⚜ | Inside The Cockpit – Albatros D.Va


It’s the plane that caused one of the great aerial panics of the 1st World War itself a compact revolution It went against convention outperformed its opponents and became an ace maker – the German Albatros. Hello everybody and welcome back to Military Aviation History I am your host Bismarck and today we are having a look at this legendary German aircraft, the Albatros. It alone reversed the balance of power in the air and caused losses so high that a whole month was named after its success Let’s have a look at its history and then hop inside this one found here at the RAF Museum in London to show you how it works. The Albatros planes used by Germany during the First World War were designed by Albatroswerke A.G. in Berlin near Johannathal under the supervision of Dr. Waltehr Huth, Albatros would use the years prior to the war to experiment in building strong and reliable aircraft Something that would suit them well in the future years [Grey/Stairs]. Now in pursuit of this Albatroswerke chose to go an unconventional route. Instead of going with tradition by covering a skeleton structure with canvas Plywood was preferred if the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 The Albatroswerke has started to provide aircraft to the military [Grey/Stairs]. The B.I and B.II type aircraft were among the first reconnaissance aircraft of the German army and Became trainers in 1915 when they were up replaced by the new Albatros C.I [Grey/Thetford]. Initially, the C.I was also one of the first plants used in combating Allied aircraft flown by pilots such as Manfred von Richthofen and oswald Boca far before they came famous aces [Grey/Thetford]. While it had bloodied the Allies at the Battle of Verdun in 1916 with the fokker eindecker the Fokker Eindeckers, the air war quickly shifted against Germany. The Germans required a new machine capable of taking on the Allied aircraft and subverting their advantage. With their construction technique Albatroswerke felt they held a unique advantage as this provided a strong frame resilient in the line of fire Three engineers got to work, Dipl. Ing. Thelen, Dipl. Ing Schubert and Ing. Gnaedig [Grey/Stair]. To save time they simply went about about converting existing designs into a fully fledged fighter. They scaled their C-type design down to a single crew position added two machine guns and interrupter gear and ammunition the tried and proven six-cylinder overhead camshaft liquid-cooled Mercedes D.III engine provided Whooping 160 horsepower more than enough for a time [Grey/Stairs]. The result was a D.I. Coming out in the autumn of 1916 closely followed by its cousin the C.III which remained a general-purpose Aircraft [Grey/Thetford]. With the D.I, Albatros was ready to make its mark on the air war over Germany’s western front lines The aircraft had good acceleration and achieved a top speed of about 102 miles an hour It could climb to 1,000 metres in just over 4 minutes [Connor]. And this was quite a feat at the time. Thelen, Schubert and Gnaedig had hit a home run and designed, in essence, a one plane revolution. It was fast powerful heavily armed well proportioned and streamlined to the point that well some commented that had made any other fighter obsolete at a time [Connor]. It’s robust physique was a testimony to Albatros’ decision to design a plywood covered semi-monoque fuselage Ash is also did away with the need for internal bracing [Owers]. The plywood covering extended over six longerons, those are the longitudinal structural components supported in the fuselage by one centimeter thick ply formers. The aircraft appeared circular in front before morphing into an ovum achieve and then tapering off into a more traditional boxy section [Grey/Thetford]. This wooden construction Extended to the vertical [and horizontal] fins [Grey/Stair]. While the control surfaces were welded steel tubes covered in canvas. In fact only the wings had an orthodox designed by wrapping canvas around a wooden frame. The standard Vee-shaped undercarriage was also given shock absorbers, so that even a rookie pilot could experience a more graceful and pleasant landing at some times [Grey/Stairs]. the engine exhausts were also routed backwards instead of upwards as with early albatross planes and the D-type prototype [Connors]. An on-the-ground advantage of the D-type was actually – well – maintenance, as the upper metal cowling that we have here could be removed very quickly and It allowed for good access to the engine and the nose profile here complemented the planes aerodynamics [Grey/Thetford]. But while the D.I was a runaway success in many ways It did have a few kinks. First off the radiators for the water cooling hung by the side of the aircraft, spoiling the plane’s profile [Grey/Stair]. The top wing was mounted Too high and unduly obstructs the view of the pilot [Grey/Thetford] and there was also an issue of the lower wing But we’ll talk about that very soon. The D.I placed the advantage once more into the hands of the Germans It was not as maneuverable or most allied aircraft but its performance and firepower placed the aerial initiative Squarely into the hands of the German aviators who now could both engage and disengage At will. In a first combat use, Boelcke and five other pilots of Jasta 2, pounced seven British F.E.2b’s. Shooting down five with no losses [Connor]. A sign of things to come. The Albatros’ production had been delayed which makes their appearance in September 1916 somewhat late following a production run of sixty D.Is as well as an addition to 118 converted into a float plane the W4, various modifications were made. And this is where we go down the route to the D.Va, First up came the D.II Which lowered the top wing by 10 centimeters and changing the original Trestle cabanes [Connor] those were the inner wing struts, into an N-shape [Gray/Stair]. This now gave the pilot a much better field of view. Next while production of the D.II was on the way, the radiator was actually moved to the top wing, mounted Centrally not only did this improve the aerodynamics, but it also reduces the risk of radiator damage from enemy fire [Connor]. This means that you can find pictures of D.IIs with the old box Windhoff radiators at the side of the Fuselage and the new Teves and Braun cooling system [Gray/Stair]. However, the D.II had no obvious performance increase In fact, it came somewhat worse than the D.I and lost 20 minutes of endurance dropping to 1h 50m [Connor]. 275 were built. The Albatros’ performance carried a day for some time But as is the rule of things eventually the Allies caught up and especially the French Nieuport 17 was responsible for balancing out The air war. Primarily influenced by this new adversary, Albatros made adjustments to the design [Van Wyngarden]. The wing struts were changed to a v-shape to support a new lower wing which had been filled narrowed and lengthened a direct influence of the Nieuport’s Sesqui-design. The change was so modular that in fact no end additional changes had to be made to the aircraft and production continued straight on as the new D.III. At the same time The central radiator was offset to a more ergonomic and less obstructing position right here to the starboard side of the pilot [Grey/Stair]. previously a single bullet in the central mounted radiator ran the risk of Covering the aviator in burning hot water which turns out is a little bit of a distraction in a firefight. An additional change was the introduction of a more rounded rudder, amodification coming from the subsidiary Ostdeutsche Albatroswerke [Gray/Stair]. This change was retained in future versions. the D.III was as fast as the earlier variants But the wing changes improved its climb considerably [Connor]. Production was kicked into high gear with a total output of one thousand three hundred forty aircraft Both the D.II and D.II were also produced by the Austrian österreichische Flugzeugwerke to see service with the Austrian air service Around 540 aircraft were completed [Connor]. Spring 1917 the Albatros had become ubiquitous of the German fighter force, by now nearly 300 Albatros were Operational and indeed the Albatros gave the British Royal Flying Corps such a kicking at the time that they were nearly Single-handedly responsible for what became known as ‘Bloody April’. And now by that necessary detour we arrived at the d5 I’m jumping over the D.IV here because it remained a testbed for modifications such as a new engine. The D.V continued straight from the D.III but it featured a completely redesigned fuselage, the whole out of structure became elliptical as you can see here. This necessitated the fitting of an additional longeron. A headrest was also added but quickly replaced with a smaller version before being removed as Pilots felt that it obstructed their view [Gray/Stair] Another change was that now the aileron control Cables ran directly via the top wing to the control surface instead of via the lower wing. however The Albatros was starting to fall behind as the Allies rolled out with new aircraft such as the British S.E. fighters and the French SPADs. Prior in the war the Albatros could always disengage by speed alone yet against these new aircraft They faced, often pilots were forced to attempt a high-speed dive to escape during such maneuvers It was discover that the top outer struts would fail and needed to be strengthened and an old handicap began to manifest itself Once more: the Albatros’ lower wing. In high-speed dives These would start to flutter, vibrate, twist and all too often shear off This presented an ongoing puzzle to the designers As this weakness was due to a so far unknown cause. It Had happened before but the wings had already been strengthened and the structural tests indicated no issues. One hypothesis Was that the single spar contributed to the lack of stability by being placed too far aft [Cain]. A temporary solution with an additional? Modification to the wing, the spar attachment and the bracing was attempted But these provided no conclusive solutions. when rolling out to the frontline squadrons mid 1917 the D.V drew less than favorable comments. For many It was a downgrade over the D.III and less than an answer to the new Allied aircraft. In July of that year von Richthofen called the D.V Obsolete and ridiculously inferior [Owers]. Nevertheless, the D.Va started to appear with some additional changes First the airframe was strengthened and weight increased by up to 100 kilogram. sources disagree on the exact amount [ex. Connor] As Well as that, the aileron control was once again changed to a running via the lower wing as with previous D versions. Why it had been changed in the first place? I’m not sure perhaps they had anticipated a better control response or felt that it was more protected But it might also have been related to the change in fuselage shape [Rimell]. These changes did nothing to placate the German pilots Performance had decreased even further and while the carburation was changed to prevent loss of power at higher altitudes and the engine was operated from 160 to 180hp [Connor], it did not reverse the fortunes of this bird that, after causing Quite a racket, had become obsolescent. ironically the D.V series was destined to become the most numerous of all German fighters during the war with a Production just over 2,500 aircraft [Connor]. Germany attempted to counter the Allies’ tide by both quantity and quality quality in terms of the fighter organization and training Which was ahead of its time and quantity by producing planes such as the Albatros en mass However, the plane in question was not one that could be produced easily by now the production technique and mechanics had been well understood However, compared to many of her planes at a time It was more labor-intensive and the demand of skilled labor could never be satisfied The Albatros might have been mass-produced for German standards but it didn’t even come close to Allied production. That said around May 1918 more than 1100 albatrosses were still at the frontlines [Connor] That’s about 50% of Germany’s fighter force [Knight]. But the number dropped steadily as planes like the Fokker D.VII and Pfalz D.III started to appear It remained easy to fly for even inexperienced pilots and in the hands of a competent pilot It still had plenty of fight in it [Mikesh]. Ultimately it remained in service until the armistice Post-world War one then several Austrian built D.IIIs were picked up by Poland and used extensively in the Polish-Russian War of 1919 to 1920. As Russia possessed little air power, the Poles used them mainly for ground attack. Among the pilots flying These machines were also American volunteers, Czechoslovakia too picked up a few of these machines and they Constituted their first fighter force out of albatrosses [Connor]. Turkey also had a couple of them in their inventory of which one survived until the mid 1920s [Owers]. Turning over to the plane behind me the Albatros ‘s D.Vahas a length of 7.3 and upper span of 9 and lower span of 8.7 meters. She stands at 2.7 meters. the engine tanks The fuel tanks are up front behind the engine holding 23 in the top and 80 litres in the bottom and the old tank to the left of the engine holding nine liters. At 915 kilograms fully loaded She goes up to 170 kilometres an hour the armament consists of two 7.92mm machine guns firing synchronized through the propeller. although this time of armament became standard in World War one initially in 1916 the Albatros was one of the more heavily armed aircraft and the interrupter gear gave it a critical advantage early on The ammo boxes are stored between the fuel tanks and the pilots; around 500 rounds would be carried for each gun Alright, so getting into Albatros. First impression from the comfort of this aircraft – actually pretty good. when it comes to the operation Well, there’s a little bit of an Asterix there. Generally when you get into an aircraft you’re greeted with an instrument dashboard There you can see anything from your altitude your speed your RPMs your fuel tank Capacity at any point in time and all those other things. In the Albatros you might wonder where’s the instrument board? Because really there isn’t one even though there would be space You’re essentially greeted up top with an RPM indicator showing you the RPMs the two engines running at 1500 essentially being the maximum, here it seems to be on 1400 This is a rebuild – you have the control yoke the control yoke is actually quite nice You can operate it with both hands. You’ve got the trigger releases for the guns You can fire one gun or both of them at the same time Below that you also have a control lock and to the left of the control stick You actually have a throttle control which means that with your left hand You could operate the throttle while with the right hand you can fly the aircraft and obviously switching over as you want Should this throttle control fail you do have a backup one to the top left here, which is a nice little feature However, this is everything that is essentially easy to read up front for you If you want to know your altitude you either yank on the altimeter that is to your left and that is held in place by Springs or you essentially squint down the cockpit twisting to the right and then you can read off the altitude not exactly ideal. If you want to read your fuel tank capacity you have to sort of Shift to the left and look down towards the fuel tank indicator right there, which is again, especially in low-light settings wouldn’t be ideal I guess you could have a lamp or well, there you go. If you want to know your speed well In this aircraft, you’re not going to find it here You’re actually going to have to look to the wing and there your speed is find the speedometer [Anemometer] from the position that I’m in at The moment because I sort of memorized the the settings on the speedometer So I know that the six o’clock position is going to indicate 120 kph and a 3 o’clock position For example 80 kph I know at what speed I would be flying at depending on essentially where the needle is. So you’re essentially not looking, or at least How I would imagine the pilots at the time wouldn’t be doing it. It was essentially not looking for the numbers You’re essentially just looking where is the needle at any different point in time on the speedometer. And then, you know more or less your speed. Obviously, it’s it’s just a thing off memorization. It’s not ideal and could have been done better. For the cooling, you find the lever right here It’s easy to operate In a nice little position and the advantage actually of this aircraft is all of the guns that you have here You have easy access to them in case for Jam You can try to clear. the windscreen here a little bit small But good enough to catch any kind of what the oil that springs up from there, from the cylinders Which would happen occasionally and obviously you would have once again sort of a little rag to clean that off If you want to know you’re heading in this aircraft You essentially have to move your right leg and then you’ll find a compass to your bottom again in low-light situations Not exactly easy to read for start-up the dials are all the way in the back That’s not really a problem because you’re only going to use them in case of a need you have the air pressure You have the air source Selector, you’ve got the emergency Fill or and you’ve got the pressure gauge you have the pumps to the right and the Magneto’s to the left again You’re only really going to need those four on startup So let’s turn to the positive features of the Albatros: plenty of room It really is very very comfortable with me being a 1.90m. I don’t feel cramped I feel very very at ease – the seat could maybe be there a bit better for me if it could be raised or lowered this Is not possible in the Albatros, you can only move it horizontally, but I can’t really complain. The ammo drums are nicely forward I’m not going to hit them by accident and I have ready access to the rudder pedaks, the seat also very comfortable I’ve got nice little seat belts and the only problem is This. So the backrest here it sort of hits itself into my shoulder blades But it’s not the most comfortable But I imagine if I would have been wearing anything like a flight jacket something that’s padded. That’s Going to easily pad out and it’s not going to interfere. So overall my yeah my impressions from the cockpit is that Actually pretty good if you know what you’re doing and if you’ve flown in this aircraft before if you have some experience in it You’re going to feel right at home If you’re converting to it, if you’re sort of training on it, and you are used to a dashboard that is more ergonomic and more easy to read especially when it also comes to the pressure gauge which is all the way in the back there which I can barely read from here Then you it will get you know, it will need some time getting used to what for the rest yeah It’s a fun little aircraft to sit on Starting an albatross is a two-man job the pilot obviously operates the aircraft from his station while up front the crew chief stands on a ladder actually set between the Wing and the propeller overlooking the engine. provided we went over all the preliminaries and everything is ready we commence to start up. the air pump is set to BOTH. Air pressure is set to MAIN and The flow selector set to PRESSURIZED. Everything is pointing downwards. The hand pump, we operate it to a .25 Atmospheric pressure and then lock it. The radiator will be fully aft for maximum cooling the crew chief then places the compression release to the right as it is now and starts filling the primer cups of each cylinder with a small can Containing a mixture of benzene and oil Now at this point we opened the throttle slightly and the crew chief actually gets off the ladder, checks with the pilot that the Magneto’s are set to OFF and Begins turning the air screw and this draws the primary fuel into the cylinders Once that is done. The pilot will now say clear he hits the Magneto’s to M1 on the left magneto and operates the starting magneto crank as the mechanics give the prop a good swing and this end sets of the sparkplygs, and if Gott ist mit uns, the engine will turn The mechanics will then shift the compression release back to the left. you then warm up the the engine at a low rpm Setting you also switch to Magneto’s over to M2 You test the engine by increasing the throttle, having the mechanics hold down the tail. Switching from M2 to M1 and back, You should see a drop in RPMs when you skip over to M1. if everything is running smoothly, are you essentially read, you signal the ground crew that you’re ready to earn that Blauer Max. They’ll release chunks and then you taxi and takeoff at 1400 to1500 rpms and off you go Into the nether. From all the planes of the war the Albatros continues to stand out, with its gorgeous and refined lines It provides a stark to the industrial budgy Look of other aircraft. Looking at it you’d be excused for thinking that this was perhaps the passionate labor of love From an early aviation pioneer rather than one of the most successful fighter aircraft of all time. It stood at the very edge of engineering efforts and aeronautical knowledge of the time yet it provided the German army with a reliable, resilient and Thoroughbred fighter – one that is remembered today as an ace maker. It is in every sense of the world beautiful. Thank you very much for watching and if you enjoyed this video please consider supporting the channel by Patreon or PayPal and by sharing this video. I want to thank the Royal Air Force Museum for allowing us to get close with the exhibit And you can of course visited here at their London site. As always. Have a great day. Good hunting and see you in the sky

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