|Albatros D.Va reproduction at Duxford Air Show, 2012|
|First flight||April 1917|
|Number built||approximately 2500|
The Albatros D.V was a fighter aircraft used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. The D.V was the final development of the Albatros D.I family, and the last Albatros fighter to see operational service. Despite its well-known shortcomings and general obsolescence, approximately 900 D.V and 1,612 D.Va aircraft were built before production halted in early 1918. The D.Va continued in operational service until the end of the war.
Design and development
The D.V closely resembled the D.III and used the same 127 kW (170 hp) Mercedes D.IIIa engine. The most notable difference was a new, fully elliptical cross-section fuselage which was 32 kg (70 lb) lighter than the partially flat-sided fuselage of the D.III. The new elliptical cross-section required an additional longeron on each side of the fuselage. The vertical fin and tailplane initially remained unchanged from the D.III. The prototype D.V retained the standard rudder of the Johannisthal-built D.III, but production examples used the enlarged rudder featured on D.IIIs built by Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW). The D.V also featured a larger spinner and ventral fin.
Compared to the D.III, the upper wing of the D.V was repositioned 4.75 inches closer to the fuselage, while the lower wings attached to the fuselage without a fairing. The D.V's wings themselves were almost identical to those of the standard D.III, which had adopted a sesquiplane wing arrangement broadly similar to the French Nieuport 11. The only significant difference between wings of the D.III and D.V was a revised linkage of the aileron cables, which in the new aircraft was contained entirely in the upper wing. Idflieg therefore conducted structural tests on the fuselage, but not the wings, of the D.V.
Early examples of the D.V featured a large headrest, which was usually removed in service because it interfered with the pilot's field of view. The headrest was eventually deleted from production. Aircraft deployed in Palestine used two wing radiators, to cope with the warmer climate.
Idflieg issued production contracts for 200 D.V aircraft in April 1917, followed by additional orders of 400 in May and 300 in July. Initial production of the D.V was exclusively undertaken by the Johannisthal factory, while the Schneidemühl factory produced the D.III through the remainder of 1917.
The D.V entered service in May 1917 and, like the D.III before it, immediately began experiencing structural failures of the lower wing. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that the D.V was even more prone to wing failures than the D.III. The outboard sections of the upper wing also suffered failures, requiring additional wire bracing. Furthermore, the D.V offered very little improvement in performance. This caused considerable dismay among frontline pilots, many of whom preferred the older D.III. Manfred von Richthofen was particularly critical of the new aircraft. In a July 1917 letter, he described the D.V as "so obsolete and so ridiculously inferior to the English that one can't do anything with this aircraft." British tests of a captured D.V revealed that the aircraft was slow to maneuver, heavy on the controls, and tiring to fly.
Albatros responded with the D.Va, which featured stronger wing spars, heavier wing ribs, and a reinforced fuselage. These modifications made the D.Va 23 kg (50 lb) heavier than the D.III, while failing to cure entirely the structural problems of the type. Use of the high-compression 130 kW (180 hp) Mercedes D.IIIaü engine offset the increased weight of the D.Va. The D.Va also reverted to the D.III's aileron cable linkage, running outwards through the lower wing, then upwards to the ailerons, to provide a more positive control response. The wings of the D.III and D.Va were in fact interchangeable. The D.Va was also fitted with a small diagonal brace connecting the lower section of the forward interplane strut to the leading edge of the lower wing. This brace was retrofitted to some D.V aircraft.
Idflieg placed orders for 262 D.Va aircraft in August 1917, followed by additional orders for 250 in September and 550 in October. Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke, which had been engaged in production of the D.III, received orders for 600 D.Va aircraft in October.
Deliveries of the D.Va commenced in October 1917. The structural problems of the Fokker Dr.I and the mediocre performance of the Pfalz D.III left the Luftstreitkräfte with no viable alternative to the D.Va until the Fokker D.VII entered service in mid-1918. Production ceased in April 1918. As of May 1918, 131 D.V and 928 D.Va aircraft were in service on the Western Front. This number declined as the Albatros was replaced by Fokker D.VIIs and other types during the final months of the war, but the D.Va remained in use until the Armistice (11 November 1918).
Today, two D.Va aircraft survive in museums.
- It is believed serial D.7161/17 served with Jasta 46 before being captured sometime in April or May 1918. In 1919, the aircraft was presented to the De Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, California. The National Air and Space Museum acquired the aircraft in 1949. It was placed in storage until restoration began in 1977. Since 1979, D.7161/17 has been on display at the Air and Space Museum, in Washington D.C.
- Serial D.5390/17 was shot down during a fight with an Australian Flying Corps R.E.8 on 17 December 1917. It landed intact behind the lines of the 21st Infantry Battalion of the Second Australian Division, AIF. The unit recovered the aircraft and took the pilot, Leutnant Rudolf Clausz of Jasta 29, prisoner. In February 1918, the War Office ceded D.5390/17 to the AFC as a war trophy. It was put on display at the Australian War Memorial.
- The aircraft was removed from display in 2001 and underwent extensive restoration at the Treloar Technology Centre. In 2008, D.5390/17 returned to public display at the AWM's ANZAC Hall in Canberra.
- Polish Air Force (postwar)
Data from German Aircraft of the First World War
- Crew: 1
- Length: 7.33 m (24 ft 1 in)
- Wingspan: 9.05 m (29 ft 8 in)
- Height: 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)
- Wing area: 21.2 m2 (228 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 687 kg (1,515 lb)
- Gross weight: 937 kg (2,066 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Mercedes D.IIIaü piston engine, 150 kW (200 hp)
- Propellers: 2-bladed wooden propeller
- Maximum speed: 186 km/h (116 mph; 100 kn)
- Endurance: 350 km
- Service ceiling: 5,700 m (18,701 ft)
- Rate of climb: 4.17 m/s (821 ft/min)
- Time to altitude: 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in 4 minutes
Albatros D.V from Jagdstaffel 15 in early 1918, belonging to Lieutenant Dingel
Albatros D.Va, Hans von Hippel, Jagdstaffel 5
Albatros D.Va, Ernst Udet, Jasta 37
- Related lists
- Mikesh 1980, p. 15.
- Grosz 2003, pp. 21-22.
- Connors 1981, p. 22.
- Van Wyngarden 2007, p. 40.
- Bennett 2006, p. 124.
- Van Wyngarden 2007, p. 65.
- Mikesh 1980, p. 17.
- Mikesh 1980, p. 7.
- "RELAWM04806 - Albatros D.Va Scout Aircraft." Australian War Memorial. Retrieved: 29 May 2012.
- "Albatros fabric research blog post." Australian War Memorial. Retrieved: 28 May 2012.
- Gray and Thetford 1970, p. 52.
- Bennett, Leon. Gunning for the Red Baron. College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University Press, 2006. ISBN 1-58544-507-X.
- Connors, John F. Albatros Fighters in Action (Aircraft No. 46). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1981. ISBN 0-89747-115-6.
- Gray, Peter and Owen Thetford. German Aircraft of the First World War. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1970. 2nd ed. ISBN 0-370-00103-6.
- Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Complete Book of Fighters. London: Salamander Books, 1994. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8.
- Grosz, Peter M. Albatros D.III (Windsock Datafile Special). Berkhamsted, Herts, UK: Albatros Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-902207-62-9.
- Mikesh, Robert C. Albatros D.Va: German Fighter of World War I. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980. ISBN 0-87474-633-7
- VanWyngarden, Greg. Albatros Aces of World War I Part 2 (Aircraft of the Aces No. 77). Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-84603-179-6.
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