in KLM's West Indian Services
Fokker FXVIII Snip
Douglas DC-5the forgotten Douglas
Lockheed L14 Electra
Lockheed L749 Constellation
In 1924 KLM opened theEast Indiaroute Amsterdam-Batavia with the first single engine FVII. KLM director Dr. Albert Plesman thought it might be preferable to have a plane that wouldn't just drop out of the sky when one engine failed, and he may have had a point. Admiral Byrd thought so, too, and Fokker agreed with them: To participate in the 1925 Ford contest, he cabled Amsterdam to hang two additional Wright Whirlwind engines under the high wings, creating the FVII-3m or Fokker Tri-Motor — the first tri-engine plane ever built.
This type flew in nearly every country and for nearly every larger airline of the world. It was the most popular aircraft of the time, and opened up the first long-distance routes. In 1925 it easily won the Ford reliability contest (the plane was plastered with Fokker's name all over). Henry and Edsel Ford acquired the winning plane for Commander Richard E. Byrd's north polar expedition; years later Ford produced a very similar aircraft, the Ford Tri-Motor. It was made of metal, though — the famous Tin Goose. However, being much heavier it had no more than just over half the Fokker's range (which caused Byrd much grief).
In Ernest K. Gann's Flying Circus he relates how, when Byrd visited the Ford factories and parked his Fokker in their hangar for one night, the Ford engineers recorded the form of the wing with soft copper tubing, foot by foot. It had been developed by chief designer Platz for the Fokker W.W.I fighter model D-VII. He wanted to make the wing stronger, without reinforcing cables. This resulted in a much thicker wing with more drag and, because of that, more lift; it therefore could be shortened again to get the same lift with less drag. This wing was used on all Fokker commercial aircraft until 1940.
noisy, heavy, slow, bone-rattling gas-guzzler
and ugly, too
Some FVIIb Records
1925 F.VIIa-3mAtlantic Winner, Ford Reliability Tour Aircraft was acquired by Edsel Ford 1926 F.VIIa-3m Richard E. Byrd North Pole flight
with Floyd Bennett
The same 1925 aircraft, now named Josephine Ford F.VIIb Detroiter Sir Hubert Wilkins North Pole
Aircraft damaged in test flights and sold to Charles Kingsford Smith F.VIIa Charles Lindbergh Fokker refused Lindbergh this aircraft (too risky) and Lindbergh acquired his Ryan.
One wonders about Lindbergh's theories on the advantages of a single engine. True, most two engine planes then couldn't fly on anyway when they lost one; but the F-VIIb flew on when losing two.
Lindbergh defending his choice comes across almost as weird as his Nazi sympathies.
1927 C-2 America Byrd Atlantic crossing; Bert Acosta,
Bernt Balchen, George Noville
Six weeks after Lindbergh's record crossing, in very bad weather emergency landing in sea near Le Havre after 43 hours C-2 Bird of Paradise First flight over the Pacific
Hegenberger and Maitland
from Oakland, CA, to Wheeler Field, Hawaii; 3860 kms over water in 25 hours F.VIIa KLM opens first regular air traffic route
Amsterdam-Batavia, East Indies.
The aircraft was taken apart and shipped back home by ocean freight. 1928 F.VIIb-3m
First Pacific Crossing
Kingsford Smith, co-pilot Ulm
First Pacific crossing: 6,780 nautical miles (over 12,000 kms), in under 88 hours; stops at Honolulu, Suva and Brisbane. F.VIIb-3m
Admiral Byrd South Pole flight
aircraft equipped with floats
Sponsor Edsel Ford resented the use of a competitor's model. To his chagrin, Byrd was forced to use Ford Tri-Motors and sold his plane to Amelia Earhart. F.VIIb-3m
First woman to cross the Atlantic
Captain Stulz, mechanic Gordon
Byrd's aircraft took passenger Amelia Earhart from New Foundland to England in 20 hrs and 40 min. F.VIIb-3m
First Tasman Sea crossing
Kingsford Smith, co-pilot Ulm
Australia-New Zealand, first leg of world circumnavigation 1929 C-2a
150 hr non-stop
Spaatz, Eaker, Quesada and Halvorsen
US Army record with in-flight refueling 1930 F.VIIa-3m
Kingsford Smith, Evert van Dijk
Tour started in 1928
winner of the 1925 Ford competition
When you have had a look at the photos below, you'll understand why Fokker probably didn't think much more than twice about tripling his engine power. Looks more like cabinet-making than airplane-building, and gives that subtle hint as to why airplanes are still affectionately referred to as "crates". Lots of nicely varnished veneer, too. Another former Dutch aircraft manufacturer, Pander, for all I know still has a large furniture shop in the city of The Hague.
One U.S. built FokkerUniversal Standardsold for $17,500. While the wings were built in Holland and shipped to the USA, the American Fokkers were different designs by A. Francis Archer and Norbert Noorduyn, built by Fokker's USA plant, the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation. The Fokker Tri Motors finally lost their competitive edge in the USA because there was a crash when one of them carried famous football player Knuthe Rockne, and it was ruled this was caused by a failure of the wooden wing construction; ultimately, this was fixed in the F-XVIII where the wing was glued with Bakelite.
Southern Cross when covering fabric was replaced in 1967
Photographs copyright by Ron Cuskelly
HP or Lbs
11 April 1924
Bristol Jupiter VI
12 March 1925
4 September 1925
Eight years later, via a series of models in-between, the F-XVIII was developed from the F-VIIb.
If you wonder what that name stands for, uh, you're quite right... the dirty mind is not yours.
He himself once wrote his mother:A good name is a good key!
and how they got to be that way.
model drawings available from Modelbouwers
some pictures from adastron
If you got this far
you'll love this one!
Blohm und Voss BV-141
the asymmetrical airplane
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