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Aces of Aviation

Albatros D III of Werner Voss

Albatros D III of Werner Voss

Albatros D III piloted by Lieutenant Werner Voss, Jasta Commander, the 5th May 1917.

Wingspan: 9.05 meters.

Length: 7.33 meters.

Height: 2.98 meters.

Engine[s]: Mercedes D IIIa of 160 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 165 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 5485 meters.

Range: 2 hours.

Armament: Two Spandau 7.92-millimeter machine guns.

Born in 1897, Werner Voss became a pilot at the age of 19, after having been transferred from the Hussars. His first service was in the famous "Jasta Boelcke" (Jasta 2) in the late 1916. Albeit he demonstrated to have a huge natural talent for flying, he never despised the classic leadership of Manfred von Richthofen, with whom he had a great friendship. In the late 1916 the production of the excellent Albatros D I diminished, and Voss spent the largest part of the winter 1916-17 in the cockpits of the D II and D III models; with this latter he went to the front.

At the beginning of the new year Voss was destined to the Jasta 5, then fully equipped with the Albatros D III. His airplane in that unit was distinctive by a red heart painted in both sides of the fuselage. With this airplane he achieved his first victory the 17th March 1917, beginning a record of 28 victories in three weeks.

After spending a brief time in the Jasta 14, Voss returned to the Jasta 5 in May, this time as commander. His airplane, with the red heart painted also in the upper part of the fuselage, is that depicted in the illustration. Shortly after he was transferred to the Jasta 39 and, in July, by invitation from Von Richthofen, the took the command of the Jasta 10. The following month he was assigned the pre-production exemplar of the Fokker Dr I triplane, with which he achieved new victories.

The 23rd September Voss' record reached 48 victories. Then, flying alone over Ypres, he entered combat against a whole patrol of the 56th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps. After a strenuous but undecisive combat against such eminent pilots as Bowman, Hoidge, Lewis, McCudden, Mayberry and Rhys-Davis, some Albatros D II arrived to rescue him. But when Voss was about to leave, he was suddenly hit by machine gun fire from the SE5a piloted by Rhys-David and downed. His triplane fell behind Allied lines, and he was buried by his enemies with full honors. His record of 48 victories was the fourth greatest achieved by a German pilot during the First World War.