This extraordinary wooden airplane propeller hails from World War I, used on the formidable German Halberstadt CL.IV, a ground attack aircraft of significant repute. The propeller was designed for the Mercedes D III engine, a robust 6-cylinder in-line, water-cooled engine of 160 horsepower.
The piece is a rare artifact. Many German propellers didn't survive due to the massive destruction following WW1. This one was the handiwork of brothers Karl and Herman Niendorf. Initially piano makers in their Pianofabrik in Luckenwalde, Brandenburg, they were co-opted into propeller production in 1915, a common tale during the war as many German woodworkers pivoted towards manufacturing aircraft components.
Here's some key data derived from the propeller's stampings:
- 160 PS: A designation for the 160 horsepower engine it was designed to work with.
- 215 ST: The pitch of the propeller, measuring 215 cm.
- 276 D: Indicates a diameter of 276 cm.
- Serial Number 2803
Interestingly, despite the stampings and the appearance of being full length, the propeller measures 104-3/4 inches in length, slightly less than the expected 276 cm. This propeller resembles the exact propeller exhibited on the Halberstadt CL. IV
at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (see photos).
Additional markings include 'GEPRUFT P&W', representing the testing authority of Idflieg (1915-1917), and 'STAND 1310', showing the propeller achieved a speed of 1310 revolutions per minute in testing.
The hub measures 8 inches in width and 5-1/2 inches in depth. The central hole is 3 inches wide, while the distance from bolt hole to bolt hole is 5-7/8 inches, and the bolt size is 3/8 inches.
Absolutely amazing original Niendorf Luckenwalde Propellerwerke decals with the 1914 Iron Cross Insignia.
Despite a few signs of its age, the propeller has survived remarkably well, a testament to the craftsmanship of the Niendorf Luckenwalde Propellerwerke. This 1915-1917 propeller is truly an incredible piece of history!