The Pfalz Flugwerke GmbH did not develop a biplane fighter design of its own until the Pfalz D.III prototype appeared in the spring of 1917. It had its roots in the Roland fighters that Pfalz had been building under license until then.
The type was an unequal-span biplane with an almost sesquiplane layout, a fuselage of very clean lines, and a 119-kW (160 hp) Mercedes D.III inline in a commendably low-drag installation. The D III entered service in the autumn of 1917, mainly with Bavarian units, and was complemented from 1918 by the D IIIa with a more powerful engine. By the end of 1917 approximately two hundred and fifty D.IIIs were at the Front. Many Jagdstaffein had mixed equipment at this period and it was not unusual for the new fighter to operate m the same formation with Roland and Albatros machines
Compared with its contemporaries, the Pfalz D.III had a poor rate of climb, a tendency to catch fire rapidly and average manoeuvrability. On the other hand, it was an excellent gun platform thanks to a fuselage-upperwing; gap kept to a minimum to afford a good all-round view from the cockpit. Twin Spandau guns were mounted inside the fuselage with only their muzzles protruding. It also featured a tailplane of inverted aerofoil section, made of ply-covered wood. This resulted in the capacity to dive hard and fast, a factor that led to its extensive use as a balloon-buster. Except for the tailplane, the fuselage was constructed of thin layers of plywood round a wooden frame of longerons and formers, covered with fabric.
The Pfalz D.III was powered by the Mereedes D.III six-cylinder liquid cooled inline 160hp engine. This gave it a maximum speed of 180 km/hr and an endurance of 2.5 hr.
The Pfalz D.III continued to operate until mid-1918. Then it was already looked upon by the Allied fighter pilots as a sitting duck.
Production totaled more than 600 machines.
Bellamy Pfalz D.III
Pfalz D IIIa
Powerplant: l x Mercedes D.IIIa, 134kW (180 hp)
Span: 9.40m (30ft 10 in)
Length: 6.95m (22 ft 9.5 in)
Armament: 2 x 7.92-mm (0.31 2-in) LMG 08/15 mg
Max T/O weight: 935 kg (2,061 lb)
Max speed: 103 mph at 9,845 ft
Operational endurance: about 2 hr