The Fokker D.I was the first Fokker biplane fighter to see service with the German Army during the First World War. It was based on the improved Fokker M.18, which had begun Army testing on 15 April 1916. This was a two-bay biplane powered by a 120hp Mercedes D.II water cooled engine, and armed with a single machine gun, mounted to the right of the fuselage.
Initial tests revealed that the D.I was a promising aircraft, but that it needed a significant amount of detailed work to bring it up to combat standard. In particular the quality of the workmanship, always a problem with Fokker aircraft, was criticized. An order was placed for three test aircraft, which were then closely examined to make sure the requested improvements had been made.
On 6 June 1916 the modified D.Is passed these tests, and an order was placed for 80 aircraft. This was the largest single order yet given to a German aircraft manufacturer, and for once Fokker responded promptly. By the end of October seventy-four aircraft had already reached the front line. However, after a short combat career the poor workmanship struck again. On 4 December 1916 the wings failed on a Fokker D.I, killing the pilot. Similar failures struck a number of other Fokker aircraft, and in response on 6 December 1916 all Fokker aircraft were withdrawn from front line service. Aircraft already with front line units were to be used for training duties, while the few D.Is still under construction were sent directly to training schools. By this time the D.I was effectively obsolete at the front anyway, and so no effort was made to return it to front line service.
Span: 29ft 8in
Length: 20ft 8in
Engine: 120hp Mercedes D.II
Maximum speed: 93mph
Time to 3,300ft: 4 minutes
Time to 13,000ft: 23 minutes
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