The Albatros C.VII was similar to the C.V, but was powered by a Benz engine that was produced in much larger numbers than the interim Mercedes engine used on the C.V.
In March 1916 Albatros had received an order to produce 200 Albatros C.Vs, powered by the 220hp Mercedes D.IV engine. This was only ever seen as an interim design while Mercedes worked on the more powerful 260hp Mercedes D.IVa, and so this original order was changed to one for 75 C.Vs and 125 C.VIIs. This came after the first order for 100 C.VIIs, which was placed in the same month.
The C.VII was very similar to the C.V. It used the same construction methods, with a fuselage built around a plywood covered wooden frame and fabric covered wings with wooden spars and ribs. The fin, rudder, tailplane and elevators were interchangeable between the C.V, C.VII and C.X, and Albatros claimed that the wings were interchangeable between the C.V/16 and the C.VII (despite this claim the C.VII appears to have had balanced ailerons, while the C.V/16 certainly didn't). The C.V/17, which did have balanced ailerons, was ordered into production after the C.VII.
The C.VII was powered by the 200hp Benz Bz.IV, which was produced in very large numbers (a total of 7,124 being built during the First World War). Although this engine produced 20hp less than the Mercedes D.IV the resulting aircraft was lighter than the C.V, and retained a similar performance. The C.VII used ear radiators (as did the C.V/16)
The prototype C.VII was ready in the spring of 1916 and underwent tests in June. It entered front line service in September-October 1916, and was very welcome as the first of the 200hp Albatros scouts to be produced in significant numbers. The C.VII was used as a reconnaissance aircraft, for artillery spotting and even for light bombing, although it could only carry four 12.5kg bombs. As with most of the Albatros C series aircraft it was armed with one forward firing machine gun and one flexibly mounted gun. The C.VII was in large-scale use from December 1916 until June 1917 when it was replaced by the Rumpler C.IV, LVG C.V and DFW C.V. The C.VII remained in use as an advanced trainer until the end of the war. 346 were still in use in late December 1917 and 100 survived as late as 1920.
The C.VII was produced by Albatros, by OAW (an Albatros subsidiary) and by the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW). The BFW aircraft were originally called the BFW Bay C.II but were later re-designated as the Albatros C.VII(Bay). They were not as well built as the Albatros machines, and it is possibly that only 75 of the 200 aircraft ordered from BFW were delivered. The total number produced is unclear but was at least 500.
Engine: Benz Bz.IV inline piston engine
Span: 41ft 4.75in
Length: 28ft 6.5in
Height: 11ft 9.75in
Empty weight: 2,180lb
Maximum take-off weight: 3,417lb
Max speed: 106mph
Climb rate: 8 minutes to 3,280ft
Service ceiling: 16,405ft
Endurance: 3hrs 30mins
Armament: One flexibly mounted 7.92mm Parabellum machine gun, one fixed forward mounted 7.92mm LMG 08/15, up to 200lb of bombs