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The Zeppelin D.I, or Zeppelin-Lindau D.I or Zeppelin D.I (Do) (as named in German documents) was also sometimes referred postwar as the Dornier D.I or Dornier-Zeppelin D.I for the designer,[2] was a single-seat all-metal stressed skin[3][4] monocoque[3] cantilever-wing biplane fighter[3][4] developed by Claude Dornier while working for Luftschiffbau Zeppelin at their Lindau facility,.[3] It was too late to see service with the German Air Force (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War One.

Development and design

The Dornier D.I was one of several designs, including the giant Zeppelin Rs series of seaplanes designed by Claude Dornier with an all-metal stressed skin[3] monocoque structure,[3] and it was the first fighter to feature such construction and although production was cancelled prior to the completion of any production versions it was also the first aircraft with these features to go into production. To reduce the hazards of in-flight fires it also featured an external fuel tank, that according to some sources may have been jettisonable,[2][5] and thick section cantilevered wings for improved aerodynamics. The Dornier Do H Falke was largely similar, however it had an enlarged upper wing and dispensed with the lower wing.

Operational history

Seven prototypes were built as part of the development program, one of which went to the US Navy and another to the US Army Air Service, both purchased in 1921 and delivered in 1922[6] for evaluation of the novel construction methods used. It was never used operationally, due to the end of World War I. Luftstreitkräfte pilots evaluated the type in May/June 1918,[7] and again in October 1918.[8] Despite German ace Wilhelm Reinhard being killed on 3 July 1918,[7] as a result of a structural failure while supposedly grounded for structural upgrades, and negative reports at that time regarding its heavy aileron control and poor climb performance at higher altitudes, after being fitted with a more powerful BMW engine that boosted the climb rate to 5000m from 25 minutes to 13 minutes,[9] an order was placed for 50 aircraft in October or November.[8] The airframes for this order were roughly 50% complete when the production was halted in early 1919.[8]


Dornier D.I
Dornier Do H Falke
Postwar development evaluated by the United States.


 German Empire
 United States

Survivors/Aircraft on display

None of the examples built survive.


Data from Grey, 1970, p.580

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Length: 6.37 m (20 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: 7.8[5] m (25 ft 7.125 in)
  • Height: 2.6[5] m ( ft in)
  • Wing area: 18.7[5] m2 (202 ft2)
  • Empty weight: 725[5] kg (1562 lb)
  • Gross weight: 885[5] kg (1958 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × BMW IIIa[5] water cooled inline 6 cylinder, 138 kW (185 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 200[5] km/h ( mph)
  • Service ceiling: 8100[5] m ( ft)


  • 2 × fixed, forward-firing Spandau machine guns
  • See also


    • Dornier-Zeppelin C.II - two seater with conventional wings but similar fuselage and developed roughly in parallel.
    • Dornier Do H Falke





    1. Grosz, 1998, p.8
    2. 2.0 2.1 Grosz, 1998, p.12
    3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Grosz, 1998, p.0
    4. 4.0 4.1 Grey, 1970, p.580
    5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 Kössler, 1985, p.78
    6. Grosz, 1998, pp.10
    7. 7.0 7.1 Grosz, 1998, p.1
    8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Grosz, 1998, p.10
    9. Grosz, 1998, p.9
    10. Grosz, 1998, pp.3-4 and 8-10
    11. "1908-1921 USASC-USAAS Serial Numbers". Joseph F. Baugher. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
    12. Grosz, 1998, pp.10-13


    • Grosz, Peter (1998). Dornier D.I Windsock Mini datafile # 12. Hertfordshire, UK: Albatros Publications. ISBN 9780948414923. 
    • Gray, Peter; Thetford, Owen (1970). German Aircraft of the First World War (second ed.). London: Putnam. pp. 580. 
    • Hundertmark, Michael; Steinle, Holger (1985). Phoenix aus der Asche - Die Deutsche Luftfahrt Sammlung Berlin. Berlin: Silberstreif Verlag. ISBN 978-3924091026. 
    • Kössler, Karl (1985). Dornier - Die Chronik des ältesten deutschen Flugzeugwerks. Friedrichshafen, Germany: Walter Biering GmbH. p. 78. ISBN 3-925505-01-6. 
    • Ogden, Bob (1983). Dornier - Flypast Reference Library. Lincs, England: Key Publishing. ISBN 0 946219 05 2. LCCN 0263-5887. 
    • Sheppard, Milton (Winter 1968). "Dornier D.I Static Test". Society of WW1 Aero Historians. pp. 391–395. 
    • Terry, Gerard (1981). "The Development of Dornier Landplanes 1914-1918". Society of WW1 Aero Historians. pp. 97–117. 
    • unknown author (23 December 1920). "Some "Dornier" Milestones". Flight Magazine. pp. pp.1269–1273 and pp.1289–1292. 

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