Albatros D.III

Albatros D.III
DesignerRobert Thelen
First flightAugust 1916
Primary usersLuftstreitkräfte
Number builtapproximately 1866

The Albatros D.III was a biplane fighter aircraft used by the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I. A modified licence model was built by Oeffag for the Austro-Hungarian Air Service (Luftfahrtruppen). The D.III was flown by many top German aces, including Wilhelm Frankl, Erich Löwenhardt, Manfred von Richthofen, Karl Emil Schäfer, Ernst Udet, and Kurt Wolff, and Austro-Hungarian ones, like Godwin von Brumowski. It was the preeminent fighter during the period of German aerial dominance known as "Bloody April" 1917.

Design and development

Ernst Udet in front of his Albatros D.III (serial D.1941/16)
Albatros D.III fighters of Jasta 11 at Douai, France. The second closest aircraft was one of several flown by Manfred von Richthofen

Development of the prototype D.III started in late July or early August 1916.[1] The date of the maiden flight is unknown, but is believed to have occurred in late August or early September.[1] Following the successful Albatros D.I and D.II series, the D.III utilized the same semi-monocoque, plywood-skinned fuselage. However, at the request of the Idflieg (Inspectorate of Flying Troops), the D.III adopted a sesquiplane wing arrangement broadly similar to the French Nieuport 11. The upper wingspan was extended, while the lower wing was redesigned with reduced chord and a single main spar. "V" shaped interplane struts replaced the previous parallel struts. For this reason, British aircrews commonly referred to the D.III as the "V-strutter."

After a Typenprüfung (official type test) on 26 September 1916, Albatros received an order for 400 D.III aircraft, the largest German production contract to date.[2] Idflieg placed additional orders for 50 aircraft in February and March 1917.[3]

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