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DFW - Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke

DFW C.Vc
DFW C.Vc (wikimedia commons)

Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke, usually known as DFW was a German aircraft manufacturer of the early twentieth century. It was established by Bernhard Meyer and Erich Thiele at Lindenthal in 1910, and initially produced Farman designs under licence, later moving on to the Etrich Taube and eventually to its own designs. One of these, the DFW C.V reconnaissance aircraft, was produced to the extent of several thousand machines, including licence production by other firms. Plans to develop civil aircraft after the war proved fruitless, and the company was bought by ATG shortly thereafter.

The DFW Mars (from the Roman god of War) was a pure military monoplane designed in 1912 and first flying in 1913, the only alternative to the Taube at the beginning of the war. It was built in larges series and was characterized by the fact the same fuselage could be adapted to monoplane and biplane configurations. A biplane variant also flew of this model. Therefore they were known as "DFW Mars E" and "Mars D". These two-seaters also served for liaison, but thy were unarmed reconnaissance aircrafts.

The DFW B.I was on of the numerous unarmed "B-types" used for observation over the Western front in 1914. This was a conventional two-bay, two-seat biplane powered by a Mercedes D.I 6-cylinder water-cooled in-line piston engine rated for 75 kW (100 hp). Production records are unknown. The B.II built as a trainer, fitted with the more powerful Mercedes D.II engine. By the fall of 1915 the B type was declared obsolete and replaced by the C type. The armed DFW C.I was basically the same, but with the crescent-shaped wings, replaced by straight leading edges. On the next C.II, the observer and pilot seats were swapped. On the rear seat, the observer could man a scarff-mounted 8mm Parabellum MG14 machine gun. It was also a bit faster with a Benz Bz.III rated for 112 kW (150 hp). There was a C.III, but only on paper. The serie leaped directly forwards to the mass-produced C.IV, a preserie for the C.V, perhaps the best "product" of the company and also the largest production of a reconnaissance C type of WW1 (see later). It was produced until 1918 also by Aviatik, Halberstadt, LVG, and Schütte-Lanz.

DFW C.V banking
DFW C.V captured at Afule, 1918
DFW C.Vs captured at Afule 1918
DFW C.V and crew 1918
DFW C.V and four officers posing, Ukraine spring 1918
DFW C.V blueprint
photos of the DFW C.V. Banking, captured at Afule in 1918, with crew and officers in Ukraine 1918, and blueprint

The D series, or DFW fighters remained at the prototype stage. The only attempt by DFW to enter this prestigious division was not met with success. The planes were not bad in 1918, but did not offered significant advantages over the competition, both in speed and agility. The D.F.W. D I was a 1917 prototype with ply-covered fuselage and car-type radiator at nose for its 160 h.p. Mercedes D III engine. It was relatively slow because of the drag and offered little forward visibility for the pilot.

As a result it was not accepted and send back to be modified with a larger rudder and a 160 h.p. Mercedes D III with modified cooling. Both were armed with twin Spandau machine-guns cowl-mounted and synchronized. But its still did not offered considerable advantages and was modified again, revision of the tail surfaces and lower wingtips ailerons deleted. It was tried at Adlershof in January 1918, but again; was not considered worth for production. The next "D.II" was in reality factory-called F 34 and was completed April 1918 as a private venture.

That's why the designation D.II should not apply. It had the same 160 h.p. Mercedes D III engine a 9.08 m. (29 ft. 9 1/2 in.) wingspan and 23 sq.m. (248.4 sq.ft.) total wing area, was 5.5 m. (18 ft. 0 5/8 in.) long .and could reach 177 km.hr. (110.5 m.p.h.). and climb at 1000 m in 2 min or five more time in 20 min. These were not impressive figures by 1918 so the model was not chosen for production.

DFW D.I
The Experimental D.I which flew in 1917 but was modified two times. The F 34 was very close but was never ordered either.

The The DFW Dr.I was the sole attempt to design a super-agile fighter, following the success of the Fokker. The company took the shortest path to have one presented to the Idflieg in time, converting their F.34 model to a triplane to be ready for the competition at Adlershof under the factory name of F.34-II in January 1918. This D types had the same 160 h.p. Mercedes D III engine twin Spandau machine-guns. But it competed against the rotary-powered Euler Dr I, 185hp Austro-Daimler powered Hansa-Brandenburg L 16 and Korting-engined DFW Dr I, with little success. That was the end of the fighter adventure for DFW.

The The DFW F 37 was another private venture as a late reconnaissance model. It was a development of the C.VI, itself a single sturdier prototype with modified ailerons, followed by three aircraft designated F37 in 1918 pending the Idflieg designation DFW C.VII to enter competition. It was never ordered in production.The DFW F37 was modified after the war with the 220 kW (295.02 hp) BMW IV engine (as DFW 37-III) and broke the world altitude record in 1919 (7,700 m (25,262.47 ft)), never recognized by the FAI because of the breach of the Versailles treaty. Back with its former engine, the F37 became a passenger "flying limousine", called DFW P1 Limousine, showcased at ELTA exhibition in Amsterdam in 1919.

DFW Dr.I
The Experimental T.34-II/Dr.I flew in 1918 at Adlershof.

DFW also ventured into heavy bombers (R types), to support the blitz over Great Britain and especially London, the industrial hub of the Empire, an answer to the naval blockade. The R.I was a sold prototype, private venture of a was a large biplane, with four engines inside the fuselage and transmission shafts for the propellers in tractor (upper wing, leading edge) and pusher on the lower wing (trailing edge).

Internal engines were not neew but apparently these engines drove a separate propeller each instead of being connected to the other engines. The R.I started trials on 19 October 1916, purchased by the Luftstreitkräfte but it was terribly disappointing as the crankshafts repeatedly broke or failed. New engine mountings and universal joints were fitted and extended wings. Once modified, the R.I (R 11/15) was sent on the Eastern front, flying with the Rfa 500 squadron based at Alt-Auz, from April 1917 to September 1917. It raided Riga once during the summer of 1917 but crashed due to the failure of two engines on the second trip.

The next R.II was developed based on the experience of the R.I at the request of the Luftstreitkräfte. But they asked for a better payload, of 3,400 kg (7,500 lb), compared to the 2600 kg carried by the R.I. The same arrangement of four inline engines in the fuselage and tractor/pusher propellers via long driveshaft was retained and the first R.II flew in August 1918. Again, it showed problems with the driveshafts and excessive vibration. Therefore these systems were enclosed within steel tubesand soon the new Mercedes D.IVa engines were fitted.

However again the shafts vibrated up to 3000 rpm and bearings were fitted; and later Reduction gears to keep them to 900 rpm. Six were ordered by the Luftstreitkräfte, but two were completed before the end of the war, based at Cologne for training. After the war, a short-lived passenger version was planned but never executed. The improved R.III bomber also existed on paper only.

DFW R.II
The Experimental R.II in 1918, before bein sent in Cologne (Köln) for training.

DFW factory
The DFW Factory after the war (wikimedia commons)

  • DFW Mars 1913- reconnaissance (c100)
  • DFW B.I/II 1914- reconnaissance (c250)
  • DFW C.I/II 1915- reconnaissance (c800)
  • DFW C.IV/V/VI 1916- reconnaissance (3250)
  • DFW D.I 1917- fighter (1)
  • DFW F 34 (D.II) 1918- fighter (1)
  • DFW F 34-II (Dr.I) 1918- triplane fighter (1)
  • DFW F 37 1918- reconnaissance (3)
  • DFW R.I 1916- heavy bomber (1)
  • DFW R.II 1918- heavy bomber (2)
  • DFW R.III 1918- cancelled heavy bomber
  • DFW T.28 Floh - fighter prototype (1)

Read more/Sources

DFW on wikipedia
About the DFW R.IV