The Fokker D.I (company designation M.18) was a development of the D.II fighter. The D.I was also flown in Austro-Hungarian service as a reconnaissance aircraft under the designation B.III. Confusing the matter further, both the D.II and D.I arrived at the Front in German service at similar times, in July-August 1916. The main designer was Martin Kreutzer.
Design and development
Similar to the D.II, the D.I was an unstaggered single-bay equal-span biplane. The upper fuselage was parallel with the upper wing. Unlike the D.II, the D.I was fitted with the 75 kW (100 hp) Mercedes D.I six cylinder watercooled engine.
Control was achieved using wing-warping. The wings were also tested in twin bay form. To improve visibility, the center section was cut into and the wings were slightly staggered.
These improvements were retained, and the airplane was ordered into production with a 89 kW (120 hp) Mercedes D.II inline engine and a single synchronized 7.92 mm (.312 in) LMG 08/15 machine gun. The Austro-Hungarian B.IIIs retained the D.I engine, and were armed with a Schwarzlose machine gun.
Deliveries began in July 1916. 90 were delivered to the German Fliegertruppen, and 16 to the Austro-Hungarian Luftfahrttruppen (as the B III). Eight were license produced by the Magyar Általános Gépgyár in Hungary.
One Austro-Hungarian B III was experimentally fitted with a 119 kW (160 hp) Mercedes D.III engine. Another had ailerons instead of wing warping, and still another had long span, swept back wings.
Compared with aircraft in service at that time, such as the Albatros D.II and the Nieuport 11, this Fokker's design and performance were decidedly unimpressive, and further production did not take place.
Data from The Complete Book of Fighters
Published - July 2009
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