The legendary Fokker Eindecker, armed with a machine gun synchronized to fire through the propeller, made its 1st official kill on the 1st day of August 1915. It was a 80hp Oberursel U.0 (license built 80hp Gnome) powered wing warping Fokker E.1 flown by Max Immelmann and marked the beginning of the “Fokker scourge”. Inspired by the capture on 18 April 1915 of Roland Garros and his Morane-Saulnier Type L Parasol fitted with a forward firing machine gun (using armoured deflector plates to protect the propeller from ‘serious’ bullet damage) the Germans set about coming up with their own version. Legendarily, the 25 year old Anthony Fokker created his own interrupter gear in just 48 hours after being inspired by the capture of Garros, but this is undoubtedly a myth. A mechanical interrupter gear had been patented in 1913 by Hans Schneider of LVG but it was not until Fokker perfected it, or a similarly inspired design, that it worked sufficiently well enough to be employed in combat. Lawsuits filed by Schneider against Fokker continued up until September 1933.
Fokker’s unarmed 80hp and 100hp reconnaissance A type Eindeckers (inspired by a successful pre-war wing warping Morane-Saulnier design but with a welded steel tube frame fuselage) provided the airframes for further development and E.1 (armed Eindecker 80hp) types started shipping to front line units in June 1915. Although initially armed with a Parabellum LMG 14, which proved less than satisfactory, very soon into production they were fitted with the lMG 08 ‘Spandau’. The 100hp Oberursel U.1 (license built 100hp Gnome Monosoupape) powered E.II was developed concurrently with the E.1 and started entering service in July 1915. The E.III (externally identical to late production E.II) followed in August 1915 and from about October updated E.III started appearing with internal ammunition storage and a wing mounted compass. The 160hp Oberursel U.III powered Fokker E.IV, initially fitted with 3 lMG 08 machine guns (which proved to be 1 gun to many) first appeared in September 1915 but did not arrive at the front in larger numbers until March-April 1916. By this time the appearance of the highly maneuverable French Nieuport 11 and British DH.2 had marked the beginning of the end of the “Fokker scourge”, effectively rendering the wing warping German monoplanes obsolete. Most Eindeckers had been withdrawn from front line service by December 1916.
Any history here is of necessity very brief so we recommend that you seek out the references mentioned below for the better understanding of the various Fokker Eindeckers, but we do so with the following caution; considerable confusion exists about these important aircraft (in no small part because of incorrect or conflicting Idflieg and Fokker factory records). Because of this we highly recommend you treat published drawings & specifications with a great deal of skepticism. We believe that Josef Scott’s Windsock Datafile Fokker Eindecker Compendium 2 published in 2012 is currently the most reliable reference book covering these highly misunderstood aircraft.
It appears that Fokker Eindecker steel tube framework and fittings were painted in light grey or grey-green while all aluminium panels and cowls remained unpainted and were given a ‘squiggly turned’ finish. Despite conventional wisdom, photographic evidence shows that no Fokker Eindeckers were factory finished in Clear Doped Linen (CDL) which was translucent. Contemporary allied combat reports record Fokker Eindecker colours such as “dark brown”, “dark brown wings on the upper side”, “grey”, “straw yellow”, “white”, “black” and “butcher blue”. A French report mentions that “the fabric of the Fokker wings was generally beige in 1916” while capture reports of later production E.III 196/16 and E.III 210/16 simply mention “beige”. It is likely that “beige” and “straw yellow” are actually the same colour and “white” and “black” refer to misidentified Pfalz Eindeckers. It would appear that the linen covering was dyed, possibly before being fitted to the aircraft, or colour doped after being attached but before being finished with clear shrinking dope and varnish. Most Fokker Eindeckers exhibit heavy caster oil staining along their fuselages which soaked through the fabric from the inside, considerably darkening the coloured fabric.