The Fokker Scourge – Part 2

The first confirmed airkill on a Fokker E.I was scored on August 1st by Max Immelmann which marks the begin of the so called Fokker Scourge. It lasts until Spring 1916 when more advanced French and British aircraft like the Nieuport 11.C1 and the Airco D.H.2 arrived the Western Front.

But from August 1915 to January 1916, the Fokker E.I-E.III ruled the skies over Northern France. The Fokker pilots mainly faced French and British pre war 2-Seaters like the infamous B.E.2 which soon got the epiphet “Fokker Fodder”. These planes were designed at a time when it seemed to be a good idea, that an aircraft had a steady airframe. These early crates were slow, heavy, not very maneuverable and difficult to fly and poorly armed. The B.E.2’s observer and gunner sat in front of the pilot and therefore he had only a limited firing range.

The E.III was totally contrary to these aircraft. Quite fast, something about 145 – 150km/h. And, despite the wing-warping mechanism, it was quite meneuverable. Although it was difficult to fly because of it’s ver sensible controls on the rudder and elevator. But with its synchronized Spandau and in the hands of a skilled pilot, the Fokker was for sure the deadliest aircraft of its time.

The typical opponents of the Fokker E.III during these days were the Bristol Scout C, the RAF B.E.2, the RAF F.E.2, the Vickers F.B.5 and the French Morane-Saulnier Type N and Type L.

Max Immelmann downed a total of six B.E.2, three F.E.2, three F.B.5, two Bristols and some Moranes.

The Bristol Scout first appeared in February, 1914, it was so light that its 80hp Gnome rotary engine gave it had an extraordinary speed of 150km/h and an equally extraordinary ceiling of nearly 4800 meters. Pilots loved the little machine because it was feathery light on the controls and a pleasure to fly. But the first Scout pilots used pistols and carbines as weapons – against a Fokker Eindecker with a syncronized machine gun they were hopless.

Bristol Scout C
Bristol Scout C

The B.E.2 soon was known as “Fokker Fodder”. Because of its heavy design it was difficult to fly and not very maneuverable. The observer and gunner, if equipped with a machine gun sat in front of the pilot so his firing range was very limited. An Eindecker, approaching from behind found an easy, almost static target while the B.E.2 crew had not much chance to defend themselves.

RAF B.E.2a
RAF B.E.2a

In September 1915, the RAF F.E.2 arrived at the Western Front. With it’s 6-Cylinder, 160hp Beardmore engine it was 147km/h fast and in the hands of a skilled pilot quite maneuverable. Although it was not easy to fly. It was armed with a drum fed Lewis MG which was handled by the observer who sat in fron of the pilot. But unlike the B.E.2, the F.E.2 was a pusher, so the observer had a good firing range to the front but again a very limited range to the rear. However, a F.E.2 could be a match for a Fokker when flown by a cabable pilot and observer.

 

RAF F.E.2
RAF F.E.2

The Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus was, like the RAF F.E.2 a pusher aircraft and lacked the same limitations in firing range to the rear. Additionally it was underpowerd with a 100hp Gnome Monosupape engine. With its maximum speed of 115km/h it could not outrun the Fokker Eindecker nor could it outmaneuver the Eindecker. At least, 224 Vickers F.B.5 were build but they were withdrawn from active service at the Western Front in January 1916.

Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus
Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus

The French Morane-Saulnier Type N Bullet was like the Fokker Eindecker a shoulder-wing monoplane with a wing-warping instead of airlerons. Originally designed as a race-plane it was quite fast and maneuverable. Like the Morane-Saulnier Type L Parasol it was equipped with a machine gun mounted on the cowling and firing through the propeller arc. The propeller was protected with deflector plates. During the period of the Fokker Scourge, the Bullet was for sure one of the most dangerous opponents for the Fokker Eindecker. But finally only 49 Bullets were build, too few to aerial superiority over the Fokkers.

Morane-Saulnier N Bullet
Morane-Saulnier N Bullet

The Morane-Saulnier Type L Parasol has got the merits to be the first air-superiority fighter aircraft in history. The French aiviation pioneer Roland Garros scored the first aerial victory with a machine gun firing through the propeller arc while using the whole aircraft for aiming in a Parasol. Later he had a forced landing in this aircraft on German territory and was captured by the German forces. His intact Parasol was the blueprint for Anthony Fokkers Eindecker. However, the Parasol was, in comparison with the E.III, slow, underpowerd and underarmed.

Morane-Saulnier L Parasol
Morane-Saulnier L Parasol

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