Aviatik (Berg) D.I

Aircraft Info Group

Julius von Berg for Aviatik (Germany); Built by Thöne and Fiala in Vienna, Austria
WWI Gallery
WWI Gallery

The Berg Scout

The Austro-Hungarian branch of the German Aviatik company produced "B-type" reconnaissance biplanes in the early years of the war. In 1917, the firm's designer, Julius von Berg, created a two-seater C.I and a single seat D.I fighter. The D.I, often known as the "Berg Scout," was the first Austrian-designed fighter plane ever built.

Berg incorporated some interesting traits into his strange-looking airplane. When two side radiators on some of the early Aviatiks weren't getting the job done, the large car-type unit was built into the nose. And the plane's fuselage was constructed quite narrow and deep, with the pilot sitting high in his seat. With the pilot's eyes just below the level of the top wing, the Aviatik offered good visibility in most directions.

The D.I had excellent flying characteristics and could climb very well. Early versions had thin wings that had to be redesigned because they broke and deformed during flight. The strengthened versions had no such trouble even when going through violent aerial maneuvers.

The Museum of Flight's Aviatik is an extremely rare original. Part of series 101, the fighter was built by Thöne and Fiala, in Vienna -- one of five manufactures that made the aircraft during the war. After the plane was located and purchased in Europe by Art Williams, it was discovered that it had been, at one time, operated by the Berg Company and owned by the Berg estate.

Doug Champlin acquired the fighter in 1978 and completed it in Arizona. Included in the restoration were an intricate hand-built radiator, and rare Austro-Daimler 160- to 225-horsepower in-line engine, and two equally rare Schwarzlose 8mm machine guns.