Regular readers of aviation publications will be aware of the recent import into Australia of 4 WW1 Fokker reproductions, 3 from Germany built by Achim Engles and another airworthy example from the USA.
On the 15th of July there was a celebration to introduce all the arrival of the Warbirds to the Australian public – entitled “Meet the Fokkers”
A large group of supporters and aviation enthusiasts attended the function, held at Caboolture Airfield. Guests were greeted by a live brass band playing German music appropriate to the occasion and were able to sample German food and beer.
Following the welcome the guests were directed to Caboolture’s Hanger 106 where the main business of the day was enacted.
The excitement built as guests were greeted by the sight of the 4 Fokker aircraft shrouded in covers looking somehow sinister in the shadows of the hanger.
Andrew Carter, the founder of The Australian Vintage Aviation Society (TAVAS) and originator of the project to bring the Fokkers aircraft to Australia gave a presentation on the background of TAVAS (which he founded) and the future of the aircraft and their wartime use, almost 100 years ago.
Throughout the night the atmosphere was enhanced by a group of accurately uniformed German re enactors who posed with the aircraft and guests and during the presentation moved the Fokkers about. They were a big hit on the night!
Each Fokker in turn was unveiled and pushed forward into the floodlight while Andrew gave a synopsis of its development and war time use. As each aircraft was revealed the large crowd burst into spontaneous applause.
First up was the Fokker E111 Eindekker from 1915 which was the first successful Fokker fighter and spurned the famous “Fokker scourge” in which, for a period, they dominated the allied aircraft of the time until more advanced aircraft came on the scene. This particular example was constructed as an early “Wing Warping” aircraft in which the wing has no hinged control surfaces, rather utilizing a system of pulleys and wires to distort or “warp” one or other of the wings to achieve a change of direction or altitude. The aircraft performed well despite this novel control system. This was not however considered a practical way forward and future Fokker aircraft all adopted the more conventional aileron controls.
A highlight of the evening was the revelation that the Eindekker was fitted with a partially completed “New Build” Gnome engine from New Zealand manufacturer Classic Aero Engines (CAMS). This is the first reproduction engine of its type and was flown to Australia for the launch and will now return to CAMS for completion before returning to Andrew for installation in the Eindekker. The task of scratch building such an engine cannot be underestimated and the standard of workmanship is truly amazing – such work will enable more WW1 types to fly with accurate and appropriate engines in future.
Next aircraft to be presented was the Fokker Dr1 “Triplane” most famously represented as the Mount of Baron Manfred Von Richftoffen “The Red Baron” , as previously reported this aircraft has an extensive flying history in the USA and is due to fly in Australia very soon. Currently powered by a modern Lycoming flat 4 engine engine, this is intended in the fullness of time to be fitted with another more appropriate rotary reproduction engine
Next aircraft was the Fokker DVII and is the aircraft requiring the most work to complete as it still has to have work finished on the lower wing and much detail work – it was however remarkably complete on the night and it is anticipated that it will be the last of the 4 flying by mid to late 2014. A decision on the engine to be fitted to this aircraft has not been made as there is a distinct shortage of Mercedes 6 Cylinder in line engines from WW1 but several alternatives are being considered and a choice will be made soon.
Last to be revealed was the Fokker DVIII being the most complete of the German built machines and has been fitted initially with a Rotec Radial engine as an interim measure – this looking quite at home in the round cowling. Very little major work remains on this aircraft prior to flight testing – attention being devoted to a myriad of detail work and the remainder of the engine installation tasks
Andrew then outlined the aircrafts future operation with the DrI about to fly, followed by the DVIII and then EIII and finally the DVII progressively over the next 12-18 months. The Fokkers will join other TAVAS members aircraft, including Bruce Clarkes recently flown Sopwith Pup. Bruce’s currently under construction Nieuport 24, a Sopwith Camel and another EIII as well as other machines being constructed elsewhere in Australia.
TAVAS intends to ensure that the 100th anniversary of WW1 in Australia features the role played by Australians in the air war and to this end will be participating various ceremonies and functions across the country as far as the aircraft are capable of operating to record the brave efforts of our ANZAC airmen.
One important aspect of the evening was the time taken by Andrew to thank the all the people who have assisted in TAVAS efforts so far; and there are a whole host of them. TAVAS is a not for profit organization and is constantly indebted to many great people who have donated time, material and financially to bring these aircraft to reality. Principle of these benefactors must be Achim Engles whose generosity in making the 3 German Fokkers available to TAVAS on very long term loan. His workmanship and commitment are second to none.
None of this of course would have been possible without Andrew himself as he pursues his passion to establish TAVAS and bring these aircraft from a dream to this tangible reality.
Ideally the future for the TAVAS Fokkers at Caboolture will be to accommodate them in a purpose built Museum with other historic aircraft including the Bristol Beaufort rebuild resident on the field. Planning for this is already under way.
Since the 3 Engles built aircraft arrived in Australia a large amount of work has already been achieved and planning is well underway to complete them as soon as possible however as with all projects of this type more help is always required and financial assistance is always an ongoing requirement.
TAVAS needs help to fund its ongoing commitment in order to complete the 3 Fokkers and fly them. Details of how you can help and participate in the project can be seen on the TAVAS website.
© John Parker 2013