I’ve struggled to write a first impression on the Pfalz D.IIIa for Flying Circus. Flying it in combat several times now in QMB and even in multiplayer have failed to leave the kind of impression that I like to try and provide when I write these. Instead, the Pfalz D.IIIa I think can be regarded as a competent fighter with far less personality than the Sopwith Camel or Fokker Dr.I and that is not a bad thing.
Second line but well used
The real life Pfalz D.IIIa was heavily overshadowed by other German aircraft including the Albatross D.V and D.III as well as the Fokker Dr.I. The Pfalz ended up as a kind of “second line” fighter not being as well liked as some of the other fighters available. Still, pilots did appreciate it for some attributes such as its structural strength allowing it to perform dives that may have broken a D.Va or Dr.I.
Despite this diminished stature, Pfalz’s D.IIIa served from 1917 through to the end of the war and that makes it an important type in the Flying Circus line-up and an interesting fighter.
In combat in Flying Circus
Slower and less agile than the Sopwith Camel, the Pfalz D.IIIa isn’t that much slower or that much less agile and so it manages to hang on in a fight with the SPAD and the Camel – enough so that pilot skill matters more here than raw performance stats.
The Pfalz can dive quickly, handles relatively well, and like most German fighters of The Great War era, has a pair of LMG 08/15 “Spandau” machine guns giving it excellent firepower.
It can also take more than a few hits and keep on flying which is immensely useful in challenging dogfights.
The forward visibility is somewhat inadequate and the narrow space between wing and fuselage gives the pilot relatively poor forward vision. You can easily loose an enemy aircraft in the blind spots.
A competent fighter
My first impressions can be summarized this way: the Pfalz D.IIIa is a competent fighter without possessing any real standout features making it perfectly adequate and capable but never wowing in any way. This makes the Pfalz D.IIIa a kind of jack of all trades fighter with the ability to both turn and perform boom and zoom style attacks depending on the opponent.
Though not flashy, the Pfalz is beautifully recreated for Flying Circus and I can see myself spending some more time behind the stick of this 1917 era fighter.