OUR WORLD WAR ONE AIRCRAFT
Our WWI biplane and triplane collection continues to grow.
Come out and see what fought in the first world war!
The Fokker D.VII was a German World War I fighter aircraft designed by Reinhold Platz of the Fokker-Flugzeugwerke. Germany produced around 3,300 D.VII aircraft in the second half of 1918. In service with the Luftstreitkräfte, the D.VII quickly proved itself to be a formidable aircraft.
The Armistice ending the war specifically required Germany to surrender all D.VIIs to the Allies. Surviving aircraft saw much service with many countries in the years after World War I.
This is our second Fokker D.VII in the museums collection
The Fokker D.VIII was the last German aircraft to be designed and flown in the First World War. It was also the last German plane to score an aerial victory. Its slim profile earned it the name “The Flying Razor” from Allied pilots. Only 85 D.VIII’s were actually in front-line service before the Armistice, but the plane proved to be a worthy compliment alongside the D.VII. Agile and easy to fly, pilots found the D.VIII to be an excellent all-around fighter.
This D.VIII is painted in the scheme of Gotthard Sachsenberg, a German ace with 31 victories to his name and winner of the “Blue Max”. After the war, Sachsenberg designed and built the museum’s “Cottbus” aircraft hangar.
The Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” was one of a series of “JN” biplanes built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company.
Although the Curtiss JN series was originally produced as a training aircraft for the U.S. Army, the “Jenny” (the common nickname derived from “JN-4”, with an open-topped four appearing as a Y) continued after World War I as a civil aircraft, as it became the “backbone of American postwar civil aviation.”
The Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter, first flown in 1915, was a WWI multi-role biplane with either one or two seats. It was the first British fighter to enter service with a synchronized machine gun, and its forward-firing Vickers and movable Lewis gun in the rear packed a considerable wallop.
The Strutter was the first Sopwith to make a resounding name for itself. First flown in 1915 and introduced in 1916, Sopwith could not build enough of them and production was contracted from two other firms.
The Strutter served with the Royal Flying Corps, the Royal Navy, the French, the Americans and others in fighter, bomber, and observation roles. The RNAS called it the “Ships’ Strutter” in service from naval vessels.
The Albatros D.Va single seat fighter was a single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Imperial German Air Service during WWI. By 1917, earlier versions of the series were being outclassed, and the D.V was delivered in May of 1917.
This type experienced a series of fatal crashes, caused by a tendency of the lower wing to begin fluttering and ultimately disintegrating in flight during sustained dives from high altitude.
After extensive aerodynamic testing, a field modification was developed. But even then, the plane had little to offer. The Baron von Richthofen said of the D.V that it was “so obsolete and so ridiculously inferior to the English that one can’t do anything with this aircraft.”
“The best ship I ever flew”, according to no less than American ace Eddie Rickenbacker, the “SPAD” was a French biplane fighter that became one of the most capable and most produced aircraft of WWI, requiring nine different companies to ensure production.
In the first six months after they got SPADs, Les Cigognes, the famous French Stork squadron, shot down more than two hundred aircraft, a feat unequaled in the war.
By the end of the war, the SPAD equipped 15 of 16 American Fighter Squadrons. The SPAD on display was built in 2004 and is painted in the colors of Major Charles Biddle of the Lafayette Flying Corps and Escadrille 73. It is a 75% scale replica.
The Nieuport model 17 was one of the best of the classic small, single-gun rotary engine fighters of the Great War. It was highly maneuverable and had a fast climb rate, making it superior to early German aircraft. In combat against enemy balloons, small rockets could be affixed to the wing struts.
French, British, and American squadrons all flew the model 17 with great success. The museum’s plane is painted as a typical United States Air Service training aircraft.
The Nieuport model XI (11) was a French biplane of World War I, most often referred to as the “Bebe” or the Nieuport Scout. It is famous as one of the aircraft that put an end to the first “Fokker scourge” by putting more formidable planes in the sky against the Germans.
The type reached the French front in 1916, and 90 were placed in service within a month. During the course of the Battle of Verdun in February of that year, the Nieuport 11 inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy, forcing a radical change in German tactics.
The Allies at the time did not have synchronized guns that fired through the propeller arc, so the gun was mounted on the top wing, which was problematic when the gun jammed or needed more ammunition.
First flown in 1918, the Fokker C.I was a slightly enlarged two-seat version of the highly successful Fokker D.VII intended for reconnaissance. The Great War ended before the plane was introduced into service, and Anthony Fokker smuggled finished examples and parts out of Germany. Fokker ultimately sold these items to the Danes, Dutch, and Soviets as observation and training aircraft.
Over 250 examples were produced, and the last C.I left service in 1936.
The Fokker D.VI was a German fighter aircraft built in limited numbers at the end of World War I. The D.VI served in the German and Austro-Hungarian air services.
In service, the D.VI was hampered by the low power of the Oberursel Ur.II. Moreover, the lack of castor oil and the poor quality of “Voltol,” an ersatz lubricant, severely reduced engine life and reliability. The D.VI remained in frontline service until September 1918 and continued to serve in training and home defense units until the Armistice.
The Fokker E.III was the main variant of the Eindecker (literally meaning “one deck”) 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.
Fokker production figures state that 249 E.IIIs were manufactured; however, a number of the 49 E.IIs were upgraded to E.III standard when they were returned to Fokker’s Schwerin factory for repairs.
The E.III was the first type to arrive in sufficient numbers to form small specialist fighter units, Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos (KEK) in early 1916.
Introduced in 1918, the Halberstadt CL.IV was designed to improve on the successful ground attack design of the CL.II. Design changes in the CL.IV gave it much greater maneuverability and allowed it to better avoid ground fire.
In addition to the single machine gun controlled by the pilot, the rear gunner, sitting in his own ring-mount cockpit, fired a slightly different gun that had a superior rate of fire that could be directed at ground targets as well as air-to-air defense.
The plane could also carry bombs and hand grenades arranged around the rear ring for the gunner to drop on targets of opportunity. Flights of four to six aircraft would fly as low as 100 feet from the ground to precede an infantry attack.
Frenchman Louis Bleriot was intrigued by the possibility of flight ever since seeing experimental flying machines at the 1900 Paris Exhibition. Described as enthusiastic if not much of a planner, Bleriot built ten aircraft (all failures) including perhaps the most interesting failure – the wing-flapping “ornithopter”.
In 1908, the Daily Mail offered a prize of one thousand pounds sterling for the first person to cross the English Channel. Bleriot collaborated with Raymond Saulnier on the construction of the model XI, which first flew at the Paris Air Show in 1908.
The model XI was the worlds first successful monoplane, and Bleriot became the most celebrated man in Europe in 1909 by crossing the channel in bad weather, without even a compass, and “landing” in England after a flight of just under 37 minutes.
The Wright Model EX “Vin Fiz” is one of the most interesting aircraft, and stories, in the early years of flight. The museum’s full-scale replica was built for the 2003 centenary anniversary of the Wright Brothers first flight.
In October 1910, newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst, and early fan of aviation offered a $50,000 prize for the first aerial crossing of the U.S. in 30 days or less. Eight Flyers entered the competition, five took to the air, and one completed the trip, albeit not in the required 30 days.
Cal Rogers was an early student at the Wright Flying School, who arranged the sponsorship of a company who was just coming out with a new grape-flavored soda pop. The Vin Fiz crashed it’s way across the country into aviation legend.
The 1911 Curtiss Model D “Curtiss Pusher” was an early United States pusher aircraft with the engine and propeller behind the pilot’s seat. It was among the very first aircraft in the world to be built in any quantity, all of which were produced by Curtiss during an era of trial-and-error development and equally important parallel technical development in internal combustion engine technologies.
It was also the aircraft type which made the first takeoff from the deck of a ship (flown by Eugene B. Ely off the deck of the USS Birmingham on November 14, 1910, near Hampton Roads, Virginia) and made the first landing aboard a ship (the USS Pennsylvania) on January 18, 1911, near San Francisco, California.
It was originally fitted with a foreplane for pitch control, but this was dispensed with when it was accidentally discovered to be unnecessary. The new version without the foreplane was known as the Headless Pusher. Like all Curtiss designs, the aircraft used ailerons instead, which first existed on a Curtiss-designed airframe as quadruple “wing-tip” ailerons on the 1908 June Bug to control rolling in flight, thus avoiding the use of the Wright brothers’ patented wing warping technology.
The Fokker Dr.I collection of the museum may be the largest number of “Dreidecker” (meaning three wings) replicas in one place in the U.S., with four examples. The type first flew in July of 1917.
The Dr. is perhaps the most recognizable aircraft of the ‘Great War’. Developed as a response to the British Sopwith triplane, it was thought by some to be too slow and too small until it became obvious that its superior maneuverability made it a potent weapon.
Baron von Richthofen shot down his last 20 aircraft in Dr.I’s and the Baron told designer Tony Fokker that it “climbed like a monkey and maneuvered like the devil”.
There are many replicas of the Dr. I flying, but no flying originals survive. Originally powered by Le Rhone rotary engines. Three of ours have radials and one has a Rotex rotary engine installed.
The brown and yellow Fokker with the anchor insignias is painted to represent Leutnant Klimke of Jasta 27, whose mother insisted that he have anchors on the plane for luck. He survived the war with 17 victories, so it worked.
The red and white Fokker represents Leutnant August Raben, who commanded Jasta 18. They were then called “Staffel Raben” and sported a raven image on their planes.
The all-red Dr.I represents the aircraft delivered to Jasta 11 on January 8th, 1918. It was this aircraft that was flown by the “ace of aces” Baron Manfred von Richthofen the day he was killed. The “Red Baron” had 80 confirmed victories and he was the leading ace of the Imperial German Army Air Service.