|An Albatros B.IIa in the Polish Aviation Museum|
The Albatros B.II, (post-war company designation L.2) was an unarmed German two-seat reconnaissance biplane of the First World War.
Designed by Robert Thelen based on his 1913 Albatros B.I, the B.II was the aircraft that brought the aircraft manufacturer Albatros Flugzeugwerke to the world's attention (Ernst Heinkel claimed to have designed this aircraft, which is considered untrue by aviation historians).
The B.II had a shorter wingspan than the B.I and used a variety of engines up to 89 kW (120 hp). In 1914 it set an altitude record of 4,500 m (14,800 ft). The seating arrangement was not ideal; the pilot occupied the rear cockpit, the observer sat in front over the wings which greatly reduced his downward view while the protruding engine block almost completely obscured the view over the nose. When Albatros developed the armed C.I based on their B-series, the seat positions were swapped so that the observer/gunner had a better view and clear field of fire.
A floatplane variant of the B.II was developed, known as the W.1 or B.II-W, as was a purpose-built trainer with increased wingspan and different engines, designated the B.IIa. Further developments led to the Albatros B.III, which was produced in small numbers.
First flying in 1914, large numbers of the B.II were built and, though it was relegated from front-line service in 1915 following the introduction of the armed C-type two-seaters, the B.II remained in service as a trainer until 1918 and was still operated by the Swedish Air Force in 1919 and by the Polish Air Force during the Polish-Soviet war of 1920. A B.II from Feldflieger Abteilung 41 was the one of the first landplanes (as opposed to Zeppelin) to drop bombs on England that caused some damage; on April 16, 1915, ten bombs were dropped by hand in the area of Sittingbourne and Faversham. No significant damage or casualties resulted.
In 1914, the German manufacturer Albatros-Flugzeugwerke GmbH of Berlin-Johannisthal, was touring several countries in northern Europe, displaying their new aircraft, the Albatros B.IIa. At the time, it was considered one of the best primary trainer aircraft. However, the landing gear and propeller were damaged when it arrived in Sweden. Due to the outbreak of World War I, no spares could be sent, and the aircraft was interned. It was repaired and used as a trainer by the Swedish Air Force. This aircraft was later copied and manufactured in Sweden by six different aircraft companies: Svenska Aeroplanfabriken (SAF), Södertelge Werkstäder (SW), Marinens Flygväsende (MFV), Nordiska Aviatikbolaget (NAB), AB Thulinverken as the Thulin C and Flygkompaniets Verkstäder Malmen (FVM). It was the first military trainer aircraft in Sweden and received the designation Sk 1 and Ö2 in the Swedish Air Force (the two types differed slightly, mainly by choice of engine). An FVM-built Sk 1 Albatros is on public display in the Swedish Air Force Museum near Linköping. The type was used until 1935. One aircraft was later sold to Finland.
NAB Albatros Type 9 (and SW 20 Albatros), Type 12 and Type 17 were among the first aircraft of the Finnish Air Force. It was in use between 1918 and 1923. There were two Type 9s, and one each of the Type 12 and 17. There was also one SW 20 Albatros, which was similar to the Type 9. The Type 12 aircraft was destroyed in the ferry flight to Finland; the remains of the aircraft were found near Eckerö, Åland. Type 12 was actually a modified Curtiss Twin JN with floats made by NAB.
The Albatros B.II was widely used by the K.u.K, but was given the designation Albatros B.I (series 21).
Data from German aircraft of the First World War