Fokker D.VIIΒ History

The legendary Fokker D VII was one of history’s greatest fighter aircraft. Its reputation was so formidable that the 1918 Armistice terms specifically authorized confiscation of all D VIIs by Allied forces.

By December 1917 the German High Command witnessed control of the air slipping irrevocably back into Allied hands. The following January they announced competition for a new fighter craft to employ the excellent Mercedes D III engine.

The Fokker D.VII carried the standard armament of the period, two synchronised 7.92 mm Spandau machine-guns, with 500 rpg, fixed over the top-decking in front of the pilot and firing between the propeller blades.

No less than 60 prototypes appeared at Aldershof as planned, but events were dominated by a machine entered by Anthony Fokker. His D VII model, designed by Reinhold Platz, was a conventional biplane of exceptionally graceful lines. Its wings were constructed from wood, and the fuselage consisted of a tube steel structure covered by fabric. But first and foremost, the Fokker D VII was extremely maneuverable, especially at high altitudes. With such striking performance, it was decided to rush Fokker’s invention immediately into production without further delay. An estimated 1,000 were constructed by Fokker, in concert with Albatros and AEG.

The first Fokker D VIIs appeared over the front in the spring of 1918 and were an unpleasant surprise to Allied pilots. Although slower than many adversaries, D VIIs could outturn and outclimb a host of excellent airplanes, including the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a, Sopwith Camel, and SPAD S.XIII. Moreover, it had a remarkable ability to briefly β€œhang” on its propeller, firing upward. Allied casualties soared correspondingly, and it looked like the formidable Fokker might single-handedly regain control of the skies for Germany.

Throughout summer and autumn 1918 the Fokker D.VII was treated with a respect afforded to no German fighter since the Fokker E.III three years earlier, and Article IV of the Armistice Agreement paid it a unique tribute by singling it out for specific mention among items of military equipment to be handed over the Allies. This squashed Anthony’s Fokker’s hopes of continuing in the aircraft manufacturing business in Germany after the war, and precipitated the now-famous smuggling episode in which he succeeded in getting four hundred engines and components of one hundred and twenty aircraft, most of them D.VIIs, out of Germany into Holland. The Fokker D.VII continued in production in Holland after the war, and remained in service, first with the Dutch Army Air Service and later in the Netherlands East Indies, until the late 1920s. Between 1919 and 1926 a number of ex-wartime D.VIIs were used, after conversion to 2-seaters, as trainers by the Belgian Aviation Militaire; twenty-seven were supplied to the Swiss Fliegertruppe.

Fokker D.VII Specifications
Aircraft Type:
wingspan: 29Β ft, 2 in
length: 22Β ft, 9 in
height: 9 ft
empty: 1,477Β lb
gross: 1,984Β lb
Power plant:
1 Γ— 185Β hp BMW IIIa liquid-cooled in-line engine
maximum speed: 117Β mph
ceiling: 19,685Β ft
maximum range: 200Β mi
2 Γ— 7.62 mm calibre machine guns
Service dates:


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