Fokker D.VII Fighter
The Fokker D.VII is widely regarded as the best German aircraft of WWI. Manfred von Richthofen championed its development. In January 1918, von Richthofen tested the D.VII in the trials at Adlershof but never had an opportunity to fly it in combat. The D.VII entered service in early May 1918. It proved to have many advantages over all of the existing German fighter aircraft. It could literally hang on its prop without stalling for brief periods of time, spraying enemy aircraft from below with machine gun fire. As noted by one authority, it had "an apparent ability to make a good pilot out of mediocre material." When equipped with the BMW engine, the D.VII could out climb any Allied opponent it encountered in combat. Highly maneuverable at all speeds and altitudes, it proved to be more than a match for any of the British or French fighter planes of 1918. When introduced, the D.VII was not without problems. On occasion its wing ribs would fracture in a dive and high temperatures sometimes ignited planes armed with phosphorus ammunition or caused their gas tanks to explode. Many famous pilots, including Erich Löwenhardt and Hermann Göring, quickly racked up victories in the D.VII and lauded the design. About 3,300 Fokker D.VIIs were produced. The plane was held in such regard by the Allies that the Armistice ending the war specifically required Germany to surrender all D.VIIs to the Allies at the conclusion of hostilities. After the war, the D.VII served with Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The aircraft proved so popular that Fokker completed and sold a large number of D.VII airframes that he had smuggled into the Netherlands after the Armistice. The Fokker D.VII was armed with two 7.92 mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machineguns.