The Albatros D.I was a German fighter aircraft used during World War I. Although its operational career was short, it was the first of the Albatros D types which formed the bulk of the German and Austrian fighter squadrons for the last two years of the war.
Design and development
The D.I was designed by Robert Thelen, R. Schubert and Gnädig, as an answer to the latest Allied fighters, such as the Nieuport 11 Bébé 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 used a plywood semi-monocoque fuselage, which 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. On the other hand it was less costly to manufacture than a "full monocoque" fuselage. It was powered by either a 110 kW (150 hp) Benz Bz.III or a 120 kW (160 hp) Mercedes D.III six-cylinder watercooled inline engine. The D.I thus became the most powerful fighter aircraft yet introduced by the German Air Force. The additional power enabled twin fixed Spandau machineguns 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 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.
Published - July 2009
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