Without doubt one of the most famous aircraft of the First World War and the one aircraft most people think of first when asked about fighter aircraft of this conflict.
The Fokker Dr1 was designed as a response to the Sopwith Triplane but was by no means a copy of that design. It was designed by the legendary Dutch designer Anthony Fokker. Its official name was the Dr.1 Dredecker and despite being famous only 320 Fokker DR 1s were built, a small numbered compared to contemporary fighters such as SPAD VIIs, Albatross or Sopwith Camels which were produced in their thousands.
The first of the Dredeckers were delivered to Jagdgeschwader I commanded by Manfred Von Richthofen in August 1917. Von Richthofen claimed his first kill in the aircraft with which he is most associated with on 1st September 1917 when he shot down a British R.E 8 whose crew probably mistook it for a Sopwith Triplane, as the Dredecker was the first three winged aircraft to enter German service. Initially the plane achieved few successes and on 30th October a German pilot was killed when his Dredecker’s upper wing became detached, another similar death followed and in November all Dredeckers were grounded. After inspection it was found that aileron attachment points and glue joints needed strengthening, within a month the DR I was back in service.
Following the winter of 1917-18 which saw little aerial combat the Dredecker entered its heyday but even when brought fame in the hands of the infamous Red Baron and his bright red DR I it was never the main combat aircraft of the German Jasta squadrons. Despite the famous Red Dr I of Von Richthofen most Dr Is were a streaky olive brown although most Jastas painted the tail and wheels in distinctive colours.
Despite its fearsome reputation the DR I was slower than the allied fighters it faced both in a dive and in level flight; it could be difficult to land and to handle and lubricant problems led to some engine failures in the summer of 1918. Despite this it was highly manoeuvrable and in the hands of a skilled pilot a deadly aircraft as many of the German Aces were to prove. One of Von Richthofen’s Dredeckers formed a display in a German military museum after the war but was believed destroyed towards the end of the Second World War. No original Fokker Dr I Dredeckers survive although several working replicas do.
Compared to Bf 109
|Length||5.77 m (18ft 11)|
|Wingspan||7.2m (23ft 7)|
|Engine||110 hp rotary engine|
|Max speed||185km/h (115mph)|
|Range||300 km (185 miles)|
|Weapons||twin 7.92mm machine guns|
|Fokker Dr I Triplane, Paul Leaman. A well received, well researched and well illustrated book on this classic first world war fighter [see more].|
|Fokker Dr I Aces of World War I, Norman L.R. Franks. This book looks at the Fokker Dr. I from the point of view of the pilots who flew it, and the combat record that they established [see more].|
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