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Albatros D.Va

One aiworthy reproduction equipped with original parts (in progress)

One airworthy reproduction (in progress)

In 1917, the Albatros D.V was designed as an improvement of the Albatros D.III, in order to be able to face the most modern allied fighters. It is easily recognizable with its elliptical shaped monocoque fuselage, and has a new top wing lowered compared to the D.III, in order to give a better field of view to the pilot. The rudder and ailerons were also modified.

The D.V were mostly eqquipeed with a 180hp Mercedes engine, and two 7.92mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns.

The design was quickly improved and designated D.Va, since several D.V suffered wing ruptures, proving some weakness in the original conception.

Ancre 1

The Albatros D.Va #4360

It all started in 2005, when Memorial Flight had the unique opportunity to get a large amount of parts from the wreck of Albatros D.Va #4360. This aircraft crashed near Boussicourt, near Amiens, and the land owners' ancestors recalled that a crash had happened in the summer of 1918. Those parts were recovered in the early 2000s and were stored until Memorial Flight retrieved these artifacts.

No drawings were available to rebuild an Albatros D.Va, and Memorial Flight has always aimed to do their restorations to the highest standards. This wreck gave a chance to make this happen.

Among the artifacts, was the manufacturer dataplate bearing the serial number 4360. The engine serial number was also found. Could this data, as well as the location of the crash, allow us to trace this aircraft history ?

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Manufacturer dataplate from the Berlin-Johannistal Albatros Factory, as found in the remains. It bears the serial number 4360.

Study of the serial numbers found

The manufacturer dataplate bore the number 4360. A specialized historian, Peter Grosz, contacted through our german branch, informed us that this aircraft was part of a batch of 250 Albatrod .Va ordered, that were number 5600/17 to 5849/17 (military identification number, which is not  directly related to the manufacturer serial number).

Then engine dataplate bore the number 35317. A contact in the US explained that this engine was likely to have been delivered to the Berlin-Johannistal Albatros factory in November or December 1917.

A third clue was the warranty expiry date stamped on the engine crankcase "GARANTIE BIS 15-5-18". We know that Daimler gave a 6 month long warranty, which means that this engine mus have been approved on November 15th 1917.

The LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns, were stamped with numbers 8169 et 1728 (which is probably 1728a). It indicates that they were manufactured around late november / early december 1917.

All those clues led us to determine that Albatro 4360 was built in december 1917, and that the military identification number was somewhere in the range of 5600/17 and 5849/17.

Study of the crash location and study of the wreck

The wreck was located in a swamp surrounded by trees, where several airplanes seem to have crashed during WW1. The place is quite remote, which explains why the locals didn't reach the wreck before.

The study of the wreck showed that the aircraft had not burned. All the levers and knobs were in the "emergency" position. The seat belt buckle was also opened when found. The Albatros seems to have hit the ground vertically. The belt that originally held the seat cushion was found cut, probably to give place to a parachute. All those evidences tend to prove that the pilot jumped with its parachute after having done all the emergency actions required. This also explains why no human remains were found on the site.

After studying the german archives, a specific aircraft hold our attention :

Albatros D.Va 5765/17, flown by lieutenant Max Schick of Jasta 76b was lost on June 23rd 1918 at 20h15. The pilot was made prisonner.

Study of the markings

Each German unit painted their own distinctive markings on the nose and the tail of thair aircrafts. The Albatros of Jasta 76b had the spinner painted white and a Bavarian blue stripe painted on the nose. The horizontal stabilizer was painted with blue and white stripes.

Several parts of the wreck had some traces of the distinctive Bavarian light blue.

Additional investigations showed that Albatros 5765/17 had also been flown by Jasta 76b commander, Walter Böning. He was wounded while flying the same aircraft on May 31st 1918. That day, he managed to land the aircraft, but was severely wounded, and sent to hospital afterwards. This Albatros was likely repaired shortly after.

A well known photograph is supposed to show this precise aircraft. It was taken on March 18th 1918 when the Jasta moved from Habsheim airfield to Liéramont, which was located 52km north of the crash site.

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This colorization attempt shows the colours of Jasta76b (Bavarian blue and white) and gives a glimpse of the authentic paint scheme that we have tried to recreate for the rebuild of Albatros #4360

Rebuilding the Albatros

In 2007, we considered rebuilding an exact reproduction of a 1918 Albatros D.Va. Our goal, as always, has been to make it as close to the original as possible.

As no known Albadros D.Va drawings had survived the war, the only possibility was to copy an original aircraft. Only two examples of the type survives today. One is on display at the N.A.S.M. (USA). It was restored and a book, published in 1980, details the extensive work and research done on this aircraft. The other remaining Albatros D.Va belongs to the A.W.M. of Canberra (Australia). Since Memorial Flight recovered the remains of the Albatros that crashed in Boussicourt, there was now additional material available.

In order to complete this project, Memorial Flight has achieved the completion of a complete 3D CAD model of the Albatros D.Va.

Over 4000 parts were modelled.

This project could only be achieved with the help of other WW1 aircraft collectors and specialists. Memorial Flight has partnered with two major private collectors : the late Javier Arango (California) and The Vintage Aviator Limited (T.V.A.L.) from New Zealand. Only with their help and contribution was it possible to resurrect the Albatros D.Va.

The contribution from France consisted in the complete study priori to rebuilding the aircraft, in partnership with T.V.A.L. : studying and modelling the parts, completing a 3D CAD model and producing a complete set of drawings.

In order to achieve this project, we also collaborated closely with the A.W.M. of Canberra in 2008. Memorial Flight travelled to Australia to teach the WW1 german technic of fabric covering. In exchange, the A.W.M. offered an extensive access to their original Albatros D.Va. We were allowed to take measurements, photographs, and gather all the missing data we needed to complete our project.

Private collectors also granted us access to their research and photographs which were extremeley helpful to find the missing pieces of this gigantic puzzle. We were then able to complete the model and drawings.

T.V.A.L. has built several Albatros D.Va using our drawings and CAD models. The first flight of a new-built Albatros took place in November 2009.

Memorial Flight's aircraft was delivered as a naked airframe (with no covering, instrument, or finishing). A second aircraft was simultaneously delivered in the same condition, in our workshop.

We have been working on completing our Albatros since 2013, and the work is still ongoing. Some original equipments coming from the wreck have been restored and are reinstalled in this aircraft (such as the airpump, the altimeter, etc.). The aircraft is being finished in the paint scheme of the blue and white striped Jasta 76b Albatros which is supposed to be # 5765/17.

This Albatros will be flying with a reproduction 180hp Mercedes D.IIIa.

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Lt Weymar and Lt Haselhoff boarding their LVG C.VI on September 18th 1918

Another Albatros D.Va

Ancre 2

A second Albatros D.Va reproduction was also delivered at Memorial Flight's facility. The aircraft arrived as a naked airframe (same as the Memorial Flight's aircraft) without covering, equipment or finishing.

It was soon decided that this aircraft must be finished in the colours of another Jasta 76b aircraft. It came as an evidence that the best choice was to paint it in the colours of the second Albatros seen on the picture showing Albatros # 5765/17 being loaded on a train in March 1918.

This Albatros will be painted as # 5787/17. This aircraft bore the traditional Jasta 76b markings (Bavarian blue and white on the spinner and front cowl, as well as the horizontal stabilizer). It is also dinstinctive as a yellow and black stripe (which are the colours of the city of Munich) is painted on the fuselage. The emblem of the city, the Münchner Kindl (a monk wearing a black cloak with a yellow liseret) is also painted on the side of the fuselage in a version commonly represented since the 16th century. The monk holds a beer mug in one hand and radishes in the other (the traditional Munich city emblem originally shows the monk holding a religious book in one hand).

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Lt Weymar and Lt Haselhoff boarding their LVG C.VI on September 18th 1918

Building the LVG C.VI reproduction

Restoring LVG C.VI n° 9041/18

Photoscopes

Photoscope

The cockpit.

Photoscope

The observer station.