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After making a fortune by building outstanding fighter planes for Germany during first World War, the flamboyant Dutch aircraft manufacturer Anthony Fokker turned his talents to commercial aircraft. In his new venture, Fokker, one of the most colorful pioneers of the early days of aviation, was extremely successful.
Up until 1925, he concentrated on single-engine airliners, the most famous of which, the Fokker F-VII, was the dominant European airliner of its time. However, when Henry Ford organized his first annual Ford Reliability Tour for airplanes in the autumn that year, Fokker quickly ordered his factory in Amsterdam to add an additional engine under each wing of the F-VII and to ship the plane to America to compete for the Ford Trophy. Thus was born the Fokker F-VII Trimotor, probably the most popular airliner in the world during the 1920s. This dependable aircraft was to make aviation history many times.
The Trimotor became the first three-engine airliner in the United States when it was entered in the 1925 Ford Reliability Tour. Sixteen other planes were also in this competition, which included 1,900 miles of flying and landings in 13 Midwestern cities. Piloting his high-wing monoplane himself much of the time, Fokker easily placed first. Immediately thereafter he ordered his three-engine transport into production.
The F-VII--which appeared in both an "A" and "B" version--was powered by three Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial engines. One of the most reliable aircraft engines ever produced, the Wright Whirlwind was rated at from 200 to 240 horsepower. The Fokker airliner originally had a wingspan of 63.4 feet, but its wings were extended in the "B" version to a span of 71.2 feet. Top speed was just under 130 mph.
Fokker's F-VII probably had more "firsts" to its credit than any other aircraft--before or since. For example, in 1926 an F-VII named the Josephine Ford carried Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett over the North Pole. In 1928 Australia's Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith spanned the Pacific Ocean from Oakland, California to Brisbane, Australia in his Southern Cross . And as a passenger in the Fokker Friendship, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly the Atlantic Ocean.
The preceding information was extracted from the pamphlet,
"The Great Airplanes Sterling Silver Miniature Collection", published by The Franklin Mint, 1979.
Permission was granted to ALLSTAR by The Franklin Mint to use the preceding materials.
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Updated: March 12, 2004