Fokker D.XXI Fighter Aircraft
The Fokker D.XXI was a serviceable aircraft and saw its best days in the hands of Finnish pilots against the Soviets.
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Designed by Anthony Fokker in 1935, the Fokker D.XXI first flew on March 27th, 1936. The system was originally intended to fill the ranks of the Netherlands East Indies Army Air Service but the arrival of World War 2 eventually pressed it into service with Finland, Denmark and Netherlands air force units against Germany. Operationally, the D.XXI proved a reliable airframe with solid performance specifications, good maneuverability and was relatively inexpensive to produce. At the time of its inception, it proved quite a revolutionary step forwards for the Dutch, with many of its current aircraft still resembling the biplanes of a forgotten era of military aviation. Some 200 of the type were eventually produced in Netherlands with license-production occurring in both Denmark and Finland.
Design of the D.XXI was conventional by mid-1930's standards. The pilot sat in an enclosed cockpit situated at about the midway point of the fuselage. Views from the glazed cockpit were adequate and featured relatively heavy framing in all useful directions though the pilot was seated forward enough to provide for better-than-average rearward views. The fuselage itself was streamlined from engine cowl to tail with construction being mainly of steel tubing covered over in most areas by fabric. Wings were constructed of wood and set as low-wing monoplanes forward of the cockpit floor. The front was dominated by the Bristol Mercury radial piston engine powering a three-bladed propeller. The undercarriage was of the typical "tail dragger" arrangement, sporting two spatted main landing gears under each wing and a single tail wheel aft. The empennage was contoured with an identifiable "razorback" style upper rear fuselage assembly leading from cockpit to the tail unit. The tail itself was traditional, featuring a single vertical tail fin and associated horizontal planes. A protruding cockpit antenna and external gunsight were distinguishing profile hallmarks of the series design.
Armament initially consisted of 4 x 7.92mm FN Browning M36 machine guns, two mounted in the upper engine cowling synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades with an additional two in the wings (one to a wing). Finnish-produced aircraft had their cowling machine guns relocated to the wings, paired with the existing two. Another Finnish amendment (though not related to armament) was the inclusion of skis as landing gears to make for a better - and distinctly Finnish - "snow-friendly" aircraft.