The legendary Fokker D.VII is widely considered the best German fighter aircraft to emerge from the Great War, it was certainly the most numerous and as such was the only aircraft specifically requested to be surrendered in the Allies armistice terms. In early 1918 the young Jasta pilots were mainly equipped with Albatros D.Va, Pfalz D.IIIa and the Fokker Dr.1 Triplane which were no match for the SE.5a, SPAD 13 and Sopwith Camels that they faced each day. Fokker’s prototype D.VII (the V.11) impressed the front line pilots present at the First Fighter Trials in January-February 1918 so much that word soon started to leak out about a new Fokker that would once again return air superiority to the Germans. So great was the need for this promising new fighter that, in addition to production at Fokker, Albatros were ordered to manufacture it under license at their Johannisthal (Alb) and Schneidemühl (OAW - Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke) factories, incidentally building nearly twice the number of D.VII as Fokker!
In keeping with previous Fokker design practices the D.VII featured a welded steel tube fuselage and tailplane along with thick ‘high lift’ wings of conventional wood and wire construction. A few early production machines were powered by the 180hp Daimler-Mercedes D.IIIa but most production aircraft were fitted with the 200hp D.IIIaü, although a small number received the new BMW IIIa 185ps (rated at 230hp by the British) ‘altitude’ engine. Interestingly, although only shown in a handful of known photos, some late production Fokker D.VII were powered by the long outclassed 160hp Daimler-Mercedes D.III engine. Initially supplied in small number to the most experienced pilots of the elite Jagdgeschwader 1 from late April 1918 the Fokker D.VII quickly started to make a name for itself and allied pilots suddenly found that they could no longer count on their superior performance at higher altitudes. In the middle of 1918 the Fokker D.VII was plagued with a series of often fatal mid-air fires variously attributed to overheating, fuel tank stress damage and the volatile incendiary ammunition used for ‘balloon busting’. An immediate response to this was removing the top cowlings for improved cooling followed by modified side cowlings with louvers to ventilate the engine bay more efficiently. By the end of the Great War the Fokker D.VII was the main aircraft type equipping the German Jastas and despite the Daimler-Mercedes powered D.VII being very well received, it was the Fokker D.VII fitted with the coveted BMW IIIa ‘altitude’ engine that all Jasta pilots longed to fly. Towards the end of the war a number of D.VII were ordered for the Austro-Hungarian Luftfahrtruppe to be built by Fokker (225), Aviatik (255) and MAG (150). Following the Armistice the Fokker D.VII found its way into numerous countries air forces including Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Soviet Union, Sweden, Switzerland and the American USAS and USMC. Any history of this important aircraft here is of necessity very brief so we encourage you to seek out any, or all, of the references listed below.
WW1 colour schemes are contentious at the best of times and we have done our best to provide what we consider to be accurate painting information for this model. The colourful unit and personal markings applied to the various German fighters of the Great War have attracted more than their fair share of debate over the years and, while we have been as meticulous as we could be, I’m sure some will not find our choices to their liking. On OAW built D.VII the fuselage framework and other welded metal components appear to have been painted light grey-green but often the front 3 ‘cabane’ struts appear to have been painted in the same dark green used on the cowl panels. OAW built D.VII have been recorded as being covered in 4 and 5 colour preprinted lozenge material. Rib tapes were applied to the wings and horizontal tailplane (but not the ailerons, elevators, fin or rudder) and these usually appear very pale in photos indicating they were light blue although some aircraft had tapes cut from lozenge fabric. Additionally, rib tape reapplication at unit level and replacement wings from Fokker, Albatros or other OAW built D.VII increase the opportunity for variations. In many cases it appears that the preprinted lozenge material was given a brown tinted dope ‘glaze’ finish to tone down the vibrant printed colours. Additionally many colourful unit and personal markings were applied in Jasta service, all of which remain amongst the liveliest of topics for modellers to debate.