The Albatros J.I was a ground attack aircraft somewhat inspired by the A.E.G. J.I but using the wings from the Albatros C.XII and constructed using the typical Albatros methods.
The J.I was produced for the Flieger Abt. (Infanterieflieger), close support units created specifically to attack Allied troops. It represented a middle ground in the development of these ground attack aircraft. At one side were the earlier aircraft from D.F.W. and L.V.G, with armoured seats and fuel tanks. At the other side were aircraft like the A.E.G. J.I, where the entire nose was armoured. In the middle was the Albatros J.I in which the entire cockpit was armoured but the nose wasn't. The Albatros J.II, which was produced in very small numbers, would follow the A.E.G. model, with a fully armoured nose to protect the engine.
The J.I was developed in the spring and early summer of 1917. It used the wings from the Albatros C.XII, making it a twin-bay biplane with wings of almost equal span and ailerons at all four wing tips. The wing was mounted further forward than on the C.XII and was swept back by two degrees to keep the aircraft's centre of gravity in the right place.
The fuselage used the standard Albatros method of construction, with a wooden framework and plywood covering. It had flat sides and a flat base, but a curved top. The top of the nose sloped down quite steeply from the cockpit, and the engine was mounted somewhat lower than on the C-class scouts. This was done to give the pilot a better view down, towards the enemy trenches that would be his target.
The cockpit was protected by 5mm chrome nickel sheet armour which was bolted to the sides and base of the fuselage. The side armour extended to the top of the front cockpit, with hinged panels to allow the pilot easier access to the aircraft.
The J.I used a less powerful engine than the C.XII and was heavier, so its performance suffered. The climb rate more than halved, but this didn't matter in ground attack aircraft. Top speed fell by 20mph, making it potentially more vulnerable to Allied fighters, but again this wasn't too important in a ground attack aircraft, which to a certain extend needed to loiter over its targets.
The J.I was armed with two fixed downward pointing Spandau machine guns mounted at 45 degrees. This allowed the pilot to fly level above Allied troops strafing them as he went. The J.I entered service in the autumn of 1917. It was used in flights of three to six aircraft, and was an effective ground attack weapon.
Engine: Benz Bz.IV inline piston engine
Span: 46ft 4.75in
Length: 28ft 11.5in
Height: 11ft 0.75in
Empty weight: 3,082lb
Maximum take-off weight: 3,986lb
Max speed: 87mph
Climb rate: 11min 30sec to 3,280ft
Endurance: 2 hours 30 minutes
Armament: Two fixed downwards firing 7.92mm LMG 08/15 machine guns and one flexibly mounted 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun.