Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte

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.

Fokker D.VII German Fighter
 

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Fokker DR.I Fighter

The Fokker DR.I triplane was built after the Sopwith triplane. While not as fast as contemporary biplanes, the Dreidecker could easily out climb any opponent. Small, lightweight and highly maneuverable, it offered good upward visibility and lacked the traditional bracing wires that could be shot away during combat. This combination of features made it an outstanding plane in a dogfight. When the DR.I first entered service, antagonists scoffed until pilots showed what it could do in a fight. Flying a prototype, Voss shot down 10 British aircraft in 6 days of aerial combat during September 1917. Unfortunately, the DR.I was not without problems. By the end of October 1917, it was temporarily withdrawn from service when several pilots were killed as a result of wing failures. Despite structural improvements, the Fokker triplane's reputation among German airmen never recovered. It became renowned as the aircraft in which Manfred von Richthofen gained his last 20 victories, and in which he was killed on 21 April 1918. The DR.I was armed with 2 × 7.92 mm Spandau lMG 08 machine guns.

Fokker DR.I German Fighter
 

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Pfalz D.XII Fighter

The Pfalz D.XII first appeared on the western front in June 1918 It was built as a replacement for the outdated Albatross and Pfalz D.III scouts and the Fokker DR.I triplane. The Pfalz D.XII was a single seat biplane fighter of all wood construction with a plywood fuselage. It carried two Maxim machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. The airplane was powered by a six-cylinder, 180-horsepower, water-cooled, inline Mercedes D.IIIa engine. It had a top speed of 106 mph and a ceiling of 18,500 ft. The Pfalz D.XII performed well enough to relieve the German Air Service of its shortage of competitive fighters late in the war. By the time of the Armistice, nearly 800 aircraft had been delivered to front line service. After the war a substantial number were turned over to the Allies. 4 of those aircraft still survive. This model shows a plane flown by a Bavarian fighter squadron in the Autumn of 1918.

Pfalz D.XII Fighter

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Albatros D.Va Fighter

The Albatros Flugzeugwerke D.V was an evolutionary development of the Albatros D series of fighters. Designed as a response to new Allied types like the SPAD, Sopwith Pup and Triplane and S.E.5, the D.V closely resembled the earlier D.III and used the same engine. It was lighter, had an additional longeron on each side of the fuselage, larger spinner and ventral fin and a slightly repositioned wing. Unfortunately, it was not fully tested before entering service in May 1917 and immediately began experiencing structural failures of the lower wing. Manfred von Richthofen was highly critical of the D.V saying it was “so obsolete and so ridiculously inferior to the English that one can't do anything with this aircraft." The improved D.Va was designed with stronger wing spars, heavier wing ribs, reinforced fuselage, revised cable linkage, fuselage reinforcement and a more powerful engine. While these changes did not entirely fix all the problems, they did make the D.Va a more usable machine. The D.Va entered service in October 1917 and problems with the Fokker DR.I and the Pfalz D.III left the Luftstreitkräfte with no viable alternative to the D.Va until the Fokker D.VII entered service in the summer of 1918. Production ended in April 1918 with a total of about 2,500 of both types produced. Besides the Western Front the D.V & D.Va flew in Italy with German units and operated in Palestine and remained in use until the Armistice. The Albatros Flugzeugwerke D.Va had a top speed of 116 mph, a ceiling of 18,045 ft. and an endurance of about 2 hours. It was armed with 2 forward-firing fixed synchronized 7.92 mm LMG 08/15 machineguns. This model shows an Albatros D.Va flown by 35 victory Ace Lt. Veltjens from Jasta 18 during August 1917 to March 1918. Veltjens went on to command Jasta 15 and received the Pour le Merite. He died in a plane crash in 1943.

Albatross D.Va Fighter

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Fokker E.III Eindecker Fighter

Designed by Anthony Fokker, the Eindecker (monoplane) was a single seat WWI fighter plane that first flew in April 1915. It was based on the unarmed Fokker A.III scout and the French Morane-Saulnier H monoplane and featured improvements such as chrome molybdenum steel tubing for the fuselage structure and most importantly a synchronizer mechanism for the machinegun. The Fokker synchronizer mechanism allowed the machinegun to fire forward thru the propeller arc. This revolutionary change in armament made the Fokker Eindecker vastly superior to all Allied aircraft at the time. This resulted in the Fokker Scourge (coined by the British press in the summer of 1915). Otto Parschau and Kurt Wintgens were the first Eindecker pilots to enter combat in late spring 1915 and Wintgens scored his first three aerial victories in July. This was the beginning of the Fokker Scourge. By late 1915 the Germans had achieved air superiority all along the Western Front, virtually eliminating the Allies ability to conduct reconnaissance flights. While the actual numbers of Allied aircraft shot down was small compared to the great air battles of 1917 and 1918, the impact on morale of the Allies was huge; this was the first time the Germans were able to effectively fight back in the air. By the beginning of 1916 the Allies introduced the F.E.2b, D.H.2 and the Nieuport 11 which proved to be a match for the Eindecker and the Fokker Scourge ended. The definitive version of the Eindecker was the Fokker E.III. First flying at the end of 1915 the E.III was armed with one 7.92 mm Parabellum MG14 machinegun and powered by a 99 hp. Oberursel U.I 1 Rotary Engine and had a maximum speed of 87 MPH. Several Aces began their careers flying the Eindecker including Kurt Wintgens (19 victories), Oswald Boelcke (40 victories) and Max Immelmann (17 victories). 249 Fokker E.IIIs were built and many E.IIs were converted to the E.III standard. One original E.III survives today at the Science Museum in London. This model shows a Fokker E.III of the 3rd Army flying with Jagdstaffel 9 out of Leffincourt, France in early 1916.

Fokker E.III Eindecker

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Junkers D.I Fighter

Designed by Hugo Junkers, the all metal D.I monoplane was a giant step forward in aeronautical engineering. At a time when aircraft were fabric covered wood framed biplanes the Junkers D.I was a revolutionary advance. It was made from a framework of thin Duraluminum tubes covered with sheets of corrugated aluminum. The monoplane design featured a thick cantilevered wing. The first version of the D.I flew in September 1917. The prototype suffered from various problems including vibration of wings, poor aileron controllability and a very underpowered engine. Junkers entered a revised prototype in the Second Fighter Competition in July 1918 where, while there was criticism of the design and handling of the aircraft by the evaluation pilots, it performed well enough to get an initial order for 40 machines. Due to the lack of experience with the new technology involved Junkers was only able to complete 28 machines by the end of the war. They were sent to the Flanders at the beginning of October 1918 but did not play a big role at the end of the war. The D.I was armed with two LMG 08/15 7.92 mm Spandau machineguns. In the Spring of 1919 the D.I was used by the German air force to assist the governments of the Baltic countries in their war against Russia. The commander of the division, Lt. Gotthard Sachsenberg, said that the metal Junkers D I was the best choice for the constantly bad weather conditions. One Junkers D.I survives today at the in the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace outside Paris. France. This model shows a D.I  on the Western Front in October 1918.

Junkers D.I

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[Karl's Models] [US Army Air Service] [RFC] [Service Aéronautique] [Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte] [Fokker D.VII] [Fokker DR.I] [Pfalz D.XII] [Albatross D.Va] [Fokker E.III Eindecker] [Junkers D.I] [K.u.K.]

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