Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Germany - 1916 Albatros C.V

Good day to you all. I thought I needed a change of topic. Lately the posts have mainly been about fighters, so I am doing a change up and look at a reconnaissance aircraft.

During the Great War Designers wrote the book on on aircraft design by trial and error without much hindsight to guide them. Along the way many wrong ideas were tested and discarded. New designs bring about a new set of engineering problems for designers to solve. When reality proves the design is flawed and something needs to change before an aircraft can enter production. Some times those changes can not be implemented for various reasons. This leads to abandoning work on that model. What is needed is a new design built using a growing body of data.

The Problematic Albatros C.V

Albatros C.V - 1916
Albatros C.V/17 - 1917

The Albatros C.V was a German military reconnaissance aircraft which saw service in 1916 and 1917.

The C.V was Albatros Flugzeugwerke's first revision of their B- and C-type reconnaissance aircraft since Ernst Heinkel left the firm for Hansa-Brandenburg. While retaining the same basic layout as the Heinkel-designed aircraft, the C.V featured considerably refined streamlining. The forward fuselage was skinned in sheet metal and a neat, rounded spinner covered the propeller boss. Power was provided by the new Mercedes D.IV, a geared eight-cylinder engine.

The initial production version, designated C.V/16, suffered from heavy control forces and inadequate engine cooling. Albatros therefore produced the C.V/17 with a new lower wing, as well as balanced ailerons and elevators. The fuselage-mounted radiators were replaced by a single flush radiator in the upper wing.

These changes improved both handling qualities and engine cooling, but the downfall of the C.V was the unreliable Mercedes D.IV engine, which suffered from chronic crankshaft failures. The C.V was therefore replaced in production by the Albatros C.VII.


  • C.V/16: Original design with radiators on fuselage sides.
  • C.V/17: Revised aircraft with radiator on upper wing, and redesigned lower wing.


  1. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions. pp. 52.
  2. Grosz, Peter M. (2002). "Albatros C.V. Windsock Datafile 81" Berkhamsted: Albatros Productions Ltd..


The Angry Lurker said...

Other than the role they were used for, what was the main difference between fighter and reconnaissance craft or was there one?

kingsleypark said...

When you read about the various problems the aircraft of WW1 suffered from with dodgy engines and airframes it makes you realise just how incredibly brave pilots were climbing into these things in the first place!

W. I. Boucher said...

The quick answer is that reconnaissance craft were larger, slower, and more stable making them poor dog fighters. They were larger to provide space to hold cameras and other equipment, an extra crewman to perform the observation tasks, and more fuel to extend range or flight time.

Reconnaissance aircraft were modified to serve in a wide variety of missions, such as ground attack planes and light bombers and even trainers.

The line between fighters and reconnaissance aircraft became blurred in the late war when the French began using larger two seated fighters.

W. I. Boucher said...

@ KP: It comes as no surprise that military pilots were young. They were still endowed with a youthful belief that they are invulnerable and massive risk is fun. It may also explain why there was always a place on base where you could get a stiff drink after a sortie.

The Angry Lurker said...

That makes sense.