The Albatros D.III was the first of the Albatros D-series to incorporate the new "Vee" shaped struts and these served to improve wing rigidity and, in turn, make for a more maneuverable mount. Additionally, the Mercedes D.III series engines featured in the preceding D.II was revised with a high-compression modification that improved high-altitude performance and brought output up to 170 horsepower. Top speed was 109 miles per hour. The original armament of 2 x 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns was retained for their proven effectiveness.
The D.III continued the design and construction successes found in the D.I and D.II before it, featuring a semi-monocoque structure with plywood skinning. This provided for a seemingly aerodynamic appearance when compared to the angular, slab-sided designs of the time. The pilot sat at the relative center portion of the fuselage in an open-air cockpit with nothing but a windscreen protecting him, his position just behind and under the top wing. The top wing was lowered enough to allow for improved visibility (a practical and well-liked feature carried over from the development of the D.II). The engine sat before the pilot under the twin 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. The two-bladed wooden propeller featured a large cone-shaped spinner adding both an aerodynamic function and design flair. The undercarriage consisted of two fixed struts, each with single wheels while the empennage held the tail skid.
The original D.I production model was introduced in August of 1916 with the modified D.II following later that year. The D.III was already being designed in the summer of 1916 and achieved first flight that fall. It officially made its formal appearance for the Imperial German Army Air Service beginning in January of 1917 though D.III's were in operational service in some quantity by December of 1916 to which pilots rejoiced at the systems inherent capabilities. The aircraft performed well from the outset and featured a great rate-of-climb (a feature consistent with the D-series as a whole). The new wing arrangement immediately proved to offer better maneuverability over her predecessors. Power was provided for by a Mercedes brand D.IIIa series engine which was progressively uprated from 170 horsepower to 175 during the production run. After some operational service, the radiator had to be shifted from the center to the right side of the upper wing. This was done due to the fact that the pilot would incur serious burns should the radiator become punctured in combat (this production change was included in the 290th aircraft and onwards).
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