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Fokker D.XXI

Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft

Netherlands | 1938

"The Fokker D.XXI was a serviceable aircraft and saw its best days in the hands of Finnish pilots against the Soviets."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/07/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

Deployment of the D.XXI began as early as 1936 with limited quantities used for the first time in anger by the Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War. By May of 1940, D.XXIs were quantitatively available to the Dutch Air Force in time to combat the German invasion. With only 28 Fokker D.XXIs in service to them, Dutch pilots of the Dutch Army Aviation Group valiantly faced a better foe fielding the impressive Messerschmitt BF 109 inline-engined, single-seat monoplane fighters. D.XXI's held their own against the well-trained and confident invaders during a barely-week-long stretch, though the Netherlands eventually capitulated to the Nazis after this five-day span - receiving little help from the Allies. For their short time in service with the defending Dutch pilots, May 10th represented the aircraft's finest day in combat scoring an impressive 37 total air kills - though it should be noted that this occurred against Junkers Ju 52 transport aircraft. In all, the Netherlands fielded a total of 36 D.XXIs.

License production D.XXIs in Finland ran from 1939 until 1944. These systems were differentiated by the aforementioned machine gun allocation as well as internal provisions to take on either the Bristol Pegasus or Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp Junior radial engines of 825 horsepower. Finnish D.XXI's fared surprisingly well against the early-form Soviet fighters in their Winter War - the Soviet Union's invasion of Finland - making up seven Finnish Air Force squadrons (Nos. 10, 12, 14, 24, 26, 30 and 32). Over the subsequent months, the D.XXI quickly became outclassed by the better-armed and better-performing Soviet fighters. Despite this, several Finnish pilots were able to achieve "ace" status flying these machines. In all, Finland produced 90 such D.XXIs and received a noted delivery of at least 7 more systems.

As the other license-producer of the aircraft, Denmark D.XXIs operated against the German Luftwaffe in March of 1940. Denmark produced 15 new-build systems and received at least 7 more D.XXIs.

A variety of differing D.XXI models were inevitably proposed - mostly fitting different engines - though these never saw production. Proposed variants included the "Project 150", sporting the Bristol Hercules engine, the "Project 151", fitting a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine and "Project 152", this airframe to make use of the Daimler-Benz DB.600H series engine.

The Fokker D.XXI also operated under German Luftwaffe markings as captured systems reintegrated into service . The number of aircraft in use by the Luftwaffe was unknown.

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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 D.XXI Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.
1 x Bristol Mercury VIII 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 830 horsepower driving three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
286 mph
460 kph | 248 kts
Max Speed
36,089 ft
11,000 m | 7 miles
Service Ceiling
590 miles
950 km | 513 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 D.XXI Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft.
26.9 ft
8.20 m
O/A Length
36.1 ft
(11.00 m)
O/A Width
9.7 ft
(2.95 m)
O/A Height
3,197 lb
(1,450 kg)
Empty Weight
4,519 lb
(2,050 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 D.XXI Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft .
4 x 7.92mm FN Browning M36 machine guns.
Notable series variants as part of the Fokker D.XXI family line.
D.XXI - Production Model Series Designation
"Project 150" - Proposed Model fitted with Bristol Hercules series radial piston engine; never produced.
"Project 151" - Proposed Model fitted with Rolls-Royce Merlin series piston engine; never produced.
"Project 152" - Proposed Model fitted with Daimler-Benz DB.600H series engine; never produced.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Fokker D.XXI. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 200 Units

Contractor(s): Fokker - Netherlands
National flag of Denmark National flag of Finland National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of the Netherlands National flag of Spain

[ Denmark; Finland; Nazi Germany; Netherlands; Spain ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (286mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
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
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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 D.XXI Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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