The Fokker Dreidecker (three winger) was modelled directly after the Sopwith Triplane once the Germans experienced it over the Western Front. Both of them were very small aircraft. Despite it's shortcomings, such as relatively slow speed and good visibility upward, it was highly manoeuverable. For this reason it was a favourite of Manfred von Richthofen. He had Jasta 11 outfitted with the Dr. I in 1918 when it was greatly outclassed by the Camel F1 and the SE5a. It should have been relegated to a defence role. Like the Sopwith only a relatively small number (320) were built, and they did not last long at the front. The Red Baron made the Dr. I far more famous than the aircraft deserved.
The Dr. I pictured above is a replica built by Eberhard Fritsch, a member of the Memorial Flight Assoc. located at Le Bourget near Paris, France. Powered by a 160 hp Le Rhone rotary it is about the most accurate Dr. I flying. It is a beautiful replica of the famous WWI fighter built with authentic pieces (authentic machine gun taken from a german airplane during WWI, engine and instruments) from genuine plans. Fitted with a 160 hp rotary Le Rhone 9R engine, this airplane is certainly the most authentic Fokker DR.1 among numerous examples built over the world.
The Dr. I first flew in 1917. It was powered by an 80kW Oberursel Ur II rotary engine to provide a short fusilage. Part of the agility of the aircraft came from the right-hand torque of the rotary engine, like the Camel. But the Dr. I was even more agile than the Camel, but not as powerful. It had a maximum speed of 170 kph, a ceiling of 6100 m and an endurance of an hour and a half. It was armed with the standard 2 forward firing Spandau machine guns.
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Image from: With permission of Hervé Champain. Check out his excellent photograph archive site.
Thank you to Melvin Hiscock of the Memorial Flight Assoc. for the information on the pictured Dr. I.