Military Wiki
Role Fighter aircraft
National origin Germany
Manufacturer Kondor Flugzeugwerke, Essen
Designer Walter Rethel
First flight August or September 1918
Number built c. 10

The Kondor E.III or E.3[note 1] was a German single seat, monoplane fighter aircraft designed and built close to the end of World War I. Though successful in the third fighter competition, only a few were produced.

Design and development

The success of the parasol winged Fokker D.VIII in 1918 led several German aircraft makers to follow suite. The E.III was Kondor's interpretation of this kind of single seat monoplane ( E for Eindekker in this company designation), though it was later given the service designation D.I, a potential source of confusion given the Kondor D.I biplane (company name)) flown the year before.[1]

It had a cantilever wing with a section which was centrally thick but thinned towards the wing tips. The wing was straight tapered in plan, with an unswept leading edge and forward sweep on the trailing edge, and blunt tips. This was constructed in a novel and patented way, the wing ribs protruding and the gap between them covered with strips of veneer attached by L-shaped strips. The result was a very strong structure; Kondor claimed that the slight though clearly visible rib protrusion improved the aerodynamics. Wing and fuselage were connected on each side by two struts, one above the other, running from the mid- and upper forward fuselage to a common junction at the wing leading edge together with three forward leaning struts from the fuselage close to the cockpit to the wing underside.[1]

There were two E.III variants, differing chiefly in their engines. The original E.III had a 108 kW (145 hp) Oberursel Ur.III eleven-cylinder rotary engine and the E.IIIa a 149 kW (200 hp) Goebel Goe III, a nine-cylinder rotary. The Oberursel had a cutaway, horseshoe type cowling, the Goebel a complete, circular one. Behind the engine the fuselage was flat sided, with the single open cockpit under a large cut-out in the wing's trailing edge for enhanced visibility, tapering to the tail under shallow, rounded decking. Both rudder and elevators were balanced; the rudder reached down to the keel and moved within a cut-out between the elevators as the tailplane was placed on top of the fuselage. The E.III had a fixed, conventional undercarriage, the mainwheels on a single axle with V-strut legs to the lower fuselage and cross-wire braced.[1]

Though the design process only began in July 1918 the aircraft was rapidly built and made its first flight before going to Adlershof for type testing in September and entering the Third D-type contest against some other new German fighters the following month.[1] These included the Albatros D.XII and the Aviatik D.VII, both biplanes.[2] One senior pilot there reckoned the Kondor the best machine present; it was judged as having flight characteristics only marginally less good than the recently ordered Siemens-Schuckert D.IV biplane and showed none of the high speed parasol wing vibrations experienced with the Fokker D.VIII.[1]

The higher powered E.IIIa probably flew for the first in October. It had a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) and a much improved rate of climb, reaching 5,000 m (16,405 ft) in 11 minutes.[1]

Operational history

After the competition, Kondor received an order for the E.III; the numbers required are uncertain but seem to have been about 100. However, the November Armisitice came with only a few, about 8-10, delivered.[1]

A few E.IIIs were operated after the war. One E.IIIa was bought by the Swiss Comte Mittelholzer for aerobatic displays.[1] Two others went to an anti-communist Dutch vigilante group, along with the E.III's designer, Walter Rethel. On arrival he produced a reconnaissance aircraft, the NAVO RK-P4/220, for the group.[3]


Kondor E.III
108 kW (145 hp) Oberursel Ur.III engine.
Kondor E.IIIa
149 kW (200 hp) Goebel Goe III engine.

Specifications (E.III)

Data from Green[1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One
  • Length: 5.50 m (18 ft 1 in)
  • Wingspan: 9.00 m (29 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 2.75 m (9 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 12.75 m2 (137.2 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 460 kg (1,014 lb)
  • Gross weight: 640 kg (1,411 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Oberursel Ur.III 14-cylinder, twin row rotary engine, 120 kW (160 hp)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed


  • Maximum speed: 190 km/h (118 mph; 103 kn)
  • Service ceiling: 6,180 m (20,276 ft)
  • Time to altitude: 16.0 min to 5,000 m (16,405 ft)


  1. The uncertainty over the preferred choice of number style goes back as least as far a 1919: Taylor, Michael (2001). Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War I. London: Jane's Publishing Company. p. 168. ISBN 1-85170-347-0. 


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Green, William; Swanborough, Gordon (1994). The Complete Book of Fighters. Godalming, UK: Salamander Books. p. 323. ISBN 1-85833-777-1. 
  2. Green (1994). pp. 16, 41. 
  3. Wesselink, Theo; Postma, Thijs (1982). De Nederlandse vliegtuigen. Haarlem: Romem. p. 31. ISBN 90 228 3792 0. 

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