Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Albatros


Albatros Flugzeugwerke GmbH were responsible for some of the most graceful and effective fighters of the Great War. Their twin gun, semi-monocoque plywood Albatros D.1 powered by a 160PS Daimler Mercedes D.III engine arrived at the front in September 1916 and achieved instant air superiority over its main opposition of Nieuport 11 and DH.2 fighters. 

Followed immediately by the slightly improved D.II and in December by the much improved D.III with a V strutted sesqiplane wing greatly influenced by the successful Neiuport fighters. The D.III was more maneuverable than the D.II and its single spar lower "half" wing afforded greater visibility for the pilot but was also the cause of numerous, and usually fatal, structural failures. Despite much effort this problem was never completely resolved. Nevertheless the D.III remained in production well into late 1917.


Even as the excellent D.III went into production plans were underway for its successor, the Albatros D.V. Retaining the wings of the D.III but with aileron controls routed through the upper wing and with a redesigned fuselage completely oval in section, the D.V was arguably the best looking of all Albatros designs. Unfortunately it inherited the lower wing structural failure problem of the D.III and turned out to not be any real improvement over its predecessor. Despite this the Albatros D.V, along with the slightly re-designed D.Va, was manufactured in greater numbers than any previous German fighter of the war, only surpassed later by the Fokker D.VII.

Albatros D.V Karl Schattauer - Jasta 16b 

The D.V. first appeared in May 1917 and would soon be outclassed by the improved SE.5a, Sopwith Camel and SPAD fighters being fielded by the allies at the time.

However, in the hands of a talented pilot the beautiful (and plentiful), Albatros D.V and D.Va were quite capable of holding their own. Flown by most of Germany’s top aces of the time, Albatros D.Vs continued to provide good service even when superseded by the newer Fokker Dr.1, Pfalz D.III and IIIa fighters.

Albatros D.Va  Ltn. Hans Joachim von Hippel Jasta 5

Albatros D.Va 

Even after the introduction of the superb Fokker D.VII, Albatros D.Vs could still be found equipping frontline Jastas right up to the armistice, though most had been relegated to training duties by this time. 
(credit the Vintage Aviator for text)

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