Fokker Dr.1 Up Close
The Fokker Dr.1 is one of the most famous and recognizable fighter planes of World War One. The Dr.1 (Dr standing for Dreidecker or 3 wings) was designed by Reinhold Platz and was ordered into production on July 14, 1917, in response to the success of the British Sopwith Triplane earlier in the year. The first production model of the Dr.1 was delivered personally by Tony Fokker to the Red Baron, Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen, and shortly after that in August of 1917 it made it’s first appearance in combat.
Pilots were impressed with its maneuverability and soon scored victories with the nimble triplane. In the hands of an experienced pilot, the Dr.1 was a formidable dogfighter. The three wings produce tremendous lift which, combined with its small size and weight, meant it could out climb and out-turn almost any opponent. The Dr.1 was not for the inexperienced pilot. On landing, rudder effectiveness virtually disappears when the tail drops below the horizontal position; that's why ax handle skids were bolted under the bottom wings, saving many pilots from an otherwise disastrous ground loop.
Wing design flaws caused several crashes and led to withdrawal of the Dr.1 from service in October of 1917. Although the wing design was improved, the introduction of the more advanced Fokker D.VII (also on display) meant the end of the Dr.1.
Only 320 Fokker Dr.1s were produced and no original examples exist. The Fokker Dr.1 on display is a full-scale reproduction with a more modern Warner radial engine, as well as a tailwheel versus the traditional tailskid. The aircraft is painted in the color and markings of the plane flown by Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the infamous "Red Baron". Von Richtofen scored the final 21 of his 80 victories in the triplane. He was Germany’s highest scoring ace of World War One.