The Fokker Dr.1 Triplane is one of the most famous and distinctive aircraft of the Great War. When the British Royal Naval Air Service introduced Sopwith Triplanes on the Western Front early in 1917, they were an immediate success. In response, the German air ministry asked several manufactures to design and build trip lanes for the Kaiser's air force.
The Dr. 1 was the most successful, despite some serious teething problems. The first triplanes did not have "I" struts on the outer wings. The top wing flexed ominously and, in at least one case, broke off, killing 39-victory ace Heinrich Gontermann.
When the problems were overcome, the Dr. 1 became the mount of choice of many high-scoring German aces including Werner Voss (48 victories) and the legendary "Red Baron," Manfred von Richtofen (80 victories). The triplane served from the autumn of 1917 until the Armistice.
The Dr. 1 was slower than most of its contemporaries but it had an exceptional rate of climb and a very tight turning radius. None of the 300 plus Fokker Triplanes have survived. Ironically the last one, displayed in a Berlin museum, was destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II.
Manufactured in Hicksville, Ohio, the Museum’s Dr.1 is a replica aircraft. It was the first aircraft built by a young aviation enthusiast named Dean Husted, who constructed it in 1980 in his father’s barn. Dean flew the aircraft for two years. It passed through several owners before the Museum acquired it. It is painted in a color scheme similar to that of the leading ace of WWI, Manfred von Richthofen. The “Red Fighter Pilot” or “Red Baron” as he was called, achieved nineteen of his 80 victories in the Dr.1. It was also in a Dr.1 that he was killed. Out of respect, the Australian Army gave him a burial with full military honors.