Pfalz D.III: The other fighter

As a kid when you read about World War I, a couple of fighters immediately jump to mind and the Pfalz D.III is not one of them. Very much the ‘other’ fighter, the Pfalz D.IIIa is a competent complement to the Albatross D.III and D.Va fighters.

Pretty good but never exceptional

Impressed by the Nieuport 17 design, engineers at Pfalz Flugzeugwerke did their best to replicate that fighters famous one-and-a-half wing design while mating it to the nearly ubiquitous 6-cylinder Mercedes D.III engine.

Early versions found little favour with their pilots featuring heavy controls and some difficult handling characteristics and was generally regarded as too slow. The D.IIIa version had increased engine power and a larger tail fin. On paper it appears to have been about as fast as the Albatross D.III and D.Va fighters.

While the Albatross continued to struggle with structural issues in high speed dives, the Pfalz was sturdy enough to give its pilots confidence in faster dives.

Handling can be tricky

pfalzIIIa-10.jpg
Getting out of a tight spot with a flick roll can take some doing with the Pfalz’s slow roll rate.

At first I thought that the Pfalz D.IIIa was fairly easy to handle and in normal flight its pretty good but it has some issues.

Roll rate is somewhat slow at speed and it takes considerable amounts of aileron and rudder to get the aircraft to flick over. The Albatross does this far better.

Turn is also good but not world beating and that means that a combination of tight turns and horizontal tactics are required. Structurally the Pfalz can handle a dive but never forget to throttle the engine back to prevent engine RPM overspeed – I did that quite a few times in testing.

Also it can get stuck into an unrecoverable flat spin in some circumstances. Typical spin recovery techniques proved useless. It doesn’t happen often but when it does it’s bad news for your virtual pilot.

pfalziiia-06
The unique aesthetic of the Pfalz is on full display with this blue camo scheme and upper wing design.

Average visibility, good firepower

Thought not the best forward view, the Pfalz D.IIIa is perfectly adequate. The view for aiming on a target is certainly constrained by the tight viewpoint between the top of the engine cowling and the bottom of the upper wing. You do have easy visibility both up and down and the wing doesn’t get in the way too much while tracking targets except in some very specific circumstances.

pfalzIIIa-cockpit
A pretty decent view forward

The dual Spandau LMG 08/15 7.92mm machine guns are standard issue on German fighters at this stage of the war and they work well at bringing down enemy fighters and balloons. They offer considerably more punch than any of the single gunned fighters.

Pfalzing for it

Though quirky and less popular than the Albatross both in real life and on Rise of Flight multiplayer servers, the Pfalz is still an interesting fighter to fly.

This scout has a unique aesthetic that sets it apart from the Albatross fighters. I bought this plane mostly because I was interested in trying something other than the Albatross and the Pfalz fits into that niche nicely. Its inferior but it also has some added character.

Character isn’t really a desirable think if you were a real pilot sent up in one of these things but for a virtual pilot it can be entertaining.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Pixel Dust says:

    One of RoF’s enduring characteristics is the wide and diverse number of aircraft types to try out; as you say, not so great, perhaps, for the real pilot, but much more so for the virtual one.

    I think that 1C ought release,for a modest fee, the skin pack # 19 (I believe) of user textures which they requested and have received already from the community of skinners. It would gain a little cash for the BoX series and give people reason to take another look at this old-but-highly-polished title. Nothing wrong with a well-done simulation that is complete.

    Too, no reason why one simulation can’t help the other.

    Like

    1. ShamrockOneFive says:

      Sounds like a great idea. Still hope that maybe they can do a few small things for Rise of Flight at some point!

      Like

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