Albatros D.V

The Albatros D.V was produced in an attempt to improve on the successful D.III but suffered from structural failures that reduced its effectiveness. It was followed by the stronger D.IIIa, which played a major part in the fighting in the first part of 1918.

The Albatros D.I was developed early in 1916. It was an almost equal span biplane, with wings of equal chord (width from front to back), powered by a 160hp engine and armed with two machine guns. It was quickly followed by the D.II, which had the upper wing lowered to prevent it from obscuring the pilot's view. Next came the D.III which adopted a sesquiplane structure, with equal span wings but with a reduced chord on the lower wing. This was copied from the Nieuport 11, a light-weight fighter that had impressed the Germans during the battle of Verdun.

Next came the D.IV. This returned to the equal chord wings of the D.I and D.II but adopted a new fuselage, with an oval cross section most of the way from nose to tail. It also used an experimental geared 160hp Mercedes engine which suffered from too many problems, causing the D.IV to be abandoned.

Although the D.III had dominated when it first entered service, it was eventually outclassed by the Spad, the Sopwith Camel and the S.E.5. In April 1917 production of the Albatros D.III was moved from Albatros at Johannisthal to the OAW factory at Schneidemühl. This allowed Albatros to concentrate on production of the D.V, while ensuring that there would be a steady supply of D.IIIs (in fact the OAW D.IIIs proved to be more sturdy than the Albatros production, and didn't suffer from the wing failures that plagued the early aircraft).

The D.V used the same oval fuselage as the D.IV. The airframe was lightened and the rudder and tailskid fairing modified. In the earlier Albatros designs the ailerons had been controlled by a level connecting the aileron to control wires in the lower wing. On the early D.Vs the control wires were moved to the upper wing. The fuselage was built around a series of ply formers, linked by eight spruce longerons, and covered with plywood panels that were pinned and screwed to the longerons. The junction of the lower wing and the fuselage had to the modified because of the new fuselage shape.

The wings were constructed in a similar way to the D.III, with two spars in the upper wing and one in the lower. The upper spars were placed at the front and middle of the wing and were connected by ply ribs lightened by a large number of holes. At the trailing edge the ribs were connected by a wire. The use of a single spar in the lower wing may have been one of the causes of the many wing failures that plagued the D.V.

Mercedes manage to produce high compression engines to get more power at higher altitudes, this makes up for the weight increase on D.Va and when powered by Mercedes D.IIIa has slight increase in performance
In the field spar attachments were replaced, larger diameter drag and anti-lift cables used, wing ribs reinformced where auxiliary bracing strur connected to leading edge of lower wing, and seem to solve the problem

The D.V entered front line service in the summer of 1917, followed in the autumn by the D.Va. Albatros built aircraft arrived first, followed early in 1918 by OAw built versions. By November 1917 there were 526 D.Vs at the Front, but it was then slowly superseded by the D.Va. In March 1918 there were 131 D.Vs and 928 D.Vas at the front, and the two types played a major part in the fighting during the German offensives in the spring of 1918.

The D.V disappointed many German pilots, who had been hoping for an aircraft with improved performance, but as early as July 1917 the Inspectorate of Aviation Troops had been forced to admit that the D.V was just a lightened version of the D.III with similar performance to the older aircraft.

During the summer of 1918 the D.V and D.Va were slowly replaced by the Fokker D.VII (of which 2,500 were built by Albatros). Good pilots were able to hold their own against the superior allied fighters in use during late 1917 and 1918, especially as the Germans tended to operate in larger units that the Allies, giving then numerical superiority. Nevertheless by the end of the war the Allies had won air superiority over the Western Front.

D.V
Engine: Mercedes D.IIIa
Power: 180hp
Span: 29ft 6in upper, 28ft 8in lower
Length: 24ft 2in
Height: 9ft 0in
Empty weight: 1,500lb
Loaded weight: 2,018lb
Max speed: 106mph
Armament: Two synchronised 7.92mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns

D.Va (Albatros)
Engine: Mercedes D.IIIa
Power: 180hp
Span: 29ft 6in upper, 28ft 8in lower
Length: 24ft 0.25in
Height: 8ft 10in
Empty weight: 1,580lb
Loaded weight: 2,065lb
Max speed: 106mph
Armament: Two synchronised 7.92mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns

D.Va (OAW)
Engine: Mercedes D.IIIa
Power: 180hp
Span: 29ft 6in upper, 28ft 8in lower
Length: 24ft 0.25in
Height: 8ft 10in
Empty weight: 1,610lb
Loaded weight: 2,095lb
Max speed: 106mph
Armament: Two synchronised 7.92mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (21 June 2012), Albatros D.V , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_albatros_D_V.html

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