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Etrich Taube

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The Etrich Taube also called Rumpler Taube (German, "dove") was a pre-World War I monoplane aircraft, and the first mass-produced military plane in Germany. Being the Germans' first practical military plane, it was used for all common military aircraft applications, including as a fighter, bomber, surveillance plane and trainer from its first flight in 1910 until the beginning of World War I. The plane was very popular in the years immediately prior to the First World War, and was used by the air forces of Italy, Germany and Austria-Hungary. By 1914, however, it quickly proved lacking as a serious warplane, and was soon superseded.

Design and development

Igo Etrich in a prototype

The plane was developed by Igo Etrich from Austria in 1909, with the first flight in 1910, and was called the Etrich Taube. The design was licensed for serial production by Lohner in Austria and Rumpler in Germany, and called the Etrich-Rumpler-Taube [1] [2]. However, Rumpler soon changed the name to Rumpler-Taube, and stopped paying royalties to Etrich. Etrich subsequently abandoned his patent.

Despite its name, the Taube's unique wing form was not modeled after that of a bird, but after the Zanonia macrocarpa seeds, which glide to the ground in a slow spin induced by a single wing. Similar wing shapes have also been used by Karl Jatho. While Etrich had tried to build a flying wing aircraft based on the Zanonia wing shape, the more conventional Taube type, with "normal" tail controls was much more successful.

At the start, Etrich adopted the format of crosswind-capable main landing gear that Louis Blériot had used on his Blériot XI cross-channel monoplane for better ground handling, and gained biplane-like strength for the Taube's monoplane wing with a cable cross-braced, triangular-section Brücke, or "bridge", beneath each wing panel, which often carried small wire-spoke wheels or skids at its outboard ends, for wingtip protection. Later Taube-type aircraft from other manufacturers would eventually replace the Blériot-style crosswind main gear with a simpler V-strut main gear format, and also omitted the underwing "bridge" structure for somewhat better aerodynamic effeciency.

Like many contemporary aircraft, especially monoplanes, the Taube used wing warping rather than ailerons for lateral (roll) control, and also warped the rear half of the stabilizer for use as an elevator control surface's function. Only the vertical, twinned triangular rudder surfaces were usually hinged.

Operational history

Design drawing of Taube from 1911

The design provided for very stable flight, suitable for observation. In addition, the translucent wings made it difficult for ground based observers to detect a Taube at an altitude above 400m. The French called it "the Invisible Aircraft", and it is sometimes also referred to as the "world's first stealth plane". The first hostile engagement was an Italian Taube in 1911 in Libya, using pistols and 2 kg bombs. Taube airplanes were able to detect the advancing Russian army during the Battle of Tannenberg. The plane was also used for bombing, when the pilot dropped small bombs in the Balkans in 1911 and 3 kg bomblets and propaganda leaflets over Paris in 1914.

During World War I, Imperial German units stationed at Qingdao, Shandong, China only had one operational airplane, a Rumpler Taube piloted by Lieutenant Gunther Plüschow facing the attacking Japanese who had a total of eight airplanes. On October 2, 1914, the Rumpler Taube attacked Japanese warships with two small bombs but did not score any hits. On November 7, 1914, shortly before the fall of Qingdao, Lieutenant Plüschow was ordered to fly top secret documents to Shanghai but was forced to make an emergency landing at Lianyungang where the lieutenant and his Taube were both interned by a local Chinese force. Plüschow was rescued by local Chinese civilians under the direction of an American missionary, and successfully reached his destination at Shanghai with his top secret documents, after he gave the engine to one of the Chinese civilians who rescued him and burnt the engine-less aircraft.

Poor rudder and lateral control made this plane difficult and slow to turn. Consequently the plane was a very easy target for the faster and more mobile enemy planes at the beginning of World War I. Therefore, six months into the war, the Taube was removed from the front lines and instead used to train new pilots. Consequently many famous pilots learned how to fly using a Taube.


Due to the lack of license fees, a total of no less than 14 companies built a large number of variations of the initial design, making it difficult for historians to determine the exact manufacturer based on historical photographs. An incomplete list is shown below. The most common version was the Rumpler Taube with two seats.

File:Jeannin Stahltaube 1.jpg
Jeannin Stahltaube, Technikmuseum Berlin
Albatros Taube
Produced by the Albatros Flugzeugwerke
Albatros Doppeltaube
Biplane version produced by the Albatros Flugzeugwerke.
Aviatik Taube
Produced by the Aviatik.
DFW Stahltaube (Stahltaube)
Version with a steel frame.
Etrich Taube
Produced by the inventor Igo Etrich.
Initial name of the "Rumpler Taube".
Gotha Taube
Produced by the Gothaer Waggonfabrik as the LE.1, LE.2 and LE.3 (Land Eindecker - "Land Monoplane") and designated A.I by the Idflieg
Harlan Pfeil Taube
Halberstadt Taube III
Produced by the Halberstadt.
Jeannin Taube (Jeannin Stahltaube)
Version with a steel frame.
Kondor Taube
Produced by the Kondor.
Lüdemann Taube
Produced by the Lüdemann.
RFG Taube
Produced by the Reise- und Industrieflug GmbH (RFG).
Roland Taube
Produced by Edmund Rumpler, Luftfahrzeugbau.
Rumpler Delfin-Taube (Rumpler Kabinentaube "Delfin")
Version with a closed cabin, produced by Edmund Rumpler, Luftfahrzeugbau.


Template:Country data Republic of China
  • Two units were ordered by Chinese revolutionaries to fight Imperial Qing China, but when the they reached Shanghai in December, 1911 with other Taube airplanes ordered by Imperial German forces stationed in China, the Imperial Qing dynasty had already been overthrown and the airplanes did not have the opportunity to participate in the battle.
Template:Country data Austria-Hungary
Template:Country data German Empire
Template:Country data Italy
Template:Country data Norway

Specifications (Rumpler Taube)

General characteristics

  • Crew: two
  • Length: 9.9 m (33.5 ft)
  • Wingspan: 14.3 m (45.83 ft)
  • Height: 3.2 m (10.5 ft)
  • Wing area: 32.5 m² (280 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 650 kg (950 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 850 kg (1,200 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1× 4-cylinder Argus or 6-Cylinder Mercedes Typ E4F , 74 kW (99 hp)



  • Rifles and pistols
  • Hand dropped bombs

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:

See also


Template:Lone designation Template:Idflieg A-class designations

de:Etrich Taube es:Rumpler Taube it:Etrich Taube hu:Etrich Taube ms:Rumpler Taube ja:タウベ (航空機) ru:Etrich Taube fi:Taube (lentokone) sv:Rumpler Taube

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Etrich Taube".