|The German Albatros D.Va fighter was widely used and well known in its time, though not considered one of the best World War I fighters. It fought on all fronts and was flown by nearly all of the principal German aces.
The series of famous Albatros fighters that concluded with the D.Va began in the summer of 1916 with the Albatros D.I Scout. Powered by a 160-hp Mercedes engine, it was soon followed by the D.II model, with only slight structural modifications. By early January 1917, the advanced D. IIIs were in production and joining front-line units. This model was basically a modified DII with a narrow-chord lower wing similar to the French Nieuport. It met with immediate acceptance as the finest fighter the Germans had seen and consequently much was expected of it. The D.V. was the next in the line of Albatros fighters. To improve performance, the prototype, completed in early 1917, was designed as a lighter airplane than the D,III. It was described as having the same wings as the D.III and a redesigned, more oval fuselage. Its initial weight margin of 70 pounds was soon lost because of modifications to correct structural weaknesses. Since both were powered by the 160-hp Mercedes six-cylinder water-cooled in-line engine, the performances of the two quite similar. Albatros D.Vs began reaching front-line units in May 1917 and one or both types served in nearly every German fighter unit. For the average pilot the Albatros was easy to fly, without bad traits and, above all, effective in combat. An improved model, the Albatros D.Va was only slightly different from the D.V in that it incorporated a few structural improvements. Later models were equipped with the higher powered 180-hp Mercedes engine that improved the airplane's performance. Many notable airmen flew D.Vs and D.Va's, Erich Loewenhardt (fifty-three victories), Ernst Udet (sixty-two victories), and Werner Voss. (forty-eight victories). Manfred von Richthofen scored most of his eighty victories in the Albatros and not in the Fokker Triplane as legend implies. Manufacture of the Albatros was discontinued around April 1918 after approximately 4,800 Albatros fighters of all types had been produced. Of the D.V and D.Va series, there is evidence that 2,505 or more were ordered, yet only two examples of Albatros Fighters of any model survive. One at the Smithsonian is Washington USA, and the other is in the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra. |