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World War One

788 hits since 15 Oct 2017
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Blutarski15 Oct 2017 2:37 p.m. PST

Lazy Sunday afternoon here. Decided to share some material I had ferreted away on the Pfalz D.III series performance in order to stir up some discussion. I've always considered the Pfalz to have been an unfairly criticized fighter.

Pfalz D.III / D.IIIa flight performance:

Peter L Gray's "The Pfalz D.III" (Profile Publications no.43), 1965:

British figures from a captured D.III (160 hp Mercedes)

Max. speed at 10,000 ft. 102.5 mph, at 15,000 ft. 91.5 mph. Climb to 5000 ft in 6 min., to 15,000 ft in 41 min. 20 sec.

German figures (not sourced)

Max. speed 165 km. hr. (103.12 mph). Climb to 1,000 m. (3,280 ft.) in 3.25 min., to 2,000 m (6,560 ft) in 7.25 min., to 3,000 m (9,840 ft.) in 11.75 min.

D.IIIa (175/180 hp Mercedes): at a loaded weight of 911 kg. (2,004 lb) made test climb to 5,000 m (16,400 ft.) in 33 min. on 4th Feb. 1918.

Author comments that:

"In service the Pfalz seems to have been a considerably maligned machine; many stories, probably most of them apocryphal, circulating as to its unsuitability: "too slow", "does not climb", "too heavy", "won't recover from a spin", "fuselage weak", "not properly constructed", "tail weak and liable to break off", etc. In actual fact it was quite a good, rugged aeroplane. Initially there was a tendency to failure of the upper wing wing-tips in combat…but stronger spars were ordered to rectify this. The Pfalz could dive a good deal faster than any other German fighter and with excellent stability, in consequence it provided a good gun platform. Its style of construction endowed it with an ability to absorb a fair degree of punishment. There certainly was a tendency for the machine to get in a flat spin from which it was exceedingly difficult to recover. In a report dated 25th October 1917, Jasta 24 expressed the following opinion…'It is slower than the Albatros D III; it is fast in a dive and is then faster than the Albatros D V. The climbing performance…varies greatly, sometimes almost as good as the average Albatros D V but never better'

Also: "The tailplane and one-piece unbalanced elevator were an angular, trapezoidal shape…The section was of inverse camber which gave stability in a prolonged dive and considerably assisted recovery"

- – - – -

Performance figures from Die deutschen Militärflugzeug 1910-1918, by Kroschel und Stutzer.

1000m 3'17" -----
1500m 7'0"
3000m 11'45" -----
5000m ----- 33'0"

The Pfalz D.III & D.IIIa climb is better than the Alb.D.Va and slightly slower to 5000m than the Alb.D.V which gross weight was 915 kg. The Pfalz D.III weight was 932kg. The Pfalz D.IIIa was 934 kg. The Alb.D.Va was 957kg and the OAW built Alb.D.Va was 950kg.

The maximum airspeed was 165km/hr @ 3000m for the Pfalz D.III and D.IIIa which was exactly the same for the Alb.D.V, D.Va and alb.D.Va(OAW).
The ceiling was 5500 m for the Pfalz D.III and 6000 for the D.IIIa which is lower than the Alb.D.V @6500m and both Alb.D.Va machines @ 6250m.


Winston Smith16 Oct 2017 3:25 a.m. PST

It climbed a lot better than the PzIIIa.

Ceterman16 Oct 2017 5:48 a.m. PST

But still, the prettiest plane in the sky, IMHO!

Winston Smith16 Oct 2017 5:55 a.m. PST

No. The Albatros DVa was prettier.

21eRegt16 Oct 2017 7:26 a.m. PST

Interesting stats, thanks. Both the "Tross" and Pfalz have nice looks. Kind of make me think of comparisons between them and the likes of a Camel or SE5a with the lines of the Me-262 vs. Thunderbolt. But in this case I agree with the OF…. I mean, with Winston. The DVa is prettier.

Ceterman16 Oct 2017 9:59 a.m. PST

No. YOU are dead wrong. Pfalz D3, WAAAAY Prettier. End of story.

Texas Jack16 Oct 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

While I agree the Pfalz DIII was much more attractive than the Albatros DVa, neither can hold a candle to the lovely Nieuport 17. evil grin

Sailor Steve16 Oct 2017 12:43 p.m. PST

According to the two Windsock Datafiles on the aircraft, the main difference was that the D.III came with the guns buried in the fuselage, making it impossible to clear a jam while in flight, and the D.IIIa was designed to fix this problem, moving the guns up to the deck in front of the pilot.

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