Pfalz E.III

The Pfalz E.III was an armed version of the parasol wing Pfalz A.II, itself a licence built copy of the Morane-Saulnier Type L. Only a handful were produced and their time at the front was limited.

Morane Saulnier Type L in German colours
Morane Saulnier Type L in German colours

In February 1914 the young Pfalz company entered into a licence agreement to build the Morane-Saulnier Type L parasol wing monoplane and Type H monoplanes. By the outbreak of the First World War they had received an order to built sixty Type Ls for the Bavarian Air Service. These aircraft were built as the Pfalz A.I and Pfalz A.II, two-seat unarmed scouts powered by 80hp and 100hp Oberursel engines.

The Pfalz E.III was produced by installing a single synchronised Spandau lMG 08 machine gun in existing A series aircraft. Photographs show that some of the converted aircraft kept both seats, while others were converted into single seaters. Some were given an extra vertical fin in front of the normal vertical tail to improve directional control.

Official records show a single E.III in service in October and December 1915, although this may well be a mistake. The type appears again at the end of April when four were in service. At its peak at the of June 1916 only eight E.IIIs were recorded as being in front line service, suggesting that production wasn’t much higher. By the end of August none were left in use.

Most if not all of these aircraft were powered by the 100hp Oberursel U.I engine.

The E.III was a large fighter, with poor manoeuvrability. It was larger in every dimension than the other Pfalz E series fighters. Its empty weight of 445kg placed it in the middle of the range, but it had the highest loaded weight at 705kg. It climbed more slowly than E.II, which used the same engine, but had the same top speed

Some similar aircraft produced by fitting Spandau lMG 08 machine gun to captured Type Ls.

Engine: Oberursel U.I
Power: 100hp
Crew: 1
Span: 11.2m
Length: 6.85m
Height: 3.4m
Empty weight: 445kg
Loaded weight: 705kg
Max speed: 150km/ hr
Climb Rate: 3min to 1,000m. 11min to 2,000m, 23min to 3,000m
Service ceiling:
Armament: One lMG 08 machine gun

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 June 2023), Pfalz E.III ,

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