Military Factory logo

Albatros D.I

Imperial Germany (1916)
Picture of Albatros D.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The Albatros D.I biplane fighter helped the German Empire in regaining control of the skies from the Allies in early 1917.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Albatros D.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/16/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The Albatros Flugzeugwerke firm certainly made a name for itself in World War 1. It was responsible for a series of well-respected airframes that helped to regain control of the skies from the air aces of the Triple Entente. The series began with the excellent D.I and evolved to include the improved forms of the D.II, D.III, D.V and D.Va before the end of the war in 1918. While only 50 of the D.I models were ever produced, it proved a significant addition to the inventory of the Imperial German Army Air Service which needed a counter against the ever-improving enemy scouts. Like other classic mounts debuted in World War 1, the D.I led only a short existence before being replaced by more capable fighters - such was the life of a military aircraft during a war when technology was changing on a seemingly daily basis.

The Albatros D.I model was ordered in June of 1916 and introduced into German air service in August of 1916 to counter the successes being made b the British Airco and de Havilland scouts as well as the French Nieuport series of fighters. All three of these firms would earn their own level of respect in their own right by the end of the war - on part with the developments of the German Albatros and Fokker firms. These Airco, de Havilland and Nieuport designs were largely responsible for putting an end to the bloody "Fokker Scourge" covering the early part of 1916 in which air superiority was clearly in the hands of the Germans thanks to the revolutionary Fokker Eindecker. However, with the changing technology forcing newer and better mounts into the air, ground that was captured one day could be lost the next. As such, the D.I was unveiled by Albatros to help stave off even more losses against Triple Entente pilots.

The D.I borrowed much of what it had learned in their preceding C-series of biplane aircraft. However, the D.I incorporated a much improved aerodynamically-friendly fuselage design which lent a rather modern appearance to the new fighter type. The design was notable for its rather streamlined forward section and elliptical plywood fuselage beginning with the propeller spinner contouring directly against the lines of the engine compartment. Power was supplied form either a Benz Bz.III (150hp) or Mercedes D.III (160hp) series six-cylinder liquid-cooled engine and represented some of the most powerful engines available to scout fighter types anywhere, allowing for speeds of approximately 110 miles per hour. Such an installation resulted in immediate performance improvement results that would make the D-series legendary throughout the remainder of the war. Armament centered around a pair of 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 series machine guns coupled to the two-bladed propeller system that allowed for synchronization - the ability to fire the machine guns through the spinning propeller blades, a German technological achievement initially reached some time before the Triple Entente was to match.
The biplane wing arrangement was a standard design fixture of fighters throughout the war - a war that would see such mounts fit one (monoplane) and as many as three (triplane) wings at a time. The D.I sported these wings with parallel struts and applicable cabling. The undercarriage was fixed in position and consisted of two single-wheeled main landing gear legs and a base tail skid. This allowed for rugged landings wherever aerodromes were set up along the dynamic fronts of the war. The cockpit was fitted just ahead of amidships and behind/under the upper wing assembly.

Where the D.I outshone its enemies was in its excellent rate-of-climb. It could reach 3,280 feet in just six minutes which meant it would quickly react to incoming enemy aircraft or balloons and lift off to meet the match. However, the design had an Achilles heel of not being wholly maneuverable for a fighter scout, forcing the pilot to utilize the type's power and armament to gain the advantage. Visibility out of the open-air cockpit was good save for the wing assemblies. This was slightly improved in the upcoming D.II model which saw the upper wing assembly lowered. Regardless, the D.I was the best of its kind upon inception - unseated only by better enemy designs to come online within time.

The impressive performance and capabilities of the D-series as a whole eventually led to their use by some of the top German aces of the time including the mythical Manfred von Richthofen.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (109mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Albatros D.I's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
50
50


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: Imperial Germany
Service Year: 1916
Classification Type: Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Albatros Werke GmbH - Germany
Production Units: 50
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Imperial Germany
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Albatros D.I model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
23.95 ft


Meters
7.3 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
28.22 ft


Meters
8.6 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
9.51 ft


Meters
2.9 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
1,422 lb


Kilograms
645 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,980 lb


Kilograms
898 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Mercedes D.III liquid-cooled, inline engine developing 160 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
109 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
175 kph


Knots
94 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
180 mi


Kilometers
289 km


Nautical Miles
156 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
16,998 ft


Meters
5,181 m


Miles
3.22 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
546 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
166 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
2 x 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 fixed, forward-firing synchronized machine guns.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• D.I - Base D-series
• D.II - Lowered top wing; Fundamental and minor aerodynamic changes.
• D.III - V-shaped struts introduced
• D.V - Streamlined fuselage
• D.Va - Slightly modified D.V model