Albatros produced a variety of capable fighter mounts throughout World War 1 and the original D.I series proved instrumental in winning back air superiority from the Triple Entente. The D.I exhibited powerful engines coupled with dual-synchronized machine guns and an impressive rate-of-climb to make for a most lethal adversary. However, the skies of World War 1 were a constantly changing front for advances in technology often meant that a weapon system being a complete success one day could very well be made obsolete the next. As such, a powerful line of aircraft could easily be superseded by another within months of being developed, usually leading to short-lived production runs and operational tenures. The Albatros series would be no exception.
The Albatros D.II naturally followed the Albatros D.I into operation with the Imperial German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkrafte) during the war1. The D.II introduced a few fundamental improvements and differed from the D.I primarily in its use of N-shaped struts positioned between the upper forward fuselage and the upper wing assembly. Additionally, the type was fitted with side-mounted air brakes to bring the aircraft to reduced speeds as needed. The upper wing assembly was also lowered to help promote better pilot visibility - the pilot could now look out and over his upper wing. An improved radiator system was housed in an aerodynamic installation that was affixed to the upper wing center section. The aircraft first made its appearance in September of 1916 over the skies of the Western Front, operating from Jagdstaffeln 2 and Jagstaffeln 11 under the commands of Oswald Boelche and Manfred von Richthofen respectively.
Externally, the D.II was conventional with the times, featuring a biplane wing assembly consisting of a lower and upper wing unit supported against one another and the fuselage via parallel struts and cabling. The fuselage was well contoured from nose to tail with the engine fitted to a forward compartment powering a two-bladed wooden propeller unit. The pilot was seated in an open-air cockpit amidships with excellent views around the wings. The fuselage tapered into the empennage which sported a single rounded vertical tail fin and a pair of horizontal planes. The undercarriage was fixed into position and made up of two single-wheeled braced main landing gear legs as a basic tail skid.
Once in operational service, the D.II immediately placed its mark on the air war and was noted for its rater impressive rate-of-climb - 3,280 feet in five minutes - and improvement over the rate the original D.I already enjoyed in a fight. The dual-synchronized 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine gun arrangement remained and stability was improved to the point that the aircraft played well in helping the Germans to establish air superiority in their favor once again - at least for the moment. Boelcke alone was to score 11 downed enemy aircraft in the span of just 16 days. On September 17th, 1916, Manfred von Richthofen netted his first confirmed air kill while flying his red-colored D.II. According to sources, about 100 D.IIs were ultimately produced.
Like other fighter developments during World War 1, the D.II operated for only a short time before being replaced by the Albatros D.III in production. The D.III was developed with improved maneuverability in mind. In all, the series would entail the D.I, D.II, D.III, D.V and D.Va production models before the end of the war in November of 1918.
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