Fokker E.V/D.VIII

The Fokker V.26 was another design prepared by Reinhold Platz to compete in the second contest. With this aircraft he strove to eliminate the one major drawback of his earlier prototypes, namely the poor downward visibility. It was for this reason that he introduced on his latest design the cantilever parasol wing, finally solving the problem. Anthony Fokker reminisced in his memoirs that this idea was tested in February 1918, when one of the Fokker D.VIIs was experimentally flown without the lower wing. The purpose of the tests was to determine how the aircraft would handle if left with only the upper wing. The results proved satisfactory. Devoid of the lower wing, the aircraft performed well; therefore, the next logical step was to construct a monoplane aircraft equipped with a cantilever parasol wing. Curiously, not a word was spared for Reinhold Platz in Fokker’s memoirs.

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As had occurred previously, many used components found their way into the new design: the undercarriage, slightly modified fuselage and horizontal control surfaces of a Fokker Dr I; the vertical control surfaces of the Fokker V.25; and finally, the inverted ‘pyramid’ of tubing, which fastened the wing to the fuselage, from a Fokker D.VII. The new wing was based on the Fokker V.23’s wing, but it incorporated a rectangular mid-section carved out above the pilot’s head to improve the upward view from the cockpit. A single strut mounted on the rear spar and the fuselage framework gave further support to the wing. The aircraft was powered by an Oberursel U II engine rated at 81 kW, and armed with twin Spandau LMG 08/15 machine guns of 500 rounds per gun. With a take-off weight of 605 kg the aircraft’s top speed in level flight was 104 kph, and it reached an altitude of 1000 metres in 2 minutes. The aircraft’s relatively low-powered rotary engine (as compared to the Mercedes D III or BMW engines) and simple design resulted in a machine nearly 400 kg lighter than the Fokker D.VII. The Fokker V.26 was less manoeuvrable than the Fokker Dr.I, but more manoeuvrable than the Fokker D.VII and easier to handle; it also had a better diving speed. The Fokker D.VII could only beat it in ceiling and level flight speed. Furthermore, the Fokker V.26 had a notably short take-off run.
Platz recalled that the manufacturing time needed to complete the Fokker V.26 and its subsequent series production variants was the shortest of all the designs produced by the Fokker company. Pilots who flew it gave it high marks and it was not long before the Fokker D.VIII was sent to combat units. Among the Fokker V.26 enthusiasts was Hptm. Wilhelm Reinhard9 (20 aerial victories), the CO of JG 1, who flew it during the contest.

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Of note is a report by Lt. Leigh Wade, who had an opportunity to fly a Fokker D.VIII at McCook Field10. He stated: “The aircraft is easy to fly and has sensitive controls. It has a tendency to fall away to starboard, but quickly responds to pilot adjustments. It has a good rate of climb and is highly manoeuvrable. It seems a bit tail-heavy, but this feature doesn’t affect its flying characteristics. Visibility from the cockpit is satisfactory. The Fokker has a low landing speed; on the ground it turns to starboard. The engine control instruments are located in an unusual position, which at first resulted in me making mistakes. The throttle lever is located on the port sidewall; the mixture control lever is situated to the left of the control column”.
Peter M. Grosz, the author of a Fokker D.VIII monograph11, draws the following conclusion in his book: “Most of the complimentary opinions concerning the aircraft’s ‘excellent performance’ came from inexperienced pilots, who had not yet tested the Fokker Parasol against contemporary fighter aircraft used by Germany and the Allies”.
There is some truth in this statement, but it should be recorded that seasoned veterans also flew the Fokker V.26 (E.V/D.VIII). The aircraft was praised by, among others, Lt. Rudolph Stark, the CO of Jasta 35 (6 victories), Lt. Herman Göring (22 victories) and Lt. Bruno Löerzer, the CO of JG 3 (41 victories). Ernst Udet (62 victories) flew the new Fokker D.VIII in a mock dogfight against Robert von Grim (25 victories) flying a Fokker D.VII – and beat him.
The other aircraft submitted by the Fokker company during the second contest was the Fokker V.27 fitted with a cantilever parasol wing. It differed from the Fokker V.26 by its 144 kW (195hp) Benz IIIb, liquid-cooled, V-shaped engine. The fuselage front section was reshaped and the aircraft’s take-off weight increased to 839 kg. Despite having a more powerful engine, the V 27’s rate of climb was worse than that of the Fokker V.26. It took three minutes to reach 1000 metres in the Fokker V 27, and as many as 45 minutes to climb up to 6000 metres. Such performance was unsatisfactory.


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