Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Germany - 1917 Albatros C.X

A Sleek Reconnaissance Plane for the Late War

Albatros C.X - 1917
Albatros C.X - 1917

The Albatros C.X was a very successful German military reconnaissance aircraft which saw service during the late years of World War I.

The production of the C.X model continued their commitment to producing capable reconnaissance aircraft. The C.X was designed to improve upon a successful family of aircraft by adding a more aerodynamic fuselage and improved power plants.

It was essentially an enlarged development of the C.VII designed to take advantage of the new Mercedes D.IVa engine that became available in 1917. Unlike the C.VII that preceded it in service, the C.X utilized the top wing spar-mounted radiator that had first been tried on the C.V/17. Other important modernization features included the carriage of oxygen for the crew, and radio equipment. A total of 400 Albatros C.X aircraft were built in five orders issued by Idflieg from October 1916 to January 1917.

The C.X had impressive performance numbers. The maximum speed was 110 mph (175 km/h). It was a high flyer with a service ceiling of 16,500 ft (5,000 m). The C.X also had a respectable climb rate of 660 ft/min (3.3 m/s). The C.X had a long range capabilities and staying power because of an endurance of 3 hours 25 min. Armament consisted of one fixed forward-firing synchronized 0.312 in (7.92 mm) Spandau LMG 08/15 machine gun and single trainable 0.312 in (7.92 mm) Parabellum MG14 machine gun for observer.


  1. From Wikipedia Albatros C.X,"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatros_C.X"
  2. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions. pp. 53.
  3. Grosz, Peter M. "Albatros C.X. Windsock Datafile 114" Berkhamsted: Albatros Productions Ltd..

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Albatros Project Part 2

New Albatros Fighter Profiles

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. The weather is hot and I am taking a break to cool down. I decided to post some more of the New Albatros profiles I have been working on. I hope you enjoy them.

I found the reference material for this drawing on Wing Palette. I need to find more background information for this Albatros D.II. I liked it because of the markings and color. That is reason enough for me.

New Albatros D.III Profiles

Albatros D.III Verner Voss - 1916
Albatros D.III Verner Voss - 1916

This Albatros D.III has always been one of my favorites It was flown by Verner Voss, one of Germany's top aces. It was challenging to do because of all the surface detail you have to deal with either in paint or pixels. The hearts are for his girlfriend, and the swastika in the laurel wreath is an Indian sign of good luck.combine that with a natural wood fuselage and it is a satisfying project.

New Albatros D.V Profiles

Albatros D.V Hans Bohning - 1917
Albatros D.V Hans Bohning - 1917

Recent information has surfaced showing this profile is incorrect. Greg Van Wyngarden's Albatross Aces book states that there was doubt that this was ever used on that Aircraft. Dan San Abbott verified this on the Aerodrome message board stating that he had misinterpreted the photo of the aircraft. What was a fuselage cross, appeared to be the Ace Of Spades. Even though it is not accurate it was still fun profile to do. I will update this profile soon so it is historically accurate..

New Albatros D.Va Profiles

Albatros D.Va - 1917
Albatros D.Va - 1917

I am still searching for more information on this Albatros D.Va. I had seen a photo of a modern restoration and liked the insignia and paint scheme. I still need to do another attempt at getting the insignia just right and stand up to reduction of the image for a thumbnail picture.

Germany - 1917 AEG D.I and Dr.I

AEG Experimental Aircraft - 1917

Building experimental aircraft has always a gamble. What looked good on the drawing board could be a death trap in the air. AEG had designed the efficient G- class bomber which served well in the war. Spurred on by their success the company designed a fighter for testing. The results of the experiment was less than spectacular.

The Crash-Prone AEG D.I

AEG AEG D.I - 1917
AEG AEG D.I - 1917

The AEG D.I was a biplane fighter built in 1917 by Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG). Three prototypes were ordered for the Luftstreitkräfte, but after the first two aircraft were involved in serious crashes, development was cancelled. A triplane version was built as the Dr.I. The second and third prototypes differed little except in minor details.

The D.I was powered by a Mercedes D.IIIa 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled inline engine, producing 158 hp (118 kW). The armament was twin forward-firing 0.312 in (7.92 mm) LMG 08/15 machine guns mounted on the deck.


  • A.E.G. D.I - 1917 prototype single seat bi-plane fighter.
  • A.E.G. Dr.I - 1917 prototype single seat tri-plane fighter.

Aircraft numbers

  • AEG D.I - first prototype serial number not known.
  • AEG D.I - second prototype serial number D4401/17.
  • AEG D.I - third prototype serial number D5002/17
  • AEG Dr.I - prototype serial number not known

The Unsuccessful AEG Dr.I Tripane

AEG Dr.I - 1917
AEG Dr.I - 1917

The AEG Dr.I was a triplane fighter of World War I, built by Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft in 1917 during Germany's period of experimentation of the triplane concept. The design was based on the equaly unuccessful AEG D.I.

The Dr.I was powered by a Mercedes D.IIIa 6-cylinder, liquid-cooled inline engine, producing 158 hp (118 kW). The armament was twin forward-firing 0.312 in (7.92 mm) LMG 08/15 machine guns mounted on the deck.

Only a single prototype was built and its poor performance meant there was no further production of this model.

The Final Word

Life by Murphy

Is there a law when you have a technical issue it is in the middle of a 4 day weekend? My connection has been dodgy at best and even more so last night. A call to my internet provider consisted of a lively dialog with a phone bot and an extended not always intelligible conversation with off-shore tech support located in India. I followed their instructions and made changes as asked, after I made them repeat them several times and read it back to them. When I tried to log on I got an error message that my modem was malfunctioning. As I was uninstalling and reinstalling my modem I get a call from the call station supervisor. She was equally unintelligible, the gist of the conversation was she did not care about the issue, she was just attempting to play "cover my ass". (aka: CYA). Needless to say my volume level escalated to the "room shaking bellow" range. The point of this rant is to say I have not been able to read and comment on as many blogs as I would have wanted.

I want to give Francis of The Angry Lurker fame a shout out and send a get well soon message. We all miss you mate.


  1. AEG D.I. (2010, December 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:14, February 27, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AEG_D.I&oldid=402605916
  2. AEG Dr.I. (2010, August 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:45, February 27, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=AEG_Dr.I&oldid=380535853
  3. AEG D.I 1917 The Virtual Aircraft Museum. Retrieved 03:10, February 27, 2011, from http://www.aviastar.org/air/germany/aeg_d-1.php
  4. AEG Dr I 1917 The Virtual Aircraft Museum Retrieved 04:40, February 27, 2011, from http://www.aviastar.org/air/germany/aeg_dr-1.php
  5. AEG Dr I 1917 The Virtual Aviation Museum Retrieved 04:50, February 27, 2011, from http://www.luftfahrtmuseum.com/htmi/itf/aegdr1.htm
  6. Gray, Peter and Thetford, Owen. German Aircraft of the First World War. London: Putnam, 2nd Ed. 1970.
  7. Gray, Peter and Thetford, Owen. German Aircraft of the First World War. London:Putnam, 1962.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Germany - 1917 Albatros D.VII

I hope you all are having a great weekend. Today I am going to go back to the topic of experimental Albatros aircraft. During the later years of the war Albatros Flugzeugwerke worked feverishly to produce a viable aircraft to enter mass production. Most of their new designs never entered production. The company's fighter designs were eclipsed by new lighter more cost effective aircraft produced by Fokker Flugzeug-Werke GmbH. Albatros was still one of the major producers two seat aircraft in the late days of the war, however they never able to design mass produced single seat fighter again.

Experimental Albatros Aircraft of 1917

Albatros D.VII - 1917
Albatros D.VII - 1917

Some purists will take me to task for this profile. The only pictures I have found were black and white photos. In them the aircraft surface looked decidedly crude. I admit I have smoothed the lines of the plane and the color is conjectural. It may be a case of fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But at least I gave it a try. If anyone has more information please contact me so it is not so much of a stab in the dark.

First flown in August 1917, the D.VII was powered by a 195 hp Benz Bz Illb V-eight cylinder water-cooled engine. Strut-linked ailerons were carried by all wings and armament comprised two synchronized 0.312 in (7.92 mm) LMG 08/15 machine guns. The characteristics of the D.VII offered an insufficient increase in performance to warrant further development beyond initial prototype stage.


  1. Albatros D.VII. The Virtual Aviation Museum Retrieved 08:15, March 24, 2011, from http://www.luftfahrtmuseum.com/htmi/itf/albd7.htm/li>
  2. Albatros D.VII. The Aerodrome Forum. Retrieved 08:10, March 24, 2011, from http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/aircraft/30987-albatros-dvii.html
  3. Albatros D.VII. (2011, January 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:29, March 24, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Albatros_D.VII&oldid=409267682
  4. Albatros D.VII.1917 The Virtual Aircraft Museum Retrieved 06:49, March 22, 2011, from http://www.aviastar.org/air/germany/albatros_d-7.php
  5. Green, W. & Swanborough, G. The Complete Book of Fighters (1994). London: Salamander Books. ISBN 1-85833-777-1
  6. Grosz, Peter M. Albatros Experimentals- Forgotten Fighters 1. Windsock Datafile Specials Albatros Productions Limited (1 Jan 1992) ISBN-10: 0948414456 ISBN-13: 978-0948414459
  7. Grey and Thetford's German Aircraft of the First World War. Nautical & Aviation Publishing Company of Ame (April 1990) ISBN-10: 0933852711 ISBN-13: 978-0933852716

Saturday, May 28, 2011

USA - 1914 Curtiss Model F-4

Good morning, I hope you are having a great weekend. For Americans this weekend marks a solemn observance of Memorial Day, honoring all those who fell in war defending what they held precious. Common men who through their sacrifices became heroes we should never forget. May their memory always burn bright, and may we make a better world in their honor.

Glenn Curtiss Changes the Aviation World

Glenn Curtiss was one of the most influential of all American aircraft designers. He designed many of the aircraft used by the US Air Force. His research into amphibious aircraft was a game changer. It extended air power well beyond coastal regions and created flexibility of operational roles. Flying boats would be used as fighters, reconnaissance aircraft and cargo carriers during the Great War..

The Curtiss Model F-4 flying boat came about because The Daily Mail offered a large monetary prize for an aircraft with transoceanic range in 1914 prompting a collaboration between British and American air pioneers, resulting in the highly successful Curtiss Model H.

America Develops the Curtiss Model F-4

American Curtiss Model F-4 - 1913
American Curtiss Model F-4 - 1913

The Curtiss Models F made up a family of early flying boats developed in the United States in the years leading up to World War I. Widely produced, Model Fs saw service with the United States Navy under the designations C-2 through C-5, later reclassified to AB-2 through AB-5. Several examples were exported to Russia, and the type was built under license in Italy

In configuration, these were biplane flying boats powered by a single engine mounted amongst the interplane struts and driving a pusher propeller. The pilot and a single passenger sat side-by-side in an open cockpit. The wing cellule was derived from the Model E land plane and was of two-bay, unstaggered, equal-span construction with large ailerons mounted on the interplane struts and extending past the span of the wings themselves. The earliest examples of this design were built and sold by Curtiss in 1912 without any designation applied to them; the Model F name only coming into use the following year. Confusingly, Curtiss also used the designation Model E to refer to some early machines in this family, although these were quite distinct from Curtiss land planes that bore this same designation and all but identical to the Model Fs.

Model Fs built from 1918 featured a revised, unequal-span wing that incorporated the ailerons into the upper wing and sponsons on the sides of the hull to improve the aircraft's handling in water. These were known as the Model MF (for Modernized-F), and years later as the Seagull in the post-war civil market.

The US Navy initially purchased four of these aircraft in addition to the Freak Boat (C-1/AB-1) that it had already obtained and which was retrofitted to approximately the same design as the others. One of these, the C-2 became the first aircraft to fly under automatic control on 30 August 1913 when fitted with a gyroscopic stabilizer designed by Elmer Sperry. The same aircraft (by now redesignated AB-2) then became the first aircraft to be launched by catapult from a warship while underway when it took off from USS North Carolina on 5 November 1915. Her sister, AB-3, became the first US heavier-than-air aircraft to see military action when launched from USS Birmingham on 25 April 1914 on a scouting mission over Veracruz during the United States Occupation of Veracruz.

The US Navy bought another eight aircraft before the end of 1916, but orders in quantity only came following the type's selection as the Navy's standard flying-boat trainer in April 1917. An initial batch of 144 of the basic F model were ordered, followed by 22 MFs in 1918. Another 80 MFs were produced under license by the Naval Aircraft Factory. A small number of Model Es and Fs were also purchased by the US Army.

Russia Imports the Curtiss Model F-4

Russian Curtiss Model F-4 - 1913
Russian Curtiss Model F-4 - 1913

The Russian Navy purchased two batches of Model Fs in 1913-14 and operated them as part of the Black Sea and Baltic Sea fleets until they were replaced by the Model K shortly thereafter.

Italy Begins Producing the Curtiss Model F-4

Italian Curtiss Model F-4 - 1913
Italian Curtiss Model F-4 - 1913

In Italy, the Curtiss representative Enea Bossi secured rights for local license-production of the Type F by the Zari brothers, who built eight examples at their workshop in Bovisia, near Milan. The first of these was demonstrated to the Italian Navy on Lake Como on 22 September 1914.


  1. Curtiss Model F. (2010, October 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Curtiss_Model_F&oldid=390334667
  2. The Great War Society Aircraft of the A E F Curtiss F Boat Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from http://www.worldwar1.com/dbc/curtissf.htm
  3. Virtual Aircraft Museum Curtiss Model F 1913 Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from http://www.aviastar.org/air/usa/curtiss_model-f.php
  4. Aerofiles Those Curtiss Boats Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from http://aerofiles.com/curtiss-boats.html
  5. Bowers, Peter M. (1979). Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam. ISBN 0 370 10029 8.
  6. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 193, 278.
  7. The Curtiss Flyleaf. Hammondsport, New York: Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Local History. 1987.
  8. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 891 Sheet 43.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Albatros Project #1

The Albatros Project Report #1

The Albatros Project is in full swing. I have made new master files for the D.I, D.II, D.III, D.V, C.VII, C.X, and C.XII. While working I have replaced all the older less accurate profiles and been on a roll producing new examples for my profile galleries at my main site WWI Aviation. I will be posting some of the new work here.

I had found a reference picture for this aircraft in my reference archive. It is the only example of a multiple color camouflage scheme on a D.I I have seen. Needless to say I needed to give the scheme a try. The camouflage is done using 3 colorized monochrome layers, top to bottom, rust brown, green, blue. I simply remove the bottom of the two top layers to expose the blue belly. The next step is to remove the areas of the brown exposing the green areas. Next I turn off visibility to all the layers except for the brown, green, and blue. Now I can merge the visible parts into a single layer. Now when the final shadows from the wing and tail plane are applied it is quicker and easier to do.

My old master for the D.II was flawed. The side of the fuselage looked rounded instead of flat. I replaced the old profiles with new ones, and changed the type wood for the fuselage from an ash to a maple. THE D.II above is a new profile which I had saved for when I had a better master file.

I have said before I love flashy paint schemes. So when I saw the scheme on the D.II above I had to do it. it is a fairly straight forward project. I had made the propeller fairing, metal nose, and engine compartment as a separate layer so it took minimal work. I had selected the rear of the fuselage and colorized it green. I skinned the body layer under the green layer in maple with a multiply fill filter to combine the shading and the wood pattern. The final flash was the blue piped white stripe which started as a stroked and filled rectangle which I rotated and trimmed to fit. I had made the rudder a separate layer. I copied it and pasted it onto a sheet of Bavarian checks I had drawn and keep in my "decal" library. I selected the area around the rudder, increased selection, then inverted it. Next I moved to the check layer and copied the new selection and pasted the checks over the rudder in the main image. Presto! From there it is simply a matter of adding details and shading..

The final example is a D.Va which uses all the same tricks and techniques as the other profiles. I find doing computer graphics to be very similar to when I was building scale model kits. There is a lot of working with "decals" either virtual or film. But I did come to this through model building and gaming. We go with what we know.

Have a great weekend and I hope to see your comments and thoughts here soon.

Best Wishes

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Britian - 1918 Sopwith Snipe

Looking at the poll results I see many want to see British fighters. So here are some profiles of one of the best British fighters to go into production during the Great War.

The final year of the war saw the birth of refined high performance aircraft. One of the best of the crop was Sopwith Aviation Company's Snipe. The design was clean, compact, sturdy, and a joy to fly. Unlike the Sopwith Camel the Snipe was both maneuverable and forgiving in flight.

The Snipe - One of Sopwith's Best Fighters

Sopwith Snipe - 1918
Sopwith Snipe - 1918

A descendant of the Sopwith Camel, the Sopwith Snipe was equipped with a more powerful engine and provided better visibility from the cockpit. Though not much faster than the Camel, the Snipe had a better rate of climb and pilots found it much easier to fly.

On 27 October 1918, Canadian ace William Barker made the Sopwith Snipe famous in a single-handed battle with more than 60 enemy aircraft that earned him the Victoria Cross. Flying the Sopwith Snipe, Captain Elwyn King scored 7 victories making him the highest scoring ace to fly this aircraft.


  1. From Wikipedia Sopwith Snipe, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sopwith_Snipe"
  2. Franks, Norman. "Dolphin and Snipe Aces of World War I (Aircraft of the Aces)". London: Osprey Publishing, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-317-9.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Italy - 1917 Ansaldo A.1 Balilla

I have been deep into Albatros frenzy, and working putting the last details on a high resolution drawing of an Airco DH-2. Needless to say I needed change of pace. so today's post is about Italian aviation.

Italian aviation development focused primarily on bomber and flying boat production. Fighter craft production relied on French licensed aircraft such as the Hanriot HD-1, Nieuports, and SPAD-VII - V-XIII. The one exception was the Gio. Ansaldo & C. which produced the Ansaldo A.1

Italy's Only Domestically Produced Fighter

Ansaldo A.1  Balilla - 1917
Ansaldo A.1 Balilla - 1917

The Ansaldo A.1, nicknamed "Balilla" after the Genoan folk-hero was Italy's only domestically-produced fighter aircraft of World War I. Arriving too late to see any real action, it was however used by both Poland and the Soviet Union in the Polish-Soviet War.

The A.1 resulted from continued efforts by the Ansaldo company to create a true fighter. Their SVA.5 had proved unsuitable in this role, although it made an excellent reconnaissance aircraft and had been ordered into production as such. Ansaldo engineer Giuseppe Brezzi revised the SVA.5 design, increasing the size of the lower wing, and redesigning the interplane strut arrangement. While this produced more drag, it increased the stiffness of the wing structure and reduced stresses in the airframe. Engine power was increased to 200 hp (150 kW) and a safety system to jettison the fuel tank through a ventral hatch (in case of onboard fire) was installed.

The first prototype was completed in July 1917, but acceptance by the air force did not occur until December. Test pilots were not enthusiastic in their evaluation. While they found a marked increase in performance over the SVA.5, the A.1 was still not as maneuverable as the French types in use by Italy's squadrons. This resulted in a number of modifications, including a slight enlargement of the wings and rudder, and a further 10% increase in engine power. This initially proved satisfactory to the air force, and the modified A.1 (designated A.1bis) was ordered into service with 91 Squadriglia for further evaluation.

Reports from pilots were mixed. While the fighter's speed was impressive, it proved unmaneuverable and difficult to fly. Nevertheless, with a need to clear a backlog of obsolete fighter types then in service, the air force ordered the A.1 anyway.

The first of an original order of 100 machines entered service in July 1918. The A.1s were kept away from the front lines and mostly assigned to home defence duties. In the four months before the Armistice, A.1s scored only one aerial victory, over an Austrian reconnaissance aircraft. It was during this time that Ansaldo engaged in a number of promotional activities, including dubbing the aircraft as Balilla, flying displays in major Italian cities, and in August donating an example to Italian ace Antonio Locatelli as his personal property amidst a press spectacle. (This latter publicity stunt backfired somewhat when one week later a mechanical fault in the aircraft caused Locatelli to make a forced landing behind enemy lines and be taken prisoner). Despite all this, the air force ordered another 100 machines, all of which were delivered before the end of the war. At the armistice, 186 were operational, of which 47 aircraft were ordered to remain on hand with training squadrons, and the remainder were to be put into storage.


  1. From Wikipedia Ansaldo A1 Balilla, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansaldo_A.1_Balilla"
  2. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). "Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions. pp. 62.

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..

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Germany - 1916 Albatros D.III

I hope you all had a great weekend. I spent mine getting a website up and running for friends. In between I was cranking out a new series of four Albatros D.III and eight D.V profiles and integrating them into my aviation history site galleries. I took time do do some cooking satisfy my creative side and feed my belly. I may be sleep deprived but I'm well fed. The much touted end of the world as we know it came and past without a bump and I feel fine.

The Long Lived Albatros D.III

Albatros D.III - 1916
Albatros D.III - 1916

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

Work on the prototype D.III started in late July or early August 1916. The date of the maiden flight is unknown, but is believed to have occurred in late August or early September. Following on the successful Albatros D.I and D.II series, the D.III utilized the same semi-monocoque, plywood-skinned fuselage. At the request of the Idflieg (Inspectorate of Flying Troops), however, the D.III adopted a sesquiplane wing arrangement broadly similar to the French Nieuport 11. The upper wing 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. Idflieg placed additional orders for 50 aircraft in February and March 1917.

The D.III entered squadron service in December 1916, and was immediately acclaimed by German aircrews for its maneuverability and rate of climb. Two faults with the new aircraft were soon identified. Like the D.II, early D.IIIs featured a Teves und Braun airfoil shaped radiator in the center of the upper wing, where it tended to scald the pilot if punctured. From the 290th D.III onward, the radiator was offset to the right.

More seriously, the new aircraft immediately began experiencing failures of the lower wing ribs and leading edge. On 23 January 1917, a Jasta 6 pilot suffered a failure of the lower right wing spar. On the following day, Manfred von Richthofen suffered a crack in the lower wing of his new D.III. On 27 January, the Kogenluft (Kommandierenden General der Luftstreitkräfte) issued an order grounding all D.IIIs pending resolution of the wing failure problem. On 19 February, after Albatros introduced a reinforced lower wing, the Kogenluft rescinded the grounding order. New production D.IIIs were completed with the strengthened wing while operational D.IIIs were withdrawn to Armee-Flugparks for modifications, forcing Jastas to use the Albatros D.II and Halberstadt D.II during the interim.

At the time, the continued wing failures were attributed to poor workmanship and materials at the Johannisthal factory. In fact, the cause of the wing failures lay in the sesquiplane arrangement taken from the Nieuport. While the lower wing had sufficient strength in static tests, it was subsequently determined that the main spar was located too far aft, causing the wing to twist under aerodynamic loads. Pilots were therefore advised not to perform steep or prolonged dives in the D.III. This design flaw persisted despite attempts to rectify the problem in the D.III and succeeding D.V.

Apart from its structural deficiencies, the D.III was considered pleasant and easy to fly, if somewhat heavy on the controls. The sesquiplane arrangement offered improved climb, maneuverability, and downward visibility compared to the preceding D.II. Like most contemporary aircraft, the D.III was prone to spinning, but recovery was straightforward.

Albatros built approximately 500 D.III aircraft at its Johannisthal factory. In the spring of 1917, D.III production shifted to Albatros' subsidiary, Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW), to permit Albatros to concentrate on development and production of the D.V. Between April and August 1917, Idflieg issued five separate orders for a total of 840 D.IIIs. The OAW variant underwent its Typenprüfung in June 1916. Production commenced at the Schneidemühl factory in June and continued through December 1917. OAW aircraft were distinguishable by their larger, rounded rudders.

Peak service was in November 1917, with 446 aircraft on the Western Front. The D.III did not disappear with the end of production, however. It remained in front line service well into 1918. As of 31 August 1918, 54 D.III aircraft remained on the Western Front.

Good News and Bad

The good news is I will continue posting aircraft profiles. The bad news is the experiment with top views will have to wait. It is a matter of storage space on my server. I sat down and did the math and found that for now I do not have the drive space or time to do it right.


  1. From Wikipedia Albatros D.III, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatros_D.III"
  2. Connors, John F. "Albatros Fighters In Action" (Aircraft No. 46). Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-89747-115-6.
  3. Franks, Norman, Hal Giblin and Nigel McCrery. "Under the Guns of the Red Baron: Complete Record of Von Richthofen's Victories and Victims". London: Grub Street, 1998 p. 59. ISBN 1-84067-145-9.
  4. Grosz, Peter M. "Albatros D.III" (Windsock Datafile Special). Berkhamsted, Herts, UK: Albatros Publications, 2003 p. 6, p. 8, pp. 11, 13, p. 18-19, pp. 21-22. ISBN 1-90220-762-9.
  5. Grosz, Peter M., George Haddow and Peter Schiemer. "Austro-Hungarian Army Aircraft of World War I". Boulder, CO: Flying Machines Press, 2002 p. 249, p. 251. ISBN 1-89126-805-8.
  6. Mikesh, Robert C. "Albatros D.Va. : German Fighter of World War I". Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980. ISBN 0-87474-633-7
  7. Van Wyngarden, Greg. "Albatros Aces of World War I Part 2" (Aircraft of the Aces No. 77). Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2007 p. 19. ISBN 1-84603-179-6

Britain - 1918 Avro 531 Spider

The Ill-Fated Avro 531 Spider

Avro 531 Spider - 1918
Avro 531 Spider - 1918
Avro 531 upper wing  Avro 531 lower wing
Avro 531 Upper and Lower Wing Paint Scheme

An unsponsored private-venture single-seat fighter designed by Roy Chadwick and flown for the first time in April 1918, the Spider made use of a number of Avro 504 components and had a fabric-covered wooden structure with a system of Warren-girder steel-tube interplane struts.

The upper wing was mounted close to the fuselage and directly above the cockpit. In its original form, the Spider was powered by a 110hp Le Rhone 9J nine-cylinder rotary engine, and proved to possess exceptional manoeuvrability, but overall performance was not sufficiently in advance of the contemporary Sopwith Camel to warrant quantity production. Armament comprised one fixed synchronized 7.7mm Vickers machine gun, and a 130hp Clerget 9B rotary was later fitted.

The Spider was a sesquiplane with a largely conventional configuration, but it used Warren truss-type interplane struts, hence the appellation "Spider". In tests, the aircraft demonstrated exceptional performance, handling, and pilot visibility. By the time it flew, the War Office had already selected the Sopwith Snipe for mass production.

A second, refined version, the 531A was apparently never completed, but some of its components seem to have been used to build a derivative design, the 538. This had standard interplane struts and was intended as a racing aircraft. It was never used for this purpose, however, since it was discovered that it had a faulty wing spar, so the Avro firm used it as a hack instead.


  1. Avro 531 Spider. (2010, September 15). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:46, November 18, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Avro_531_Spider&oldid=384956305
  2. Avro 531 Spider 1918 The Virtual Aircraft Museum http://www.aviastar.org/air/england/avro_spider.php
  3. Jackson, A.J. Avro Aircraft since 1908. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-834-8.
  4. Taylor, Michael J. H. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions, 1989, p. 93.
  5. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing, File 889, Sheet 94.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Germany - 1918 Albatros D.XI

It's been a busy day. A morning of dealing with tech support issues and beating my head against the wall. I needed sleep but I recharged my self spending the rest of the day working up a new master for the Albatros D.III, I'll post some of the new drawings next week. I took a break, ate lunch and made some wing drawings. It was time to play around with how I want to work them into my blog.

Albatros Experimental Aircraft of 1918

Albatros D.XI - 1918
Albatros D.XI - 1918
Albatros D.XI Upper Wing top and bottom surfaces
Albatros D.XI Upper Wing top and bottom surfaces
Albatros D.XI Lower Wing top and bottom surfaces
Albatros D.XI Lower Wing top and bottom surfaces

The Albatros D.XI was a German single-seat fighter biplane; and the only Albatros fighter to be powered by rotary engine (the 60hp Siemens-Halske Sh.III). The Albatros D.XI presented a departure from customary wire braced Albatros designs by using struts instead of cables to brace the wing cellule.

The wings had unequal spans with the upper planes having greater span than the lower ones, and were braced by I-struts with an aerofoil cross-section, additional rigidity being provided by twinned diagonal struts from the base of these to the top of the fuselage, located where the "landing wires" of a normal wire-braced biplane would be. The use of a rotary engine requireded a large-diameter propeller and a correspondingly tall undercarriage. The D.XI was armed with the same twin 0.312 in (7.92 mm) Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns employed on other Albatros fighters.

Two prototype aircraft were ordered and built (2208/18 and 2209/18). Construction of the first prototype, 2209/18, was completed in March 1918 but engine supply problems meant the aircraft did not begin flight testing until May 1918. D.XI 2209/18 participated in the in the Second Fighter Competition (used to allow front line pilots to provide input into future fighter selections) in June 1918, and put up an unexceptional performance before crashing on landing due to its high undercarriage and short fuselage. This contributed to Idflieg (German Flying Inspectorate) eliminating the D.XI from production consideration, especially considering other aircraft entering production had priority for the Sh.III engine.

Albatros continued development work, and the second prototype, 2208/18, which had larger ailerons, a four bladed prop and a shorter undercarriage to assist landing, participated in the Third Fighter Competition. Even with these modifications, the control response was too docile, although other flight characteristics were good. Again the D.XI was not selected for production, and the last of the prototype airframes was destroyed by the allies in early 1920.


  1. Albatros D.XI. (2010, May 4). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:26, July 10, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Albatros_D.XI&oldid=360031431
  2. Das Virtuelle Luftfahrtmuseum http://www.luftfahrtmuseum.com/htmi/itf/albd11.htm
  3. Albatros D.XI (1:48) by: Brad Cancian AeroScale retrieved 7/11/2010 2:02:57 AM http://aeroscale.kitmaker.net/modules.php?op=modload&name=Reviews&file=index&req=showcontent&id=3445
  4. Green, W.; Swanborough, G. (1994). "The Complete Book of Fighters". London: Salamander Books. ISBN 1-85833-777-1.