Corgi AA37810 German Albatros D.V Fighter - 2111/17 'M', Martin Mallmann, Jasta 19 "Les Tangos", Saint-Loup-en-Champagne, France, January 1918 (1:48 Scale)
"When you march into France, let the last man on the right brush the Channel with his sleeve."
- General Alfred von Schlieffen, referring to the Schlieffen Plan just prior to his death in 1913
The Albatros D.V was a German fighter airplane used during World War I. In April 1917, Albatros received an order from the Idflieg (Inspektion der Fliegertruppen) for an improved version of the D.III. The resulting D.V featured a new fuselage with an elliptical cross-section. The flat fuselage sides of the D.III were eliminated. The D.V also used the enlarged rudder of the Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW) D.III. The upper wing was repositioned 4 inches closer to the fuselage, while the lower wings attached to the fuselage without a fairing. The wings themselves were similar to those of the standard D.III, except for a revised linkage of the aileron cables. Early examples of the D.V featured a large headrest, which was typically removed by pilots because it obstructed the field of view. Aircraft deployed in Palestine used two wing radiators to cope with the warmer climate.
The D.V entered service in May 1917 and, like the preceding D.III, immediately began experiencing structural failures of the lower wing. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that the D.V was even more prone to wing failures than the D.III. Furthermore, the D.V offered very little improvement in performance. This caused considerable dismay among frontline pilots. Manfred von Richthofen denounced the D.V as "obsolete" and "ridiculously inferior" to Allied scouts such as the Camel and S.E.5a. Nevertheless, 400 D.Vs were ordered in May and 300 more in July.
In October 1917, production switched to the D.Va, which reverted to the D.III's aileron cable linkage to provide a more positive control response. The wings of the D.III and D.Va were in fact interchangeable. In an effort to resolve continuing problems with wing flutter, the D.Va also featured a metal sleeve to strengthen the lower main spar, as well as a small brace connecting the interplane struts to the leading edge of the lower wing. These modifications increased weight while failing to cure the flutter problem.
While most D.V aircraft were equipped with the 170 hp Mercedes D.IIIa, late D.V and almost all D.Va aircraft used the high-compression 180 hp Mercedes D.IIIa.
The D.Va was the final development of the Albatros D.I family, and the last Albatros fighter to see operational service during World War I. Despite its well-known shortcomings and general obsolescence, Albatros and OAW produced approximately 900 D.V and 1,612 D.Va aircraft. Service numbers peaked in May 1918; 131 D.V aircraft and 928 D.Va were on the Western Front at that time. Numbers declined as production ended and the superlative Fokker D.VII entered service, but the D.Va remained in widespread use until the Armistice.
Pictured here is a 1:48 scale replica of a German Albatros D.Va fighter that was piloted by Martin Mallmann, who was attached to Jasta 19 "Les Tangos", then deployed to the Western Front during January 1918.
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Historical Account: "The Reapers" - The French and volunteer American pilots who patrolled the Reims sector of the Western Front during the Great War were only too familiar with the various German fighter squadrons which would enter their airspace, usually in support of the latest land offensive. Often referred to by the markings they carried, their aerial adversaries were simply known as 'The Reds, the Checkerboards or the Greens', but one unit which seemed to engage with them for longer than any other were the Albatros fighters of Jasta 19. With their lacquered plywood fuselages giving them an orangey appearance in the air, they were known as 'Les Tangos' by Allied airmen, who regularly fought them for control of their sector of the battlefield. Giving up a position as a flight instructor in Berlin, Martin Mallmann requested transfer to an operational unit and arrived on the Western Front in the Spring of 1917. By January 19th, 1918, he stood on the verge of gaining the coveted 'Ace' status, with four victories already to his name, however, on that fateful day, he would fall to the guns of a young French airman who was himself looking for his fifth 'Ace making' aerial victory.
In combat with the Spads of Escadrille Spa 94 'The Reapers', Mallmann's Albatros D.V 2111/17 was brought down north of Manre-Beine, the victory was jointly credited to Pierre Marinovitch and his squadron mate, American volunteer pilot Austen Ballard Crehore. Following the introduction of the Fokker Eindecker and the world's first purpose built fighter aircraft, aviation developed at a dramatic rate over the next few years as the air forces of both the Allied and Central Powers understood the importance of air superiority. At that time, however, aircraft were still relatively primitive in design, with these aerial duels taking place less than fifteen years after the Wright Brothers had made their historic first powered flight. Using relatively low calibre machine guns and with little or no protection for airmen, the fighting in the clouds was a very personal affair, with luck playing a huge part in whether pilots went on to become an ace, or another name added to the growing casualty statistics.
The arrival of the Albatros series of fighters at units on the Western Front, gave the Luftstreitkrafte a significant fighting advantage which would last for several months, however, the pace of aviation development ensured that Britain and France were already close to introducing their own impressive new fighters. By the beginning of 1918, the period of Albatros domination was over and it would not be until the arrival of large numbers of the new Fokker D.VII fighter that the Germans had an aircraft capable of getting the better of Allied fighter units.