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Albatros D.I

Biplane Fighter Aircraft

Imperial Germany | 1916

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

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.
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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Albatros D.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
1 x Mercedes D.III liquid-cooled, inline engine developing 160 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
109 mph
175 kph | 94 kts
Max Speed
16,998 ft
5,181 m | 3 miles
Service Ceiling
180 miles
289 km | 156 nm
Operational Range
546 ft/min
166 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.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft.
24.0 ft
7.30 m
O/A Length
28.2 ft
(8.60 m)
O/A Width
9.5 ft
(2.90 m)
O/A Height
1,422 lb
(645 kg)
Empty Weight
1,980 lb
(898 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.I 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.I family line.
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
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Albatros D.I. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 50 Units

Contractor(s): Albatros Werke GmbH - Germany
National flag of the German Empire

[ German Empire ]
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.I
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.I Biplane Fighter Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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