Rumpler Flugzeugwerke followed their Rumpler C.I biplane reconnaissance aircraft with the improved C.III series. The Rumpler name eventually became associated with excellent high-flying, long endurance reconnaissance aircraft and was built from successes such as the C.I and C.III - though both were eventually outdone by the strong C.IV to follow.
The Rumpler concern was born from Edmund Rumpler, an Austrian-born engineer who settled the Rumpler Luftfahrtzeugbau in Berlin in 1909. In its early years, the company was content with license production of the Etrich Taube series monoplane, a rather primitive aircraft with swallow-like wings and tail unit. It was not until the arrival of World War 1 that the wartime economy allowed for more experimentation and the possibility of netting lucrative defense contracts with the Imperial German government. As such, Rumpler took to in-house design and development of his own reconnaissance-minded airframe following conventional rules of the day. The designs became successful two-seat, biplane-winged armed scouts that would carve out a niche in the German aircraft inventory.
The original C.I was purchased by the German Air Service (the "Luftstreitkrafte") in 1915 and, amazingly, managed a frontline existence into 1918 - the final year of the war. Its arrangement was traditional with the engine (powered a two-bladed wooden propeller) at the front of the boxy fuselage, the crew in open-air cockpits at center (seated inline) and a traditional tail unit featuring a single vertical tail fin. The biplane wing arrangement was consistent with the period and showcased parallel struts with the necessary cabling. The undercarriage was fixed and incorporated a simple tail skid at the rear along with its two wheeled leg units. The type was used beyond the German Empire for the Ottoman Empire was allowed operation of the biplane. Latvia, Poland and Yugoslavia all became post-war users.
With that said, it was only natural to evolve the existing design based on operational experience and this begat the C.III production model (recognized by Rumpler as "Model 6A5"). The C.III brought about greater understanding of aerodynamic principles and their effects on fighter-type aircraft. Refinements were instituted throughout in trying to produce a well-conditioned airframe for the rigors of military service. Several changes later and the refined "Model 6A6" was realized. The C.III was given a single Benz Bz IV series engine of 220 horsepower which allowed for operations over 13,000 feet with a range of 300 miles and a top speed of 85 miles per hour. For 1916 standards, this was quite impressive. Additionally, the C.III was longer than the C.I while featuring a wider wingspan - changes intended to promote improved performance specifications. Armament included a single forward-firing 7.92mm machine gun and a single 7.92mm machine gun on a trainable mount in the rear cockpit. The crew of two - the pilot and the observer/gunner - sat in individual open-air cockpits with the pilot in the front seat just aft of the engine mounting.
Impressed with the C.III, German authorities moved to secure some 70-75 aircraft though records indicate that there may never have been more than 50 available during its peak usage. The C.III superseded the C.I types and operated in the same manner, armed scouting of enemy positions and engaging when appropriate. Rumpler began work on an even more improved C-series biplane scout and this became the C.IV. With the arrival of the C.IV, the C.III's value was lessened considerably to the point that few remained into late 1917 - unlike the C.I which endured into early 1918 after being introduced in 1915. The C.IV itself remained a frontline system for the German Air Service until the end of the war in November of 1918.