Another Airplanes and Rockets visitor,
Peter C., of the UK, contacted me about scanning information from a vintage copy
of American Aircraft Modeler. Peter requested the 3-view drawing of the Pfalz D.III
biplane (by Mr. Björn Karlström) that appeared in the July 1973 edition. I did him
one better by also scanning and OCRing the text of the accompanying article. Enjoy.
The Bavarian Woods
A brief history of Pfalz. / by Patricia T. Groves
When the Imperial German
Military Air Service of the German Army strug-gled underway in October 1912, not
only was it blessed with the usual gen-eral staff firmly entrenched in 19th Century
military tradition, it had Bavaria, too.
In 1871, after negotiating a generous
political and economic settlement to bolster its basically forest and farmland economy,
Bavaria entered the German Empire. Also retaining more sovereign rights than any
of the other member states, the characteristically independ-ent-minded Bavarians
kept control over their own railway, telegraph and postal systems, a separate diplomatic
service, as well as their own military administra-tion. Thus, whenever Bavarian
soldiers were involved, Germany heard a lot of heavy breathing in the background.
Shortly after the German air arm came into being, the Bavarian Air Ministry-endeavoring
to insure control over the equipment its flying service would use-turned to its
own industry. And, in a section of Bavaria known as The Palatinate (in German,
die pfalz1), it found the Everbusch brothers striving to get
On slim financial footing Alfred, Ernst and Walter Everbusch had hoped to acquire
license for production of the Albatros. When these negotiations fell through, the
Bavarian government stepped in and helped secure production rights from the Otto
airplane works for their pusher biplane. With this initial security plus additional
guidance from Gustav Otto, the Pfalz Flugzeug-Werke G.m.b.H. opened its factory
at Speyer am Rhein in July 19132.
new D.VIII In standard factory finish (aluminum dope). Type-tested in January 1918,
production models carried a 160-h.p. Siemens-Halske, 11-cylinder, geared rotary.
The propeller revolved at 900 rpm counter to the revolving (also at 900 rpm) crankcase
(Serial 6033/17). The vertical fins of the Phalz III and IIIa aircraft to the fuselage.
An inverted airfoil on the tailplane gave more rapid dive recovery (Builder's Note:
All struts carry aircraft serial number.)
to the D.VIII was this single bay strut D.VII entered in the January 1918 Fighter
Competitions. (Builder's Note: Cross Patee began to phase out in late March 1918.)
(Serial 157/18). N-struts and balanced ailerons distinguish this modified C.VIII.
(Builders Note: Length of the vertical bars on the Greek Cross paint scheme dates
this photo as after May 31, 1918.)
D.VIII abandoned by the Germans. Reportedly "pleasant to fly," double-bay construction
gave greater rigidity.
But pusher aircraft had a limited
future, and since the company wasn't ready to produce its own design, Alfred Everbusch
looked around for a more promising airplane. In early 1914 he acquired license from
Morane-Saulnier of Frarice to produce their Type H monoplane and Type L parasol.
Walter, the youngest of the Everbusch brothers, then enrolled in Morane-Saulnier's
flying school near Paris. After graduating in July 19 4, e served as a test pilot
for Pfalzl 's death in June 1916.
With the onset of WWI in August 1914,
German militarists figured that an unprepared enemy would wrap things up in a hurry,
the use of aircraft wasn't seriously considered . But, when the enemy
unexpectedly dug in its heels, the German General Staff was forced to take another
look at its aviation potential. At this time there were 30 German air units plus
four Bavarian - all of which looked better on paper3. In reality, they
were under strength and poorly equipped, having a few airplanes that could be considered
By this time the Pfalz company had built three of the Morane
monoplanes, three of the parasols and were nearly ready to deliver three Otto pushers
to Bavarian air units. Although still not ready to produce their own design, they
were acquiring a cram course in aircraft construction and beginning timid innovations
on the Morane designs.
In the early months of the war they produced the
Pfalz A.I and A.II aircraft which differed little from the original Morane Type
L. Going into limited production with the A.I (80 hp Oberursel engine) and A.II
(100 hp Oberursel), the company expanded and opened a flying school using some of
these machines to train Bavarian pilots, while others of the aircraft went into
front-line service on reconnaissance or escort duty4.
the Morane Type Hand modifying it to a shoulder-wing mono-plane, the Pfalz E.I (with
Fokker synchronizing gear) became the first of the company's airplanes to carry
a machine gun. In outward appearance its box-like configuration strongly resembled
the Fokker monoplane. However, in contrast to the welded steel tube Fokker, the
Pfalz E had a completely wooden skeleton. About 60 of these aircraft were followed
by a series of variants.
With the production of each airplane, the Pfalz
company increasingly injected its own ideas and construction techniques. Ernst and
Walter were giving flight demonstrations to combat pilots, while, back at the plant,
company engineers were improving on available designs. By April 30, 1916 over 100
of their aircraft were in operational use. But the end of the 'eindecker' contract
was in sight.
Since August 1914 the exigencies, the attritions, the point-counterpoint
needs of war forced design engineers to think in terms other than aerodynamic esthetics
and purity. By the end of 1916 (with the era of powered, manned flight but thirteen
years Old), the immediate need was for engine power and the rugged maneuverability
of the biplane fighter.
One of the greatest influences in aircraft design
was the appearance of the Nieuport 17 on the Western Front in March 1916. Produced
by the French, British, Belgians and Italians, the Nieuport enjoyed an Allied exclusivity
until its appearance from the other side of the lines, one day, sporting the Cross
Patee. Introduction of the Siemans-Schukert "variant" acknowledged the universality
of the Nieuport design.
In the summer of 1916 the Pfalz company built a biplane
whose heritage was strongly rooted to past company aircraft. Test flown, it was
found to be lacking. However, a few months later the factory obtained license and
contract to build the L.F.G. Roland D.1 biplane.
Whereas previous Pfalz
aircraft had typical flat-sided, fabric-covered fuselages, the Roland design (showing
Albatros lineage) featured a smoothly rounded contour. This contract would initiate
the classic shape and construction technique that, in the future, would identify
the Pfalz. The first Roland D.1 (Pfalz) passed its proving flights in January 1917,
and a small production run gave Pfalz engineers lead time to develop an original
By June 1917, after extensive testing at Germany's Adlershof flight
test center, the Pfalz D.III became the company's first real production aircraft.
With an oval, tapering monocoque fuselage giving it a sleek torpedo-like exterior,
the Pfalz D.III was constructed in two halves over molds (like the early Deperdussins).
Plywood bands, 9 cm wide, were laid in opposite directions over a minimum frame.
After the two halves were mated, the whole structure was covered in a thin fabric
and doped5. It was a technique they'd
improve on as time went by.
Universally, these early day monocoque constructions,
although stronger, were heavier than conventional aircraft. But, never having been
a strong ore-producing country in the first place, Bavaria hadn't developed a large
cadre of metal workers.
Since both the men and materials required for conventional
aircraft construction had to be "imported," when inevitable war time Shortages combined
with an unimpressive priority in the distribution of German goods, the Pfalz company
made use of locally available lumber and developed home-grown talent. Since Pfalz
was responsible only to the Bavarian government, rather than the German Directorate
of Aircraft Production, this gave them greater freedom to operate-which, in turn,
was followed by an inherent parochialism. Nevertheless, in the four years of the
company's existence, it became a full-fledged partner in the Empire's aviation industry.
As the war grew hotter, pilots on either side battled to counter increasingly
sophisticated aerobatics above the war zones, while engineers at home strained to
produce new possibilities in engine and aircraft design. Over the next year, with
the exception of a quick pass at a triplane and a momentary flirtation with a Rumpler
C.IV, Pfalz concentrated on improving its D.III and D.IIIa biplane and getting into
By November 1917 the company had a design staff of
15 engineers under Chief Engineer Rudolph Geringer and 11 new fighters were in various
stages between drawing board and maiden flight.6 In the factory, the workers were
busily expanding their expertise in monocoque construction.
When the January
1918 Fighter Biplane Competitions were announced, Pfalz selected three biplane variants
to send to the Adlershof trials: the popular Mercedes-powered D.IIIa, a graceful
D.VI (110-hp Oberursel) and an even structurally stronger Siemens-Halske powered
D.VII. However, losing out to Fokker in these competitions, Pfalz then prepared
to meet the May/June trials head-on.
Entering their D.VIII (in three different
engine versions) and a D.XII (two different engines), the company received a small
production order. By August 1918, both the D.VIII (160-hp Siemens-Halske) and the
D.XII (160-hp Mercedes) were in front-line service. And by now, the Pfalz company
had 2,600 employees and was producing close to 200 aircraft a month.
up to the last minute, the final Pfalz single-seat biplane variant (a D.XV) was
tested on 4 November 1918. But, with the Allied armies closing in, the handwriting
was on the wall. Orders soon went out from the German High Command to destroy all
military and industrial records to keep them from falling into Allied hands. (In
1945 this same order went out again. Fortunately for historians, in both instances,
a little luck and a little fudging kept this from being carried out to the extreme.)
Since the city of Speyer fell under French occupation (where it remained
until 1930), the 5½-year-old Phalz Fleugzeug-Werke produced its last air-plane at
the peak of its career. With the signing of the Armistice . and de-mobilization,
Phalz airplanes were among the 15,000 aircraft and 27,000 engines to hit the post-war
bonfire. Only a few known Pfalz D.XIIs are in museum care today
1. Pronounced: Pfalts, Fahlz, fallts (or, as a last
2. Pfalz Flugzeug-Werke Gesellschaft mit beschrankter Haftung
to Pfalz Aircraft, Limited.
Gray & Owen Thetford, German Aircraft of the First World War
(New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1970). page ix.
4. Peter M. Grosz
and Egon Kruger, PFALZ-The First Detailed Story of the Company
and its Famous Planes (West Roxbury, Mass.: World War I Aero Publishers, Inc., 1964)
5. Henry Woodhouse, Textbook of Applied Aeronautic Engineering
(London: T. Werner Laurie, Ltd., ca 1919), page 21l.
6. Peter M. Grosz, The
Pfalz D.XIl (England: Profile Publications, Ltd., Number 199), page 3.
to the Potential Builder: All the above contain a good supply of black and white
photos for construction data, notes on the flying qualities of the aircraft, etc.
See also Jane's 1919 for construction drawings and the Kenneth Munson books for
for larger version>
The discontinuity in the middle is due to the page wrapping
into the stapled fold area.
The AMA Plans Service offers a
full-size version of many of the plans show here at a very reasonable cost. They
will scale the plans any size for you. It is always best to buy printed plans because
my scanner versions often have distortions that can cause parts to fit poorly. Purchasing
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Björn Karlström Drawings:
Posted October 31, 2010