Powered by a 160 hp Daimler D III six-cylinder water-cooled engine and carrying an armament of twin LMG 08/15 machine guns, the D.III completed Typen-Prüfung (type testing) at Adlershof in June 1917. By October 1917, 145 D.IIIs were already in squadron service, the number at the Front attaining a peak of 276 by the year's end.
The D.IIIa, which embodied relatively minor changes including a redesigned, longer-span tailplane, repositioned guns and modified lower-wing tips, reached the Front in December 1917. The D.IIIa attained its peak service usage in April 1918 when 433 were at the Front. Similarly powered and armed to the D.III, the D.IIIa remained in first-line use until the end of hostilities.
The pictured aircraft was flown by Vzfw (Vizefeldwebel, acting Sergeant) Hecht of Jasta 10 (Jagdstaffel, fighter squadron) of the German AAS on December 17, 1917, when it was downed intact near Estrées-en-Chaussée, France, by 2nd Lieutenants A.G. Hanna and R.A. Burnand of No. 35 Squadron, RFC. The original German serial, D.1370/17, is still visible, while the RFC code G.110 is shown twice.
The 'G' did not follow 'F' as a prefix letter in the general numbering serials, because it could easily be confused with 'C', but it was used as a prefix in a special series for the identification of enemy aircraft falling into British hands on the Western Front as it was an appropriately significant letter for 'German'.
The numbers were not allocated for aircraft taken on charge by units as in the general series, but as a reference number, chiefly for intelligence purposes. In fact, in a number of cases, the 'G' number denoted merely a heap of wreckage.
Strewn wreckage or wreckage under fire was not always salvaged, but in most cases it was taken to a depot for examination by intelligence officers in France. Usually the engine was in one piece and it was normal to dispatch this to England where it was stored at the Agricultural Hall, Islington, for technical surveyor awaiting allocation.
Ex-enemy aircraft that were airworthy. were flown to England on the normal ferry route to Lympne from where they were collected for store at Islington or held pending allocation to experimental establishments or Fighting Schools.
Other aircraft, reasonably intact but not flyable, were shipped and transported to Islington. It was these two classes of relatively intact machines that actually bore their 'G' numbers in a manner similar to normal British service aircraft. The majority were scrapped after a survey in February 1919.