The Fokker M.7 was the first good biplane to be produced by Anthony Fokker. Work on the design had started before the First World War in response to a German Admiralty specification. The Admiralty ordered seven of the aircraft, eventually designated as the Fokker B. Large parts of the design were shared with the M.8 monoplane, amongst them the welded tubular-steel fuselage, undercarriage and tail.
The M.7 was a “sesquiplane” – a biplane where the one wing is smaller than the other. In the case of the M.7, this was the lower wing. That wing was made in two parts and welded to the fuselage, while the upper wing was a single unit. The M.7 had two cockpits, with the observer at the front and the pilot at the rear. Both cockpits were provided with windscreens, and it was possible to install dual controls. The aircraft was powered by a seven-cylinder 80hp Oberursal U.0 engine.
The success of his monoplanes forced Fokker to suspend work on the M.7, but the prototype flew in January 1915. After good early tests, the M.7 suffered two crashes during military tests, eventually put down to poor production standards. Fokker was warned to mend his ways, and production aircraft were sturdier but had a less impressive performance.
The German Navy eventually ordered twenty Fokker Bs, using them for reconnaissance. The army received three, but didn’t use them on the front line. The Austro-Hungarian Empire also received fifteen aircraft, eventually designating them the Fokker B.I (along with a number of Fokker M.10s).
M.7 Series 03 (Austro-Hungarian B.I)
Engine: 80hp Oberursel
Max Speed: 81mph
Climb to 3,300ft: 8 minutes
Climb to 6,600ft: 15 minutes 30 seconds