Has it ever occurred to you that the most bizarre aircraft of the Great War were designed in Austro-Hungarian Empire?
Actually, these aircraft were designed in the Transleithanian part of the realm, by the Magyar Lloyd Repülőgép és motorgyár Részvény-Társaság (Hungarian Lloyd Aircraft and Motor Works, Inc.). Its main product, the C-Series observer/recce planes, were quite conventional.
The Lloyd C.II and its derivatives, the C.III and C.IV were reconnaissance aircraft produced in Austria-Hungary during the First World War. They were based on the Lloyd company's pre-war C.I design, and like it, were conventional biplanes with swept-back wings. After the outbreak of World War I, the original aircraft was refined somewhat by Lloyd designers Wizina and von Melczer, featuring a reduced wingspan and wing area but increased weight. An 0.315 in (8 mm) Schwarzlose machine gun was added on a semi-circular mount for an observer, giving the aircraft a means of self defence against enemy fighters. Beginning in 1915, one hundred examples of this type were built - fifty by Lloyd at their plant in Aszód, and another fifty by WKF in Vienna. The C.III was almost identical to the C.II except for the use of a 160 hp (120 kW) Austro-Daimler engine, which increased the top speed to 83 mph (133 km/h) The C.III was produced by both Lloyd and Wiener Karosserie und Flugzeugfabrik (WKF), with total production run amounted to between 50 to 60 aircraft (source).
But then Lloyd produced an extremely unusual machine. W. I. Boucher of WWI Aviation wrote: "The Lloyd FJ 40.05 was a very unorthodox Austrian experimental fighter/reconnaisence biplane built in 1915. The design's faults were many and virtues were few. The aircraft never went beyond initial testing before development was halted.
"The primary stumbling block to the evolution of an effective fighter aircraft was the inability to fire into the forward arc without losing a propeller. Until the machine gun synchronization was invented, various aircraft manufacturers tried of solutions including pusher engine configuration attaching metal plates to the propeller, firing sideways, mounting a machine gun on the upper wing to fire over the arc of the prop, etc. None of these stop-gap measures proved to be the optimal method to achieve the goal of creating a truly efficient fighter-craft.The Lloyd Company designers tried a radically different approach to solve the problem. In 1915 they designed a two seat aircraft designated FJ (Flugzeugjäger) and received the Austro-Hungarian Air Force designation 40.05.
"Their design was unusual to say the least. The over-sized nose section of the FJ.40.05 filled the entire space between both wings. Immediately behind the upper wing's trailing edge was the machine gunner's post with an excellent field of fire. However, this solution reduced the pilot's front view as he sat behind this portion of the plane. The plane first flew in January 1916 but was not accepted by the Air Force. During 1916 the Lloyd 40.05 was converted to a single seat fighter fitted with a 0.315 in (8 mm) Schwarzlose machine gun in a Type II VK gun pod which pilots referred to as the "children's coffin"). The Austro-Hungarian Air Force (der Kaiserliche und Königliche Luftfahrtruppen - K.u.K. LFT) wasn't interested in this version either and it was never put into production. "
Please take a look at the scale model made by Jaroslaw Kierat:
And spend a bit of your precious time to read his short article, it's worth it!
But here the wonder story (or a not-so-fairy tale) doesn't stop. In January 1916, Lloyd was supplied by the first drawings and specifications of two bomber triplane called Luftkreuzer I (type I, LK), and later Lloyd 40.08 Luftkreuzer II (type II, LV) 40.10 Lloyd later. "Luftkreuzer" means Sky Cruiser. The task was (better to say, seemed) simple: to build an airplane more or less similar to Italian Caproni Ca.1, driven by a powerful central pusher engine and two smaller tractor engines.
Structurally the aircraft was a triplane with unequal span wings. The upper wing had a span of 23.26 meters and a width of 2.40 m, a mid-wing was 22.38 m long and 2.20 m wide and the lower wing span amounted to 16.84 m at a width of 2.00 meters. The middle wing of the snap to the bottom of the main trunk, upper and lower were carried by struts and braces. The gap between the two upper wings were 2.10 m and the two bottom 1.75 meters. The total wing area was 110 square meters. Below the main body between the upper and lower wings was a stream gondola, apparently for the bomb aimer. In the main hull was a 12-cyl. 300 hp Daimler engine, driving a wooden two-blade pusher propeller.
The front part of the central fuselage had a large cockpit for two gunners with an excellent observation field in all directions. The shooting stations were also equipped with an illuminator. Side hulls were created by modifying the Lloyd C. II fuselage. Both were fitted with a six-cylinder 160 hp Daimler engine. Both propellers revolved in the same direction.
The machine was completed on June 8, 1916 and was ready for engine testing at the airport in Aszód. The aircraft was found to be heavy on the nose, its gravity center set too high. During ground tests it received a small-scale damage. Therefore, chassis was revised and a third wheel has been added under the nose. Finally the "Cruiser" was ready for its maiden flight in October 1916, with Oberleutnant Antal Lany-Lanczendorfer at the controls. There is no evidence that the aircraft really took off. In early November Flars (Fliegerarsenal) started to think about reducing the bomb load in order to reduce the total take-off weight. Development continued, but at a slow pace. In December Flars recommended to install additional chassis rails. These were placed in the main undercarriage.
In March 1917 Lloyd applied for revision of the airplane, but the application was rejected and the work came to a halt. The Lloyd 40.08 airframe was stored. In January 1918 it was ordered to be transported to aircraft cemetery in Cheb.
Enough? Oh no, the story goes on. In 1917, Lloyd developed and built two experimental fighters. One of them, Lloyd FJ 40.15, was a triplane, but very different from British Sopwith or German Fokker Dr.III:
Strange enough, the last Lloyd production aircraft was only a bit weird. W. I. Boucher wrote: "The Lloyd C.V was a departure from Lloyd's previous reconnaissance types, which had all been based on a pre-war design. The C.V was a more compact and streamlined aircraft with an unusual wing structure.
"The design was fairly conventional, except for the interplane struts. These were arranged in two sets, front and rear, with the rear sets consisting of two struts per wing, and the forward sets of only one strut per wing. When viewed from the front of the aircraft, the rear struts formed a V-shape, converging to the point where they met the lower wings. From bottom wing to top, the single forward struts sloped inwards towards the centreline, matching the angle of the inboard rear struts. The fin was triangular and similar to the unit on earlier Lloyd designs, but featured an extension at the top of the rudder that reached over the top of the fixed part of the fin. With its curved leading edge and scalloped trailing edge, this rudder resembled the tail of a rooster.
"The wings departed from the conventional structure of one or more spars surrounded by airfoil-shaped ribs and were built instead from ribs surrounded by longerons that stretched span-wise along the wings. This was all then covered in plywood sheeting. While this made for a strong, light structure, it also meant that repairs to damaged wings were difficult, and proved impossible to carry out in the field. Damaged aircraft were sent to depots for exchange. Another problem was that moisture trapped inside the wings had no way to escape quickly. This could cause the plywood skin to buckle or delaminate.
"Lloyd built 96 C.Vs in 1917, powered by Austro-Daimler engines, while WKF built another 48 with Benz engines. The type saw only brief front-line service before being relegated to secondary duties. A number of C.V continued their service after the war with the military forces of Poland, Hungary, and the Ukraine. In Poland, six aircraft were operated until 1924 (above - a bitter end of one of those Lloyds - L.K.). "