DescriptionThe Fokker F.VII, also known as the Fokker Trimotor, was an airliner produced in the 1920s by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, Fokker's American subsidiary Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, and other companies under licence.
The F.VII was designed as a single-engined transport aircraft by Walter Rethel. Five examples of this model were built for the Dutch airline KLM. One of these aircraft, registered H-NACC, was used in 1924 for the first flight from the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies. In 1925, while living in the US, Anthony Fokker heard of the inaugural Ford Reliability Tour, which was proposed as a competition for transport aircraft. Fokker had the company's head designer, Reinhold Platz, convert a single-engined F.VIIa airliner (a 1924 Walter Rethel design) to a trimotor configuration, powered by 200 hp Wright Whirlwind radial engines. The resulting aircraft was designated the Fokker F.VIIa/3m. Following shipment to the US, it won the Ford Reliability Tour in late 1925. The Trimotor's structure consisted of a fabric-covered steel-tube fuselage and a plywood-skinned wooden wing.
The Fokker F.VIIb/3m had a slightly increased wing area over the F.VIIa/3m, with power increased to 220 hp per engine, while the F.10 was slightly enlarged, carrying 12 passengers in an enclosed cabin. The aircraft became popularly known as the Fokker Trimotor.
The eight- to 12-passenger Fokker was the aircraft of choice for many early airlines, both in Europe and the Americas, and it dominated the American market in the late 1920s. However, the popularity of the Fokker quickly waned after the 1931 crash of a Transcontinental & Western Air Fokker F.10, which resulted in the death of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. The investigation revealed problems with the Fokker's plywood-laminate construction, resulting in a temporary ban from commercial flights, more stringent maintenance requirements, and a shift to all-metal aircraft such as the similar Ford Trimotor and later Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2.
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's F.VIIb/3m Southern Cross was the first aircraft to cross the Pacific from the United States to Australia in June 1928, and the first to cross the Tasman Sea, flying from Australia to New Zealand and back in September of that year.
To r ead a summary of other pioneers an explorers who used F.VII's, and the 18 variants, click here.
The specifications below are for the VIIb/3M variant, as used by Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
- Crew: 2 Capacity: 8 passengers
- 14.50 m (47 ft 7 in)
- 21.71 m (71 ft 3 in)
- Wing Area:
- 67.6 sq m (728 sq ft)
- Empty Weight:
- 3,100 kg (6,834 lb)
- Gross weight: 5,300 kg (11,684 lb)
- 3 × Wright J-6 Whirlwind 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 220 kW (300 hp) each
- Maximum speed: 210 km/h (130 mph, 110 kn)
- Cruise Speed:
- 178 km/h (111 mph, 96 kn)
- 1,200 km (750 mi, 650 nmi)
- Takeoff Dist.:
- 225 m (738 ft)
- Landing Dist.:
- 225 m (738 ft)
- Service Ceiling:
- 4,400 m (14,400 ft)