When asked to cite two WW1 German Planes, those who came to mind are immediately either Albatros or Fokker. So much they definitely printed their path in aviation history, as much as Zeppelin. However both companies were quite opposite in many way. Whereas the first made well-polished, very refined and innovative plywood wonders with inline engines in a coherent and homogeneous incremental path, very "German" in a way, so to speak, the second, Dutch in origin, was a bit more artistic and eclectic in its approach, testing many configurations, using mostly radial engines, preferring large productions of simpler models and leaning towards a "pilots plane" hands on approach rather than the colder, more scientific, engineer's dream approach of Albatros.
But both were complementary, and both equally cleaned the sky of any entente competition. Only because they were less in numbers and less visible in the press, Albatros didn't carved its path shining as Fokker, but the company delivered nonetheless a long lineage of excellent fighters that shaped the industry by their very modern and innovative approach, hell-bent on aerodynamic efficiency.
The C.IV was a prototype made in-between early production types, sharing most parts with the C.III, but changed the design of the wings and cockpit, with the position of the observer and pilots swapped, not a satisfactory solution as it was found.
Albatros-Flugzeugwerke GmbH was funded in 1909, in Berlin, by Walter Huth and Otto Wiener, with its facilities based in Johannisthal. The company had a subsidiary, Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW)). Not only it produced about 10,000 aircrafts but also some of the finest fighters of World War I. The parised Albatros D.III and Albatros D.V, were both untouchable when in service and ruled the skies without opposition for a time. Both had been designed by Robert Thelen.
Such was its reputation that Albatros went on after the war until 1931, before merged into Focke-Wulf. The company first product was a licensed production of the French Antoinette, a popular sports monoplane. Soon the company licence-built its own version of the prolific Etrich Taube, and derived a biplane from it in 1910, called Albatros Doppeltaube. In 1912, Albatros built and tested five Albatros F-2 (modified French Farman IIIs) fitted with an Argus in-line engine.
Four went to Bulgaria and fought in the Balkan wars of 1912-1913. The first production model of the company was, understandably, not a fighter but an observation plane, the Albatros B.I, according to the accepted national nomenclature, which saw a small production in 1913. It was followed by the B.II (1914) and III (1917), and also in 1914 the company started the long lineage of its multi-purpose C models (C.I to C.XV). The last from 1918 were twice faster and more powerful, still standard biplanes with inline water-cooled engines.
Basically they all shared the same plywood construction fuselage, finely shaped, and were agile and sturdy twin-seats armed with a forward firing 7.92 mm (.312 in) Spandau LMG 08/15 machine gun and observer's rail-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) Parabellum MG14 machine gun. The most produced were the C.V (400) and C.VII (600) followed by the C.X (300).
The Albatros C.IX was an interesting development of reconnaissance planes powered by a Mercedes D.III Inline piston engine, 118 kW (158 hp) for a 155 km/h (96 mph; 84 kn) top speed. It had a swept top wing, without central strut mated to fuselage. Three were built for testings, one was Manfred Von Richtofen's own personal transport plane to see the Kaiser in 1917.
But of course Albatros is best remembered by its fighters. Driven by the same desire to improve on aerodynamics, but the company started relatively late in the game, delivering the D.I in 1916. The serie would go on until the end of the war and before the Albatros D.XI was operational, always using the same formula and little changes in the wings and tail shapes or structure. The absolute best sellers became the legendary D.III (1866 built), D.V (More than 2500) while other intermediate models remained mostly as incremental prototypes.
But in 1917 just like its nemesis, Fokker, the company embarked in the promising triplane bandwagon and delivered the Albatros Dr.I and II prototypes, without attracting any orders. The company also in 1916 delivered three of the G light bomber series, and in 1917 two of the ground-attack J series and floatplanes for the navy with the three W series.
Albatros C.XIV the only fighter-attempt in the C-serie. This was indeed the only Albatros fighter made with a two bay layout, flat sided fuselage. It was propelled by a Benz Bz.IVa 6-cylinder water-cooled inline, 160 kW (220 hp), so speed would have not been its strong point.
Albatros is certainly not as well known for its heavy bombers. The only attempt was designed by Otto Wiener and Dr. Walter Huth at Ostdeutsche Albatroswerke G.m.b.H., Schneidemühl from a request to copy the Russian Ilya Murometz. It was first flown on 31 January 1916 by Alexander Hipleh, showed poor flying qualities and performances. The next G.II and G.III were in no way related it, being lighter twin-engined planes.
As usual like the other pages, this list comprised prototypes or very short series which will not be seen in detail, and production ones, expressed in bold. Production figures are ellusive.
US Army Signal Corps, Albatros Manufacture Production archive