At the beginning of the twentieth century, the German group Siemens had a small adventure in the field of aeronautics. It all began in 1910 with works relating to airships at first, then to the rotary engines in vogue at the time. With the advent of the First World War this firm turned to the production of reconnaissance aircraft and fighter whose greatest success was a small biplane arrived at the end of the conflict, D.III.
Known as Siemens-Schuckert, the aeronautics branch of the group sought during the summer of 1917 to give an effective successor to its very good biplane fighter D.I then being withdrawn in the German forces. His first attempt, known as D.II, soon proved unsuccessful and a new team led by engineer Harald Wolff began to study a new fighter radically different from his predecessors. In the biplane configuration, it naturally received the designation of D.III.
From the very beginning, Wolff and his team turned to the Siemens-Halske Sh.III rotary motor, a 160 horsepower thruster capable of driving a quadripal wooden propeller. If this engine has nothing extraordinary about a classic fighter, it will give a real power to the D.III that the managers of Siemens-Schuckert imagine much smaller than its competitors and its enemies. The result will give them all right.
Externally this aircraft was in the form of a biplane with offset wings, with a short fuselage of circular cross-section. It is constructed using interlocking wood and plywood. The Sh.III engine was completely shrouded and had a propeller pan to increase its aerodynamics. The pilot was sitting in an open cockpit and served the two 7.7mm Spandau twinned and synchronized machine guns. The aircraft had a conventional landing gear with a tail pad with a steel coulter. It was in this configuration that D.III made his first flight in October 1917.
The German pilots quickly became enthusiastic, with the first specimens entering service on the French front in January 1918. Small, handy, fast, well-armed, the Siemens-Schuckert D.III was a device that delighted its airmen , Especially since he possessed an unusual climbing speed, able to reach the 1000 meters in 1 minute 45 seconds. In addition, his practical ceiling permitting him to exceed 8000 meters would protect him from the majority of his pursuers. Suffice to say that the first encounters with the British and French hunts quickly turned in favor of the German fighter.
However to the use the pilots realized that the plane had a fault, and size: it overheated dangerously. Indeed, impressed and excited by the power of their aircraft, many German pilots were pushing the machine in its final limits, sometimes at the cost of their lives. If the D.III was considered difficult to intercept by the French or British fighters several were lost as a result of accidents resulting from untimely overheating.
However, the Siemens-Schuckert D.III became legendary thanks to the Jasta 4, which made it its standard fighter in the spring of 1918, and in particular Ernst Udet, who painted his own plane in red, a little like Fokker Dr.I of Von Richthofen. This D.III was baptized Lo, diminutive of Eleonore, the fiancee of Udet who became his wife after the war. This D.III is probably one of the most famous German hunters of the First World War.
Often regarded as the German equivalent of the French Nieuport "Bébé", the Siemens-Schuckert D.III was finally a very good hunter with few weaknesses. It gave birth to the D.IV which was the last combat aircraft built in series by Siemens. It has been produced at more than 200 copies of which at least 41 are known to have killed enemy aircraft.
Wingspan: 8,43 m
Length: 5,75 m
Height: 2.80 m
Length: 5,75 m
Wing area 18.84 m²
Empty weight 523 kg
Starting weight 725 kg
Engine a Siemens & Halske Sh.III eleven-cylinder engine with 210 hp
Wing spacing: m
Max speed: 190 km / h
Climbing time: at 1,000 m: 1,75 min
Height of service: 8.100 m
Range: 360 km
Flight duration: 2 h
Armament two MG 08/15
Crew: one pilot