Fokker M.18

Fokker M.18

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Fokker M.18

The Fokker M.18 was a further development of the earlier M.16 biplane, and was accepted by both the Germans and Austro-Hungarians for military service.

It began life as the M.18E, a single-bay biplane with wing warping controls and a deep fuselage. Like the earlier M.16 its wings were of similar size and shape and were attacked to the fuselage longerons. Just as with the earlier aircraft, this design restricted the pilot’s downwards and forward visibility. The M.18E was armed with a single forward firing LMG 08 machine gun, to the left of the fuselage. It was powered by a 100hp Mercedes D.I engine. In tests the M.18E proved to have a poor rate of climb which made it unsuited to military use.

Fokker responded with a two-bay version of the design. At first the new wings were produced with ailerons, but during the development process these were replaced with wing-warping controls. This aircraft also had a shallower fuselage than the original M.18E (meaning that the fuselage took up less of the space between the wings). This also placed the pilot slightly lower compared to the upper wings, and so a gap was left in the training edge of the upper wing to allow the pilot to lift himself up to look over the wing.

The modified M.18 began German army testing at Adlershof on 15 April 1916, and was eventually accepted as the Fokker D.I fighter. Fokker then flew the prototype to the Austro-Hungarian testing ground at Aspern, where its arrival came as a total surprise. Despite this unorthodox approach, Fokker received an order for the aircraft from the Austrians, where it served as the Fokker B.III trainer.

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

Fokker Dr.I

The Fokker Dr.I (Dreidecker, "triplane" in German), often known simply as the Fokker Triplane, was a World War I fighter aircraft built by Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. The Dr.I saw widespread service in the spring of 1918. It became famous as the aircraft in which Manfred von Richthofen gained his last 19 victories, and in which he was killed on 21 April 1918.

Fokker Dr.I
Role Fighter
Manufacturer Fokker-Flugzeugwerke
Designer Reinhold Platz
First flight July 5, 1917 ( 1917-07-05 )
Primary user Luftstreitkräfte
Number built 320 [1]
Developed from Fokker V.4
Fokker F.I
Variants Fokker V.7

Fokker M.18 - History

From 1910, the year of the construction of the first Spin, many articles were published about Anthony Fokker's first aircraft, the &ldquoSpin&rdquo.
Partly because most facts from this period are missing, many articles and book passages contadict each other.
Aircraft registrations, construction numbers and registrations in aviation registers were not yet relevant at that time.
For example, it is not known exactly how many Spiders were built, it is also sometimes unclear when a Spin, due to a number of changes, became an M (Militär flugzeug) type. Sometimes such a Spider also had a double type designation.
There was also a lot of experimentation with engines, one model first had an Argus engine of 70 hp, then a Renault of 100 hp and then another Argus, but then of 100 hp.
Even the still existing Fokker archive contains documents that contradict each other about the Spiders' account.

This also makes it difficult to describe the type designation of the Spiders.
From existing documentation by aviation journalist Henri Hegener (ϯ), the following list is the most obvious:

Spider 1, October 1910
Spider 2, May 1911
Spider 3, August 1911
1st Spin variant 1912
2nd Spin variant 1912
1st Spin variant 1913
2nd Spin variant 1913 (M-1)
3rd Spin variant 1913

Anthony Fokker left in 1909 from Haarlem to the &ldquoErsten Deutschen Automobilfachschule&rdquo in Mainz, Germany. There was also an Aviatik department.
Here Anthony and his fellow students built the first Spider. Oberleutnant Franz von Daum was both a fellow student and the financier of the project,
The aircraft was equipped with a 50 hp Argus engine.
The plane is said to have only made a few jumps from the ground.

Fokker (in white sweater) with fellow students of the Automobil Fachschule with the structure of the very first Spin in the background.

In 1911 Fokker came into contact with the German aircraft manufacturer Jacob Goedecker who already built aircraft in Nieder-Walluf.
Goedecker taught Fokker the tricks of the trade and that is how Goedecker built the second Spin.
In the beginning, the designs came partly from Goedecker, with ideas from Fokker.
About 60 Spiders have been built at Goedecker.

After that, Fokker opened his aircraft company in Johannistahl.
In the beginning, Spiders were still produced at Goedecker, and were assembled in Johannistahl, followed by a first test flight.
Anthony Fokker taught himself to fly by also flying on Goedecker's aircraft.
On May 16, 1911, Fokker obtained his pilot's license.

Meanwhile, a number of Spiders and versions thereof were sold to the German army authorities.
Fokker had set up his own flying school where future military pilots were trained.
A number of private individuals had also purchased a Spider and in 1913 a demonstration was prepared in Indonesia, with two Spiders.

Anthony Fokker in Jacob Goedeckers Sturmvogel ±1910.

Anthony Fokker flies in Jacob Goedecker's Sturmvogel ± 1910.

Fokker flight school in Görries with a 2nd Spin variant 1913 (M-1) in 1913,

Fokker sitting front left with future pilotes.

The hangar of the flying school in Görries in 1913 with two Spiders in front of the door.

The airport of the flying school with seven (different) Spiders in a row

Once again Görries from a different angle, with nine Spiders in the foreground (06/18/1913).

Airport and hangar at Görries with two Spiders.

The Spin 1 in 1910 with an Argus engine.

Spin 2 with in front of a triangle and behind a square clamping frame with a four-cylinder Argus engine.

A Spin 3 in front of Goedecker, Fokker in the back seat.

Spin 3 in Haarlem, Fokker 2nd from the right.

The Spin 3 in Haarlem during one of the flights in Haarlem.

A Spin 3 crashed at Görries airport.

Een 1e Spin variant 1912 met twee plaatsen en een acht cilinder Renault-motor.

Twee Spinnen, 2e Spin variant 1912 voor de hangar in Johannistahl op 11-08-1912.

2e Spin variant 1912, met een grote radiator links voor.

Piloot (3e van links) Barones Leitner, voor haar gecrashte 2e Spin variant 1912.

Bernard de Waal in een tweepersoons 1e Spin variant 1913.

Sergeant Hans Eberhard in a 1st Spin variant 1912, with an extra fuel tank mounted under the hull.

Monteurs bij een vleugelloze 1e Spin variant 1913.

2e Spin variant 1913 met dubbele wielen voor het landingsgestel.

Bernard de Waal in the rear seat of this 2nd Spin variant 1913, with one of the first forms of communication in a cockpit: one hose with speaking part and the other with a listening part.

Küntner and the Waal in their 2nd Spin variant 1913 of the long-haul flight Berlin-Soesterberg.

Bernard de Waal (1) and Franz Küntner (2) made a landing near Hengelo during their flight with a 2nd Spin variant 1913 from Berlin to Soesterberg in 1913.

De Waal en Küntner tijdens de landing op Soesterberg vanuit Berlijn in hun 2e Spin variant 1913.

The Russian aviator Ljuba Galanschikof with a 2nd Spin variant 1913.

2nd Spin variant 1913 during a demonstration in Surabaya, with Jan Hilgers on the right, Hilgers had taken two Spiders to Indonesia, one with a 100 Hp. Argus engine and the other with an 80 hp. Renault.

2e Spin variant 1913 op 02-03-1913 gecrasht in Soerabaja.

This 2nd Spin variant 1913 (M-1) was one of the first Spiders to have a construction number and a military registration, cn 15, Reg. A.38-13.

Er is weinig meer over van het Spin model bij deze 3e Spin variant 1913 met een 70 Pk. Renault motor.

Even in 1924 this Spin was exhibited at the Paris Salon, where of course the Fokker D-13 was in the foreground.

Bouw van de replica Spin 1936 in de Fokkerfabriek in Amsterdam Noord in juni 1936.

De replica Spin in 1936 met vlieger Neyenhof in de stoel en Anthony Fokker zittend op het frame van de romp.

De replica Spin 1936 op Schiphol ter gelegenheid van het 25-jarig vliegeniersfeest van Anthony Fokker.

Pilot Neyenhof taxied with the 1936 Spin replica with the first Hirth engine.

De replica Spin 1936 in volle glorie.

Anthony Fokker zelf achter de stuurknuppel van de replica spin 1936.

The first engine of the replica Spin 1936 an 80 hp. HM 60 R 80 Hirth.

De tweede motor van de replica Spin 1936 een 105 pk. HM 504 A 105 Hirth.

Hier de replica Spin 1936 op vliegveld Ypenburg op 16-05-1947.

De replica Spin uit 1936 tijdens revisie op het bordes van Hal 1, in april 1960 bij de Fokker fabriek op Schiphol-Oost.

De replica Spin uit 1936 voor de overdracht aan het Aeroplanorama in het Atoomgebouw op Schiphol.

De replica Spin 1936 hier in het nog in te richten Aeroplanorama.

Fokker retirees Sieg Hertenstein and Tijke Hoek check the tension wires of the replica Spin 1936 in Hall 73 of the Fokker factory during the restoration in 1989.

The replica Spin 1936 next to the second prototype of the Fokker 100 on the Fokker platform during the festivities of the 70th anniversary of the Fokker factory in 1989.

Three Fokker pensioners from the restoration team with cap, second from left Ab Steenbergen, then Piet Wey, right Tijke Hoek.

Fokker testvlieger Edwin Boshof met rechts Jan Hoekstra voor de replica Spin 1936 in de hangar van Rainbow Aviation op vliegveld Eindhoven op 19-04-1990.

Hoekstra was één van de laatste vliegers op de replica Spin 1936 in 1936.

De replica Spin 1936 word gereed gemaakt voor een vlucht op de vliegbasis Eindhoven.

Piet Wey prepares to start the Hirth engine of the replica spin 1936 in 1990 at the airbase Eindhoven.

Fokker test pilot Edwin Boshof at the start with the replica Spin 1936 on the grass of Eindhoven airbase.

Testvlieger Edwin Boshof na een succesvolle vlucht van de replica Spin 1936 in de landing op vliegbasis Eindhoven.

In 2011 the replica Spin 1936 is displayed in the Sint Bavo church in Haarlem.

Dit ter gelegenheid van. de festiviteiten dat het honderd jaar geleden was dat Anthony Fokker rond de toren van de Sint Bavo kerk vloog.

The 'Poland Spider'
After many wanderings of a Fokker Spin 3 from 1911/13, this original Spin van from Poland ended in the Netherlands on 1-8-1986.
The Spider in question had come to the Netherlands from Germany with the famous smuggling train in 1919 and later stood in a warehouse in the Fokker factory in Amsterdam North.
In the 1930s, this Spin was included in the TH study collection in Delft for a while.
Strangely enough, this Spin was not restored in 1936 for the kite anniversary of Anthony Fokker, but the aforementioned replica was built there.

In 1943, the production of Fokker for the German occupier was spread over Amsterdam and surroundings. This Spider ended up in the Hirsch building on Amsterdam's Leidseplein.
After that, the Spin was confiscated by the German occupier and transferred to Berlin.
The plane was damaged in a bombing and then transferred to Poland where it ended up in the aviation museum in Krakow.
In 1986, the Fokker management commissioned PR employee Gerard Schavemaker to bring the Spin to the Netherlands.
After many negotiations, by Dutch and Polish authorities at ministerial and embassy level, this Spider, or rather the remains of it, came to the Netherlands by truck.
After being stored at the Aviodome, the Spin was presented on 1-8-1986 in a hangar of the Fokker factory at Schiphol-East.
After the presentation, the device was exhibited for some time at the Aviodome, after which this Spin was also restored at Fokker, mainly by former pensioners from Fokker.
The aircraft never flew after the restoration, although this was the goal.
The Spin provided with a 70 Hp. Renault V8 cylinder engine had a center of gravity problem.
According to some retirees from the restoration program, this Spider was probably previously used for taxi trials by prospective pilots.

After investigation, it appeared that the Polish government had donated the device to the state of the Netherlands, making them the official owner.
This Spin is also included in the Aviodrome collection.

Spin 3 in de collectie van de TU Delft in 1930, waarschijnlijk is dit de Spin die in 1919 naar Nederland was gekomen uit Duitsland en in de oorlogsjaren naar Polen verdween.

Spin 3 somewhere in the Netherlands during a festival with an 8 cylinder Renault engine.

Detail of the Spin 3 motor / propeller.

Resten van de Spin 3 in het luchtvaartmuseum in Krakau, Polen.

It is just before leaving for the Netherlands in 1986.

Een vleugel van de Spin 3 tegen de buitenkant van het luchtvaartmuseum in Krakau, Polen.

Fokker PR medewerker Gerard Schavemaker in de Spin 3 voor het luchtvaartmuseum in Krakau, Polen.

Gerard Schavemaker played a major role in the return of Spin 3 from Poland.

The remains of the Spin 3 from Poland were collected by Fokker in this truck.

De Spin 3 restanten worden uitgeladen om tentoongesteld te worden in het Aviodome in 1986.

The Spin 3 from Poland is being built in a hangar of the Fokker factory to be transferred to Fokker in a festive manner.

Na onderzoek bleek jaren later dat de Staat der Nederlanden de officiële eigenaar was van de Spin 3.

Fokker D.VII

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Fokker D.VII

Single-engine, single-seat, German World War I biplane fighter 160-horsepower Mercedes D.IIIa water-cooled engine. Lozenge camouflage on wings. Fuselage gray and olive drab.

CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More -

Fokker D.VII

Single-engine, single-seat, German World War I biplane fighter 160-horsepower Mercedes D.IIIa water-cooled engine. Lozenge camouflage on wings. Fuselage gray and olive drab.

CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More -

Fokker D.VII

In response to the loss of air superiority in late 1917, the Germans organized a competition for new fighter designs held in January 1918. The in-line engine winner was the Fokker D.VII. The D.VII's unique ability to seemingly "hang on its propeller," and fire into the unprotected underside of enemy aircraft made it a highly feared combat opponent. Highlighted in this image is a pressure gauge of the Fokker D.VII.

CCO - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

This media is in the public domain (free of copyright restrictions). You can copy, modify, and distribute this work without contacting the Smithsonian. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More -

Fokker D.VII

In response to the loss of air superiority in late 1917, the Germans organized a competition for new fighter designs held in January 1918. The in-line engine winner was the Fokker D.VII. The D.VII's unique ability to seemingly "hang on its propeller," and fire into the unprotected underside of enemy aircraft made it a highly feared combat opponent. Highlighted in this image is the machine gun of the Fokker D.VII.

Fokker D.VII

A Fokker D.VII on display in the Legend, Memory and the Great War In The Air gallery at the National Mall building.

Fokker D.VII Cockpit

When the Fokker D.VII appeared on the Western Front in April 1918, Allied pilots at first underestimated the new fighter because of its squarish, ungainly appearance, but quickly revised their view. The D.VII's unique ability to seemingly "hang on its propeller," and fire into the unprotected underside of enemy aircraft made it a highly feared combat opponent. The Armistice agreement requirement specifically demanding that all Fokker D.VIIs be immediately surrendered attested to the general high regard for the airplane.

Fokker D.VII Tire

In response to the loss of air superiority in late 1917, the Germans organized a competition for new fighter designs held in January 1918. The in-line engine winner was the Fokker D.VII. The D.VII's unique ability to seemingly "hang on its propeller," and fire into the unprotected underside of enemy aircraft made it a highly feared combat opponent. Highlighted in this image is a tire of the Fokker D.VII.

Fokker D.VII

In response to the loss of air superiority in late 1917, the Germans organized a competition for new fighter designs held in January 1918. The in-line engine winner was the Fokker D.VII.

Fokker D.VII Panorama

Panoramic view inside the cockpit of the Fokker D.VII.

In response to the loss of air superiority in late 1917, the Germans organized a competition for new fighter designs held in January 1918. The in-line engine winner was the Fokker D.VII. Fokker received an order for 400 aircraft. To meet the demand for the new fighter, Albatros, Fokker's chief competitor, also built the D.VII under license. Ironically, Albatros built more D.VIIs than the primary contractor and the Albatros product was of higher quality. The Fokker D.VII in the NASM collection was built by Albatros.

When the Fokker D.VII appeared on the Western Front in April 1918, Allied pilots at first underestimated the new fighter because of its squarish, ungainly appearance, but quickly revised their view. The D.VII's unique ability to seemingly "hang on its propeller," and fire into the unprotected underside of enemy aircraft made it a highly feared combat opponent. The Armistice agreement requirement specifically demanding that all Fokker D.VIIs be immediately surrendered attested to the general high regard for the airplane.

The German Fokker D.VII is frequently cited as one of the best fighter aircraft of the First World War. The well-known requirement articulated in the Armistice agreement ending the war, that specifically demanded that all Fokker D.VII aircraft should immediately be surrendered, succinctly attests to the general high regard for the airplane.

During the latter half of 1917, the Allies had regained air superiority over the Western Front with the S.E. 5 and the Spad fighters. To counter this, the German government invited aircraft manufacturers to submit prototype single-seat fighter designs for evaluation at a competition to be held at Adlershof airfield in Berlin in January 1918. The aircraft would be demonstrated by the manufacturers, and would be tested by front-line combat pilots. The design with the best overall performance would be awarded a production contract. Thirty-one airplanes from ten manufacturers were evaluated for such qualities as speed, maneuverability, diving ability, pilot's view, climbing rate, performance at high altitude, etc. One rotary-engined and one in-line-engined design were selected.

The winner in each category was a biplane offered by the Dutch-born aircraft manufacturer, Anthony Fokker. The rotary-engined design was the Fokker V.13, which was produced in small numbers under the military designation Fokker D.VI. Because the hoped-for higher horsepower rotary engines intended for use in the Fokker D.VI were not available soon enough, the airplane had to be fitted with an older, lower-horsepower engine, which rendered performance below combat standards. The Fokker D.VI saw little operational service and was relegated to home defense and training roles.

Far more successful was the in-line-engined winner of the Adlershof competition, the Fokker V.11, which became the Fokker D.VII as a production airplane. The V.11 was largely the creation of Fokker's chief designer, Reinhold Platz. Platz was the true creative force behind the famous Fokker fighters of the second half of the war. He did most of the fundamental design work on the firm's aircraft after 1916. Anthony Fokker's talents were greater as a test pilot than as a designer. He had an innate ability to fly an experimental aircraft and know just what improvements needed to be made to turn it into a successful performer. This intuitive sense on the part of Fokker, combined with Platz's innovative preliminary designs, made them a formidable team. Fokker's ego and dominating personality frequently led him to understate Platz's role as the genuine innovator of the designs that bore the Fokker name, and he took undue credit for himself. Nevertheless, there is no denying the important contributions Fokker made to bringing Platz's designs to final form. This was especially true in the case of the Fokker D.VII.

The Fokker D.VII prototype, the V.11, was completed just before the Adlershof competition began on January 21, 1918, so Fokker had little time to test it beforehand. On January 23, famed German ace, Manfred von Richthofen, the Red Baron, flew the V.11 at Fokker's request. Richthofen thought the airplane was maneuverable and had generally good performance, but that it was tricky to handle and directionally unstable, especially in a dive. Ritchhofen's assessment confirmed Fokker's own impression of the V.11 from his brief testing of the airplane before the competition began. To remedy these problems, Fokker lengthened the fuselage 40 cm (16 in), added a fixed vertical fin and a new rudder shape, and altered the aileron balances, among other small changes. With these modifications, the V.11 was safe and pleasant to fly, and had lost little of the maneuverability that had initially impressed von Richthofen. The Red Baron flew the improved V.11 and now found the airplane delightful to handle. He urged other pilots at the competition to try it, and they also thought the design was very promising. Given his stature, the endorsement of von Richthofen went far towards the selection of the V.11 as the winner of the competition.

The trials of the V.11 at Adlershof showed Anthony Fokker at his best. His instinctive sense of precisely how to quickly modify the V.11 to transform it from a merely acceptable airplane into a winning design illustrated his genius for incorporating flight test results into design. Moreover, Fokker understood better than any of his competitors that overall performance was more important in a fighter aircraft than exceptional performance in one or two areas, such as speed or climb rate. Other aircraft at Adlershof were better than the V.11 in individual performance parameters. But none surpassed it as a fighter design in the complete sense, regarding not only overall performance but also structural and production concerns.


The history of this engine-operated weapon goes back to a secret circular with the-then Major Wilhelm Siegert (a Prussian Air Corps inspector) directed to German aircraft and engine suppliers on August 16, 1916. It was pointed out that all current Aircraft Guns suffered from their relation to the demands of land forces. Airborne Firearms should be lightweight, high rates of fire in bursts handling aircraft speeds of over 130 mph and at high altitudes temperatures of -40 degrees Celsius, required small space and practical for firing vertically downwards. Siegert suggested operating such weapons mechanically, either by the aero engine or electrical power sources used for the wireless, They should also be multiple barreled. He invited new ideas from firms formerly u trial weapons and other facilities would be made at once.

This very sensible memorandum spawned up a series of engine operated aircraft weapons from the companies of Siemens, Autogen, Szakatz-Gotha, Fokker and some startlingly good ideas. None of the guns became operational during the war except the Siemens example which was tried on the Western Front with a victory using it during air combat.

Fokker and his right-hand armament expert, H.W. Luebbe produced several designs. One had a direct drive by a crank from an MG08 machine gun. The other was the revolutionary Leimberger 12-barrel gun. This was fired soon after the issue of the memorandum above. The barrels, which were mounted within a drum-like rotor, were normal, except for the fact that each breech was half cut-away along the axis of the bore. The matching other half of the breech was formed by a corresponding depression in a second drum-like rotor of smaller diameter which rotated underneath the barrel cylinder. When the two breech halves of these rotating parts joined up, spur-gear like, the barrel concerned attained its firing position with the cartridge in place. The feeding belt with the cartridges were carried right through the split breech of the two rotating elements, much like a chain between sprockets. The cartridges were not extracted, as the spent cases were still in the belt after firing. There was no reciprocating breech block. Firing took place by percussion when the breech closed perfectly (firing pin on swash plate). The gun was therefore extremely simple. It was devoid of any reciprocating parts and free from the defects which affected the Maxim MG08. Moreover, it could be fired at any speed. The upper rate of fire was limited solely by centrifugal stresses and by the time the propellant needed burning.

In air combat, the gun had to be pre-rotated so as to fire at a top rate as soon as the trigger released the cartridge feed. This was necessary since otherwise too much time would be lost accelerating the mechanism. There is no record of ballistic performance, but it would seem that the long calibre-lengths of the barrels might adversely affect the stability of the projectile. There can be little doubt the barrel material had a long life, considering the air-cooling and the low sequence of fire through the individual barrels.

Versions of this rifle calibre gun were fired over 7,200 rounds per minute. The weapon, however suffered from too many jams as the quality of German cartridge-case material had seriously deteriorated, and only too often the cases tore open in the gun.

A Look At 100 Years Of KLM’s History – From Humble Airline To Dutch Flag Carrier

Celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2019, KLM is the oldest airline in the world still operating under its original name. It has a fascinating history of continuous service – starting out with historic short flights to London, then expanding to offer intercontinental service to Asia, and today serving 145 destinations worldwide with 120 aircraft. This article takes a look back over the highlights of these 100 years of aviation history.

Early beginnings in Amsterdam

KLM – or to give it its full title Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, meaning Royal Aviation Company was founded in 1919 by a group of investors and its first director Albert Plesman.

The airline started flying in May 1920, with the first flight using a leased DeHavilland DH-16 plane to fly from Croydon, London to Amsterdam. Onboard were two journalists, newspapers and a letter from the Mayor of London – a fitting start to 100 years of passenger and freight transport!

A regular service began between these two locations, and over the first year it carried 345 passengers. A formidable effort at the time – but of course less than one 747 flight today! As the business grew, KLM began to operate their own Fokker planes, expanded their presence at Schipol and opened a passenger office in central Amsterdam – the first for any airline.

Opening up intercontinental service – flights to Indonesia

Throughout its early history, KLM worked closely with the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker. This was most evident with the design of a new aircraft for intercontinental travel, the Fokker F.VII. This made its first flight from Amsterdam to Jakarta (known as Batavia then) in October 1924 – a ground-breaking 55-day journey proving the possibilities of long-distance aviation.

Starting service to the Dutch colonies was a main objective of KLM, and regular services on the route commenced in September 1929, with a journey time of five and a half days.

New destinations and aircraft

Over the following years, intercontinental service expanded. During the 1930s, service began to Curacao, and the Batavia service was extended to operate to Australia.

The airline also introduced aircraft from US manufacturer Douglas – their first move into the European market. Fokker aircraft served the company well, but the higher speed of the Douglas DC2 and DC3 was a great advantage.

Tough times during the war years

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 hit KLM hard. With the Netherlands occupied by Germany, service was suspended. A few aircraft, however, were used in the UK by BOAC on routes from London. Others that were in Dutch East Indian territory at the time of the outbreak remained there and were used for refugee transportation.

As soon as the war ended in 1945, KLM were quick to resume services, both within Europe and to Jakarta. Service to New York began in May 1946, with KLM offering the first direct flights between Amsterdam and New York, using a Douglas DC4 aircraft.

Throughout the 1950s expansion continued, with several further destinations in the United States added. KLM also introduced new long-range, pressurized aircraft including the DC6 and new aircraft from Lockheed – the Constellation and the Electra.

With the expansion in routes and destinations came a change in service offerings. In 1958, KLM introduced economy class for the first time, a more basic version of their existing ‘tourist class.’ According to KLM, this was an immediate success, and the ability to offer lower prices saw a 27% increase in passengers in just the first three months.

Change of ownership – nationalizing the company

Soon after the end of the war, the Dutch government took a small stake in the airline, but it remained under private control. This changed in 1954 following the death of long term president Albert Plesman. The financial pressures at that time saw the Dutch government increase its ownership to two thirds, making KLM a Dutch national company. This close relationship was to remain until 1966 when it again became private, only to be re-nationalized after the oil crisis in 1973!

Entering the jet age

KLM took delivery of its first jet engine aircraft in March 1960 – a Douglas DC8, fittingly named after the former president Albert Plesman. As other airlines also experienced, this brought huge advances in route possibilities and reduction in flight times, but also challenging cost increases which likely contributed to their nationalization.

Another milestone event occurred in 1971, with the addition of the Boeing 747 to their fleet. This went further in 1975 with the introduction of the Boeing 747-306B Combi aircraft, giving the airline a strong position in dual passenger/cargo operations globally.

The growth in flights brought other changes to operations as well. In 1966, the company launched NLM (Nederlandse Luchtvaart Maatschappij) – later to become NLM Cityhopper – operating short-haul flights. These would act as feeder flights for long haul passengers as well as leisure and sightseeing flights for increasingly curious passengers.

Moving to modern times

Growth at KLM continued through the 1980s and 1990s. Passenger traffic grew from 9.7 million passengers in 1980 to 16 million in 1990. And the now very familiar 747-400 entered service in 1989.

The airline also grew its worldwide presence through partnerships and acquisitions. In 1989, KLM acquired a 20 percent stake in US-based Northwest Airlines. And with approval from the US Department of Transportation, they began joint venture operations on flights between the US and Europe. They jointly introduced a ‘World Business Class’ product on intercontinental routes in 1994.

Expansion continued, with the acquisition of a 26 percent stake in Kenya Airways in 1996. And in 1998, KLM repurchased shares from the Dutch government to once again become a privately owned company.

Customer loyalty programs are standard today, but this was not so thirty years ago. KLM were pioneers in this area, being the first European airline to launch a frequent flyer program – known as Flying Dutchman. This became the Flying Blue program in 2005.

The company today – Air France-KLM

Major changes took place in May 2004 when KLM finalized its merger with Air France to form Air France-KLM. Both airlines would continue though to operate under their own brands. Soon after KLM became a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance – bringing shared benefits in operations and customer loyalty between the 29 member airlines.

The company has focused strongly on sustainability. They held top place in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index from 2005 until 2016 and began introducing Biofuel flights as early as 2007 (with the first intercontinental flight to New York taking place in 2013).

And of course, aircraft usage has continued to move forward. KLM started operating the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in 2015. Delivery of the 787-10 began in 2019. Of course, older aircraft continue to be retired. The 787 fleet will eventually replace the 747s, due to be retired by 2021.

And in October 2017, KLM retired its last Fokker aircraft (the Fokker 70). For KLM history fans, this was a significant event – bringing to an end the use of Fokker aircraft since their first flights in the 1920s.

Fokker M.18 - History

Fokker Spin
Fokker in his Spin
Role Experimental Aircraft
Manufacturer Fokker
Designer Anthony Fokker
First flight 1910
Number built 25

The Fokker Spin was the first airplane built by Dutch aviation pioneer Anthony Fokker. The many bracing wires used to strengthen the aircraft made it resemble a giant spider, hence its name Spin (Dutch for "spider"). [1]

Fokker built the Spin in 1910 while he was a student in Germany, assisted by Jacob Goedecker and a business partner, Franz von Daum, who procured the engine. The aircraft started out as an experimental design to provide Fokker with a means to explore his interest in flying. The first Spin was destroyed when Daum flew it into a tree, but the engine was still salvageable and was used to build the second version. [1] This was built soon afterwards and was used by Fokker to teach himself to fly and to obtain his pilot license. This aircraft was also irreparably damaged by Daum. [2]

In Fokker's third model, he gained fame in his home country of the Netherlands by flying around the tower of the Sint-Bavokerk, a church in Haarlem, on August 31, 1911, which was the birthday of Queen Wilhelmina, thus adding greatly to his fame. After this success he founded an aircraft factory and flying school near Berlin. There, the M.1 through M.4 were developed for the German Army, based on the Spin.

The M.1 was a two-seat monoplane built in small numbers as the M.3. It was first flown in 1911 and by 1913 had been transferred to military flying schools. The M.2 was a true military version of the Spin. The airplane had a 75 kW (100 hp) Argus or Mercedes engine and was capable of 97 km/h (60 mph). The ten M.2s ordered for 299,880 Marks included 10 Daimler trucks to move the aircraft with the Army, per plans of the German General Staff at the time. The M.2 was a much refined aircraft with a streamlined fuselage, first flown in 1912. The M.4 was developed from the M.3, and included a nose wheel. It did not gain further sales.

From 1912 to 1913, a total of 25 Fokker Spins were built (including a few two-seat variants), used mostly for pilot training. [3]

One of the last Spins was brought by Fokker to the Netherlands after World War I. It was incomplete and rebuilt in the early 1920s. During World War II, the plane was taken to an aviation museum in Berlin as a war trophy by the Germans occupying the Netherlands. After the war it was brought to Poland. Not until 1986 was it returned to the Netherlands where it was restored. A second surviving Spin was built by Fokker personnel in 1936 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Anthony Fokker's first flight. Both of these planes are preserved at the Aviodrome aviation museum at Lelystad Airport, the Netherlands.

Fokker Aerostructures: Hoogeveen, The Netherlands

Fig 1: Although Fokker is famous for its thermoplastics expertise, the company still relies on the autoclave to consolidate many parts as they cool after forming because it remains the best tool for meeting porosity specifications. Source (all photos) CW/Photos: Jeff Sloan & Sara Black

Fig 2: Themoplastics enable innovative rudder/elevator combo — these thermoplastic spars are for the Gulfstream G650 rudder/elevator and feature a design that, because of the material’s high toughness, allows for in-flight buckling, without damage or failure.

Fig 3: In-house equipment development: Much of the thermoplastic composites innovation that comes out of Fokker is a product of the company’s research and development lab, which features this automated fiber placement (AFP) machine, equipped with a Fokker-developed end-effector.

Fig. 4: Wing leading edges awaiting welding — molded of glass fiber/PPS, the Airbus A380 wing leading-edge skins on these racks soon will be integrated with ribs and spars via welding in Fokker’s large Tool Jig Room.

Fig. 5: Compression molding of rib components — A380 wing leading-edge ribs are compression molded, using materials cut from TenCate’s Cetex preconsolidated glass fiber/PPS sheets, on this massive press supplied by automated machinery manufacturer Pinette Emidecau (Chalon Sur Saone, France).

Fig 6: “Meshing” leading edges ribs and skins — molded ribs for the A380 wing leading edge are bonded to the skins by means of resistance welding, in which a metal mesh strip coated with PPS is attached to the edge of the rib. A current is applied to the mesh, which softens the PPS and bonds the rib to the skin. The metal mesh becomes part of the bond.

Fig. 7: Section-by-section assembly — an A380 wing leading edge skin and its ribs, spar and stiffeners, mounted in an assembly jig, is shown here during resistance welding. Each jig holds one 3.5m section of wingskin. Each wing leading edge comprises eight 3.5m sections, for a total length of 26m.

Fig. 8: Robotically automated welding — all welding of the A380 wing leading edge is done with robotic equipment, which measures the distance traveled along the skin to recognize which rib it’s welding.

Fig. 9: At Fokker, welding’s future is seen as “lights out” technology. For the Dassault Falcon 5X elevator, Fokker employs next-generation induction welding technology that, unlike resistance welding, allows direct thermoplastic-to-thermoplastic bonding and obviates the need for a metal mesh strip. This assembly jig holds all of the spars and ribs for the elevator during the night shift, robotically guided induction coils are inserted into the jig to bond the parts together.


Read Next

The Fokker name enjoys a long and storied history in aviation. It harkens back to the earliest days of manned flight, when Dutchman Anthony Fokker first flew his Spider aircraft over the city of Haarlem, in 1911. After founding a Dutch aviation company, Fokker set up Fokker Aviatik GmbH in Germany in 1912 to supply the German army. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Fokker was, arguably, the best-known and most successful aircraft manufacturer in the world. In full flight in the aerospace industry by the 1950s, his company launched, in 1958, the F-27, a two-engine, single-aisle passenger plane that became the company&rsquos signature aircraft. But by 1996, market forces had overcome Fokker Aviatik. The aircraft builder declared bankruptcy and ultimately ceased operations.

But the Fokker name did not die. It lives on in business units spun off before bankruptcy. Three &mdash Landing Gear, Electrical Systems, Services &mdash make parts and perform maintenance and repair work, and carry on under the name Fokker Technologies. The fourth and most notable is Fokker Aerostructures. Headquartered in Papendrecht, The Netherlands, this developer and fabricator of thermoplastic composite structures for aerospace applications &mdash the subject of this CW Plant Tour &mdash is adding a significant chapter to the history of its storied name.

Featured Content

Turning the page: Thermoplastics

Fokker Aerostructures BV started its thermoplastics activity 25 years ago by creating a small R&D team that cooperated closely with material supplier TenCate Advanced Composites BV (Nijverdal, the Netherlands) and with prospective customers. Initial customers were the owner, Fokker Aircraft company, Dornier (Friedrichshafen, Germany) and Airbus (Toulouse, France). Thus, an ever-growing range of products was developed and taken into production. This ranged from initial applications, such as brackets, ribs, wing panels and floor panels, to fully assembled structures, including wing leading edges, rudders and elevators. A key player on the team proved to be gifted R&D engineer John Teunissen, who created and developed several new manufacturing technologies and product concepts. In 1995, a breakthrough was the development of Gulfstream 5 floor boards, which included primary structure pressure bulkheads. This led to a move towards fabrication of thermoplastic composite primary structure, with corresponding engineering and manufacturing knowledge.

Our hosts during our plant tour are Richard Cobben, VP technology, and Arnt Offringa, director, R&D. Well-known in the composites community for his thermoplastic composite expertise, Offringa guides us on the tour of Fokker&rsquos large facility in Hoogeveen. Before the tour, Cobben presents the different Fokker companies. Then, in advance of leading us to the production floor, Offringa reviews some of the parts and structures that Fokker manufactures at the plant, most notably the rudder/elevator for the Gulfstream G650 business jet (read more in &ldquoReinforced thermoplastics: Primary structure?&rdquo under "Editor's Picks" at top right), elevators and floorboards for the Gulfstream 5 business jet, rudder and elevators for the Dassault Falcon 5X, the wing leading edge for the Airbus A380 superjumbo passenger plane, and all of the access doors for all of the variants of the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. With the exception of the F-35, each of these applications relies on thermoplastics and it&rsquos thermoplastic composites on which the Fokker name now stands.


In February 1917, the Sopwith Triplane began to appear over the Western Front. [2] Despite its single Vickers machine gun armament, the Sopwith swiftly proved itself superior to the more heavily armed Albatros fighters then in use by the Luftstreitkräfte. [3] [4] In April 1917, Anthony Fokker viewed a captured Sopwith Triplane while visiting Jasta 11. Upon his return to the Schwerin factory, Fokker instructed Reinhold Platz to build a triplane, but gave him no further information about the Sopwith design. [5] Platz responded with the V.4, a small, rotary-powered triplane with a steel tube fuselage and thick cantilever wings, [6] first developed during Fokker's government-mandated collaboration with Hugo Junkers. Initial tests revealed that the V.4 had unacceptably high control forces resulting from the use of unbalanced ailerons and elevators. [7]

Instead of submitting the V.4 for a type test, Fokker produced a revised prototype designated V.5. The most notable changes were the introduction of horn-balanced ailerons and elevators, as well as longer-span wings. The V.5 also featured interplane struts, which were not necessary from a structural standpoint, but which minimized wing flexing. [8] On 14 July 1917, Idflieg issued an order for 20 pre-production aircraft. The V.5 prototype, serial 101/17, was tested to destruction at Adlershof on 11 August 1917. [9]

The first two pre-production triplanes were designated F.I, in accord with Idflieg's early class prefix for triplanes. These aircraft, serials 102/17 and 103/17, were the only machines to receive the F.I designation [10] and could be distinguished from subsequent aircraft by a slight convex curve of the tailplane's leading edge. The two aircraft were sent to Jastas 10 and 11 for combat evaluation, arriving at Markebeeke, Belgium on 28 August 1917.

Richthofen first flew 102/17 on 1 September 1917 and shot down two enemy aircraft in the next two days. He reported to the Kogenluft (Kommandierender General der Luftstreitkräfte) that the F.I was superior to the Sopwith Triplane. [11] Richthofen recommended that fighter squadrons be reequipped with the new aircraft as soon as possible. [11] The combat evaluation came to an abrupt conclusion when Oberleutnant Kurt Wolff, Staffelführer of Jasta 11, was shot down in 102/17 on 15 September, and Leutnant Werner Voss, Staffelführer of Jasta 10, was killed in 103/17 on 23 September.

The remaining pre-production aircraft, designated Dr.I, were delivered to Jasta 11. [12] Idflieg issued a production order for 100 triplanes in September, followed by an order for 200 in November. [13] Apart from the straight leading edge of the tailplane, these aircraft were almost identical to the F.I. The primary distinguishing feature was the addition of wingtip skids, which proved necessary because the aircraft was tricky to land and prone to ground looping. [14] In October, Fokker began delivering the Dr.I to squadrons within Richthofen's Jagdgeschwader I.

Compared with the Albatros and Pfalz fighters, the Dr.I offered exceptional maneuverability. Though the ailerons were not very effective, the rudder and elevator controls were light and powerful. [15] Rapid turns, especially to the right, were facilitated by the triplane's marked directional instability. [15] Vizefeldwebel Franz Hemer of Jasta 6 said, "The triplane was my favorite fighting machine because it had such wonderful flying qualities. I could let myself stunt – looping and rolling – and could avoid an enemy by diving with perfect safety. The triplane had to be given up because although it was very maneuverable, it was no longer fast enough." [16]

As Hemer noted, the Dr.I was considerably slower than contemporary Allied fighters in level flight and in a dive. While initial rate of climb was excellent, performance fell off dramatically at higher altitudes because of the low compression of the Oberursel Ur.II, a clone of the Le Rhône 9J rotary engine. [17] As the war continued, chronic shortages of castor oil made rotary operation increasingly difficult. The poor quality of German ersatz lubricant resulted in many engine failures, particularly during the summer of 1918. [18]

The Dr.I suffered other deficiencies. The pilot's view was poor during takeoff and landing. [19] The cockpit was cramped and furnished with materials of inferior quality. [20] Furthermore, the proximity of the gun butts to the cockpit, combined with inadequate crash padding, left the pilot vulnerable to serious head injury in the event of a crash landing. [21]

Wing failures Edit

On 29 October 1917, Leutnant der Reserve Heinrich Gontermann, Staffelführer of Jasta 15, was performing aerobatics when his triplane broke up. [22] Gontermann was killed in the ensuing crash landing. Leutnant der Reserve Günther Pastor of Jasta 11 was killed two days later when his triplane broke up in level flight. [22] Inspection of the wrecked aircraft showed that the wings had been poorly constructed. Examination of other high-time triplanes confirmed these findings. On 2 November, Idflieg grounded all remaining triplanes pending an inquiry. Idflieg convened a Sturzkommission (crash commission) which concluded that poor construction and lack of waterproofing had allowed moisture to damage the wing structure. [23] This caused the wing ribs to disintegrate and the ailerons to break away in flight. [23]

In response to the crash investigation, Fokker was forced to improve quality control on the production line, particularly varnishing of the wing spars and ribs, to combat moisture. Fokker also strengthened the rib structures and the attachment of the auxiliary spars to the ribs. [24] Existing triplanes were repaired and modified at Fokker's expense. [25] After testing a modified wing at Adlershof, Idflieg authorized the triplane's return to service on 28 November 1917. [26] Production resumed in early December. By January 1918, Jastas 6 and 11 were fully equipped with the triplane. Only 14 squadrons used the Dr.I as their primary equipment. Most of these units were part of Jagdgeschwadern I, II, or III. [27] Frontline inventory peaked in late April 1918, with 171 aircraft in service on the Western Front. [13]

Despite corrective measures, the Dr.I continued to suffer from wing failures. On 3 February 1918, Leutnant Hans Joachim Wolff of Jasta 11 successfully landed after suffering a failure of the upper wing leading edge and ribs. [28] On 18 March 1918, Lothar von Richthofen, Staffelführer of Jasta 11, suffered a failure of the upper wing leading edge during combat with Sopwith Camels of No. 73 Squadron and Bristol F.2Bs of No. 62 Squadron. [29] Richthofen was seriously injured in the ensuing crash landing.

Postwar research revealed that poor workmanship was not the only cause of the triplane's structural failures. In 1929, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) investigations found that the upper wing carried a higher lift coefficient than the lower wing – at high speeds it could be 2.55 times as much.

The triplane's chronic structural problems destroyed any prospect of large-scale orders. [30] Production eventually ended in May 1918, by which time only 320 had been manufactured. [31] The Dr.I was withdrawn from frontline service as the Fokker D.VII entered widespread service in June and July. Jasta 19 was the last squadron to be fully equipped with the Dr.I. [32]

Surviving triplanes were distributed to training and home defense units. Several training aircraft were reengined with the 75 kW (100 hp) Goebel Goe.II. [33] At the time of the Armistice, many remaining triplanes were assigned to fighter training schools at Nivelles, Belgium, and Valenciennes, France. [34] Allied pilots tested several of these triplanes and found their handling qualities to be impressive. [34]

Experimental engines Edit

Several Dr.Is were used as testbeds for experimental engines. One aircraft, designated V.7, was fitted with the Siemens-Halske Sh.III bi-rotary engine. [35] The V.7 exhibited exceptional rate of climb and ceiling, but it proved difficult to handle. [35] Serial 108/17 was used to test the 118 kW (160 hp) Goebel Goe. III, while serial 469/17 was used to test the 108 kW (145 hp) Oberursel Ur. III. [36] None of these engines were used on production aircraft. One triplane was used as a testbed for an experimental Schwade gear-driven supercharger.

Three triplanes are known to have survived the Armistice. Serial 528/17 was retained as a testbed by the Deutschen Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (German Aviation Research Institute) at Adlershof. After being used in the filming of two movies, 528/17 is believed to have crashed sometime in the late 1930s. [37] Serial 152/17, in which Manfred von Richthofen obtained three victories, was displayed at the Zeughaus museum in Berlin. [37] This aircraft was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid during World War II.

In 1932, Fokker assembled a Dr.I from existing components. It was displayed in the Deutsche Luftfahrt-Sammlung in Berlin. In 1943, the aircraft was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid. Today, only a few original Dr.I artifacts survive in museums.