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Fokker D.VII F

Airworthy Reproduction

Many consider the German Fokker D.VII to be the best fighter aircraft of the First World War.

 

During the latter half of 1917, the Allies had regained air superiority over the Western Front with the S.E.5 and the SPAD fighters. To counter this, the German government invited aircraft manufacturers to submit prototype single-seat fighter designs for evaluation at a competition to be held at Adlershof airfield in Berlin in January 1918.

 

The selected one (on 31) was the in-line-engined Fokker V.11, which became the Fokker D.VII as a production airplane. The V.11 was largely the creation of Fokker's chief designer, Reinhold Platz and was completed just before the Adlershof competition began on January 21, 1918, so Fokker had little time to test it beforehand.

 

Fokker received a production order for 400 Fokker D.VIIs. Concerned that the Fokker factory would be unable to meet the demand for the new fighter, IdFlieg (Inspektion der fliegertruppen) directed Albatros (Fokker's great rival) to produce D.VIIs under license. The Johannisthal-built aircraft carried the designation Fokker D.VII (Alb) and those constructed at Schneidemühl were identified Fokker D.VII (O.A.W.).

Fokker D.VIIs began to reach front line units in April 1918. Initially, the D.VII was powered by a 160-horsepower Mercedes D.III engine. By the summer, however, the Mercedes-powered D.VII was already having difficulty keeping pace with the latest Allied fighters. The airplane was then experimentally fitted with the new 185-horsepower B.M.W. IIIa, which dramatically improved performance. Unfortunately, only limited quantities of B.M.W. IIIa were available. The B.M.W.-powered model, known as the D.VIIF, was much sought after by the German pilots, but could only be supplied in small numbers. A lot of Fokker D.VIIs were also fitted with the 180 hp Mercedes D.IIIa and 200 hp D.IIIaü engines.

When the Fokker D.VII appeared on the Western Front, Allied pilots at first underestimated the new fighter because it lacked the sleek, graceful lines of the German Albatros fighters. But they soon revised their view, despite the comparatively ungainly appearance of the D.VII. One reason for this was the soon-to-be-famous ability of the Fokker D.VII to seemingly "hang on its propeller," and fire into the unprotected underside of Allied two-seater reconnaissance aircrafts. The Fokker D.VII's thick wing section endowed the airplane with good stall characteristics. Positioning below and behind a two-seater, where the enemy observer could not bring his guns to bear, a D.VII pilot could safely put his airplane into a nose-high attitude, with full power, in a nearly stalled condition. The capability of the D.VII to perform this maneuver made it a highly feared opponent in combat.

Ancre 1

Fokker D.VII F Reproduction