Military Wiki
SF-5 and SF-6
Role Reconnaissance seaplane
National origin Germany
Manufacturer Sablatnig, LFG, LVG
First flight 1917
Primary user Imperial German Navy
Number built 91

The Sablatnig SF-5 was a reconnaissance seaplane produced in Germany during the First World War.[1]

Design and development[]

Designed to meet a specification by the Imperial German Navy for a higher-powered replacement for the Sablatnig SF-2s then in service, the SF-5 was a very similar aircraft other than in its choice of engine.[2][3] The first batch (serials 968–987) were delivered between January and May 1917, built in the Navy's HFT classification (unarmed reconnaissance aircraft equipped with wireless transmitter and receiver).[2] They were followed by two further batches (1224–1233 and 1352–1371) between July and September.[2] LVG built the type under licence as a trainer aircraft without any radio equipment, delivering 20 aircraft (1017–1036 and 1214–1223) during the second half of 1917.[2] LFG produced the type in the BFT category (unarmed reconnaissance aircraft equipped with wireless transmitter but not receiver), building ten examples (1459–1468) between September 1917 and February 1918.[2] Sablatnig also produced a single BFT-configured aircraft in February 1918.[2]

Operational history[]

These machines served widely with seaplane stations throughout the North Sea and Baltic Sea.[2] The SF-5 was generally disliked by its aircrews, who dubbed it the "Lame Crow" on account of its poor banking and climbing performance and general sluggishness.[2] Crews found that the supposed cruising speed of production examples was in fact their top speed.[2] Some SF-5s perhaps saw action as bombers against Russian forces, but even those flying reconnaissance missions were easy prey for Russian fighters.[2] At least two SF-5s were captured by the Russians and put to use by them.[2] A single SF-5 was fitted with wheeled undercarriage salvaged from another aircraft.[2] Designated SF-6 by the factory, and assigned the designation B.I by the Idflieg, it was intended to be a landplane trainer, but was not selected for production.[4]




Data from Kroschel & Stützer 1994, p.156

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two, pilot and observer
  • Length: 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)
  • Wingspan: 17.30 m (56 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.55 m (11 ft 8 in)
  • Empty weight: 1,052 kg (2,314 lb)
  • Gross weight: 1,605 kg (3,531 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Benz Bz.III, 110 kW (150 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 145 km/h (93 mph)
  • Rate of climb: 1.4 m/s (282 ft/min)


  1. Taylor 1989, p.787
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Nowarra 1966, p.64
  3. Gray & Thetford 1962, p.542
  4. Gray & Thetford 1962, p.543


  • Gray, Peter; Owen Thetford (1962). German Aircraft of the First World War. London: Putnam. 
  • Kroschel, Günter; Helmut Stützer (1994). Die Deutschen Militärflugzeuge 1910–1918. Herford: Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn. 
  • Nowarra, Heinz J. (1966). Marine Aircraft of the 1914–1918 War. Letchworth, Harts: Harleyford Publications. 
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. 

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