The Albatros W.4 was developed In response to a German Admiralty request for a high performance seaplane to protect its bases along the Flanders Coast. The first W.4 was ordered in June 1916 and delivered in September. It resembled the D.I landplane, then in production at Johannistahl, but had larger wings with Increased gap. Fin and rudder area was also Increased, and the fuselage underfin eliminated.
Only the prototype W.4 was built by the Albatros company. The rest were constructed by the seaplane works at Friedrichshagen, a suburb of Berlin. Later W.4s featured floats of better aerodynamic shape, shorter float struts, a wing-mounted radiator and ailerons on both wings.
The W.4 showed excellent performance for a seaplane, with a top speed of about 100mph. It could climb to 3,000 meters (9,840ft) In 11.5 minutes, and its maneuverability was also good.
A total of 118 W.4s were built, in eight production batches, and deliveries took place between September 1916 and December 1917. It was used mostly on the Baltic and North Sea coasts by the German Navy. Eight second-hand W.4s were obtained by the Austro-Hungarian Naval Air Service and operated in the Aegean. The W.4 remained in service until the Armistice. At war s end, 67 were still listed as being in service use.