By early 1917, it was clear to the German military and engineers at Albatros Werke that their D.III was not only becoming obsolete in light of the newest Allied fighters, but under high-g loading and prolonged dives, the lower wing would twist and fail. In response, the D.V was proposed and flew in April 1917. It used the same Mercedes D.IIIa 170 hp powerplant pushing its top airspeed to about 116 mph, but its fuselage was fully elliptical in cross-section, featured a larger rudder, and a slightly revised and strengthened sesquiplane configuration. It was armed with a pair of 7.92mm machine guns synchronized to fire through the prop.
The D.V entered service in May 1917 and structural failures of the lower wing occurred with increasing frequency. Upper wing cracks also plagued the airplane. Many pilots, including Manfred von Richthofen, preferred the D.III as the D.V was physically taxing to fly in addition to its maneuvering limitations.
The D.Va was developed in response and incorporated stronger wing spars, heavier wing ribs, a reinforced fuselage, and more powerful and heavier engine to offset as much of the newly added weight penalties. Still, wing failures continued. At the same time, structural issues plagued the Fokker Dr.I and the less-than-stellar performance of the Pfalz D.III left the Germans with no alternative to the D.Va for another year until the Fokker D.VII came on the scene. Production of the D.Va closed in April 1918 following a production run of 700 D.Vs and 1,612 D.Va airframes.