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Fokker D.VII

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Fokker D.VII

The Fokker D.VII was one of the most feared and respected fighter planes of World War I. The Allies so respected its capabilities that it was the only aircraft that the Armistice specifically required the German Air Force to turn over intact to Allied air forces. Volunteers at the Foundation are building a reproduction Fokker D.VII from scratch. It will be powered by a DeHavilland Gypsy Queen inline engine instead of the original Mercedes, but other than that is being kept as true as possible to the original. The aircraft has been finished in this paint scheme, and lacks only the engine to fly.

Team Fokker

The D.VII is being built presently by Team Fokker. Team Fokker is comprised of Tom Gaylord, Mike DeBlasis, Wayne Jones and Bill Broussard. Tom, Mike and Bill are from Houston. Wayne is from Canyon Lake. Before Team Fokker took over the construction work had been done by a team of Austin craftsmen led by Fritz Schuetzeberg.


Fokker fuselage frame

The fuselage is of welded steel tubing, a construction technique pioneered by Anthony Fokker. This method of building aircraft fuselages is lighter, stronger, and safer than the wood frames used by Fokker's contemporaries. The turtledeck has been sanded, varnished, and attached to the fuselage. Roger Freeman installed the landing gear bracing cables, which noticeably strengthened the gear!

Fokker side view

Team Fokker member Tom Gaylord standing next to the fuselage. The instrument panel, part of the seat and the wooden turtledeck are visible, as is the fiberglass nosebowl (an air-cooled Ranger engine will power this airplane, so no radiator). Most prominent though, is the fuel tank. Mounting brackets are being fabricated to secure this part in the fuselage. Note the machine gun mounts and the welded-in forward cabane struts.

Fokker fuel tank

A view of the fuselage taken from above. Roger Freeman's master welder, Blue, has helped to build the fuel tank using fittings from an old Luscombe tank. Original Fokker fuel tanks were 2/3 fuel, 1/3 oil and had separate filler necks and caps. Our tank is all fuel, but retains the multiple filler openings. Note the fitting at the forward edge of the tank... the fuel guage mounts there with the instrument sitting in a binnacle on top of the fuselage, nestled between the machine guns. In the interests of safety on a working aircraft ours will have a firewall (NOT a feature on originals) and the oil tank will be forward of the firewall.

The fuselage is completely rigged, and the instrument panel is nearing completion. The black oval with a small hand-crank is the starter magneto. This was cranked by the pilot to generate a spark to start the engine while ground crew swung the propeller . Once the engine was running, its own magnetos powered the spark plugs to keep it going.

Fokker instrument panel

The tailskid and rudder mounting post are in place.

Fokker tail area


Fokker lower wing hanging on wall Although the fuselage is steel, the wings were made of wood. Here again, though, Fokker was ahead of his contemporaries in that the wings required much less external bracing than other aircraft of the day. This required a thicker wing and airfoil, which made the airplane handle better than its opponents, and also reduced drag, helping to make the plane faster.

Because the converted Ranger that will power the D.VII is lighter and less powerful than the Mercedes engine that powered the original, the wing construction has been modified slightly from the original. Fokker's practice for wing ribs was to have solid ribs with only a pair of small holes for the bracing wires. Our ribs have lightening holes to reduce the overall weight of the wing.

Together Again

D.VII temporarily assembled

At the last PFM Air Fair, the D.VII was temporarily assembled to give the members and attendees a taste of what the plane will look like when it's complete. we look forward to the day when it takes to the air!

More Information

The Fokker D.VII File has more information about the D.VII.