Continuing on from my previous post on historic German aircraft at the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow (Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie), the following are the World War One combat aircraft that were formerly part of the German Aviation Collection in Berlin at the Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung (German Aviation Museum). This Berlin museum once held numerous historic German aircraft alongside those captured from Allied forces during the world wars.
To avoid damage from Allied bombing, a number of these aircraft were transferred from Berlin to Czarnków, near Poznań in the occupied territory of Poland around 1942 to 1943. The Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung (German Aviation Museum) was eventually destroyed in the bombing campaign. Fortunately during the Soviet advance into Poland in 1945, the aircraft were not destroyed and the Polish authorities put them into storage as part of a technical museum collection, then transferring them to the Polish Aviation Museum in 1963.
Halberstadt CL.II (CL.15459/17) German Imperial Air Service (Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte) World War One single engine, two seat escort fighter aircraft from 1917, that was designed to protect reconnaissance aircraft from enemy scout fighters. The type served in large numbers on the Western Front during 1917 to 1918 but of 900 aircraft produced, this is the only survivor!
This museum aircraft had a famous pilot during World War One, being the personal steed of Luftstreitkräfte commander, General Ernst von Hoeppner. The aircraft was on display in Germany until moved to Poland in 1943. Restoration work was completed at the museum between 1990 and 1993. Only the wing canopy remains of the original wing structure. It features a very interesting camouflage livery too!
The Halberstadt CL.II escort fighter was powered by a 160 hp Mercedes D.III 6-cylinder water-cooled inline engine. With a competitive top speed of 165 km/h (103 mph), it had a good rate of climb, was maneuverable and also provided good crew visibility.
Standard armament consisted of 1 x synchronised forward firing 7.92-mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine gun and a ring mounted 7.92-mm machine Parabellum MG14 machine gun in the observers rear cockpit. As the war progressed the role switched from escort fighter to close support and the aircraft could also carry 5 x 10kg / 22 lb bombs or 10 x stick grenades. They were used heavily and successfully in the attack role during the 1917 Battle of Cambrai and the 1918 German Spring Offensive.
LFG Roland D.VIb (D.2225/18) German Imperial Air Service (Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte) World War One scout fighter produced in 1918. This was reportedly a fighter aircraft with good performance (top speed 199 km/h / 124 mph), maneuverability and pilot visibility but its time-consuming Klinkerrumpf construction method, creating a streamlined fuselage as a shell formed from plywood over a light framework, proved its undoing and saw the German Imperial Air Service favour the less expensive, more powerful and robust Fokker D.VII instead.
Despite this, 359 D.VIa and D.VIb examples were built and the first entered frontline service in May 1918. The D.VIa was powered by a 6 cylinder 160 hp Mercedes D.III upright inline engine and the D.VIb, a 6 cylinder 185 hp Benz B.IIIa engine. Armament consisted of 2 × 7.92 mm LMG 08/15 machine guns.
The museum LFG Roland D.VIb is the only survivor but by 1963 it was in bad shape and the fuselage was broken into multiple pieces. Restored using original methods, the fuselage and undercarriage remain today. The wooden structure is quite impressive!
There are also components of a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bomber on display in the form of an engine gondola and 260 hp Mercedes D.IVa 6 cylinder inline engine tandem push/pull arrangement. This came from aircraft R 36/16 operated by Riesenflugzeugabteilung 501 (Rfa501) in Belgium in 1918.
18 of these large 4 engine biplane bombers were produced between 1916 and 1919. They were quite an advanced aircraft for the time and were one of the first to feature an enclosed cockpit. The first entered operational use with the Imperial German Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) in 1917 and were used for long-range bombing missions over France and England during World War One.
Of 13 aircraft completed during the war, 4 were shot down and 6 were lost in crashes. 6 aircraft survived the war or were built after the November 1918 armistice. The type was also in service with the Imperial German Naval Air Service (Marine-Fliegerabteilung) and one was operated by the Ukranian Air Force but it crashed in August 1919 (R 39/16).
Sopwith F.1 Camel (B7280) is obviously not a German aircraft but it was captured by them during World War One and became part of the German Aviation Collection in Berlin. A 1917 variant, it participated in combat, flying with Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and then newly formed Royal Air Force squadrons.
Royal Air Force pilots went on to tally 11 air to air victories over German aircraft in this Sopwith Camel (B7280). Flying Officer J.H. Foreman achieved 2 victories and Flight Lieutenant H.A. Patey scored 9 victories with RAF No. 210 Squadron. On September 5th, 1918, B7280 piloted by Patey, was forced down behind German lines.
Following its capture, the aircraft was flight tested by the German Imperial Air Service before becoming a museum aircraft. It is nice to see one of these German Aviation Collection aircraft from World War One with wings!
In my next post I will show the museums German Aviation Collection experimental, military and research aircraft from the 1920’s and 1930’s. This includes extremely rare aircraft and some were a big reason why I went to the museum!