Aviation & Aerospace - Airpower 2024 - Aircraft by Country - Aircraft Manufacturers Vehicles & Artillery - Armor 2024 - Armor by Country - Armor Manufacturers Infantry Small Arms - Warfighter 2024 - Small Arms by Country - Arms Manufacturers Warships & Submarines - Navies 2024 - Ships by Country - Shipbuilders U.S. Military Pay 2024 Military Ranks Special Forces by Country

Albatros D.III

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Imperial Germany | 1917

"Though an overall improvement of the D.I and D.II, the sesquiplane wing arrangement of the new D.III led to a noted structural deficiency."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/31/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
While the Albatros D.I proved critical in winning back air superiority for the Germans in early 1917, it was not a perfect all-around solution, pushing the development of an improved form in the D.II. The D.II exhibited a better rate-of-climb, a lowered upper wing assembly for better pilot visibility and an aerodynamically designed radiator. Having already found successes in the Albatros D.I and D.II models, designer Robert Thelen sought for more in the way of maneuverability when tackling the new Albatros D.III. This was accomplished by way of a new unstaggered wing layout featuring "V" section interplane struts as opposed to the parallel types found on previous models (and earning the British nickname of "V-strutter" in the process). A capable fighter platform, the D.III took to the skies in force by early 1917 and was produced to the tune of 1,866 examples eventually finding its way into inventories of non-German countries in the post-war world. As was the case for most aircraft designs of The Great War, the type was soon replaced and outclassed by more capable systems.

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).

Article Continues Below Advertisement...
As a sesquiplane biplane (the lower wings shorter than the upper (a practical design feature stolen from the French-made Nieuport 11 series fighting scouts), the D.III was a slight departure from the previous Albatros offerings. This also provided some new challenges in the Albatros design as it was soon found that failures of the leading edge and lower wing ribs were becoming an all too common occurrence - often leading to structural cracks or outright failures. As such, D.IIIs were grounded for a crucial period until the problem was located and addressed. The D.III would have to wait until February of 1917 to be back in action, this time with a reinforced lower wing. New production models automatically included this fix while previous service models were pulled and reinforced as such.

The structural deficiency was initially believed to be occurring during the construction of the aircraft, due to either the builders themselves or the quality of materials being selected and utilized or logically a combination of both factors. This thinking would eventually prove false as the fault was directly attributed to the main spar being set too far to the rear of the wing's design. This effectively caused a twisting of the wing during flight, most notably encountered during a dive or an action inducing high stress loads on the wing. This did not deter future use of the D.III nor its successor - the D.V - as pilots were simply warned about the structural failings and told to proceed with caution when attempting such combat actions.

Nevertheless, the D.III proved to have some worth and remained an aircraft of choice for if only a short time. In subtle ways noticed mostly by her pilots, the D.III was an improvement over the preceding D-series designs. Her maneuverability and rate-of-climb (vital to any airman worth his weight) were noted assets as were the changes to improve pilot protection and visibility. Such capabilities and attention to details assured the aircraft its legacy. The system stayed in operational use into the final year of the war (1918) despite being overtaken in all performance categories - particularly by the British Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 and Sopwith Camel and the French SPAD S.13 models of the Allies. This even after production was all but stopped on the D.III to focus on more modern types.

The D.III was eventually featured in no fewer than 37 Imperial German Army Air Service squadrons. Additionally, the D.III was sent to the battlefronts of Macedonia and Palestine and further stocked the inventory of German-allied Austria-Hungary. At its peak usage in November of 1917, the D.III series saw some 446 airframes available for action over the Western Front. The D.III was inevitably followed up by the aforementioned Albatros D.V which entered service in May of 1917. The D.V featured a revised wing assembly and rudder. This led to major developments of the D.V version as well, noted as by the designation of D.Va. It should be mentioned that the wing deficiency of the D.III was a persistent design flaw carried forward into these other D-series aircraft by Albatros.

In the post-war world, the D.III was retained in operational service by the newly-formed Polish Air Force, these examples beginning service in 1919. The Poles operated their D.IIIs in anger against the Soviets in the polish-Soviet War of 1919-1920. Other post-war operators included Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Albatros D.III Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
1 x Mercedes D.IIIa water-cooled 6-cylinder in-line engine developing 175 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
109 mph
175 kph | 94 kts
Max Speed
18,045 ft
5,500 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
217 miles
350 km | 189 nm
Operational Range
886 ft/min
270 m/min
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Albatros D.III Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
24.0 ft
7.33 m
O/A Length
29.7 ft
(9.05 m)
O/A Width
9.8 ft
(2.98 m)
O/A Height
1,499 lb
(680 kg)
Empty Weight
1,953 lb
(886 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Albatros D.III Biplane Fighter Aircraft .
2 x 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 fixed, forward-firing synchronized machine guns.
Notable series variants as part of the Albatros D.III family line.
D.I - Base D-series
D.II - Lowered top wing; Fundamental and minor aerodynamic changes.
D.III - V-shaped struts introduced; sesquiplane wing arrangement; repositioned radiator (290th onwards).
D.V - Streamlined eliptical fuselage; revised wings and modified rudder; larger spinner.
D.Va - Slightly modified D.V model
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Albatros D.III. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1,866 Units

Contractor(s): Albatros Werke GmbH - Germany
National flag of Austria National flag of the Austro-Hungarian Empire National flag of Czechia National flag of the German Empire National flag of Hungary National flag of Lithuania National flag of Poland National flag of Yugoslavia

[ Austria-Hungary; Czechoslovakia; German Empire; Lithuania; Poland; Yugoslavia ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (109mph).

Graph Average of 90 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Albatros D.III
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Albatros D.III Biplane Fighter Aircraft appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)