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Pfalz D.XV Biplane Fighter Aircraft


The Pfalz D.XV was simply approved too late in World War 1 to affect its outcome for Germany - fewer than a handful were actually completed before the Armistice.

 Updated: 11/19/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Pfalz Flugzeugwerke managed a small collection of fighting aircraft for the German Empire of World War 1 (1914-1918). Their chief claim to fame became the Pfalz D.III (detailed elsewhere on this site) but this fighter design never matched the quality and capability of contemporaries offered from Albatros and Fokker. Other offerings included the D.VI, D.VII, D.VIII, D.XII, D.XV and Dr.1 (triplane). In the D.XV, the company delivered a single-seat biplane fighter in the last week of the war (November 1918) to which no more than a handful were delivered and none are known to have seen combat service.

The D.XV marked the last fighter entry in the war for Pfalz. The aircraft relied on the tried-and-proven biplane wing arrangement which incorporated parallel struts (N-type) in a single-bay format. The mainplanes were of uneven span with the lower assembly also of smaller area and ailerons were fitted to the upper wing element. The pilot sat aft and under the upper wing mainplane at midships in an open-air cockpit. The engine was mounted forward in the usual way and drove a two-bladed wooden propeller. The tail relied on a large-area, rounded vertical fin with low-set horizontal planes. The undercarriage, of the tail-dragger variety, held two forward main legs under the center mass of the fuselage and a simple tail skid at rear. Armament was 2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine guns set immediately forward of the cockpit.

Power was derived from a single BMW IIIa 6-cylinder water-cooled engine of 185 horsepower. Performance included a maximum speed of 126 miles per hour with a mission endurance window of about one and one-half hours to two hours in the air. Rate-of-climb was 1,640 feet-per-minute and the listed service ceiling was 22,965 feet.

The Allied push during the early and middle parts of 1918 began to signal the end of the German Empire's role in the Grand War. Design work on the Pfalz D.XV was had in that summer and two forms were generated - the D.XVf with aerodynamically unbalanced ailerons and the D.XV (Spezial) with overhanging, balanced ailerons. The aircraft was evaluated for a short period prior to the end of the war and found to be speedy and very agile - though pilots noted difficulties in landing and some stubbornness at the tail section.

The design was finally approved for serial production on November 4th, 1918 but this proved too little too late - the Armistice was signed on November 11th to end the war.

It is believed that at least two D.XV aircraft were completed in full while over seventy airframes lay awaiting their finalization work. After the war, Pfalz Flugzeugwerke was forced into bankruptcy and was no more as an aircraft-maker. The French moved in and overtook Pfalz manufacturing capabilities to ensure no war-making goods could be had for the German Empire in the post-war years.







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Pfalz D.XV Technical Specifications



Service Year: 1918
Type: Biplane Fighter Aircraft
National Origin: Imperial Germany
Manufacturer(s): Pfalz Flugzeugwerke - Imperial Germany
Production Total: 2


Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)



Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 21.33 feet (6.5 meters)
Overall Width: 28.22 feet (8.60 meters)
Overall Height: 8.86 feet (2.70 meters)

Weight (Empty): 1,631 lb (740 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 2,028 lb (920 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance



Propulsion: 1 x BMW IIIa 6-cylinder water-cooled engine developing 185 horsepower and driving two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Maximum Speed: 126 mph (203 kph; 110 knots)
Maximum Range: 221 miles (355 km)
Service Ceiling: 22,966 feet (7,000 meters; 4.35 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 1,640 feet-per-minute (500 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload



2 x 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

Global Operators / Customers



Imperial Germany

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)



D.XV - Base Series Designation
D.XVf - Unbalanced ailerons
D.XV (Spezial) - Balanced ailerons with overhang