Anthony Fokker during WW1
Antony Fokker was born on 6 April 1890 on the island of Java in the Dutch East Indies, but came with his family to the Netherlands four years later. In his youth, Fokker showed a greater disposition toward design and invention than toward formal schooling. During his adolescence he acquired a passion for cars, inventing a tire that could not be punctured, and then discovered aviation. His real desire was to learn to fly, but as his parents opposed this course most vehemently, the young Fokker contented himself initially with model planes built of wood and paper.
Enrolling in an engineering school, after his military service had been cut short by an accident, the young Fokker finally obtained the structured educational basis which finally allowed him to construct his first plane, the Spin, in 1910.
After gaining his pilot's license in 1911, Fokker moved to Germany, which he saw as a nation more likely than the Netherlands to take aviation to its bosom. Registered originally Fokker Aviatik GmbH, on 22 February 1912, Antony Fokker's first company operated under Fokker Aeroplanbau GMBH at Berlin-Johannisthal then, moved to Schwerin, Mecklenberg, in 1913. Name changed later to Fokker Flugzeugwerke.
In 1912 Fokker sold his first plane to the German army, but the two years before the outbreak of the First World War were a distinct uphill struggle for the young Dutchman in financial terms. All this changed with the beginning of the war. Fokker accepted all commissions placed with him by the Imperial German air service, despite the fact that he might not be able to honour all of them. During the course of the war the Fokker company grew very considerably, producing for Germany many aircraft types both indifferent and good. Indifferent types included the Eindecker series of armed monoplanes that nevertheless ushered in the concept of the true fighter, while good types included the classic Dr 1, DVII and D VIII fighters. The Fokker company was also notable for the development of the world's first effective synchronizer gear to allow a fixed fuselage-mounted machine gun to fire directly forward without shooting off the propeller blades.
Some civil aeroplanes were built at Schwerin in 1918 under the supervision of Platz, but production soon ended, and the Fokker Aeroplane Works, where some 3,350 aeroplanes had been built during the War, was liquidated. It became Schwerin Industrial Works Ltd, producing yachts, motor-boats, canoes and, later, bedsteads and scales.
The defeat of Germany and the revolutionary fever that swept the country toward the end of 1918 persuaded Fokker to beat a precipitate retreat to the Netherlands during November. The company was liquidated following Fokker's return to Holland after the First World War. Here Fokker rebuilt his aviation empire, on 21 July 1919, founding the NV Koninklijke Nederlandse Vliegtuigenfabriek Fokker with factory at Veere, Zeeland, assembly at Amsterdam, with a series of important warplanes and a family of monoplane transports, including the classic F VII.
Fokker rented the Witteman-Lewis aircraft factory at Teterboro, together with the adjoining airfield at Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, USA, as the Netherlands Aircraft Manufacturing Company. In May 1924 a new company was formed, the Atlantic Corporation, with Lorillard Spencer as President and Robert B. C. Noorduyn as General Manager. Later named the Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America and, under the overall ownership of the General Motors Corporation in 1930, the General Aviation Corporation.
Often known as "The Flying Dutchman", Fokker died on 23 December 1939 but his name survives as the manufacturer of some of the world's most important short-haul airliners.
Production during Occupation included Arado Ar 196 floatplanes, Bucker Bu 181 Bestmann trainers and Dornier Do 24 flying-boats.
Postwar activity included conversion of military Dakotas and Skymasters for civil use, license-production of various types including 24 Hawker Sea Furies, 460 Hunter F.4, and F.6 fighters; final assembly and parts manufacture of 350 Lockheed F.104Gs; share in European manufacturing program for F-16 fighter; associate member of Airbus Industrie
On February 1st, 1947 an agreement was signed between Fokker, Aviolanda and De Schelde's aviation department by which the long-awaited merger was achieved. The name of the new conglomerate was “United Netherlands Aircraft Factories-Fokker”.
To commemorate Fokker's thirty years of aircraft manufacture in the Netherlands, they were granted the title "Royal Dutch Aircraft Manufacturer Fokker" on 21 July 1949.
On April 1st, 1949 it became apparent that the merger between Fokker, Aviolanda and De Schelde had failed, and the controlling body appointed Messrs. Vos, Beeling, and During directors of the Fokker factory.
A new factory at Schiphol was opened in 1951.
On February 16th, 1954 Avio-Diepen became a subsidiary of Fokker.
The aircraft construction department of the Royal Company De Schelde, joined Fokker on May lst, 1954.
Formed a joint company with Vereinigte Flugzeugtechnische Werke in 1969.
VFW and Fokker joined in 1970 to form VFW-Fokker.
In the 1970s German interest in general aviation was maintained by one or two smaller companies, but there has also been quite a large R&D investment by Rhein Flugzeugbau, a subsidiary of VFW-Fokker, in ducted-fan propulsion for a new generation of lightplanes represented by its revolutionary Fanliner.
By 1995 Fokker was a member of the Daimler-Benz Aerospace group.
In March 1996 company filed for bankruptcy, but Stork Group bought Fokker Aviation to continue as Fokker Aircraft BV for product support, electronic systems and components, aerostructures, and special products. Several attempts to purchase the aircraft manufacturing business by foreign companies came to little, leading to the end of all aircraft production in May 1997 (latterly under trustees). Until production ended after Fokker collapsed due to financial problems on 15 March 1996, Fokker have developed and constructed over 100 different types of aircraft, both for military and civil aviation.