One of the Best
Most experts agree that the Fokker D.VII was the finest single-seat fighter plane of the war. Designed by Reinhold Platz, the prototype was called the VII and was test-flown in a design competition by a number of notable German airmen, including Manfred von Richthofen in January of 1918.
The famous ace found the fighter easy to fly, steady, and sturdy. His recommendation to put the plane into production virtually decided the competition. The Fokker D.VII went into production at many factories, including the Fokker, Albatros, and A.E.G. companies and by late April of 1918, the first D.VIIs arrived to waiting combat units. In July, there were 407 of the type in service and by November the number had climbed to 775. Pilots found that the Fokker had good visibility and was solid, excellent ship to fly. Airmen commented that a Fokker D.VII could make a mediocre pilot into a good one, and a good pilot could become a legend.
Allied aviators began to dread the appearance of the angular fighters with their "coffin noses." Because the Fokker stayed very controllable at high altitudes, pilots often were able to make the D.VII "hang on its prop" and blast away at higher-flying Allied machines as they tried to escape. Many British flyers said those "straight wings" seemed to be everywhere.
At the end of the war, the feared Fokker D.VII was the only airplane mentioned specifically by name in the Armistice Agreements.
The Museum's reproduction aircraft was started by the noted aircraft replica builder, Joe DeFiore. After buying the basic steel-tube fuselage from DeFiore, Doug Champlin shipped it to Jim and Zona Appleby, who later completed the aircraft for Museum display. Equipped with an original Mercedes water-cooled engine and two 7.92mm Spandau machine guns, it is authentically painted in the unique lozenge-pattern camouflage of the period and carries the attractive winged-sword emblem of Germany's 40-victory ace, Rudolf Berthold.