When originally conceived, the French SPAD VII and German Albatros D II represented steps away from an emphasis on maeuvre in aerial combat in favour of speed and durability. At the end of 1916, however, Albatros tried to have the best of both worlds. The result combined the better downward view and maeuvrability of the Nieuport with the power and twin machine guns of the Albatros D II. 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.
A resident of Leesburg, Virginia, Jon Guttman is currently research editor for Weider History Publications. Specialising in World War I aviation, he has written numerous titles for Osprey including the popular Balloon-Busting Aces of World War I in the Aircraft of the Aces series. Jim Laurier is a native of New England and lives in New Hampshire. He attended Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78, and since graduating with Honours, he has been working professionally in the field of Fine Art and Illustration. He has been commissioned to paint for the US Air Force and has aviation paintings on permanent display at the Pentagon.