An Elusive Beauty
Flyers sometimes say that, "If a plane looks good, it's bound to fly good too." The Albatros D.Va might be an exception. While the fighter looks like a winner -- smooth, cigar-like fuselage and beautifully-shaped wings, a Mercedes D IIIa, 160- or 200-horsepower in-line engine and two 7.92mm Spandau machine guns -- the D.Va was the end of a long line of modified designs.
Near the beginning of the run, the Albatros D.I and D.IIs were considered fast, hearty, and well-armed compared to the opponents they met in the skies. In the end, the Albatros model D.Va had lost ground when matched against the more powerful SPAD and S.E.5a or the maneuverable Sopwith Camel. "The D.V is so outdated that one does not risk anything with it," were the harsh words from famous ace Manfred von Richthofen, "And the people at home, for nearly a year, have developed nothing better than the lousy Albatros."
Besides sub-standard performance, the Albatros' "V" wing struts made the lower wing susceptible to flutter, twist, and failure. Note that this version, the D.Va, a small extra support has been designed and installed to extend from the leading edge of the lower wing to help strengthen the union between the wing and the wing strut. Even after the fix, pilots were often instructed not to dive too steeply in the Albatros -- not a morale booster to be sure!
But despite these deficiencies, the Albatros factory was willing and capable of producing large numbers of planes and the war was raging. The result was that, when an Allied pilot encountered a German fighter, it was usually an Albatros. Over 1,500 examples of the D.V and D.Va were made.
The Museum's D.Va's airframe and wings were built by Art Williams in Germany. The final assembly and finish work was completed by Jim and Zona Appleby.