bay LVG C.l but was significantly larger. Like the LVG C.l it was powered by a 150 hp Benz Bz.III engine. However, it was a single-seat aircraft with no gun armament; the observer/gunner and his gun were omitted to keep the aircraft as light as possible so it could carry the weight of a torpedo. As a single-seat aircraft it was not a B-type or C-type.
  A carrying rack was mounted under the fuselage to carry the torpedo and the under-carriage was a robust design with three struts on each side to withstand the loaded weight. Like the Albatros prototype, the under-carriage was split to enable the torpedo to be mounted at the center of gravity.
  The wing-span was significantly extended to provide more wing area to lift the heavy torpedo. Unlike the two-bay C.l which had ailerons on the upper wings only, the torpedo bomber had ailerons on all wings; an actuating rod connected the upper and lower ailerons on each side. The additional ailerons were required to maintain adequate roll control with the longer-span wings.
  Despite both Albatros and LVG prototypes demonstrating the ability to carry a torpedo, the Navy was not satisfied with the performance of either prototype - although the reasons were not specified. All subsequent WWI German torpedo bombers were two-engine biplane floatplanes, the single-engine landplane configuration being abandoned for carrying torpedoes. Performance of a 1915 biplane with torpedo was no doubt marginal.
Sablatnig SF2 (612) was part of the Bomben-Flugzeug-Gruppe during a torpedo attack on September 12, 1916 of Courland. (KMF)
SF2 Marine #612 (at left) and another SF2 two-seat reconnaissance seaplanes warm their engines before departing on a patrol over the Baltic Sea, 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.
Sablatnig SF2 (612), flown by Lt. v. Dewitz/Flugmaat Dettmering was severely damaged in rough seas off Courland on September 28. In spite of the damage, Lt. v. Dewitz managed to return to Angernsee. (KMF)
Russian FBA flying boat captured at Osel being towed.