When originally conceived, the French SPAD VII and German Albatros D II represented steps away from an emphasis on maneuver in aerial combat in favor of speed and durability - factors that came into play in hit-and-run tactics. At the end of 1916, however, Albatros tried to have the best of both worlds by incorporating the sesquiplane wing of the nimble Nieuport 17 into its D III. The result combined the better downward view and maneuverability of the Nieuport with the power and twin machine guns of the Albatros D II, but at a high price - a disturbing tendency for the single-spar lower wing to fail in a dive.
While Albatros (and the Austrian Oeffag firm, which built the fighter under license) sought to alleviate that weakness with various reinforcing measures, the Germans developed tactics to maximize the D III's strengths and minimize its shortcomings. At the same time, the French worked to improve the SPAD VII with more power and a more reliable cooling system before moving on to the twin-gunned SPAD XIII. While all that was going on, the Albatros D III became a mainstay of the German and Austro-Hungarian air services in frequent encounters with SPAD VIIs flown by French, Belgian, British, Italian and American airmen.
"Authoritatively researched, documented, and presented... Students of Albatrosen or SPADs in particular, and WWI air combat in general should be thrilled by this book." - Frederick Boucher, AeroScale
"As with all Duel volumes, this one features helpful maps, rare photos and superb artwork. Five Stars." -Barrett Tillman, The Aerodrome
"...this 80-page work contains all that most readers would ever want to know about comparing these two fabled fighters." -Peter Kilduff, Between the Bookends