Fokker DR.1 Triplane
Manfred von Richthofen also known as “The Red Baron” made the Fokker DR.1 Triplane infamous and they will forever be linked in history. It is the Fokker DR.1 that is etched in everyone’s mind when they think of the Red Baron. This incredible aircraft briefly gave the Luftstreitkräfte (German Air Service) a deadly advantage as soon as it appeared over the Western Front.
The Fokker DR.1 was built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke after the Luftstreitkräfte captured a Sopwith Triplane in February, 1917. Anthony Fokker inspected a captured Sopwith Triplane in April, 1917 while visiting Jasta 11. After inspecting the Sopwith Triplane’s design, Anthony Fokker returned to his Schwerin factory and instructed Reinhold Platz to build a triplane. It’s mportant to note that Anthony Fokker did NOT give Reinhold Platz any technical information about the Sopwith design. This would be German engineering at it’s BEST!
Fokker Dr.1 – Manfred von Richthofen, 03-09-1917 – Extremely Rare Footage!
Manfred von Richthofen flew one of the first two pre-production triplanes that were designated F.I. These were the first triplanes in accord with Idflieg’s early class prefix for triplanes. On September 1, 1917, Manfred von Richthofen jumped into the cockpit of his Fokker DR.1 serial number 102/17. He shot down two enemy aircraft within the next two days. Richthofen quickly determined that the F.I was far superior to the Sopwith Triplane in every way.
Richthofen also strongly recommended that all fighter squadrons be reequipped with the Fokker DR.1 as quickly as possible. In September 1917, Idflieg sent in a production order for 100 Fokker DR.1’s in September in addition to 200 more aircraft in November. 320 triplanes would be produced during World War I. There are only three triplanes that are known to have survived the Armistice.
One is believed to have crashed sometime in the late 1930s and two were lost to Allied bombing raids on Germany during World War II. There are no surviving triplanes but there are some original Dr.I artifacts on display in museums. There are a large number of replica aircraft that have been built over the years for private collectors and museums. If you’re lucky, you might even see one at an air show near you!
Fokker’s first aircraft design was the the Spin (Spider) pictured below and was the first Dutch-built plane to fly in his home country. Because of better opportunities in Berlin Germany, on February 12, 1912, Anthony Fokker founded Fokker Aircraft (Fokker Aviatik GmbH). Fokker sold several Fokker Spin monoplanes to the German government and had his factories built in Germany.
He was able to quickly capitalize because of World War I which did NOT start out as an air war. There was no such thing as an air war before World War I. The invention of powered flight was in 1903 and aviation was still in its infancy. Before powered flight, armies would use hot air balloons for observing enemy positions like they did during the American Civil War for example.
So, it was natural for the militaries of the time to utilize aircraft the same way. They installed state-of-the-art cameras to photograph troop positions and to get a bird’s eye view of the battle field. These early reconnaissance missions were relatively safe because there was no such thing as air combat yet. Troops on the ground would often shoot at these aircraft but were unsuccessful.
They would send their reconnaissance aircraft to harass the enemies. The aircraft weren’t armed so the thought of shooting down enemy aircraft had still not been thought of. Until on some unknown date in history by an unknown pilot took a shot at an enemy aircraft with his pistol. Since that time forward, the “The DOGFIGHT” was born and a new era of warfare unleashed.
Fokker DR1 Cockpit
Take a look at the replica Fokker DR1 Cockpit below. It is an exact replica of The Red Barons cockpit and as you can clearly see. It was cramped and had little to no flight instruments. Most cockpits during that time did not look much different. Even though these aircraft were state-of-the-art at that time. The cockpit was crude at best!
One of the major problems with the Fokker DR1 Cockpit was the lack of visibility for the pilot during takeoffs and landings. Another big problem was that the cockpit was cramped and made of inferior materials which made for a crude and hazardous cockpit. The biggest problem of all was the placement of the twin 7.92 Spandau machine guns and the lack of sufficient crash pads on the front of the cockpit.
This became a huge issue because the pilots were vulnerable to severe head injuries or even death in the event of a crash landing. This proved to be true once the Fokker DR.1 entered service and they started getting shot out of the sky. Pilots did not want to crash land a Fokker DR.1 because they were well aware of aircrafts deficiencies. Lots of German pilots were seriously injured and killed because of these design flaws.
If all of this was not dangerous enough for the pilots, they also wore no parachutes. All though they had parachutes at the time pilots did not wear them. So, if the unthinkable were to happen and your plane is shot down. You had three choices and each and every one of them was worse than the next. You could shoot yourself, burn alive inside the airplane or jump to your certain death. Do you have what it takes to be a World War I fighter pilot?
Fokker DR.1 Engine
You are looking at a close-up view of a replica Fokker DR.1 Engine. Since their are no original Fokker Dr.1 Engines in existence, obviously a replica Fokker DR.1 Engine had to be built. Authentic rotary engines are extremely scarce and difficult to find. Finding an authentic rotary engine is half the battle. If you happen to come across an authentic rotary engine, prepare to pay an astronomical price for it!
Since authentic rotary engines are so rare and expensive. Almost all replica aircraft are powered by a Warner Scarab or Continental R-670 radial engine. These are some of the finest rotary engines that money can buy! There are a few Fokker DR.1 replicas that do feature the vintage Le Rhône 9J or the reproduction Oberursel Ur.II rotary engines. These engines are just as airworthy as their counterparts in every way.
The power plant used for the production variant of the Fokker DR.1 was the Le Rhône 9J engine. This engine was manufactured under license in Germany by Motorenfabrik Oberursel and sold as the Oberursel UR.II. The Oberursel UR.II had 110 hp in a reference to its nominal power rating and was a perfect match for the Fokker DR.1 Triplane. The Oberursel UR.II gave the Fokker DR.1 an incredible rate of climb and an advantage over enemy aircraft.
The Oberursel UR.II is a 9 cylinder rotary aircraft engine that was originally produced in France and powered many other World War I fighter planes too! This AMAZING rotary engine flew for all sides in World War I and a handful still fly today. These engines were ahead of their time and well designed by the engineers. They were well built and designed plus the engineers got every ounce of horsepower they could get out of those engines.
Manfred von Richthofen – “The Red Baron” – World War I Ace Of Aces!
Manfred von Richthofen “The Red Baron” was born on May 2, 1892 in the Breslau, Province of Silesia, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire. The Red Baron is the MOST FAMOUS fighter pilot ever! He flew for the German Air Force during World War I and is considered to be the ace of aces and the finest fighter pilot during the war. He only flew for three years but left a legacy that will last an eternity.
Richthofen is officially credited with 80 air victories during the war. Some historians say the number of air victories credited to Richthofen is well over 100. However, for some strange reason all of Richthofen’s air victories were not documented. During research done in the 1950s, historians discovered that 73 out of Richthofen’s 80 “OFFICIAL” air victories were verified, matching British and French records. The Germans even kept records of serial numbers, models of the aircraft and names of pilots as well.
German ace fighter pilot Oswald Boelcke met a young Manfred Von Richthofen which led him to entering flight training school in October 1915. Manfred von Richthofen also had a younger brother named Lothar von Richthofen who was training troops in Luben. Manfred encouraged his brother Lothar to transfer to the Fliegertruppe. In just one month, Manfred von Richthofen joined the Kampfgeschwader 2 (“No. 2 Bomber Squadron”).
Manfred Von Richthofen’s first plane was NOT the World Famous Fokker DR.I but the two-seater Albatros C.III. At first i seemed that Manfred was not a natural aviator. Infact, he was considered to be a below average pilot by his flight instructors. He struggled to control his aircraft and crashed the very first time he took the controls. That’s not a very good start for a fighter pilot. Especially, for the LEGENDARY Manfred von Richthofen!
The Red Baron: The Most Feared Fighter Pilot Of WW1 – Full Documentary
You would think this would deter Manfred but it had the opposite effect on him. He became a more astute pilot and worked even harder to master the skills it would take to eventually become the fighter pilot history knows all to well. The “LEGENDARY” Red Baron! It wouldn’t be long until Manfred would get his chance. Within just 60 days from Manfred’s first day at Fliegertruppe, he would be sent into battle for the very first time. Well, in an airplane anyways!
It was April 26, 1916 when Manfred von Richthofen was flying over the Verdun when he spotted a French Nieuport. The moment of truth arrived so Manfred engaged the enemy without any hesitation quickly gaining the advantage. Once Manfred was in shooting range he blasted away hitting the French Nieuport and shooting her down over Fort Douaumont. For some reason lost to history, Manfred never did get credit for his first official air victory.
The Red Baron’s Final Flight!
The Red Baron flew into the history books in just three short years. He became a legend while he was still alive! Tragically, just after 11:00 am on April 21, 1918, Manfred was flying over Morlancourt Ridge near the Somme River when his cousin Lt. Wolfram von Richthofen was fired upon by a Sopwith Camel piloted by novice Canadian pilot Lieutenant Wilfrid “Wop” May of No. 209 Squadron, Royal Air Force. The Baron quickly gave chase and forced May to counter with evasive maneuvers.
It was at this exact moment that flight commander, Canadian Captain Arthur “Roy” Brown engaged the Baron and fired on him. It’s not known whether Brown shot the Baron or if it was from ground fire. Manfred was struck in the heart by a single .303 bullet. Although Manfred von Richthofen’s death is shrouded in mystery, there is no doubt that The “LEGENDARY” Red Baron will live on forever! He is perhaps the MOST FAMOUS fighter pilot of all-time!
Fly The Fokker DR.1 NOW!
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I hope to see you in the air soon pilot!