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Book Review
Albatros D.I - D.II
Albatros D.I - D.II * Air Vanguard 5
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Originally published on:

Albatros D.I–D.II
Series: Air Vanguard 5
Author: James F. Miller
Illustrators: Henry Morshead, Peter Bull, Simon Smith
Length: 64 pages
Formats: Paperback, PDF eBook, ePub eBook

Albatros D.I and D.II expands Osprey’s new series Air Vanguard into the skies of The Great War. It features a great detail of information concisely packed into 64 pages including detailed aircraft information, pilot narratives, full color artwork, illustrations, and cutaway art.

Few can read of the First World War air war without encountering the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, and his iconic Fokker Triplane. However, long before the Triplane took to the sky and before he was the Red Baron, von Richthofen cut his teeth in the first of the legendary Albatros fighters.

The Albatros was a revolutionary jump forward in aerodynamics, powerplant, construction, and firepower. This sleek fighter restored air superiority to Germany after the horrible summer during which Allied fighters ended the ‘Fokker Scourge’ and ravished German air operations. This book chronicles the design, building, testing, development, and employment of the fighter that executed the aerial slaughter the Allies called “Bloody April.”

Albatros D.I and D.II, the fifth book of Osprey’s new series Air Vanguard, author James F. Miller reveals the story of this Great War iconic fighter through 64 pages in 10 chapters and sections:
    - Introduction
    - Design and Development
    - Technical Specifications
      • Factory Finishes and Idiosyncrasies
      • Staffel Finishes
      • Albatros D.I and D.II Technical Specifications
    - Operational History
    - Conclusion
    - Bibliography
    - Index
Mr. Miller includes a good deal of fascinating and little known information about the Albatros. He discusses the methods of constructing the birch fuselage shell, illustrates how it was joined to create the airframe, and reveals methods to protect and color the wood without paint. He explains the serial number systems applied to aircraft.

Who made the props? It’s in here. How did Luftstreitkräfte mechanics fix damaged propellers? That is covered. So are the four manufacturers of Albatrosen and their relationship. Unique characteristics of starting and operating the Albatros’ heart – the Mercedes D.III in-line engine – are explored, as is the engine design. Variations in cooling systems for the engine are included. I am still trying to absorb the different variants! Happily, the author presents this detailed information in an easily read and understandable manner.

Twenty pages are devoted to operational history of the fighter with German Jastas and Austro-Hungarian FliKs. Oswald Boelcke is prominent in this book, as is von Richthofen. This part of the book contains several quotes and reports and diary entries form German and Allied pilots recounting the clashes between Albatrosen and their prey. Of those fights the epic dogfight between von Richthofen and Major Lanoe Hawker, VC, is the most prominent.

Mr. Miller gleaned “yank and bank” accounts by pilots - friend and foe - from diaries, letters and official reports and peppers the body of the text with them.
    Thus we both turned like madmen in circles, with engines running at full-throttle at 3,500 meters height. First 20 times left, then 30 times right, each mindful to get above and behind the other.

    ‘cack, cack, cack, cack’ came from just behind me, and on looking round I saw my old friend with the black and white streamers again. I immediately half-rolled again, but the Hun stayed there.

Finally, the story ends with the author’s conclusion, buttressed with quotes from Sir Douglas Haig, C-I-C British Expeditionary Force, about the impact the Albatros had as the air superiority pendulum swung back and forth, and its place in history.

Art and Graphics
Approximately 50 black-and-white and two color photographs of artifacts and current Albatros replicas support the text. While many black-and-whites are high-quality images of pilots and planes, “studio” shots and technical images, most are of operational Albatrosen at, and over, the front lines. A montage shows effectively the four different factory applied camouflage types. Others clearly reveal the wood grain on the fuselage. Both color photos are of replicas being built or a restored Mercedes DIII engine.

With three artists credited to the book one would expect some fine art. I was not disappointed! Included are two color three-views of:

    1. Albatros D.I 360/16 of Ltn D R Otto Höhne, Jagdstaffel 2, September 1916
    2. Albatros D.II 501/16, Jagdstaffel 2, Late 1916/early 1917

Five color plates illustrate particular interesting Albatros features:

    1. Albatros D.I showing its interplane struts
    2. Albatros D.II with Windhoff Radiators
    3. Albatros D.II with Teeves and Braun Radiator
    4. Albatros D.II with Becker Cannon
    5. Albatros D.II (OEF) demonstrating the fully cowled engine, unique wing root fairing, and jeweled metal

A separate color illustration depicts joining sections of the molded birch panels to create the strong fuselage joints. Four aircraft profiles are included:

    1. Albatros D.I, Serial No. u/k [“unknown”), flown by Prince Friedrich Karl of Prussia, Jasta Boelcke, Eswars, March 1917
    2. Albatros D.II (LVG), serial No. u/k, flown by Ltn Robert Dycke, Jasta 16B, Ensisheim, March 1917
    3. Albatros D.II (OAW), 910/16, flown by Ltn Max Böhme, Jasta 5, Boistrancourt, March 1917: shown in French livery after capture.
    4. Albatros D.II (OEF), 53.06, Flicks 37D and 50D, mid-late 1917
Each plate has a descriptive sidebar.

Two exceptionally well done digital “in action” single page illustrations enhance the book. These dynamic full color scenes are a signature of Osprey’s titles. They show:

    1. Jasta 2, 17 September 1916. Von Richthofen in an unknown D.I downing his first confirmed victory, an 11 Sqn F.E.2b.
    2. Jasta 2, 27 September 1916. Boelcke in pre-production D.II 386/16 downing Martinsyde G 100of 27 Sqn for his 29th kill.

Company logos for Albatros and Oeffag are included. Rounding out the illustrations is a fine two-page foldout cutaway of an Albatros D.I with 24 components keyed.

Photo-based groupings demonstrate: different radiators; propellers of four main manufacturers with illustrated logos; wing root fairings; three different cockpits; empennages. Finally, a table present technical specifications of D.I and D.IIs by manufacturers Johannisthal and Oeffag, another displays Mercedes D.III (D-1466) engine specs.

For modelers and historians this fifth title of the new Air Vanguard series is wealth of information concerning the first of the Albatros family of fighters. I found this book to be a fascinating story of the concept and creation and employment of one of the Great War’s iconic fighters. It is not meant to present the war record of every D.I or D.II Jasta. Again I am very impressed with just how comprehensive the text is despite Osprey’s 64-page format constraint.

In this title I find the level of detail to be much more than simply sufficient. It is very well written and easy to follow. I greatly appreciate the detail paid to the propeller types, radiators, wing attachment and fuselage structure. Now I want to build a model Albatros – in every variant! Descriptions of flight characteristics and powerplant control is always welcomed by me as it is probably be the closest I’ll ever get to flying an Albatros.

Excellent supporting photographs and art and graphics are superior to what I expected. The editor provided a fine selection of airframes and appliances representing the types. The “in-action” artwork is captivating and inspires me to dust off the Prismacolors and illustration board!

With Albatros D.I–D.II Osprey continues this excellent series with an anxiously awaited topic. It is a solid resource and offers a wealth of ideas for modelers. I heartily recommend it to enthusiasts of the Albatros and WW I fighters.

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: A great deal of technical detail that differentiates between the several variants of Albatros fighters. First-person accounts of fighting with - and against - Albatros.
Lows: Nothing really.
Verdict: This is a solid resource and offers a wealth of references for modelers and historians.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781780965994
  Suggested Retail: £11.99
  Related Link: DUEL: DH 2 vs Albatros D I/D II
  PUBLISHED: Apr 27, 2013

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of ModelGeek. All rights reserved.


Concerning profile # 3. A captured Albatros D.II previously flown by Lt. Max Böhme of Jagdstaffel 5, it was forced down over allied lines and is seen here being transported to a British aviation depot near to the location of Auxi-le-Château, France. Lt.Böhme survived and became a POW. The engagement occurred on the 4th March 1917 and the 'claim' was made by both an FE 2b crew and a DH 2 pilot Lt. Arthur Pearson who would be shot down and killed five days later by the 'Red Baron' Manfred von Richthofen. IWM (Q 4932) (It was later repainted in French colours and Tested at Vélizy-Villacoublay, France)
FEB 09, 2014 - 01:17 PM
Wasn't Bohme's Albatros a D-I? The book is quite good, and with the data file #100 paints a very good picture of the the fighter. It would be nice If it had some more color profiles. I would like to know who recieved the other prototypes and whether there are any definative connections between pilots and Serial numbers. i. e. who flew what in those first weeks of September/October? Wishful thinking? Captn Tommy
FEB 10, 2014 - 06:11 AM
Definately a D.II. Boehme's D.II build.
FEB 10, 2014 - 06:45 PM
Yes... I looked Bohme up when I got home. Embarrassed, a bit, I mistook Bohme for Buttner who flew the D-I. Red faced, Captn Tommy
FEB 11, 2014 - 10:16 AM
No worries.
FEB 11, 2014 - 02:31 PM
Hi there OK - pratfall undoubtedly waiting for me, but someone has to ask... Why's there a photo of a Fokker Eindecker on the cover? All the best Rowan
FEB 13, 2014 - 09:41 AM

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