Siemens AG is a multinational conglomerate industrial company that has existed in various forms since 1847. One of its incarnations, Siemens-Schuckert, formed when Siemens acquired a pneumatic engineering company named Schuckertwerke, branched into the design and manufacture of aeroplanes for a few years between 1916 and the end of World War I in 1918. Initially building clones of captured Nieuport fighters, Siemens-Schuckert eventually built its own excellent designs, though in limited numbers. The company went on to manufacture aircraft engines through the 1930s and World War II.
Siemens-Schuckert D.II, D.III and D.IV
The D.II, D.III and D.IV were a series of highly similar fighters of which a total of about 200 were produced between the first flight of the D.II prototype in June 1917 and the end of the war. These were short, stubby fighters with two wings of equal span but with the lower wing having a much lesser chord than the upper, making them sesquiplanes (one-and-a-half winged) rather than true biplanes. The key to their performance was a unique rotary engine developed by the Siemens-Halske engine division in which the engine spun in a direction opposite to the propeller rather than together with it as in conventional rotaries. These engines were exceptionally powerful and in production aircraft, had to be fitted with four-bladed propellers to absorb the power while keeping the landing gear acceptably short. The planes were noted for their speed, agility, and above all their rate of climb. Several top German pilots liked them a lot, but teething problems with the engine led to far fewer being delivered to squadrons than they might have wanted. As a result the aircraft have remained relatively little known except among hard-core World War I aero buffs.
No original Siemens-Schuckert fighters survive, but several replicas have been constructed.
D.III replica N1918G
Built by Cole Palen in 1969, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome D.III replica was fitted with a conventional rotary engine, no functional Siemens-Halske being available. It has been run on the ground but never flown, and today is displayed in the Aerodrome’s static display hangars.
This static replica of a D.IV is displayed at Planes of Fame in California.