The Red Baron airplanes made by Albatros evolved steadily throughout World War I. The first plane flown by Richthofen was an Albatross C.III, a two-seat general use biplane that was eventually produced in larger numbers than any C series Albatros. It was used for photo-reconnaissance, bomber escort, and light bombing, and is the plane that Richthofen trained as a pilot in.
The Albatros D series included the D.I, D.II, D.III, D.V, and the D.Va. This series rapidly evolved due to battlefield needs, and most models were around for only months before being replaced. The D.I was powered with different engines, including the Mercedes D.III and the Benz Bz.III, which were powerful engines. Richthofen is not recorded as flying a D.I, but he did fly the D.II, D.III, and D.V.
The D.II was made in response to pilots’ need for better upward vision. The upper wing was repositioned closer to the fuselage and staggered forward, and the cabane struts were rearranged. Otherwise it was the same as the D.I in terms of fuselage and engine installation and performed basically the same.
The D.III was the German’s preeminent fighter in the spring of 1917, also known as “Bloody April." Besides being flown by Richthofen, it was also flown by top German pilots Erich Lowenhardt, Karl Emil Schafer, Ernst Udet, and Kurt Wolff.
Because the D.IV was an experimental platform, the next Albatros used in combat was the D.V. It had a redesigned fuselage and the same wing structure of the D.III. The D.Va was a version of the D.V that was produced later, and with a 180 HP engine.