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Fokker C.I

Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft

Imperial Germany | 1918

"Developed during the last year of World War 1, the German Fokker C.I went on to have a post-war career with a select few nations while being produced in The Netherlands."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/31/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

Total C.I production was to end around 250 examples - an impressive feat for a late-war German design.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Fokker C.I Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft.
1 x BMW IIIa 6-cylinder, water-cooled inline piston engine developing 185 horsepower driving a two-bladed wooden propeller at the nose.
109 mph
175 kph | 94 kts
Max Speed
13,123 ft
4,000 m | 2 miles
Service Ceiling
199 miles
320 km | 173 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Fokker C.I Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft.
23.7 ft
7.23 m
O/A Length
34.4 ft
(10.50 m)
O/A Width
9.4 ft
(2.87 m)
O/A Height
1,885 lb
(855 kg)
Empty Weight
2,767 lb
(1,255 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Fokker C.I Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft .
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).
Notable series variants as part of the Fokker C.I family line.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Fokker C.I. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 250 Units

Contractor(s): Fokker - Imperial Germany
National flag of Denmark National flag of the German Empire National flag of the Netherlands National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of the United States

[ Denmark; German Empire; Netherlands; United States; Soviet Union ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (109mph).

Graph Average of 90 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
1 / 1
Image of the Fokker C.I
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Fokker C.I Reconnaissance Biplane Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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