The Fokker DR. 1
Few aircraft from World War I have received the attention given the Fokker Dr.1 triplane. Often linked with the career of the highest scoring ace of that war, Germany's Rittmeister (cavalry captain) Manfred von Richthofen (sic), the nimble Dr.1 earned a reputation as one of the best "dogfighters" of the Great War.
The Fokker Dr.1 (Dr standing for Dreidecker-triplane in German) was ordered into production on 14th July 1917, in response to the success earlier that year of the British Sopwith Triplane. Reinhold Platz was the chief designer of the Fokker Dr. 1. Some people thought that Platz had copied the design of the Sopwith Triplane but Platz hadn't seen the Sopwith Triplane before he started to design the Fokker Dr 1. The first Dr.1's appeared over the Western Front in August, 1917. Tony Fokker personally delivered the first Fokker Dr.1 to the Red Baron. Pilots were impressed with its manoeuvrability, and several, including von Richthofen, soon scored victories with the highly manoeuvrable triplane. Nineteen of Richthofen's last 21 victories were achieved while he was flying the Dr.1.
Fokker built 320 Dr.1's; for a brief period production was suspended while the wings were redesigned to prevent in-flight failures. The Dr.1 was said to have "Climbed like a monkey and manoeuvered like the devil". The Fokker Dr.1 was a smaller plane compared to other planes of the period; also it was not as fast as most planes. When the Fokker Dr.1 first came into service, the enemy thought it was a joke until pilots like Werner Voss, showed what it could do in combat. Flying a prototype, Voss shot down 10 British aircraft in six days in September 1917. Despite all of this, the plane fell from the grace of German aviators when a series of wing failures killed a number of pilots. By May 1918 the Dr.1 was being replaced by the newer and faster Fokker D VII.
The Oberursel UR-2 rotary engine, rated at 110 horsepower, was the type used to power the Fokker Dr.1 Triplane. Built by the Oberursel Motoren Gesellschaft in Frankfurt, it was an exact copy of the famous French LeRhone 110-horsepower rotary engine. The UR-2 from von Richthofen's aeroplane is on display at the Imperial War Museum, London.
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