Manfred von Richthofen’s all red Fokker Dr.I is easily one of the most famous aircraft of all time, easily recognised by historians, aviation enthusiasts and people with little other aviation knowledge alike. It is now pretty much accepted by all (except some Canadians) that an Australian was responsible for shooting down the Red Baron – most likely Sergeant Cedric Popkin of the 24th Machine Gun Company.
His aircraft crashed in an Australian-held sector of the Somme Front on April 22nd, 1918 and Australian soldiers were the first to the crash site. Australians were the first to lift souvenirs from his aircraft (many of which are now housed in the National War Memorial in Canberra), and it was the Australian Flying Corps that buried Von Richthofen with full military honours.
There are no original Fokker Dr.I’s left anywhere in the world. The last one (one of Manfred Von Richthofen’s aircraft – 152/17) was hanging in a museum in Berlin and was destroyed during an allied bombing mission in WW2.
The TAVAS example was purchased from the United States. It was constructed from both the Ron Sands plans and the Walt Redfern plans and is for the most part, incredibly accurate. The main deviations from authenticity being the use of disk brakes for safety, a tail wheel instead of a skid and a modern Lycoming engine.
It is the only ‘pillar box red’ Fokker Dr.I flying in Australia. There was one example flying in the 1990’s, operated by the RAAF Museum at Point Cook. However it was severely overweight and overpowered by its Continental R-670 radial engine, hence being nowhere near as pleasant to handle as the originals. It ended up in storage with the AWM in Canberra. It was then moved and is now on display at the Museum of Army Aviation in Oakey Queensland.
Length: 5.77 m (18 ft 11 in)
Wingspan: 7.20 m (23 ft 7 in)
Height: 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
Wing Area: 18.70 m2 (201 ft2)
Empty Weight: 406 kg (895 lb)
Loaded Weight: 586 kg (1,292 lb)
Powerplant: 1 x 110 hp (82 kW) Oberursel UR.II 9-cylinder rotary engine
Maximum speed: 185 km/h (115 mph, 100 knots) at sea level
Stall speed: 72 km/h (45 mph)
Range: 300 km (185 miles)
Service ceiling: 6,095 m (20,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 5.7 m/s (1,130 ft/min) Lift-to-drag ratio: 8.0
2 x 7.92 mm (.312 in) Spandau lMG08 machine guns
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