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The Red Baron
The Fokker Dr.I (Dreidecker, “triplane” in German) was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918. It became renowned as the aircraft in which Manfred von Richthofen gained his last 19 victories, and in which he was killed on 21 April 1918.
While not as fast as contemporary biplanes, the Dreidecker could easily out climb any opponent. Small, lightweight and highly maneuverable, it offered good upward visibility and lacked the traditional bracing wires that could be shot away during combat. This combination of features made it an outstanding plane in a dogfight.
What made the Tri-plane special?
Compared to the Albatros and Pfalz fighters, the Dr.I offered exceptional manoeuvrability. Though the ailerons were not very effective, the rudder and elevator controls were light and powerful. Rapid turns, especially to the right, were facilitated by the triplane’s marked directional instability. Vizefeldwebel Franz Hemer of Jasta 6 said, “The triplane was my favourite fighting machine because it had such wonderful flying qualities. I could let myself stunt – looping and rolling – and could avoid an enemy by diving with perfect safety.
“It climbed like a monkey and manoeuvred like the devil”. Manfred von Richthofen
Specifications & technical information
- Manufacturer: Fokker Flugzeug-Werke GmbH
- Role: Fighter
- First introduced: August 1917
- Number built: 320
- Status: Retired from military service, many replicas still flying
- Crew: One
- Length: 18ft 11in (5.77 m)
- Wingspan: 23ft 7in (7.19 m)
- Height: 9ft 8in (2.68 m)
- Wing area: 239ft² (22.2m²)
- Empty weight: 893lb (406kg)
- Loaded weight: 1,289lb (586kg)
- Powerplant: 1 Le Rhône, 9 cylinder rotary
- Power output: 110hp
- Armament: 2× 7.92 mm”Spandau” machine guns.
- Max speed: 103mph @ 13,120 ft
- Cruise speed: 67mph (59kts)
- Range: 302 miles (250nm, 486km)
- Service ceiling: 20,013ft (6,100m)
- Range: 185mi (300km)
- Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.7 m/s)
- Endurance: 1.5 hours