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The Fokker F.VII was an airliner produced in the 1920s by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, Fokker's American subsidiary Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, and other companies under licence.
Design and development
The original Walter Rethel design of 1924 was a single-engined high-winged monoplane. Anthony Fokker modified the design with two additional engines to enter the inaugural Ford Reliability Tour in 1925, which it won. Consequently, the production versions F.VIIa/3m, F.VIIb/3m and F.10 all had three engines, and the aircraft became popularly known as the Fokker Trimotor.
The 8- to 12-passenger Fokker was the aircraft of choice for many early airlines, both in Europe and the Americas. Along with the similar Ford Trimotor, it dominated the American market in the late 1920s. However, the popularity of the Fokker quickly came to an end after the 1931 death of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne in the crash of TWA Flight 599, a Fokker F.10. The subsequent investigation, which revealed problems with the Fokker's plywood-laminate construction, resulted in the banning of the aircraft on commercial flights, and the rise of all-metal aircraft such as the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2.
Pioneers and Explorers
The F.VII was used by many explorers and aviation pioneers, including:
- Lieutenant Colonel 'Dan' Minchin, Captain Leslie Hamilton and Princess Loewenstein-Wertheim attempted to become the first aviators to cross the Atlantic from east to west using a Fokker F.VIIa named the St. Raphael on August 31, 1927. Their fate remains unknown.
- Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic on June 17, 1928, as a passenger aboard the Fokker F.VIIb/3m Friendship.
- Single-engined transport aircraft, five built.
- F.VIIa (F.VIIa/1m)
- Single-engined transport aircraft, slightly larger than F.VII with new undercarriage and wing. Flown on March 12, 1925. First aircraft had 420 hp (310 kW) inline Packard Liberty engine but remaining 39 F.VIIa had mostly radial Bristol Jupiter or Pratt Whitney Wasp engines.
- Version with two additional underwing engines, flown on September 4, 1925. The first two aircraft were identical to the F.VIIa. From the third aircraft, the fuselage was 31 in (80 cm) longer and was powered by with 200 hp (149 kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial engines. Probably only 18 were built while many F.VIIas were upgraded to the F.VIIa/3m standard.
First two Fokker F.VIIAs were converted into three-engined transport aircraft.
- Main production version with greater span, 154 built including built under licence.
- American airliner version, enlarged to carry 12 passengers.
- CIDNA operated seven F.VIIa aircraft.
- STAR operated one F.VIIa aircraft.
- Malert operated two F.VIIa aircraft.
- KLM received all five F.VII aircraft and 15 F.VIIas.
- Aero operated six F.VIIa aircraft for a short period in 1928. Since 1 January, 1929 all aircraft were handed over to PLL LOT airline.
- Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT operated six F.VIIas and 13 F.VIIb/3ms between 1929 and 1939.
- Swissair operated one F.VIIa and eight F.VIIb-3m aircraft.
- United States
- Independent State of Croatia
- Polish Air Force operated 21 F.VIIb/3m (20 of them were licence-built) aircraft as bombers and transports between 1929 and 1939.
- United States
- Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Fokker F.VIIb/3m; Atlantic-Fokker C-2A
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 8 passengers
- Length: 47 ft 11 in (14.60 m)
- Wingspan: 71 ft 2 in (21.70 m)
- Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.90 m)
- Empty weight: 6,725 lb (3,050 kg)
- Loaded weight: 11,570 lb (5,200 kg)
- Powerplant: 3× Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial engines, 220 hp (164 kW) each
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Published - July 2009