The Albatros C.I series of aircraft was the next evolution in the brand's reconnaissance aircraft line. Stemming from the development of the production Albatros B.II, the C.I shared many of the common characteristics in the initial design including the biplane wing assembly and basic fuselage design. Where it differed from the B.II, however, was in crew layout, the implementation of self-defense armament and improved performance capabilities. The C.I would become the aircraft on which many a German ace would be introduced to aerial combat and hone his skills on before graduating to the new breed of true fighter.
The C.I, like the B.II before it, featured crew accommodations for two personnel in the form of one pilot and a rear "observer" that doubled as a gunner. Unlike the B.II, the C.I switched the positions of the pilot and observer to a more traditional layout, putting the pilot forward just behind the engine, and the observer to the rear. This allowed the pilot a more traditional viewpoint from the front of his machine while allowing the rear observer/gunner a greater area to which train his gun in for self-defense. Armament consisted of a single 7.5mm Parabellum machine gun in the rear gunner area. Beyond that, the system was a reconnaissance aircraft not built for straight up engagements, though the C.I did find its fair share of success in that field.
The Albatros C.I offered up performance improvements thanks to the Mercedes D.III liquid-cooled inline engine. Performance increased the maximum speed from the B.II's 66 miles per hour to the C.I's 87 miles per hour. The endurance of the newer C.I did suffer quite a bit, however, from 4 hours of flightier in the B.I to just 2 hours of flight time in the C.I. Nevertheless, the powerplant was one of the best and most powerful available when compared to its contemporaries and handling was reported as good to excellent, making for a lethal weapon despite these shortcomings.