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Swissair Fokker F.VIIb-3 m (CH-192) piloted by Walter Mittelholzer in Kassala (Sudan), February 1934.
Role Passenger & military transport
Manufacturer Fokker
First flight 24 November 1924
Introduction 1925
Primary users SABENA
Polish Air Force
Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT
Produced 1925-1932
Developed from Fokker F.V
Variants Fokker F.10

The Josephine Ford at The Henry Ford.

The Southern Cross in 1943.

Fokker V.VIIb 3-m (CH-190) operated by Ad Astra Aero

Fokker F.VII at Tjililitan airfield, Batavia (now Jakarta, Indonesia)

A C-2 of the United States Army

The Fokker F.VII, also known as the Fokker Trimotor, was an airliner produced in the 1920s by the Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker, Fokker's American subsidiary Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, and other companies under licence.

Design and development

The F.VII was designed as a single-engined transport aircraft by Walter Rethel. Five planes of this model were built for the Dutch airline KLM. One of these planes, registered H-NACC, was used in 1924 for the first flight from the Netherlands to the Dutch East Indies. In 1925, while living in the US, Anthony Fokker heard of the inaugural Ford Reliability Tour, which was proposed as a competition for transport aircraft. Fokker had the company's head designer, Reinhold Platz, convert a single-engined F.VII A airliner (a 1924 Walter Rethel design) to a trimotor configuration powered by 200 hp Wright Whirlwind radial engines. The resulting aircraft was designated the Fokker F.VII A/3M. Following shipment to the US, it won the Ford Reliability Tour in late 1925. The Trimotor's structure comprised a fabric-covered steel tubing fuselage, and a plywood-skinned wooden wing.[1]

The Fokker F.VII B/3M had a slightly increased wing area over the A/3M, with power increased to 220 hp per engine, while the F.10 was slightly enlarged, carrying 12 passengers in an enclosed cabin. The aircraft became popularly known as the Fokker Trimotor.[2]

Operational history

The 8- to 12-passenger Fokker was the aircraft of choice for many early airlines, both in Europe and the Americas. Along with the similar Ford Trimotor, itself having an all-metal design based on the World War I aircraft designs of German engineer Hugo Junkers, it dominated the American market in the late 1920s. However, the popularity of the Fokker quickly came to an end after the 1931 death of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne in the crash of TWA Flight 599, a Fokker F.10. The subsequent investigation, which revealed problems with the Fokker's plywood-laminate construction, resulted in the temporary banning of the aircraft from commercial flights, more stringent requirements for its maintenance, and the rise of all-metal aircraft such as the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2.[3]

Pioneers and explorers

The F.VII was used by many explorers and aviation pioneers, including:

  • Richard E. Byrd claimed to have flown over the North Pole in the Fokker F.VIIa/3m Josephine Ford on 9 May 1926, a few days before Roald Amundsen accomplished the feat in the airship Norge.[4]
  • Two lieutenants of the United States Army Air Corps, Lester Maitland and Albert Hegenberger, made the first transpacific flight from the continental United States to Hawaii (c. 2,400 mi/3,862 km) in the Atlantic-Fokker C-2 Bird of Paradise on 28–29 June 1927.[4]
  • Also on 29 June 1927, Richard E. Byrd, Bernt Balchen and two others flew the first official transatlantic airmail in the civilian-owned C-2 America (NX206), crash-landing off the coast of France on 1 July.[5]
  • Lieutenant Colonel 'Dan' Minchin, Captain Leslie Hamilton and Princess Loewenstein-Wertheim attempted on 31 August 1927 to become the first aviators to cross the Atlantic from east to west using a Fokker F.VIIa named the St. Raphael. Their fate remains unknown.
  • James DeWitt Hill and Lloyd W. Bertaud made a failed attempt to fly from New York to Rome in F.VIIa Old Glory when they and the aircraft were lost in the North Atlantic 7 September 1927.
  • Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's F.VIIb/3m Southern Cross was the first aircraft to cross the Pacific from the United States to Australia in June 1928, and the first to cross the Tasman Sea, flying from Australia to New Zealand and back in September of that year.[6]
  • Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic on 17 June 1928, as a passenger aboard the Fokker F.VIIb/3m Friendship.[4]
  • A group of U. S. Army Air Corps flyers, led by then-Major Carl Spaatz, set an endurance record of over 150 hours with the Question Mark, a Fokker C-2A over Los Angeles on 1 to 7 January 1929. The purpose of this mission was to set a flight endurance record using aerial refueling.[7]


Single-engined transport aircraft, powered by a 360 hp (268.5 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle piston engine, accommodation for two crew and six passengers; five built.
F.VIIa (F.VIIa/1m)
Single-engined transport aircraft, slightly larger than F.VII with new undercarriage and wing. Flown on 12 March 1925. First aircraft had 420 hp (310 kW) V-12 Packard Liberty engine but remaining 39 F.VIIa had mostly radial Bristol Jupiter or Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines.
Version with two additional underwing engines, flown on 4 September 1925. The first two aircraft were identical to the F.VIIa. From the third aircraft, the fuselage was 31 in (80 cm) longer and was powered by with 200 hp (149 kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial engines. Probably only 18 were built while many F.VIIas were upgraded to the F.VIIa/3m standard.

First two Fokker F.VIIAs were converted into three-engined transport aircraft.

Main production version with greater span; 154 built including built under licence.
American built version of the Fokker F.VIIB-3m; built by the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation in the United States.
Fokker F.10
Enlarged version of the Fokker F.VII airliner, able to carry up to 12 passengers; built by the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation in the United States.
Military transport version of the Fokker F.9, powered by three 220 hp (164 kW) Wright J-5 radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 10 passengers; three built in 1926 for the US Army Air Corps.
Military transport version for the US Army Air Corps, with greater wingspan, powered by three 220 hp (164 kW) Wright J-5 radial piston engines, accommodation for two pilots and 10 passengers; eight built in 1928.
One C-2A fitted with three 330 hp (246 kW) Wright J-6-9 radial piston engines. Redesignated C-7 when four C-2A examples were similarly reconfigured.
Military transport conversion of C-2A for the US Army Air Corps by re-engining with 300 hp (220 kW) Wright R-975 engines. XC-7 prototype and four C-2As redesignated in 1931.
Six new production C-7 (Wright R-975) aircraft with larger wings, new vertical fin design, and fuselages patterned after the commercial F.10A.
Experimental light bomber version of the C-7, powered by three 410 hp (306 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1380 radial piston engines; one built.
Military transport version of the US Navy and Marine Corps; three built.
Military transport version for the US Navy; three built.
Military transport version for the US Navy, powered by three Wright J-6 radial piston engines; one built.
Redesignation of the TA-1.
Redesignation of the TA-2.
Redesignation of the TA-3.

Licenced copies

  • SABCA, 29 aircraft built.
  • Avia, 18 aircraft built.
  • Three aircraft built in Italy as the IMAM Ro.10.
  • Plage i Laśkiewicz. Between 1929 and 1930 11 passenger and 20 domestically developed (by Jerzy Rudlicki) bomber aircraft.
  • Three aircraft built in Spain.
  • Avro, 14 aircraft known as Avro 618 Ten.
  • Atlantic Aircraft Corporation


Civilian operators

  • SABENA operated 28 aircraft.
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark
  • Det Danske Luftfartselskab operated three F.VIIa aircraft.
  • CIDNA operated seven F.VIIa aircraft.
  • STAR operated one F.VIIa aircraft.
  • Malert operated two F.VIIa aircraft.
  • KLM received all five F.VII aircraft and 15 F.VIIas.
  • Aero operated six F.VIIa aircraft for a short period in 1928. Since 1 January 1929, all aircraft were handed over to PLL LOT airline.
  • Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT operated six F.VIIas and 13 F.VIIb/3ms between 1929 and 1939.
  • Aero Portuguesa operated one F.VIIb-3m aircraft.
  • Ad Astra Aero at least one F.VIIb-3m
  • Swissair operated one F.VIIa and eight F.VIIb-3m aircraft.
 United States
  • American Airways, which later became American Airlines.
  • TWA
  • Pan Am operated F.VIIb/3ms aircraft.

Military operators

 Belgian Congo
 Independent State of Croatia
  • French Air Force - 5 F.VIIa/3m and 2 F.VII/3m aircraft, impressed into military service in 1939/1940.
  • Polish Air Force operated 21 F.VIIb/3m (20 of them were licence-built) aircraft as bombers and transports between 1929 and 1939.
    • 1 Pułk Lotniczy
      • 211 Eskadra Bombowa
      • 212 Eskadra Bombowa
      • 213 Eskadra Bombowa
 Spanish Republic
 United States
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Accidents and incidents

  • On December 6, 1931, a KLM F.VIIb/3m, registration PH-AFO, crashed at Bangkok after failing to take off, killing five of seven on board.
  • On August 15, 1932, a Pan Am F.VIIb/3m named the General Machado crashed in the South Pacific due to fuel exhaustion and navigation errors.


Fokker F.VIIb/3m; Atlantic-Fokker C-2A

Data from [10]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 8 passengers
  • Length: 47 ft 11 in (14.60 m)
  • Wingspan: 71 ft 2 in (21.70 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 8 in (3.90 m)
  • Empty weight: 6,725 lb (3,050 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 11,570 lb (5,200 kg)
  • Powerplant: 3 × Wright J-5 Whirlwind radial engines, 220 hp (164 kW) each


  • Cruise speed: 92 kn (170 km/h)

See also


  1. Thurston, David B. (2000). The World's Most Significant and Magnificent Aircraft: Evolution of the Modern Airplane. SAE. pp. 127–128. ISBN 978-0-7680-0537-0. 
  2. "Fokker F-VII." Aeronautics Learning Laboratory. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  3. Mola, Roger. "CAA investigation of Flight 599.", 2003. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Baaker, Leo. "Famous Fokker Flights." 20 December 2010.
  5. "The Trans-Atlantic Flight of the 'America'.", 19 October 2010. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  6. Naughton, Russell. "The Pioneers - Charles Kingsford Smith." Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  7. "Question Mark." USAF Historical Studies Office. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  8. Baugher, Joe. "Cargo Aircraft Designations." US transports, 11 August 2007. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  9. Painter, K.M. "Help From The Skies." Popular Mechanics, November 1929.
  10. "Fokker." Aero Favourites. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  • Bowers, Peter and Ernest McDowell. Triplanes: A Pictorial History of the World's Triplanes and Multiplanes. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1993. ISBN 0-87938-614-2.
  • Dierikx, Marc. Fokker: A Transatlantic Biography. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997. ISBN 1-56098-735-9.
  • Molson, K.M. Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. Winnipeg: James Richardson & Sons, Ltd., 1974. ISBN 0-919212-39-5.
  • Nevin, David. The Pathfinders (The Epic of Flight Series). Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1980. ISBN 0-8094-3256-0.
  • Postma, Thijs. Fokker: Aircraft Builders to the World. London: Jane's, 1979. ISBN 0-7106-0059-3.
  • Weyl, A.R. Fokker: The Creative Years. London: Putnam, 1965.

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