The Fokker D.VII of World War 1
The Fokker D.VII was a German World War I fighter aircraft designed by Reinhold Platz of the Fokker-Flugzeugwerke.
Germany produced around 3,300 D.VII aircraft in the second half of 1918.
In service with the Luftstreitkräfte, the D.VII quickly proved itself to be a formidable aircraft.
The Armistice ending the war specifically required, as the fourth clause of the “Clauses Relating to the Western Front”, that Germany was required to surrender all D.VIIs to the Allies.
Surviving aircraft saw much service with many countries in the years after World War I.
Fokker’s chief designer, Reinhold Platz, had been working on a series of experimental V-series aircraft, starting in 1916.
The aircraft was notable for the use of cantilever wings.
Hugo Junkers and his aviation firm had originated the idea in 1915 with the first practical all-metal aircraft, the Junkers J 1 monoplane, nicknamed Blechesel (Sheet Metal Donkey or Tin Donkey).
The wings were thick, with a rounded leading edge.
The shape of the wings’ airfoil gave greater lift, with its relatively “blunt” leading edge (as seen in cross-section) giving it more docile stalling behavior than the thin wings commonly in use.
Late in 1917, Fokker built the experimental V 11 biplane, fitted with the standard Mercedes D.IIIa engine.
In January 1918, Idflieg held a fighter competition at Adlershof.
For the first time, front line pilots participated in the evaluation and selection of new fighters. Fokker submitted the V 11 along with several other prototypes.
Manfred von Richthofen flew the V 11 and found it tricky, unpleasant, and directionally unstable in a dive. Platz lengthened the rear fuselage by one structural bay and added a triangular fin in front of the rudder.
Richthofen tested the modified V 11 and praised it as the best aircraft of the competition.
It offered excellent performance from the outdated Mercedes engine, yet was safe and easy to fly.
Richthofen’s recommendation virtually decided the competition but he was not alone in recommending it. Fokker immediately received a provisional order for 400 production aircraft, which were named D.VII by Idflieg.