The Pfalz Parasol was the first military aircraft to be produced by the Bavarian Pfalz company, and saw use as reconnaissance aircraft and improvised bombers early in the First World War, before becoming training aircraft.
In February 1914 the newly formed Pfalz company gained a licence to build the Morane-Saulnier Type L parasol and Type H monoplane. The Bavarian government soon placed an order for sixty two seat Type Ls, which were initially known as the Pfalz Parasol. They were given the Bavarian designations P1 to P58 and P60-P61 (P59 was given to the single-seat Halb-Parasol single seat aircraft).
The majority of these aircraft were powered by the seven cylinder 80hp Oberursel U.0 rotary engine. Some were given the more powerful nine cylinder 100hp Oberursel U.1 rotary engine. When the Prussian designation system was extended to cover all German aircraft the 80hp aircraft became the Pfalz A.I and the 100hp the Pfalz A.II.
These unarmed aircraft had good performance and flight characteristics for 1914, and served as reconnaissance aircraft for the Bavarian Army. They were also sometimes used as improvised bombers. They were later used as trainers.
Their most notable use as bombers came on 31 July 1915, when a number of Pfalz parasols were used to bomb Italian positions in the Alps. This came two months after the Italian declaration of War on Austria-Hungary on 23 May 1915, but well over a year before the Italian declaration of War on Germany on 28 August 1916. In order to hide the identity of these aircraft they were painted in Austro-Hungarian markings. Only the pilots flew, to save weight. Each aircraft carried five 10kg Carbonit bombs stored in a wooden box on the side of the fuselage. The aircraft operated from Toblach in the Bavarian Alps. This first mission was a raid on Cortina. The dangers of operating the aircraft appear to have been as high as the dangers of Italian fire, as one pilot, Ltr Ferdinand Marz, was mortally injured when his aircraft crashed on take off.
Three A.IIs went to the Ottoman Empire where they were used against the Arab Revolt
A small number of the unarmed Pfalz Parasols were later given a single machine gun, and were designated as the Pfalz E.III.
A.I and A.II
Bomb load: Five 10kg bombs (optional)
Engine: Oberursel U.0
Empty weight: 365kg
Loaded weight: 585kg
Max speed: 135km/hr
Climb Rate: 15min to 2,000m; 30min to 3,000m
Engine: Oberursel U.I
Empty weight: 420kg
Loaded weight: 674kg
Max speed: 150km/hr
Climb Rate: 12min to 2,000m, 25min to 3,000m