O.Thetford, P.Gray German Aircraft of the First World War (Putnam)
Gotha G VI
Based on the standard Gotha G V wing cellule, the G VI was probably the world's first asymmetric aircraft. The fuselage, offset to port, housed a normally mounted engine in the nose driving a tractor airscrew, the nacelle to starboard housing the other engine driving a pusher airscrew. After some successful flights, the machine was wrecked and was developed no further. Engines, two 260 h.p. Mercedes D IVa. Span, 23.7 m. (77 ft. 9 1/4 in.). Length, 12.4 m. (40 ft. 8 1/4 in.). Area, 89.5 sq.m. (967 sq.ft.).
J.Herris Gotha Aircraft of WWI (A Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes 6)
Chief Engineer Burkhardt had been thinking about how to reduce drag to improve speed, and thought that eliminating one of the engine nacelles would accomplish that despite the resulting asymmetric configuration. Burkhardt decided the most efficient way to design the aircraft was a tractor engine in the fuselage and a pusher engine in a nacelle to starboard which also had an observer/ gunner's cockpit in the front that extended forward of the tractor propeller for greatest field of fire.
To compensate for asymmetric thrust and drag, the starboard nacelle was placed closer to the centerline of the wing than the fuselage. The thrust lines of the engines were close together, reducing asymmetric thrust in case of an engine failure. Burkhard obtained German Patent number 300 676 for his innovative design on September 22, 1915. Idflieg approved further study on 7 September 1915 but held off construction until design studies were completed. On 26 June 1916 Gotha management approved construction of the G.VI, which was underway the next month, but Idflieg did not sign a contract until 5 July 1917, when three G.VI bombers, serial numbers G.370-372/17, were ordered.
The first Gotha G.VI was flight-tested in the fall of 1917 and was badly damaged in a landing crash in November. The two-bay wing was similar to that used in the Gotha G.II and the fuselage was derived from the G.IV. The second Gotha G.VI had three-bay wings and large radiators. Flight tests of this aircraft began in January 1918 and continued through March. However, flight performance was mediocre and there were many radiator problems as well. In April work on the G.VI was abandoned to allow Gotha engineers to focus on the Gotha GL.VII and GL.VIII prototypes.
The Gotha G.VI is thought to be the first asymmetric aircraft design to fly, proving the asymmetric conception was practical. Although Burkhardt claimed that G.VI performance exceeded its conventional predecessors and that it flew very well, his description of its flying qualities may be optimistic given its crash-landing.
Gotha G.VI Specifications
Engines: 2 x 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa
Wing: Span Upper 23.70 m
Area 89.5 m2
General: Length 12.36 m
Gotha G-Type Bomber Production Summary
Order Date Type Qty Serials Notes
July 5, 1917 G.VI 3 370-372/17 Only first two built; third cancelled.