After the disappointing performance of his D.I through D.IV, Fokker resolved to produce a smaller, lighter rotary-powered design. The new prototype, designated M.21, was a development of the earlier M.17 fighter which Fokker had produced for the Austro-Hungarian Air Service. The M.21 featured a swept back upper wing to improve pilot view.
Fokker was enthusiastic about the new aircraft, which was highly maneuverable. After the addition of a modified cowling and stringers along the fuselage sides, the aircraft was designated M.22. In October 1916, Idflieg ordered the M.22 into production as the D.V.
Deliveries commenced in January 1917. Due to the low-compression Oberursel U.I, the D.V offered poor performance compared to the Albatros fighters. The D.V saw little active service and most aircraft were relegated to fighter training schools. When the Fokker Dr.I entered service in late 1917, small numbers of D.V aircraft were issued to squadrons for use as conversion trainers.