The Albatros C.V was powered by a 220hp Mercedes D.IV engine and because of the limited production of the engine only appeared in small numbers.
The Mercedes D.IV was a straight-eight piston engine with a reduction gearbox. It provided 220hp, a big increase on the 160hp of the Mercedes D.III used in the Albatros C.III, while the gearbox moved the propeller drive shaft and allowed the entire engine to be enclosed within a streamlined nose. The D.IV was produced by fitting two extra cylinders to the six cylinder D.III a move that increased the speed of development.
The D.IV engine gained a reputation for being unreliable, especially when used in twin engined bombers, where it was mounted between the wings. The engine was followed by the Mercedes D.IVa, which despite the similar name was a totally different design. It produced 260hp and was used in the Albatros C.X and C.XII.
The C.V and the LVG C.IV were the first German aircraft powered by 200hp engines to enter frontline service.
In November 1915 Albatros received an contract to produce three prototype reconnaissance aircraft powered by the D.IV engine. The new aircraft was generally similar to the C.III, using the same methods of construction. The fuselage was built around a wooden framework and was coated with plywood. Unlike many aircraft of the period it didn't need internal wire bracing inside the fuselage. The wings used wooden spars and ribs and were fabric covered. The wing span increased, from 38ft 4.25in on the C.III to 41ft 11.25in on the early C.Vs. The aircraft had a propeller spinner further improving the streamlined fuselage. The streamlining was only spoilt by the ear radiators which were mounted on the sides of the fuselage just ahead of the wing. The tail was similar to that on the C.III, but with a curved top to the fin, producing the standard Albatros tail of later years.
In March 1916 Albatros received an order for 200 C.Vs, but this was later modified to become an order for 75 C.Vs and 125 C.VIIs. A prototype was ready by April 1916 and the aircraft underwent static load tests in May and June.
The C.V entered service in June 1916 and 65 aircraft were at the front by the end of August. The new aircraft had a similar top speed to the C.III and a better climb rate, but wasn't very manoeuvrable. There were some engine problems early on, and crankshaft failures remained fairly common throughout the aircraft's service, but the C.V wasn't as unreliable as is generally believed.
The first seventy five machines eventually became known as the C.V/16. A second order for fifty C.Vs was placed in January 1917, and these aircraft became known as the C.V/17. This brought the total number of C.Vs produced up to 128 - three prototypes, 75 C.V/16s and 50 C.V/17s. Some sources say that 424 were built, but this figure applied to the D.IV engine, which was also used on twin engined bombers. It was superseded by the D.IVa engine, of which 4,555 were built. The Albatros C.VII was powered by 200hp Benz Bz.IV engine while the Mercedes IVa was used in the Albatros C.X.
The C.V/17 had a new lower wing with rounded wing tips. Balanced ailerons were introduced and the balanced elevator introduced during production of the C.V/16 was retained. The ear radiators had been banned in November 1916 as they were too vulnerable to battle damage. They were replaced by a new radiator mounted in the centre section of the upper wing.
The C.V remained in comparatively large scale use from August 1916 until the end of June 1917, with an average of over 50 aircraft in use at any one time. The type was then withdrawn quickly, and only eight were in use at the front by the end of October.
At the end of 1917 there were still 84 C.Vs in the German air service, many of which were used as trainers. Fifty eight were still intact and in storage in January 1920.
An Albatros C.V carried out the first night bombing raid on London, when Offizierstellvertreter Klimke and his observer chose to attack the capital on the night of 6/7 May 1917. They dropped five 12.5kg bombs between Hackney and Holloway. They were reprimanded for their efforts, which came just before the first official raid was planned, but they were them moved to a bomber unit and took part in the night bombing campaign.
Engine: Mercedes D.IV inline piston engine
Span: 41ft 11.25in (16)/ 41ft 4.75in (17)
Length: 29ft 4.25in
Height: 14ft 9.25in
Empty weight: 2,357lb
Maximum take-off weight: 3,494lb
Max speed: 106mph
Climb rate: 8 minutes to 3,280ft
Endurance: 3 hour 15 minutes
Armament: One flexibly mounted 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun, one fixed forward mounted 7.92mm LMG 08/15