The Albatros D.I was a Germanfighter aircraft used during World War I. Although its operational career was short, it was the first of the Albatros D types which equipped the bulk of the German and Austrian fighter squadrons (Jagdstaffeln) for the last two years of the war.
The D.I was designed by Robert Thelen, R. Schubert and Gnädig, as an answer to the latest Allied fighters, such as the Nieuport 11Bébé and the Airco D.H.2, which had proved superior to the Fokker Eindecker and other early German fighters, and established a general Allied air superiority. It was ordered in June 1916 and introduced into squadron service that August.
The D.I had a semi-monocoqueplywoodfuselage, consisting of a single-layered outer shell, supported by a minimal internal structure. This was lighter and stronger than the fabric-skinned box-type fuselage then in common use, as well being easier to give an aerodynamically clean shape. At the same time its panelled-plywood skinning, done with mostly four-sided panels of thin plywood over the entire minimal fuselage structure, was less costly to manufacture than the "wrapped body" (Wickelrumpf) monocoque fuselage common to the LFG Roland (creator of the technique) and Pfalz (licensee of LFG-Roland for the technique) single-engined airframe designs, that used long, narrow strips of plywood diagonally "wrapped" over a male form to create them. The Albatros D.I was powered by either a 110 kW (150 hp) Benz Bz.III or a 120 kW (160 hp) Mercedes D.III six-cylinder water cooled inline engine. The additional power enabled twin fixed Spandau machine-guns to be fitted without any loss in performance.
The D.I had a relatively high wing loading for its time, and was not particularly manoeuvrable. This was compensated by its superior speed and firepower and it quickly proved the best all-round fighter available.
A total of 50 pre-series and series D.I aircraft were in service by November 1916, replacing the early Fokker and Halberstadt D types, giving real "teeth" to the Luftstreitkräfte's new Jagdstaffeln (fighter squadrons). Further production of D.Is was not undertaken, however; instead, a reduction in the gap between the top and bottom planes in order to improve the pilot's forward and upward vision resulted in the otherwise identical Albatros D.II, which became Albatros' first major production fighter.