sstbFokkerDR1Gallery158588

1917 Fokker DR-1 Triplane

In early 1917, the British Sopwith Triplane began flying in combat, so the German High Command requested that a triplane be developed for their use.

Many concepts were tried in an effort to produce aircraft that outperformed the enemy. Several companies entered the competition; the contract was awarded to Anthony Fokker, a Dutch aircraft designer who had been building aircraft in Germany from before the war.

While not as fast as contemporary fighters, the Fokker Triplane had a reputation as a great dogfighter due to its great climbing and turning ability. Although over 300 were built, no original Fokker Triplanes are left in existence; the last was destroyed in WWII bombings of Berlin.

This aircraft is painted in the colors of Manfred von Richtofen, the famous “Red Baron,” who achieved 19 of his last 80 victories in the triplane. On von Richtofen’s last day, the front lines had been in flux, and he found himself chasing a Sopwith Camel at low level over enemy territory. Although there are many stories about his death, it is generally accepted that he was killed by one bullet from the ground. Photographs were taken of the funeral, and British planes dropped them over his aerodrome with this message:

TO THE GERMAN FLYING CORPS: Rittmeister Baron Manfred von Richthofen was killed in aerial combat on April 21st, 1918. He was buried with full military honors. –From the British Royal Air Force

Specifications

  • Year Built — 1917 (original); 2004 (reproduction)
  • Wingspan — 23’7″
  • Cruise Speed — 85 mph
  • Top Speed — 110mph
  • Gross Weight — 891 lbs
  • Original Engine — Oberursel or Le Rhône rotary (110 hp)
  • Armament — Two 7.92 mm Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns

Kermit’s Comments

This aircraft was acquired as an unfinished project with a modern Warner radial engine. It was built up with the modern engine for potential movie work but will be fitted with an original rotary engine at a later date.

I became fascinated with WWI aircraft and their pilots when I first heard the song “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron” when I was 13 years old. Von Richtofen and his red triplane had a very big impact on my early life that set me on a path to eventually create Fantasy of Flight.

This aircraft has no brakes and must be flown from a grass field. The tailskid on the back is used to slow the aircraft and give it directional control on the ground. Visibility on the ground is very poor but improves when flying in level altitude.