Albatros J.I / J.II
The Albatros J.I was conceived of as a dedicated ground attack aircraft for use in the "infantry close-support role" during World War 1. Taking the wing assemblies and empennage of the C.XII, Albatros built a new fuselage. Unique to the J.I was the addition of armour steel plate to help protect the crew during their low-level attack runs over hostile territory. This armour added much weight some 1,080lbs. To achieve the low-level strafing role required, the J.I was fitted with a pair of downward-firing machine guns controlled by the pilot. First flight of the J.I was recorded in 1917 and the aircraft went into operational status that same year.
Despite its drawbacks, the J.I did achieve a certain level of success as a dedicated ground-attack platform and about 240 production examples were built by war's end.
A biplane design, the Albatros J.I featured a downward-sloping forward fuselage., keeping the engine at a low level when compared to most other biplane designs. The engine was fitted in a forward-set compartment ahead of the cockpit and protruded from the top of the fuselage. The engine powered a two-bladed propeller made of wood. The pilot saw just aft of the engine and under the upper wing assembly. To his rear was the observer/rear cockpit gunner. Wings were equal span with parallel struts and dual bays, additionally braced at the fuselage. The rounded fuselage tampered off to a point at the rear to which was affixed a rounded, swept-back vertical tail fin and a pair of horizontal planes set well-aft. A ventral "fin" type structure was noted under the fuselage rear and this helped to support the tail skid. The main undercarriage was fixed and each single-wheeled landing gear leg was supported by two struts emanating from the fuselage with a connecting strut joining the two legs together.
As an infantry close-support platform, the J.I armament was 2 x 7.92 Spandau LMG 08/15 series aircraft machine guns arranged in a fixed, downward angle, suitable for making strafing runs against trench formations. The rear 1 x 7.92mm Parabellum MG14 series machine gun served as a self-defence measure. This machine gun was fitted to a trainable mount.
Beyond the Luftstreitkrafte of the German Empire, the only other noted operator of the J.I became Poland but these were fielded in the years following the close of World War 1. Some 10 such aircraft in Polish service served up until 1921 before being retired.
The less successful J.II, powered by a 164kW Benz Bz.IVa, had extra armour plating to protect the engine and so lost the pointed nose and propeller spinner.
Engine: 1 x Benz Bz.IV inline, 150- or 200 hp
Length: 28 ft 10 in (8.8m)
Wingspan: 46 ft 4 in (14.14m)
Height: 11 ft 10 in (3.37m)
Wing area: 42.8 sq.m / 460.69 sq ft
Empty Weight: 3,082lbs (1,398kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 3,986lbs (1,808kg)
Maximum Speed: 87mph (140kmh; 76kts)
Cruise speed: 110 km/h / 68 mph
Range w/max.fuel: 350 km / 217 miles
Range w/max.payload: 275 km / 171 miles
Rate-of-Climb: 400ft/min (122m/min)
Service Ceiling: 14,764ft (4,500m)
Endurance: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Armament: 2 x 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns, 1 x 7.92mm Parabellum MG14 machine gun