S u m m a r y
||Hard Cover; 224 pages
||Recommended Retail Price in
Australia - AUD$99.95
Available from Squadron for USD$49.97
||Superb artwork, sheer number of
triplane photographs; many multi-view photos of specific subjects;
some misconceptions corrected; high quality stock.
||Sloppy captioning, some myths
||Recommended with caution
Dr.I Triplane is available online from Squadron.com
The Fokker Dr.I is one of the most recognizable aircraft to have flown
in WWI. For a period it was Germany’s best fighter, it’s reputation
enhanced by the Aces that flew it. Although slower than contemporary
fighters, it’s manoeuvrability made it stand out from the crowd. Its
pilots were seemingly able to engage and break off combat at will.
The type was troubled by careless manufacturing practices as well as
Anthony Fokker’s desire to skimp on materials where he could. This lead to
a compromise in the aircraft’s structural strength, which was to reveal
itself only a few weeks after the type entered service. Several wing
failures led the triplane to be grounded until modified replacement wings
could be manufactured.
In all, only 320 triplanes were made, mainly due to the imminent
production of better fighters.
The Fokker Dr.I has fascinated historians over the years, but accurate
information on the subject has been hard to sort out. This isn’t helped by
the lack of a complete surviving example. Most of what we know about the
airframe itself comes from a report written by the British after they
captured Fok.Dr.I 144/17.
It is therefore with great expectation that one opens a book on a subject
where the author has had a life long interest. I remember reading one of
Paul Leeman’s articles on the triplane in an issue of Airfix magazine
dating back to July 1969. A lot of new information has come forward since
then, some of it dispelling old myths, some of it adding to the confusion.
This book attempts to cover all aspects of this aircraft as well as the
early exploits of Anthony Fokker and his Company. It does this on 224
pages of high quality stock, which is divided into ten chapters and the
photo reproduction is good with many prints being clearer than the same
negative in other publications. Predictably some of the images are
frustratingly small but this is understandable, as having them all in a
large format would have increased the size of the book and made it
prohibitively expensive. Credit must also be given to the publisher for
allowing the printing of some “poorer” quality photographs. In these cases
they are all we have of some fascinating aircraft that would otherwise not
reach the public and be known to only the “historians”.
Besides the usual chapters on development and deployment, there are some
interesting excerpts from the diaries of Jacobs and Tutschek about flying
the triplane. A British perspective is also given where we get the account
of how Voss was able to cause mayhem before his demise.
A useful chapter on construction follows where ample use is made of
detailed drawings. These correct some, but not all of the misconceptions
found in previous works.
There are chapters on pilots, finishing, unit and individual markings with
one of the best ideas being a section that contains a collection of Jasta
“flight line” photos.
Having gotten the bouquets out of the way, there are some parts of the
book that disappoint. Sadly there are numerous captioning errors and myths
hidden in the text. Some should have been picked up in the proof reading
stage, others should not have been written at all.
A sample of the problem captions is listed below:
Page 26 – Sadly the myth about Platz being
the designer at the Fokker factory is perpetuated here. This information
comes from the long discredited book written by Weyl called “Fokker – The
Page 38 – This is definitely not FI 102/17.
Comparison of the streaking to known pictures of FI 102/17 prove this.
Similar comparisons to FI 103/17 show that it is more likely FI 101/17.
Page 50 – This is actually Manfred von
Richthofen about to take off, not Voss.
Page 70 – The starboard side access panel was
for the oil pump, not the magneto.
Page 74 – Did MvR’s dog really answer to
“Max” when his name was Moritz.
Page 76 – Jasta 32 did not have triplanes
allocated to it and those pictured are from Jasta 36. The original mistake
with identification could possibly have been due to the Jasta 32 pilots in
Page 78 – Here we see two views of Baumer’s
209/17. The exact same photos are repeated on page 144
Page 103 – The underneath of the triplane
axial wing did not have what appears to be six attachment points. This
area was in one piece.
Page 116 – The main throttle was on the
control column, not on the inner fuselage structure.
Page 133 – The inserted photo is obviously
not MvR’s “all red triplane”. A quick look at the struts and fuselage
marking show this. The Jasta 6 square magneto access panel is also a
“giveaway”. Even more surprising is that this same photo is reproduced on
page 70 with the correct Jasta 6 caption.
Page 143 – Baumer was killed during a test
flight (doing “aerobatics”) in a Rohrbach Rofix fighter on 15 July 1927 in
Copenhagen. Franks, Bailey and Guest explain this in “Over the Lines”.
Page 148 – Alex Imrie explains why this
marking is red and not black, in “German Fighter Units June 1917 – 1918”.
It was his family coat of arms.
Page 137 – Once again these triplanes are
from Jasta 36, not Jasta 32. Strange captions indeed as the book itself
does not even mention Jasta 32 in its chapter on triplane distribution.
Page 155 – Surely the missing paint below the
cockpit identifies this triplane as 425/17.
Page 174 – the pilot is obviously sitting in
his Fokker D.VII, not a Dr.I (check the top wing).
Page 175 – again a Fokker D.VII is
misidentified for a triplane (note the engine side panel).
Appendix – Confusion in some of the tables
Unfortunately there are many more such errors, with text also suffering
from the misspelling of place and pilot names.
There are times when the order of the triplane photos becomes frustrating.
For example it would have been nice to have all the photos of Baumer’s
204/17 on the one page instead of having them distributed over pages 78,
143, 144, and 165 (flight line photos excluded). That way a particular
aircraft can be studied more easily. Maybe organizing them in ascending
Jasta order would have been a better option in the “main deployment” or
One of the highlights of this book is undoubtedly the colour profiles by
Harry Dempsey. As expected from this illustrator, we don’t just get a
generic streaked aircraft to which the individual colours are applied. An
effort has been made to copy the appropriate pattern and details relevant
to each machine. Most of these profiles have been published elsewhere but
there are still some new offerings to delight the reader.
The main strength of this book lies in the sheer number of Fokker Dr.I
photographs. To have so many images published in the one title is every
enthusiast’s dream. Naturally many have been seen before but there are
plenty that will be new to the majority of readers.
In a lot of cases there are alternate views to aircraft that that have
long since only had their “best side” published. This is surely a boon to
The lavish presentation of the material in the book will lure many new
advocates to the triplane. Unfortunately some of the information will lead
them astray so other publications for cross referencing is a must.
Recommended with caution.
“Fokker Dr.I –Datafile Special” (Albatros
“Fokker Triplane”, Alex Imrie (Arms and
“A Cure for Dreideckeritis”, Windsock Vol 9/4
“Over the Lines” by Franks, Bailey and Guest.
“German Fighter Units June 1917 – 1918” Alex
Imrie (Osprey Publishing)
“Fokker Dr.I - A reappraisal”, Peter Grosz
(Air International #Eight)
Review Copyright © 2003 by
This Page Created on 31 October, 2003
Last updated 31 October, 2003
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