The Fokker Dr.I (Dreidecker, “triplane” in German), often known simply as the Fokker Triplane, was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918. It became famous as the aircraft in which Manfred von Richthofen gained his last 19 victories, and in which he was killed on 21 April 1918.
In February 1917, the Sopwith Triplane began to appear over the Western Front. Despite its single Vickers machine gun armament, the Sopwith swiftly proved itself superior to the more heavily armed Albatros fighters then in use by the Luftstreitkräfte. In April 1917, Anthony Fokker viewed a captured Sopwith Triplane while visiting Jasta 11. Upon his return to the Schwerin factory, Fokker instructed Reinhold Platz to build a triplane, but gave him no further information about the Sopwith design. Platz responded with the V.4, a small, rotary-powered triplane with a steel tube fuselage and thick cantilever wings, first developed during Fokker’s government-mandated collaboration with Hugo Junkers. Initial tests revealed that the V.4 had unacceptably high control forces resulting from the use of unbalanced ailerons and elevators.
Designer Reinhold Platz
First flight July 5, 1917
Primary user Cross-Pattee-alternate3.svg Luftstreitkräfte
Number built 320
Developed from Fokker V.4 Fokker F.I
Variants Fokker V.7
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Fokker Dr.1 Dreindecker "fighters"
The first two pre-production triplanes were designated F.I, in accord with Idflieg’s early class prefix for triplanes. These aircraft, serials 102/17 and 103/17, were the only machines to receive the F.I designation and could be distinguished from subsequent aircraft by a slight convex curve of the tailplane’s leading edge. The two aircraft were sent to Jastas 10 and 11 for combat evaluation, arriving at Markebeeke, Belgium on 28 August 1917.
Richthofen first flew 102/17 on 1 September 1917 and shot down two enemy aircraft in the next two days. He reported to the Kogenluft (Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte) that the F.I was superior to the Sopwith Triplane. Richthofen recommended that fighter squadrons be reequipped with the new aircraft as soon as possible.
The arrival in early 1916 of the French Nieuport 11 and the British Airco DH.2 pusher aircraft brought the dominance of the Eindecker to an end, and with it, the "Fokker Scourge". Wintgens flew the E.IV version of the Eindecker long enough to have been confronted by the much more advanced SPAD S.VII fighter of French flying ace Alfred Heurteaux on 25 September 1916, which resulted in Heurteaux fatally bringing down Wintgens, as Huerteaux's victory number eight.
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