Austrian Albatroses

The Albatros D.II and D.III were produced in Austria by the Oesterreichische Flugzeugfabrik. G. (Oeffag) of Wiener-Neustadt and saw much service with the K├Âniglich und Kaiserlich Luftfahrtruppen (Royal and Imperial Air Service) of the Austro-Hungarian Army. These aircraft were built in three series, seriated 53,153 and 253. (Each Austrian aircraft manufacturer was assigned a Key digit: In the case of Oeffag. this digit was 5. Another digit designated the specific aircraft type, the Albatros being assigned the digit 3. If more than one series of an aircraft type was produced, a third Key digit, in sequence, was added to the front of the serial, hence 53. 153 and 253 for the three series of the Albatros. These three key digits were followed by a decimal point, and after that the number of the individual aircraft in the series. Thus, the serial 153.25 on the side of an aircraft indicates that it is the twenty-fifth Albatros of the second production series.)

In most respects, the Austrian Albatroses resembled their German counterparts. There were differences, however, principally In power and armament. Power was supplied by the excellent Austro-Daimler engine in three power ratings: 185hp (Series 53), 200hp (Series 153) and 225hp (Series 253). Armament consisted of twin, synchronized Schwarzlose machine guns which were completely buried under the fuselage decking, and fired through long blast tubes on either side of the engine cylinder banks. (Only one gun was fitted to the D.II version.) The Schwarzlose was of Austrian manufacture and was not as reliable as the German Maxim. It had a slower rate of fire and was prone to jamming.

The first 16 aircraft of the 53 Series were built as Albatros D.IIs. the remainder of all three Series were D.IIIs. In the 253 Series, the use of the largest and most powerful Austro-Daimler engine necessitated some modification to the aircraft’s nose, eliminating the propeller spinner.

It is a credit to Oeffag’s designers that the Austrian Albatros D.IIIs did not exhibit the wing structural problems of their German counterparts This is because the Austrian engineers took special pains to strengthen the wing structure at the leading edge and Strut attachment points.

The Oeffag Albatros was perhaps the best single-seater used by the Austro-Hungarian Air Service, and they were well-liked by their pilots. Several Austro-Hungarian aces, such as Godwin Brumowski, Frank Linke-Crawford and Josef Kiss flew the Albatros during their combat careers and gained several victories mounting it.

Production of the Oeffag Albatros began in January 1917. and continued until October 1918. with a total of about 540 aircraft being completed. The most produced variant was the 153 Series, 286 of which were built.