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Fokker Dr.I - WWI German Fighter (1917)

  • Kit Manufacturer: Hasegawa, Japan
  • Materials: All kinds (Wood, Plastic, ABS, Die-Cast Metal, etc...)
  • Model Specifications: 1:8 Scale. Length 722mm, Wing Span 838mm.
  • Work Experience: This kit is among the Hasegawa's top of the line museum model series. As you can expect, it cost a fortune but worth the money. The parts were made precisely and the instructions were excellent. In short, it gave me two months of pleasant building time. However, with wing span of 838mm, I am in trouble of finding a place to display this baby.

Historical Notes: The Fokker Dr.I is one of the most famous fighters as well as the Sopwith Camel or the S.E.5a in the First World War. The Dr.I is expecially famous as the aircraft flown by Manfred von Richthofen nicknamed "Red Baron", who was killed after he recorded 80 kills which was the top record in the War. Red Baron will be remained forever as a great hero in the history of World's air combat.
The prototype of the Dr.I series was completed in February, 1917 with the designation of Fokker V.31. The three wings were all independent cantilever type having no interplane strut near both wing tips. There was no dihedral angler and the ailerons were fitted to the top wing only. The fairing of the wheel axle formed a small wing.
Later, a pair of interplane struts were added to this aircraft following some test flights. This revised aircraft was called the V.42. The Fokker V.42 was powered by the Oberursel Ur.II 9-cylinder 110h.p. air-cooled radial rotary engine. The V.42 then became the Dr.I.
After production of the Dr.I started, some powered-up versions were tried but none of them was officially adopted. They were, the V.53 powered by the Goebel Goe III 7-cylinder 160h.p. air-cooled radial engine, the V.6 by the Mercedes D.II 6-cylinder 120h.p. water-cooled radial engine, the V.74 by the Siemens and Halske Sh III 11-cylinder 160h.p. air-cooled radial rotary engine having a 4-bladed popeller with reduction gears.
The Dr. stands for a German word "Dreidecker" meaning a triplane, and the I indicates the first model of the triplane officially adopted. It was August, 1917 when the first delivery of the production model was made, and the aircraft numbered 102/17 was the first aircraft delivered to the Richthofen Squadron.
The aircraft of this Squadron soon became famous for their red paint scheme. The commander Richthofen was nacknamed "Red Baron"5 for he was really a baron. He ordered to paint all the aircraft of his squadron in red except for the undr surface painted sky blue. This was his strategy to give a kind of mental pressure to enemy piolts who easily recognize the existence of the awful squadron.
The commander himself used to fight on Albatros or Pfalz biplanes, but since the Dr.I was delivered, he succeeded to establish many war results with his newly developed group combat tactics where the excellent turning capability of the Dr.I was fully utilized.
It is confirmed that there were seven Dr.Is frown by himself, and the last one was 425/17 when he was shot down. These serial numbers were usually drawn on the bottom of the fuselage side. It was on the 21st of Aprial, 1918 when he was killed at his age of 26 by an RAF Sopwith Camel piloted by Captain Brown6.
Although the small and light weighted Dr.I was excellent in its turning capability, the strength of the wing was not sufficient7 and the maximum speed was a little slower than the biplanes in the same period. From this reason, the life of the Dr.I was rather short. The production ended in May, 1918, and a total of 320 aircraft was built.
The powerplant was the Ofberursel Ur.II 110h.p. built by a German company, Oberursel Motoren under license obtained from a French company, Gnome et Rhone before the war, or the Thulin Le Rhone J 110h.p. built by a Swedish company Thulin under license8.
In front of the cocpit, a pair of Spandau LMG 08/15 7.92mm fixed machine guns were installed with the propeller synchronizing mechanism. 500 rounds of ammunition were provied for each gun.
The fuselage was a welded structure made of stell tubing covered by plywood and fabric. The tailplanes were also of pipe frames covered by fabric. The wheel axle was suspended by rubber cord which worked as a shock absorber. The fairing around the axle was shaped as a mall wing itself and was large enough to contribute to the total lift of the aircraft. (by Hasegawa)

p.s. According to Hasegawa, this kind of skeleton model is usually displayed at museums, thus they call this model a Museum Model.

The following are the corrections of the above document provided by Mr. Achim Sven Engels of the Fokker-Team-Schorndorf.

  1. The V.3 was a biplane with in inline engine, a somewhat larger version of the Fokker V.1. The correct Prototype designation of the Fokker triplane was Fokker V.4. Some modifications later led to the change of the prototype designation V.5 what was the last factory designation of the triplanes serial production later known as the Dr.I.
  2. This should be the V.5, and there have been several more changes that led to the change of designiation
  3. Actually this was the V.7
  4. V.10
  5. Red baron is not a nickname that was used to describe Manfred von Richthofen during WW1. As a matter of fact he was called the "Red knight". He was named "Red Baron" long after the war has ended in the american commic books "The peanuts" when snoopy dreamed of being the famous red German fighter pilot sitting on the top of his dog house. As a matter of fact "Baron" is no German prussian title, but was adopted by the Americans and British since they had no translation for the German word "Freiherr". He was really a baron. The Title of Floyd Gibbons 1927 book about von Richthofen was "The red Knight of Germany". And Richthofens own book published back in 1917 carried the titel "Der rote Kampfflieger" (The red fighter pilot).
  6. The whole story can not be judged as being fully solved at this time.
  7. This is not correct at all. We have the original documents of the type test here in our archive and the strength of the triplane wings reached a safety factor of allmost 8. The proplems the triplane experienced with the breaking of Pastor's 121/17 and Gontermann's 115/17 find their reasons only in poor construction quality at the Fokker works and the Perzina Pianoforte factory who constructed wingspars for the triplane.
  8. The company of Enoch Thulin never delivered engines to the German Army Air Service. According to letters from that time Thulin offered to construct a copy of the Le Rhone rotary engines and that the starting output would be two of these engines per month by 1918 what should be later raised to five per month.
For more infromation, please visit the FOKKER-TEAM-SCHORNDORF web site.

More Pictures:   | Right Front View |   | Side View |

Recommended References:

  1. THE RED BARON: A Complete Review in History and Miniature (Modelling Manuals)
  2. Fokker Dr I Aces of World War 1 (Aircraft of the Aces, 40)
  3. Fokker Aircraft of World War One
  4. Fokker Triplane: Legend of the Western Front

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