FINISHED MODEL:  Rumpler C.I C.1877/15


ILLUSTRATION 1:  Rumpler C.I C.1877/15 Crash Photo

This crash photo shows Rumpler C.I C.1877/15 of Feldflieger-Abteilung 17 (FFA 17) flown by Uffz (Unteroffizier) Fritz "Take" Engmann (pilot) and Ltn Georg Wilhelm Heydemarck (Observer).  This is the Rumpler C.I modeled in this article.  Photo is from the book, Double-Decker C.666, by Heydemarck. 1 


This model of the Rumpler C.I is produced by Copper State Models.  It is a 1:48 scale multi-media kit primarily cast in resin with smaller components in white metal and photo-etched brass.  A number of parts have to be scratch-built by the modeler and include wing struts (8), under carriage "V" struts (2), control column, and rudder bar.  Decals are included to finish the aircraft in either of two serial numbers neither of which will be used since I am building C.1877/15; the national markings (Eisernes Kreuz or EK) will be used.  The decal sheet and photo-etched sheet share components with another Copper State Models kit, the Rumpler 6B.1 twin-float, single-seat Kriegsmarine biplane fighter.  Drawings included in the kit are by Martin Digmayer and include all of the detail necessary to build the model.   

Not supplied in the kit or otherwise replaced are a number of items which I will detail in the step-by-step Construction section below.  I used the following after-market accessories:

    Eduard EU9194 World War I Instruments (PE color)
    Eduard EU4406 Wire Stretchers (turnbuckles) and Control Horns (PE)
    Griffon Models GMBH04 Brass Tube OD 1.0mm, ID .72mm used for wing and landing gear struts
    K & S Engineering #1596 Brass Rod .51mm diameter used for strut reinforcement and tail unit struts
    .005 monofilament line for rigging wires


The first Rumpler C.I aircraft I built was the Rumpler C.Ia (Han) C.4799/15 which was a modification of the Planet Models 1:48 Rumpler C.I kit.  It required substantial modification of the observer's cockpit to incorporate the raised machine gun ring (click to view the Hannover C.Ia).  The model to be built for this article is a standard Rumpler C.I used in large numbers on the Western Front whereas the C.Ia Hannover-built version was used nearly exclusive in other theaters such as the Eastern, Macedonia, Palestinian, Rumanian, and Serbian fronts.

I've had the kit for some time but could not find an appropriate real-life example to model until I purchased Hauptmann Georg Wilhelm Heydemarck's book Double Decker C.666 written in the early 1930's.  He originally flew as a Leutnant observer with Feldflieger-Abteilung 17 in 3.Armee in the Champagne sector of the Western Front in 1915 and 1916.  He eventually moved on to command Feldflieger-Abteilung 30 on the Salonika front.  The specifics of the flight he and his pilot, Uffz Engmann, took that resulted in the crash-landing are described below under "DETAILS OF THE MISSION".

ILLUSTRATION 2:  Rumpler C.I Three-View Drawing

This three-view drawing is taken from German Aircraft of the First World War (GAFWW) page 197 drawn by L. E. Bradford (see bibliography). 2



The Rumpler Flugzeug-Werke in Johannisthal near Berlin, designed its C.I as a direct result of specifications issued by Idflieg, an abbreviation for Inspecktion der Fliegertruppen, for an armed two-seat army cooperation aircraft.  It proved to be the best of the early C-Types until replaced by another Rumpler product, the C.IV and its derivatives.  In short, the fuselage was a simple box girder framework with wood used aft of the observer's cockpit but welded steel tubing forward from their.  Most of the fuselage was covered in fabric but the upper forward deck and forward side panel were plywood with the usual metal access panels.  The tail unit was welded steel tubing covered in fabric.  The wings were of two-spar construction with ribs and, between them on the forward edge, false ribs to which the fabric could be attached for added strength.  The wing design was slightly swept back and tapered giving the aircraft excellent lift capability.  The C.I was powered by either the Mercedes D.III 160 hp engine or the Benz Bz.III 150 hp engine, the selection going to whichever engines were available on the production line at the time of installation. 

The type of engine presented a significant identification feature: the Benz had a left-side exhaust stack and the Mercedes, a right-side exhaust stack (the orientation is looking forward from the pilot's cockpit).  This caused the forward firing Spandau machine gun to be placed on the same side as the exhaust stack.  In the model to be built here, the engine is a Mercedes D.III so the Spandau will be installed on the right side of the engine.  The carburetors and intake manifold is on the side opposite the exhaust stack; leaking benzene fumes next to a firing Spandau machine gun could ignite the fumes and set the aircraft on fire.  The observer's ring-mounted, drum-fed Parabellum machine gun plus a capacity to carry a few small bombs rounded out the armament. 3

One novel feature that appeared on early two-seaters was the "claw" brake attached to the under-carriage axle.  This device was spring-loaded with a cable passing through the underside of the fuselage and connected to a lever in the pilot's cockpit.  When touching ground on landing, the pilot would pull the lever and cause the "claw" brake to dig into the ground thus slowing the aircraft down.  These were dispensed with in later designs and disappeared for the most part by 1917.  Table 1 below shows the overall frontline inventory for 1914-1916.


Table 1: Front Line Inventory of A-, B-, C-Types and the Rumpler C.I 1914-1916 4

 Two-Seater Types










Aug Oct Dec




Aug Oct Dec








13 16 13




0 0 0








580 597 396




13 22 21








181 318 660




1302 1487 1508

Total of Types







774 931 1069




1315 1509 1529

Rumpler C.I







0 0 29




202 231 190

Rumpler C.Ia







0 0 0




0 2 1

A few words of explanation are needed to interpret the table above.  The two obvious conclusions are 1) the steady increase in the overall number of army cooperation types used at the front as represented by the three aircraft types (A, B, and C) and, 2) the decline of the A- and B-Types in favor of the C-Type.  The small numbers of A- and B-Types from the middle of 1916 and on represent a number of these aircraft retained at Abteilung level as "hacks" not ever intended for missions involving possible combat.  The next conclusion is the introduction and increase of the Rumpler C.I as part of the C-Type inventory until the latter half of 1916 when the Rumpler C.Ia started to appear.  Although 1917 is not shown, the C.I numbers go steadily downward as the C.Ia numbers increase.  The reasons for this are 1) the Rumpler Flugzeug-Werke was already well advanced on the design of the C.III which evolved into the exceptional C.IV and derivatives model and production at Rumpler was phasing out of the C.I; 2) the basic C.I design was imminently suited to other fronts not opposed by modern fighters and could live on as above average army co-operation aircraft; and, 3) there was an availability of Argus As.III 180 hp engines that, with a little modification, could be easily adapted to the C.I airframe.  Nearly 2400 C.I model airframes were built through to the end of the war, the majority being advanced two-seater trainers - a rather stunning epitaph to a 1915 design.



Additional information is provided in Tables 2 and 3, below.

Table 2: Rumpler C.I Specifications 5

Engine Data: 160 hp Mercedes D.III 6-Cylinder, In-line, Water-Cooled
Maximum Speed 152 km (89 mph)
Climb to 3000 meters 25 minutes
Measurements: Wing Span Upper 12.15 meters (39.8 feet)
Wing Span Lower 10.04 meters (33.0 feet)
Wing Chord Upper 1.75 meters (5.74 feet)
Wing Chord Lower 1.75 meters (5.74 feet)
Wing Gap 1.86 meters (6.10 feet)
Wing Area 35.7 meters2 (384.13 feet2)
Weights Empty 793 kg (1,753 lbs)
Fully Loaded 1333 kg (2,946 lbs)
Crew 2 Pilot and Observer


Table 3: Rumpler C.I Production Serial Numbers (Combat Aircraft) 6

Order Date Quantity Serial Number Range Notes
July 1915 50 C.393-442/15  
July 1915 42 C.1025-1066/15  
July 1915 20 C.1588-1599/15 These are the only confirmed serial numbers
October 1915 51 C.1836-1886/15  
December 1915 150 C.4515-4664/15  
March 1916 50 C.1125-1174/16 This order split into two lots
100 C.2600-2699/16
September 1916 (50) - This order of 50 was never built by Rumpler
Total Rumpler C.I Qty 463 - Total C.I aircraft built by Rumpler
Total Hannover C.Ia Qty 375 - Total C.Ia aircraft built by Hannover


The basic Rumpler C.I model as originally designed with the D.III or Bz.III engine was only built by Rumpler.  As explained above, it was decided to continue production as the C.Ia built by Hannover using the Argus As.III 180 hp engine of which a further 375 of the basic design were built.  These were all distributed to aviation units on all fronts except the Western Front: Eastern, Macedonian, Palestine, and Rumanian.  Many of the existing C.I Rumpler-built aircraft were gradually phased out and those that could be refurbished were either sent to other Fronts, training units, or served as "hacks".



As will be recalled from previous Journal issues, German military aircraft were classified by type which described physical and military usage.  When Germany went to war in August 1914, Type A and B aircraft were deployed.  A-Type aircraft were unarmed two-seat monoplanes and B-Type were unarmed two-seat biplanes both of which were envisaged as short range reconnaissance aircraft to supplement the age-old use of cavalry.  Aerial view proved itself by 1915 but, as was quickly found out, aerial combat was becoming the expected norm, the purpose being to deny aerial observation to enemy aircraft.  The existing A- and B-Types were not suited to the fixing of defensive armament mostly due to the weight of the then-infantry version of the Spandau machine gun, its mount, and ammunition.  The engines that powered these early types were sensitive to weight beyond the limit to which they were designed. 

The C-Type classification was created for a two-seat up-engined biplane that could carry its crew, photographic equipment, a wireless sending unit, a defensive newly-designed Parabellum light-weight machine gun, and a small bomb load with certain minimum level and climbing speed characteristics.  At first, German aviation authority and the C-Type manufacturers, by the middle of 1915, were undecided as to the tandem arrangement of the pilot and observer.  Most attempted to arm the observer in the front seat but this arrangement eventually lost out to the more practical location for the observer in the rear seat which afforded a much better defensive field of fire.  In the illustration above, imagine the observer seated in the front cockpit trying to bring a machine gun to bear without hitting struts, wires, and/or the pilot!  The Rumpler C.I was always configured with the observer in the rear seat.  It's design, engine power, and flight characteristics made it the best of the early C-Type machines.



Just a brief review of German World War I aviation units.  From the beginning of the war, the basic aviation unit was the Abteilung, a German word that means simply "section" or "detachment".  The full name was Feldflieger-Abteilung (FFA) meaning "field aviation section" and it consisted of six aircraft either A- or B-Types with seven pilots and six observers.  Each FFA was about the size of a company and commanded by a captain (Hauptmann) or Senior Lieutenant (Oberleutnant).   At the outbreak of the war on 1 August 1914, the German Army mobilized and was deployed in eight armies to which one FFA was assigned to each of the Armee headquarters (AOK).  There were 25 regular army corps (Armeekorps) to which one FFA was also assigned to each corps headquarters.  There were also a number of heavily defended strategic fortresses each of which had a fortress aviation section (Festungsflieger-Abteilung or FestFA).  Collectively, the heavier-than-air units were known as the Fliegertruppe and the lighter-than-air units, dirigibles and observation balloons, were known as the Luftschiffertruppe.

Along with the regular army, were also mobilized the Reservekorps, each of which was supposed to have an attached FFA but there were not enough aircraft, pilots, and observers to initially do this.  Eventually, by mid-1915, enough new FFA units were raised or converted from the FestFA formations.  A few more were added during 1916 including a new aviation unit specifically configured for artillery cooperation, the Feldflieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) of FFA(A), sometimes abbreviated AFA (Artillerie Feldflieger Abteilung).  It was decided by the German high command, OHL (Oberst-Heeresleitung), to appoint a general officer to command a completely re-organized air force given the name Luftstreitkräfte.   The major changes were the shortening of the aviation unit's name to Flieger-Abteilung (FA), a major conversion of some of the old FFA units into the renamed artillery cooperation title of Flieger-Abteilung (Artillerie) or FA(A), and the distinction between army, corps, and frontline division aviation unit assignments.  In general, FA units, which now numbered 48, would be assigned to Armee and Korps headquarters responsible for extended reconnaissance and photographic duties.  The FA(A) units would be assigned to frontline infantry divisions for artillery spotting, short range reconnaissance, infantry contact patrols, and some ground support. 7

One interesting condition of German aviation units of all types during most of the war was the mixed inventory of various aircraft except for fighter units (Jagdstaffeln).  It was rare for the army cooperation units to have all six of their C-Type aircraft of one manufacturer and model.  This was the result of Idflieg policy to spread design and development over a large spectrum of existing airframe manufacturers and award contracts in relatively small lots.  As aircraft came off the production line and passed through acceptance, they were quickly distributed to an Armee-Flugpark (AFP) with the next highest priority.  From the AFP, an individual aviation unit would receive replacement aircraft based on available types currently in inventory usually without regard to what type the unit lost.  Later, in late-1917 and through 1918, available models were reduced in number as proven designs were then licensed to other airframe manufacturers whose own designs were no longer accepted.



This model represents C.1877/15 from the October 1915 order of 51 aircraft to be built by Rumpler.   It was issued from Armee-Flugpark 3 to Feldflieger-Abteilung 17 sometime in Spring 1916.  FFA 17 was one of several aviation units assigned to 3.Armee along the Champagne sector running from west of Reims to south of Vouziers.  The German 5.Armee was to its left in the Verdun sector and the German 7.Armee was on its right extending the Champagne sector.  The basis for this model aside from the photograph at the top, is Hauptmann (ret) Georg Heydemarck's account of his service with FFA 17 as a lieutenant (Leutnant) observer (Beobachter) in his book, Double Decker C 666, published in the 1930's.  It was followed by another title, Flying Section 17, with additional anecdotes about his experiences most of which took place during the course of 1916 at the end of which he was promoted to Hauptmann and transferred to the Macedonian front to command Flieger-Abteilung 30, then attached to the Bulgarian 1st Army; these experiences are recounted in his third book, Warflying in Macedonia.

Unfortunately, most of the anecdotal experiences, though generally in chronological order, are not dated.   Just to obtain an estimate of the crash of Rumpler C.I C.1877.16 took some doing.  As near as I could tell, the crash landing occurred at the earliest the end of November or the first week of December at the latest.  Since neither crew members, Uffz Engmann (P) and Ltn Heydemarck were injured, they do not show up in Casualties of the German Air Service 1914-1920.  Heydemarck went on leave shortly after the crash and Engmann went out on another mission with a different observer and was severely wounded, dying of his wounds as listed in Casualties on 10 December 1916, the day on which Heydemarck returned from leave. 

The situation on the front of 3.Armee in Champagne in late Fall 1916 was static.  When the Rumanians entered the war on 27 Aug 1916 against Austria-Hungary, Germany declared war on Rumania the next day.  Since then, German efforts on the Western Front were toned down to a defensive posture so as to concentrate against Rumania and Russia while keeping a watchful eye on the Macedonian Front which was largely held by Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian units with a sprinkling of German divisions.  Heydemarck's observation duties on the Champagne sector of the Western Front were routine.  So it was on the day that C.1877/15 crash-landed that a routine long-distance photo-reconnaissance mission was planned.  The route from the FFA 17's airfield at Flugplatz Attigny was Riems-Epernay-Châlons-Ste. Ménehould and back to base see Illustration 3 below).  Note once again that I do not have a specific date for this mission which is estimated between, say, 25 November and 10 December 1916.


ILLUSTRATION 3:  Western Front German 3.Armee and Heydemarck's Photo-Reconnaissance Route

This section of map is taken from Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918, Zwolfter (12th) Band (volume), Beilage 1 (map supplement 1), as of 19 March 1917. 8 The front line position is little changed at this date compared to late 1916, the time of Heydemarck's photo-reconnaissance mission.  Start at the top of the polygon and follow the route counter-clockwise: Attigny (base)-Reims-Epernay-Châlons-Ste.Menehould-Attigny (back to base).  



This book is a one chapter after another of anecdotal events usually related to a flight he made while with FFA 17 though greatly lacking in specific dates.  Near the end of the book is Chapter XVI entitled "Whoso Diggeth a Pit for Others. . ." in which he recounts how his aircraft was damaged in air combat with a French Nieuport on this particular mission.  In short, on the leg of the mission near Ste. Ménehould with the idea of unloading their small bombs, the pilot cuts the engine so they can begin a silent bombing run.  Just then, a French Nieuport Scout is spotted flying a straight course in the opposite direction.  Engmann, the pilot, instinctively turns to attack.  They actual "commander" of the aircraft is the observer, but Heydemarck concurs with the remark, "At him!" and the engine is restarted.

What follows is a number of passes by both aircraft at each other without any apparent hits.  Then, Frenchman performs "a wing tip" change of direction while losing a bit of altitude but comes up from underneath and rakes the Rumpler.  Several hits are made but none fatal.  Heydemarck returns fire with the Parabellum.  The little rotary-engine Nieuport banks away from the stream of bullets and disappears.  "Hurrah!" is the exclamation and both crew members believe they shot him down.  Actually they did not - probably out of ammo.  The Nieuport 16, which I believe it was, carried a fixed Lewis drum-fed machine gun on the center line of the top wing.  Drum capacity was limited so the pilot, as most did, turned away to reload.  He probably lost height and may have been low on fuel. 

Heydemarck and Engmann flew towards Ste. Ménehould not sure if they should continue with the bombing plan or head for home and drop them over the French trenches.  They quickly assessed damage counting several hits scattered about the aircraft.  Heydemarck looked up to check for damage there and noticed that the upper wing reserve gravity tank was hit and benzene was spraying into the slip stream.  With the hot gases from the engine exhaust also in the same slip stream, it was immediately understood by Heydemarck that there existed the potential hazard for ignition of the benzene stream and the burning up of the aircraft.  Heydemarck ordered his pilot to kill the engine and they attempted to glide back to their lines.  Not much if any benzene remained in the main tank.  As they crossed the lines, they attempted a landing but the aircraft flipped over when the landing gear collapsed.  Neither were seriously injured and Heydemarck had the presence of mind to retrieve the aerial camera and photograph his aircraft.  So, I had all of the requirements for my model: date, crew, unit, photograph.  That's why I decided to build this Rumpler C.I C.1877/15 flown by Uffz "Take" Engmann (P) and Ltn d R Georg Heydemarck of FFA 17 on the Champagne front in the late Fall of 1916. 9 



As with all aircraft I build, I maintain a "construction" page for each one in my "World War I Aircraft in 1:48 Scale" section.  Click on the link below for the Rumpler C.I.

Rumpler C.I Photo Construction Review

Index to German World War I Aircraft in 1:48 Scale
Index to All World War I Aircraft in 1:48 Scale



Camouflage finish for this aircraft was not applied.  Factory-applied camouflage was mandatory for frontline combat aircraft beginning in April 1916 when Idflieg directed that upper surfaces were to be finished in a random pattern of dark green and red-brown.  The under surfaces as seen from earth were to be doped in sky blue.  When C.1877/15 was built, the prevailing finish was factory-applied clear doped linen (CDL) which presented a soft cream color when new and but, over time, tended towards a darker and/or grayish beige of varying shades depending on the age of the aircraft and its exposure to climatic conditions.   In short, all fabric-covered surfaces were CDL.  Exposed wood or metal components were painted in an enamel-based shade often known simply as German light gray-green ( I don't known of the equivalent German phrase for this color).  This color was applied to the struts (wing, landing gear, and tail unit), cockpit/engine top decking, forward side panels, and smaller components such as the control horns. 

The cockpit interior was not considered exposed so wood components were clear varnished.  I used a number of different shades of light brown with different washes.  The pilot sat on a brass main fuel tank.  The observer sat on a spring-loaded flip-down seat (some folded up) and supported by a wood or metal leg.  A camera, map case, photo plate stowage box, ammunition stowage rack, possibly a wireless sending unit with is 100 meter-long copper wire aerial antenna, a fold-down shelf for the wireless sending key, rack for flare cartridges, and two bomb chutes located just behind the main fuel tank on either side of the fuselage.  The pilot's cockpit contained the usual main instrument panel, one or two small auxiliary panels, throttle quadrant, two bicycle-style pumps (one for fuel pressure and one for oil pressure), a Spandau fixed forward-firing machine, rudder bar, control wheel (not a stick), and claw brake lever.  Most of the "art" in building one of these two-seaters is scratch-building components not included in the kit, which are quite a few.

The table below gives examples of the colors I used.  These are swatches I made from the actual paint, scanned in, and formatted.  The actual shades will vary on your computer.   Aside from the Eisernes Kreuz markings on all eight of the traditional positions, only the serial number was made by me on a decal sheet.  The black diagonal unit identification band was made from a strip of black decal.  Underneath, near the tail is my small font personal marking "G. Grasse - Rumpler C.I - No. 6612".


Table 4: Paint Color Swatches for the Rumpler C.I

Misterkit MKGC10 German Clear Doped Linen

Applied to all fabric-covered areas

Vallejo Mix German Light Gray-Green

Applied to all metal components including the cockpit interior steel tubing structure

Vallejo VC0917 Beige

Applied to cockpit interior fabric-covered areas

Vallejo VC0872 Chocolate Brown

Thinned with water and applied as a wash to cockpit interior components

Vallejo VC0913 Yellow Ochre

Used on various wood components mainly to differentiate one from another.

Vallejo VC0824 German Camouflage Orange Ochre

Vallejo VC0981 Orange Brown




-------------------------------------  FINIS  --------------------------------------


1 Heydemarck, Georg Wilhelm.  Double-Decker C.666.  London: John Hamilton, Ltd, 1934, photo opposite page 200.  More about this crash-landing in the text entitled DETAILS OF THE MISSION.

2 Gray & Thetford, German Aircraft of the First World War, page 197. 

3  Gray & Thetford, German Aircraft of the First World War, pages 195-198.  Published in 1962, this source is still the best overall summary of German aircraft construction.

4 Grosz, Peter M. Archiv: Frontbestand.  The Journal of the Early Aeroplane "WWI Aero", issue108 (Feb 1986), page 69. 

5 Grosz, Peter M. Rumpler C.I Windsock Datafile 79 supplemented with by data in Gray & Thetford, German Aircraft of the First World War.

6 Grosz, Peter M. Rumpler C.I Windsock Datafile 79.

7 Sumner, Ian.  German Air Forces 1914-18, Osprey Elite Series No. 135.  This is an excellent summary of the German Air Force in World War I.

8 Reichsarchiv.  Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918.  Berlin: Mittler & Sohn, 1939.  This series of twelve volumes plus supplements was first published in 1923 and represents the "official" German military history of World War I.  Orders of battle, are however, not its prime concern but military maps and sketches are plentiful and outstanding although they feature the German spelling of some places.  Most of the maps however are detailed down to division level, sometimes lower depending on scale.  German aviation units are rarely mentioned so it is still difficult to analyze an aviation order of battle for any Armee at any one time.  The largest numbers in red (French) or blue (German) are armies (5. in blue is the German 5.Armee).  Blue Roman numerals and letters the next size smaller are German army corps (Roman numerals) or Army sub-units known in German as Abschnitt or sectors and their divisions are not shown.  The other Blue numerals are German divisions in reserve.  Checkerboard flags are high level army headquarters sites.  For more on German military structure from Army Groups down to regiments, consult Hermann Cron, Imperial German Army 1914-1918 published by Helion & Company.

9 Heydemarck, Georg Wilhelm.  Double-Decker C.666, pages 186-202.



Gray, Peter and Owen Thetford.  German Aircraft of the First World War.  London: Putnam & Company, 1962.

Grosz, Peter M. Archiv: Frontbestand.  The Journal of the Early Aeroplane "WWI Aero", issues 107 (Dec 1985) and 108 (Feb 1986).

Grosz, Peter. M. Rumpler C.I Windsock Datafile 79.  Berkhamsted, UK: Albatros Productions, Ltd, 2000.

Heydemarck, Georg Wilhelm.  Double-Decker C.666.  London: John Hamilton, Ltd, 1934.

Reichsarchiv.  Der Weltkrieg 1914-1918.  Berlin: Mittler & Sohn, 1939.

Sumner, Ian.  German Air Forces 1914-18, Osprey Elite Series No. 135.  Botley, Oxford (UK): Osprey Publishing Ltd, 2005.


Jager Miniatures 1:48 Scale Austro-Hungarian Pilot in Albatros D.III (Oeffag) 153.95






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