.: Jon Bunce's ICM 1/72nd Fokker EIV

Fokker then developed wings with a greater span and created the E III, which became the first German fighter aircraft to be mass-produced in large numbers. It came into service from August 1915 and offered significant advantages over the two other Fokker monoplanes, in particular a significantly improved rate of climb. However, the machine gun had a tendency to freeze up and the synchronizer gear was quick to fail when temperatures came down too low in winter or when flying at high altitudes. Nevertheless, the Fokker E III enabled the German armed forces to more or less retain their air superiority until spring 1916. The availability of suitable engines remained a significant problem because production at the Oberursel Motoren Werken was much slower than the manufacture of fuselages at Fokker. Attempts to use other engines, for example from Siemens & Halske or Goebel, were ultimately unsuccessful. Overall, it’s likely that 79 Fokker EI and E II and 258 Fokker E III aircraft were built.

The successor model to the Fokker E III, the E IV, was already being manufactured in November 1915. Fitted with a 120 kW Oberursel rotary radial engine, the aircraft had an increased span and was additionally fitted with two machine guns. Thanks to the much more powerful engine, the aircraft was significantly faster than its predecessor, although less manoeuvrable. Only a small number of E IV aircraft, in the hands of seasoned pilots, went into service. This was mainly due to the lack of availability of the 120 kW Oberursel engine caused by very slow production.

The primary significance of the Fokker E aircraft lies in their far-reaching influence on the conduct of future aerial combat. Like everywhere else, there were still no independent fighter squadrons on the German side. The newly introduced E aircraft were distributed in pairs or singly to the air squadrons where they were actually intended for fighter escort duties. However, their pilots soon developed specific fighter tactics. Pilots like Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelke developed the first tactics for fighter missions mainly in the Fokker E III and transformed aerial combat. Aerial manoeuvres like the famous “Immelmann Turn” have remained a fixed element of military flying tactics to this day. The Fokker E III enabled the German side to achieve air superiority for the first time. And this advantage was quickly expanded by concentrating these fighter aircraft in their own units in late autumn of 1915, the single-seater fighter units. The first fighter squadrons were subsequently developed from these units. The new organization made deployment of fighters particularly effective. Initially, the Western Allies had no immediate response to the “Fokker plague”, but in spring 1916 they deployed the newly developed fighter biplanes, for example the Nieuport 11 “Bebe”. These planes were more manoeuvrable and often faster than the E.III so that air superiority moved back to the Western Allies. The Fokker monoplane quickly disappeared from the front in summer 1916 to be replaced by the first German fighter biplane.

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