The Pfalz E.II was the second of their monoplane fighters, and was powered by a more powerful engine that the original Pfalz E.I.
Before the outbreak of war Pfalz had negotiated a licence to produce the Morane-Saulnier Type H monoplane. This was an unarmed aircraft, but in 1915 Pfalz were able to install a synchronised machine gun in front of the cockpit, to produce an armed fighter.
The first armed Pfalz monoplane was the Pfalz E.1, which was powered by a seven cylinder 80hp Oberursel U.O engine, and had two wing bracing and wing warping cables on each side. The E.I appeared several months after the Fokker E.I, and was generally considered to be inferior to that aircraft.
The Pfalz E.II was given a more powerful nine cylinder 100hp Oberursel U.I rotary engine. It had a longer fuselage, to balance the weight of the heavier engine, and longer wings with triple wing bracing and wing warping cables on each side. Pfalz normally painted a black circle where these cables met the wing, making it easier to identify the later models. The E.II was slightly faster that the E.I, and had a much better climb rate. As with all of the Pfalz monoplanes the pilot sat unusually high in the cockpit, a feature that was often criticised by its pilots.
Five contracts are recorded for the E.II. The first two, for 10 and 20 aircraft, were issued in September 1915. Another 20 were ordered in November 1915, 20 in December 1915 and 60 in February 1916. The first September contract also included an order for 25 Pfalz E.Is, with the less powerful 80hp Oberursel U.0 rotary engine. A total of 130 E.IIs were built.
The E.II was followed by the Pfalz E.IV, which was powered by a twin row 160hp Oberursel U.III engine, which gave it slightly better performance than the E.II even though it carried a second machine gun, but it was outclassed by the time it entered production in 1916 and only a handful were ever at the front.
The E.II entered service late in 1915, and six were recorded at the end of December 1915. The E.II reached a peak of 30 aircraft in service in June 1916. This compared to a peak of 123 aircraft for the Fokker E.II and E.III, both of which used the same engine, in April 1916. In August an order was issued to withdraw all Pfalz E types because they had suffered a number of structural failures, and numbers dropped to 17 by the end of August and 3 by the end of October. Pfalz normally had a good reputation for build quality, but by 1916 their monoplanes were badly outdated and were being asked to perform in ways that the Type L had never been designed for.
The E.II was initially issued to a variety of reconnaissance squadrons. They were also used by the early fighter units, the Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos.
Otto Kissenberth, a twenty victory ace and winner of the Pour le Merite, is known to have flown the E.II while flying with KEK Ensisheim but didn’t score any known victories in the type.
Walter von Bulow, a 28 victory ace and winner of the Pour le Merite flew the E.II early in his career.
One E.II was photographed serving on the Palestinian Front, probably the only Pfalz E type to see service in that theatre.
By 17 August 1916 all of the Pfalz monoplanes had been ordered to be withdrawn from the front because of a series of fatal crashes, and cannibalized for parts. This was reported as a loss of 1.5 million marks worth of aircraft, suggesting that around 110 E-types were scrapped. This also left Pfalz without any work. As a result they became licence production of the Roland D series fighters, before finally beginning production of a successful fighter, the Pfalz D.III, in May 1917.
Engine: Oberursel U.I
Empty weight: 410kg
Loaded weight: 620kg
Max speed: 150 km/h
Climb Rate: 7min to 2,000m, 12.5min to 3,000m
Armament: One Spandau lMG 08 machine gun