Fokker V.5 / F.1 / Dr.1
When the Sopwith Triplane first entered operational service with the RNAS in France in January 1917, it made an immediate impact on the aerial combat scene. The aircraft designer Anthony Fokker visited Manfred von Richthofen's Jagdstaffel 11 during April that year, and was shown a captured example of the Sopwith, and urged to produced an equally good design. Fokker passed on this request to Reinhold Platz his chief designer. Platz was privately reluctant to produce a triplane configuration, but proceeded to design the Fokker V.3 with a fabric-covered welded steel tube fuselage, a large triangular tailplane, the standard ‘comma’ rudder without a fixed fin, and cantilever plywood/fabric-covered wooden wings, which required no interplane strutting. It had a 110-hp Le Rhone rotary engine.
The wings vibrated badly in flight, and the V.4 introduced lightweight interplane struts as well as aerodynamic improvements. The V.3 was slightly redesigned to incorporate increased span wings and single-plank inter-plane struts. In this guise the V.4, as the second configuration was designated, was ordered into production and the first two examples, No 102/17 and 103/17, officially designated as the F.1, a designation soon changed to Dr.1, were issued to JG 11 for operational trials. On August 30, 1917, Leutenant Werner Voss made the first opera-tional flight of the Fokker, Dr. 1. Flying 103/17, he claimed a victory during his patrol. On September 1 von Richthofen himself took up 102/17 - and claimed his 60th victory.
In mid-October 1917, a total of 17 Dr.1s were delivered factory fresh to front line Staffeln but by the end of that month several more crashes included Heinrich Gontermann of Jasta 15, and Leutnant Pastor of Jasta 11. Both men were killed by structural failure in the Dr.1s they were test-flying. Immediate technical investigation proved that the deaths were caused by poor workmanship at the Fokker factory. All Dr.1s were grounded until properly-manufactured wings had been produced.
Once the faults in production had been cured, from April 1918 onwards Dr.1s began to reequip many units along the Western Front, and their pilots soon came to regard the little triplane as an ideal dogfighter. In pure technical terms the Dr.1 was slower than its main contemporary Albatros D.V scout, but the 'Dreidecker's' powers of manoeuvrability and fast climb found favour among Germany's fighting pilots.
The most important unit to fly the Dr.1 was Jagelgeschwader 1 (Fighter Squadron 1), the so-called “Richthofen Circus”.
A total of only 320 Fokker Dr.1s were actually produced, the last of these coming off` the production lines in May 1918. By that time, the new and superior Fokker D.VII biplane was beginning to reach German stations in France. However, Dr.1s continued on operational service until well into the summer of 1918. One German ace, Josef Jacobs of Jasta 7, retained two examples, doped all -back for his personal use, until late Sep-tember 1918, while his Staffel flew D.VIIs.
Attempts to improve the overall performance of the Dr.1 were concentrated mainly on installing more powerful engines in the basic structure. Several such fitments gave excellent results under initial test conditions, but by mid-1918 Germany's general shortage of such vital fuels as lubrication oils precluded any possibility of large scale production or use of the improved variants. At least one freak result of the Dr.1s' success was the Fokker V.8 variant, an impractical quintuplane which Fokker himself insisted on having designed and built. Tests of the V.8, however, proved disastrous and the project was immediately abandoned.
Total production was only 230 aircraft, and it was replaced by the Fokker DVII.
Redfern Fokker Dr.1
Airdrome Airplanes Fokker Dr-1 75%
Airdrome Airplanes Fokker Dr-1 100%
Bitz Flugzeugbau Fokker Dr.1
Engine: l x Oberursel Ur.ll or Thulin-built Le Rhone 9, 82kW (110 hp).
Span: (Top) 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in)
Span (Middle) 6.2 m (20 ft 4 in)
Span (Bottom) 5.7 m (18 ft 8 in).
Wing chord: 3 ft. 3 in.
Length: 5.77m (l8ft 11.25 in).
Height: 3 m (9 ft 10 in).
Service ceiling: 19,600 ft (6,000 m).
Armament: 2 x 7.92-mm (0.312-in) MG 08/15 mg.
Max T/O weight: 585 kg (1,290 lb).
Weight empty 893 lb. (405 kg.)
Max speed: 103 mph at 13,125 ft.
Range: 135 nm / 250 km
Operational endurance: 1 hr 30 min.