Fokker G.I (Reaper) Heavy Fighter Aircraft
Only about fifty of the type were ever produced, those in service eventually captured by Germany and used as BF110 crew trainers.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Fokker G.I "Reaper" began as a private venture in 1936 under the leadership of Dr. Erich Schatzki, head engineer at Fokker. Founded in 1912, Fokker began as a major fighter producer for the German Empire during World War 1. In 1919, the firm relocated to the Netherlands and turned into a dominant player of the civilian airliner market throughout the 1920s and 1930s - this period also known as the "Golden Age of Flight", a time when the public could not get enough of airplanes and powered flight. Fokker contributed both the G.I and the D.XXI to the Dutch Air Force in the build up to World War 2, but both accomplished little to thwart the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.
The Heavy Fighter
The G.I was developed as a dedicated "heavy fighter" with military potential from the start - the G.I was an airframe that could match performance against fighters while also being able to deliver a formidable firepower load against enemy bombers. The G.I was part of a select class of heavy fighters - such as the twin-seat, twin-engine Messerschmitt BF 110 of the German Luftwaffe - these machines playing key roles in the early stages of World War 2. By the end of the conflict, however, heavy fighters had given way to dedicated fighter and bomber platforms.
The Fokker X-2 Prototype
With the Fokker design in place, construction on the X-2 prototype commenced and involved meshing a welded frame with an aluminum skin. Wood was used along the wings, skinned over in triplex. Powered was supplied by a pair of Hispano-Suiza 14AB-02/03 series engines delivering 650 horsepower each. First flight was on March 16th, 1937 and the results proved promising. Trouble eventually found the X-2 program in a later test flight in the month of September when a supercharger exploded in mid-flight. The pilot was, however, able to bring his bird down in one piece. After review of the incident, the Hispano-Suiza powerplants were replaced in favor of the American Pratt & Whitney SB4-G Twin Wasp Junior radial piston engines. Evaluation ensued with more test flights.
Spain Places an Order
Satisfied with the current results of Fokker's program, Spain placed an order for a dozen examples of the G.I export model, these models known under the simple designation of "G.Ib" (initial Dutch production models would carry the designation of G.Ia). However, a Dutch political embargo against the warring nation meant that Fokker could not deliver their aircraft, even after the Spanish government had paid the procurement bill in full. These aircraft were still constructed and would later serve the Dutch Air Force during the German invasion.
The Fokker G.I as a Dive-Bomber
After interest in the G.I as a potential dive-bomber rose, the G.I was slightly modified to include dive brakes on the wing undersides. Testing revealed excellent diving characteristics from the strong airframe and several nations placed meaningful orders - including the Dutch air force with an order for 36 examples. Quantitative production soon began and two- and three-seat G.Ia models were leaving Fokker factories. Upon reception, the Dutch air force quickly put their new G.Ia to work, particularly along the fronts of a destabilizing situation in Europe.