Of sesquiplane design the main fuselage was a steel nose-capsule that ran from just behind the propeller to the rear crew position. It was covered with 0.20 inch thick chrome-nickel sheet-steel and weighed 1,040 pounds. It protected the crew, the engine and the two fuel tanks. Engine access was provided by two hinged, 3 ply armor-steel panels. All this provided effective protection against the small arms fire encountered by low flying aircraft.
The aircraft could be disassembled into its main components: wings, fuselage, undercarriage, and tail, to make it easier to transport by rail or road. A ground crew of six to eight could reassemble the aircraft and have it ready for flight within four to six hours. The wings were covered with 0.0075 inch thick Duralumin skin which could be easily dented, so great care had to be taken when handling the aircraft on the ground.
The aircraft first entered front service in August 1917. They were used on the Western Front during the German Spring Offensive of 1918.
The only surviving example of the J.I biplane was sent to Canada in 1919 and is now part of the National Aviation Museum's collection.
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