The Fokker E.III was the main variant of the Eindecker (monoplane) fighter aircraft of World War I. It entered service on the Western Front in December 1915 and was also supplied to Austria-Hungary and Turkey.
Design and development
The E.III was basically an E.II fitted with larger, newly designed larger wings. It retained the same 75 kW (100 hp) Oberursel U.I engine, but had a larger 81 l (21.5 gal) main fuel tank which increased the Eindecker's endurance to about 2½ hours; an hour more than the E.II. Most E.IIIs were armed with a single 7.92 mm (.312 in) Spandau LMG 08 machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition; however, after the failure of the twin-gun Fokker E.IV as a viable successor, some E.IIIs were fitted with twin guns.
The E.III was the first type to arrive in sufficient numbers to form small specialist fighter units, Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos (KEK) in early 1916 - previously, Eindeckers were allocated singly to the front-line Feldflieger Abteilungen that carried out reconnaissance duties. On 10 August 1916, the first German Jagdstaffeln (single-seat fighter squadrons) were formed, initially equipped with various early fighter types, including a few E.IIIs, which were by then outmoded and being replaced by more modern fighters. Standardisation in the Jagdstaffeln (and any real success) had to wait for the availability in numbers of the Albatros D.I and Albatros D.II in early 1917. Turkish E.IIIs were based at Beersheba in Palestine while others operated in Mesopotamia during the Siege of Kut-al-Amara.
The only known surviving original Eindecker has been in the Science Museum's possession since its capture in World War I. It is currently on display fully assembled, but without its fabric covering, to illustrate its internal construction.
Published - July 2009
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