Late 1915 the German army air service introduced what could be called ground support units. Proving effective on a small scale during the Battle of Verdun in early 1916, a high priority expansion programme began. The AEG J.I was developed to meet this task until more suitable aircraft became available.
The J.I was essentially a C.IV with a more powerful Benz Bz.IV of 200 hp to offset the weight of 860 lb 390 kg) of armour plate crew and engine protection. This 2 in (51mm) thick steel sheet protection extended from the nose to the rear of the cockpit. Armament was 2 LMG 08/15 mounted in the rear cockpit floor pointing downward and forward at about 45 degrees. These could be used to strafe trenches or columns of troops. The observer had also a trainable LMG 14 on a ring mounting.
The increased weight caused ailerons to be added to the lower wings to improve lateral control.
AEG built more than 600 J.Is and J.IIs.
Engine: Benz Bz.IV, 200 hp
Wingspan: 44 ft 2 in / 13.46 m
Length: 23 ft 7.5 in / 7.2 m
Height: 10 ft 11.5 in / 3.3m
Wing area: 357.16 sq.ft / 33.18 sq.m
Empty wt: 3280 lb / 1455 kg
MTOW: 3836 lb / 1740 kg
Max speed: 94 mph / 150 kph
Climb to 3280 ft / 1000m; 6 min
Service ceiling: 14,765 ft / 4500 m
Max range: 233 sm / 375 km
Max endurance: 2.5 hr
Armament: 2 x fixed forward/downward firing 7.92mm MG 08/15 machine guns / 1 x trainable 7.92mm LMG 14 Parabellum