The Fokker C.I was a biplane aircraft that entered development under the flag of the German Empire during World War 1 (1914-1918). It appeared at a critical time for the German war effort but could not be serially produced before the end of the war in November of 1918. However, the line received renewed hope in the post-war years with Fokker's relocation to The Netherlands to avoid its German debts. This was a return for the company originally founded by Anthony Fokker in The Netherlands during 1912.
Despite the Armistice, the Fokker company managed to sneak components for their new biplane across the border from Germany and arrange what became the prototype "V.38" reconnaissance platform. This aircraft was typical of the type seen during the period - a biplane wing arrangement being used with fixed wheeled undercarriage and a twin-seat placement for pilot and observer. The engine was held in a forward compartment with the crew at midships and a conventional tail unit at rear. The upper and lower wing mainplane spans were supported through a strut network, the primary support beams being N-type units. The fuselage was relatively rounded at front (near the metal-covered engine section) and slab-sided for most of its length thereafter. The platform carried a sole fixed, forward-firing machine gun was afforded to the pilot while the rear crewman was given a trainable machine gun for protecting the aircraft's vulnerable "six". Additionally, the aircraft held provision to carry 110 pounds of conventional drop stores.
For all intents an purposes, the C.III was essentially an enlarged version of the wartime Fokker D.VII of which over 3,300 were produced. The new aircraft's length was 23.8 feet with a wingspan of 34.4 feet and a height of 9.4 feet. Empty weight was 1,885 pounds against a gross of 2,765 pounds.
Power for the mount was through a BMW IIIa series 6-cylinder liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 185 horsepower. This provided the crew with a top speed of 109 miles per hour, a range out to 200 miles and a service ceiling up to 13,125 feet.
First flight was recorded during 1918 as the war was drawing to a close. The Armistice negated any serial production efforts for Germany which forced Fokker to relocate operations elsewhere. There was interest from the Dutch government which commissioned for sixteen of the type in February of 1919 as the "C.I" and these went on to serve a dual-role nature in service - training and reconnaissance.The line received another production boom when the Soviet Union came calling for forty-two examples while the United States Navy was interested in acquiring two of its own in 1921. The Royal Danish Air Force rounded out the small stable of operating forces.
While V.38 represented the prototype and C.I the production-quality two-seat reconnaissance models, the C.I a was brought along as an improved variant of the original C.I. The C.IW followed as an experimental floatplane derivative but this version was not pursued. The C.II was developed as a three-seat passenger hauler and the C.III was a two-seat advanced trainer. The latter differed in it being powered by a Hispano-Suiza 8B series engine. All other models retained the BMW IIIa series fit.
The aircraft maintained an operational service life until 1936 by which time they had been superseded technologically by more modern offerings with monoplane wings, metal skinning, retractable undercarriages and fully-enclosed cockpits as well as better performing engines and airframes offering much improved mission capabilities.
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Fokker - Imperial Germany Manufacturer(s)
Denmark; German Empire; Netherlands; United States; Soviet Union Operators
1 x 7.92mm fixed, forward-firing machine gun synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
1 x 7.92mm machine gun rear cockpit on trainable mounting.
2 x 55lb conventional drop bombs (110lb total).
V38 - Prototype
C.I - Base Series Designation; initial production version
C.Ia - Improved C.I models
C.IW - Experimental floatplane form
C.II - Three-seat passenger airliner version
C.III - Twin-seat advanced trainer derivative; fitted with 1 x Hispano-Suiza 8B engine of 220 horsepower.
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