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The battle for aerial supremacy was raging over the front lines during World War I when the German ace Werner Voss scored his first victory at the controls of an unusual new fighter plane with three wings. Painted bright blue, with eyes and a mustache depicted on the engine cowling, Voss' new fighter soon became an all-too-familiar sight to Allied pilots. Between August 30 and September 23, 1917 Voss' triplane shot down no less than 21 Allied aircraft.

Designed by Reinhold Platz and produced by Anthony Fokker, Voss' fighter was one of three prototypes of the famed Fokker DR-1 triplane.  The other two prototypes were delivered to Baron Manfred von Richthofen, the respected and feared "Red Baron" who was to become Germany's leading World War I ace.

The Fokker DR-1 had been produced in response to the success of England's Sopwith triplane. When one of the Sopwiths landed behind German lines, Fokker examined it and then gave Platz, his chief designer, general instruction for the type of plane he wanted. Since only the 110 horsepower Le Rhone engine was available for the triplane, Platz had to sacrifice speed in favor of maneuverability and a swift rate of climb .To achieve these objectives, his design emphasized streamlining and eliminated many of wing wires then characteristic of fighters.

Although the DR-1 could achieve only 115 miles per hour at low altitudes, its climb rate and maneuverability were a revelation to skilled pilots like von Richthofen, who claimed it "climbed like a monkey and maneuvered like the devil."  The remarkable little fighter could climb so steeply  that it seemed to "hang" on its propeller while its pilot fired a stream
of bullets into the unprotected belly of an Allied plane.

By November 1917 the DR-1 was fully operational, and von Richthofen's renowned squadron, nicknamed the Flying Circus, was equipped with the nimble aircraft. The squadron distinguished itself in combat throughout that winter, and by April 21,1918, when von Richthofen himself was was shot down, the great German ace has amassed a total of 80 aerial victories. Only about 300 Fokker DR-1s were ever produced, yet it is one of the better known World War I aircraft.


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