The Fokker Dr.I ("Dr" for "Dreidecker" meaning "triplane") series is most closely associated with Manfred von Richthofen (aka "the Red Baron") as the triplane aircraft was his chosen mount in the final months of his life, accounting for his last 20 kills. Designed to match the Sopwith Triplane and appearing by October of 1917, the Dr.I was a capable aircraft made more so by the pilots that flew her than the unique three-wing design. In the end, the system was limited in production quantity and saw a career spanning just the final year of the conflict, which by 1918, was being used as a defensive system over Germany.
Obviously the most identifying feature of the type was the three wing design made popular by the Sopwith Triplane - and proved itself a worthy design overall. Though inducing drag (which in turn caused a decrease in overall speed) the arrangement made for a highly maneuverable aircraft, quick to turn, and offered up a tremendous rate of climb while delivering in a steady dive. Overall the design was typical, featuring the pilot sitting in an open cockpit seated just behind the large wing structures. The undercarriage was fixed and dominated by two large wheels with a tail skid at the rear. Armament consisted of twin Spandau machine guns of 7.92mm caliber firing forward through the synchronized propeller system. The Dr.I was also one of the last aircraft types to feature a rotary piston engine in the Oberursel Ur.II 9-cylinder series.
The initial 100 Dr.I's on order were delivered to Richthofen's fighter squadron in October of 1917 after combat evaluation. By the end of that month, it soon became apparent that there was trouble in the assembly of the wings to the point that some Fokker Dr.I's had broken up in mid-flight resulting in several fatal crashes. This, of course, forced the entire type to be grounded upon further review by an authorized crash commission. The resulting verdict was found to be in the construction of the wings. With adjustments made along the production lines at Fokker, the Dr.I was given the green light back into the air by end of November with all Dr.I wings checked and repaired/replaced if necessary. This setback no doubt attributed to the low production numbers overall, numbering just some 320 examples by the time the lines closed in May of 1918. By then, the fine machine was highly outclassed by her rivals and gradually disappeared into aviation history.
2 x 7.92mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
V.3 - Prototype Model Designation
V.4 - Prototype Production Model
V.5 - Prototype Model fitted with Goebel Goe.III series engine.
V.6 - Prototype Model fitted with Mercedes D.II series engine.
V.7 - Prototype Model fitted with Siemens-Halske Sh.III series engine.
V.10 - Prototype Model fitted with Oberusel Ur.III series engine.
Dr.I - Production Series Designation
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
1 / 3
Image from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, OH.
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.