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Albatros C.III

The C.III traces its roots back to the Albatros C.I, directly evolving from it and being a slightly more compact aircraft.

One of the most noticeable visual distinctions between the two planes was the redesigned vertical stabiliser; the C.III featured a lower and rounded tail instead of the large triangular tail of the C.I, enhancing agility due to reduced weight.

The modified empennage of the C.III offered more responsive and immediate longitudinal control compared to the C.I, proving beneficial during evasive combat manoeuvres.

The rudder of the C.III was notably more rounded than that of the C.I.

Similar to the C.I and B.II, the fuselage of the C.III was primarily constructed of plywood.

This design demonstrated a good ability to withstand damage, making it challenging to bring down in combat.

The wings were fabric-covered with a wooden structure, complemented by steel tubing for the flight control surfaces.

The C.III could be equipped with various engines, such as the 110 kW (150 hp) Benz Bz. III or 120 kW (160 hp) Mercedes D.III inline engine.

Like many other twin-seaters of the era, such as the British Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8, the cylinder head and exhaust manifold protruded above the front fuselage, somewhat hindering the pilot’s forward visibility.

The observer, positioned in the rear cockpit, was equipped with a single 7.92 mm (0.312 in) Parabellum MG14 machine gun.

Once it was determined that additional weaponry would not negatively affect performance, the C.III was regularly outfitted with a single forward-firing 7.92 mm (0.312 in) LMG 08/15 machine gun.

Although the forward-firing machine gun had a gun synchronizer, it often proved to be less effective than desired, resulting in several instances of pilots accidentally damaging their own propellers.

For artillery spotting duties, the C.III could be fitted with a radio set.

Additionally, the C.III had the capability to carry a bomb load of up to 90 kg (200 lb) in four vertical tubes within the fuselage or on external racks.

However, the lack of a precise sighting device made it challenging to accurately aim these bombs, limiting the aircraft’s effectiveness as a bomber to little more than a nuisance.

The German authorities showed great enthusiasm for the C.III, placing a total of 2,271 orders for this aircraft model.

To meet this substantial demand, various aircraft manufacturers across the Central Powers, such as Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft, Linke-Hoffman Werke, Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke, and Albatros’ Austro-Hungarian subsidiary Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW), were granted the responsibility of producing the C.III.

The initial Luftstreitkräftes C.IIIs were deployed to the Western Front in December 1915.

They were quickly utilised for various tasks such as observation, aerial reconnaissance, light bombing, and bomber escort.

Despite its versatility, the C.III was primarily used for reconnaissance missions.

The peak of its operational use was in August 1916, with 354 aircraft believed to be in service at the front.

By the middle of 1917, the C.III had been mostly removed from frontline duty with the Luftstreitkräfte.

However, deliveries of the aircraft were still ongoing, with the type being assigned to secondary roles, mainly in training units.

Consequently, it remained in service until the Armistice of 11 November 1918, which marked the end of the conflict.

In August 1916, a minimum of eighteen C.IIIs were delivered to Bulgaria.

These were all dismantled in 1920 as per the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Some reports suggest that Bulgaria received 26 Albatros C.III aircraft, which included eight trainers.

Following the First World War, the Polish Air Force utilised approximately 15 C.III aircraft for a period, which were actively involved in combat during the Polish-Soviet War.

Between 1926 and 1927, Bulgarian state aircraft workshops, DAR constructed two DAR 2 trainers using salvaged parts from destroyed aircraft, powered by Mercedes D.III engines.

Military historian Dimitar Nedialkov indicates that twelve DAR 2s were produced, with at least nine confirmed through photographic evidence.

Additionally, three C.IIIs were manufactured in 1927-1928 at the Lithuanian Military Aviation Workshop in Kaunas.


(L 16) about 300 mm (11.8 in) shorter and 20 kg (44 lb), with strengthened engine bearers to take a 180 hp (134 kW) Argus As III six-cylinder inline.

Some 4% faster.

Limited production.
Seaplane variant with twin floats, modified Mercedes D.II installation, revised cabane strut, and a much larger fin.

Parabellum MG14 machine gun in the observer’s cockpit.

Only one was produced, delivered in June 1916.





7.9 m (25 ft 11 in)


11.7 m (38 ft 5 in)


3.2 m (10 ft 6 in)

Wing area

36.91 m2 (397.3 sq ft)

Empty weight

830 kg (1,830 lb)

Gross weight

1,343 kg (2,961 lb)


1 × Argus As.III, 6-cylinder water cooled inline piston engine,

130 kW (180 hp)


2-bladed propeller


Maximum speed

145 km/h (90 mph, 78 kn)


4 hours 30 minutes

Service ceiling

3,350 m (10,990 ft)

Time to altitude

3,000 m (9,800 ft) in 35 minutes



1 × 7.92 mm (0.312 in) Parabellum MG14 machine gun in observer’s cockpit


1 × fixed forward firing 7.92 mm (0.312 in) LMG 08/15 in the nose


Up to 200 lb (91 kg) of bombs

German & Austro-Hungarian aircraft manufacturers 1908–1918-T C Treadwell.
German Aircraft of the First World War-Peter Gray & Owen Thetford.
Flugzeug Publications, Die Deutsche Luftwaffe 1914 – Heute.
The World’s Great Bombers: 1914 to the Present Day-C Chant.
Windsock Worldwide Vol.25, No.5 – September October 2009.
Albatros Aircraft of WWI Vol.1: Early Two-Seaters-Jack Herris.
Albatros Aircraft of WWI Vol.2: Late Two-Seaters-Jack Herris.
Albatros Aircraft of WWI Vol.3: Bombers, Seaplanes J Types-Jack Herris.
Albatros Aircraft of WWI Vol.4: Fighters-Jack Herris.


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