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Fokker D.VIII Fighter (1918)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 10/6/2014

The Fokker D.VIII has the distinction of recording the last air kill in the First World War.

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The Fokker D.VIII was a rare monoplane design of World War 1 and regarded as one of the best fighters of the German Empire in the conflict. It provided a stellar blend of survivability, firepower and adaptability within a sturdy rugged airframe. The type appeared in the final months of the war in 1918 (an armistice was signed in November of 1918) and was produced in approximately 295 examples by Fokker Flugzeug-Werke GmbH of Imperial Germany. The D.VIII was a further evolution of the Fokker E.V design which exhibited structurally-related wing issues due to poor construction methods. The E.V design was revised and became known under the designation of D.VIII.

Externally, the D.VIII was not unlike its biplane brethren with the exception of it missing the traditional lower main wing assembly common to biplanes of the era. While categorized as a monoplane fighter, the D.VIII series was formally noted as a parasol wing design where the wing assemblies were suspended above the fuselage by way of support struts. Its overall design was highly contoured for a most aerodynamic shape. The fuselage fitted the engine in a streamlined forward compartment with the wing supports aft as well as the cockpit and fuel stores. The pilot sat in an open-air cockpit behind a windscreen aft of the wing assembly which was fitted ahead and above his position. The empennage was conventional for the time, featuring a single, rounded vertical tail fin and a pair of applicable horizontal planes. The undercarriage was fixed in place and sported a pair of wheels with a tail skid at the rear of the design. Armament was traditional for the time, fitting a pair of 7.92mm Spandau MG08 series machine guns in a forward placement. Synchronized firing through the propeller was a widely accepted technological feature by this point in the war.

Design of the aircraft was attributed to engineering Reinhold Platz which produced the early "V 26" prototype. A second prototype emerged under the designation of "V 28" and at different points in her life was fitted with either a Goebel Goe.III rotary engine of 140 horsepower or an Oberursel Ur.III rotary engine of 145 horsepower. "V 30" was used to signify an unpowered glider variant. First flight (as the E.V) was recorded in May of 1918 ad the type entered service in October of that year.

The Fokker D.VIII, as a whole, proved a bit underpowered with its fitting of an Oberursel UR-II 9-cylinder air-cooled rotary engine of 110 horsepower. The powerplant offered "just enough" inherent torque to keep the propeller at speed when the aircraft entered into a climb. Couple this with the synchronized machine guns set to fire through the spinning two-bladed propeller blades and pilots had less of a percentage of actually shredding their own propeller blades - a subtle but noteworthy advantage to the Fokker D.VIII's flight forte. The engine supplied the mount with a top listed speed of 127 miles per hour and a service ceiling of 20,600 feet. The Fokker D.VIII series did set a bit of history of its own when it became the last fighter in all of World War 1 to record an enemy air kill.

With the signing of the Armistice to end World War 1, the D.VIII fell to history for much of Germany's war-making infrastructure and weaponry was stripped and dissolved. As such, only a few survived to become museum showpieces around the world. Post-war operators included Belgium, the Netherlands, Poland and the Soviet Union.

The Fokker D.VIII garnered the nickname of "Flying Razor" by pilots of the Triple Entente.

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Specifications for the
Fokker D.VIII
Fighter


Focus Model: Fokker D.VIII
Country of Origin: Imperial Germany
Manufacturer: Fokker Flugzeug-Werke GmbH - Germany
Initial Year of Service: 1918
Production: 295


Crew: 1


Length: 22.97 ft (7 m)
Width: 29.20 ft (8.90 m)
Height: 9.19ft (2.80 m)
Weight (Empty): 1,543 lb (700 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 1,936 lb (878 kg)


Powerplant: 1 x Oberursel UR-II 9-cylinder air-cooled rotary engine generating 110hp.


Maximum Speed: 117 mph (188kmh; 102 kts)
Maximum Range: 175 miles (282km)
Service Ceiling: 20,669 ft (6,300 m; 3.9 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet per minute (0 m/min)


Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:
2 x 7.92mm machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.


Variants:
V 26 - Early Prototype


V 28 - Later prototype trialed with Oberursel or Goebel rotary engine.

V 30 - Unpowered Glider Variant

E.V - Initial Production Designation

D.VIII - Base Series Designation; fitting Oberursel UR-II rotary engine of 110 horsepower.


Operators:
Belgium; Imperial Germany; Netherlands; Poland; Soviet Union