Aviation Archive Issue 25 - 2016 UK

(Jacob Rumans) #1


Fokker GI

Type: Twin-engined fighter
Crew: Two/three
Length: 35ft 8in (10.87m)
Wingspan: 56ft 3in (17.16m)
Height: 12ft 4in (3.8m)
Empty weight: 7,330lb (3,325kg)
Max T/O: 11,023lb (5,000kg)
Max Speed: 295mph (475km/h)
Range: 938 miles (1,510km)
Powerplant: Two Bristol Mercury VIII
nine-cylinder air-cooled
single-row piston radial
engines of 730hp each
Armament: 8 × 0.3in (7.9mm)
forward-firing FN-
Browning machine guns
in the nose, 1× 0.3in
(7.9mm) in rear turret


he twin-boom Fokker GI caused a
sensation when it was unveiled in
1936 and is often credited as being
the inspiration behind the design of the
Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Although in
production prior to World War 2, its combat
introduction came at a time when the
Netherlands was overrun. A few GIs were
able to score some victories, but most were
captured by Germany.
Even before it had flown, the Fokker GI
created headlines when it was exhibited at the
1936 Salon de l’Aeronautique in Paris. Its
double boom fuselage and formidable
armament (eight machine guns clustered in
the nose and a ninth in the rear) quickly
earned it the nickname Le Faucheur (reaper).
The Fokker GI was designed by engineers
Beeling and Erich Schatski as a fighter-cruiser,
to intercept bombers and to fly light ground
support/long-distance recce missions. In order
to suit this role the aircraft had to be fast,
sturdy and heavily armed.
Like all Fokker aircraft of the period, the GI
was of mixed construction; the front of the
central pod was built around a welded frame,
covered with aluminium plating. However, the
back of the central pod, and the wings were
completely constructed of wood. Power was
supplied by a pair of Hispano-Suiza 14AB-02/
series engines delivering 650hp each. First
flight was on 16 March 1937 and the results
proved promising, although early testing was

Fokker GI

brought to a halt when a supercharger
exploded in mid-flight. After review of the
incident, the Hispano-Suiza powerplants were
replaced by Pratt & Whitney SB4-G Twin Wasp
Junior radial piston engines.
During testing, the company received a
contract from Spain for 26 ‘export’ versions,
though the Dutch government eventually
embargoed the deal, and requistioned the
aircraft for its own use.
Meanwhile the Dutch Luchtvaartafdeeling
ordered 36 GIs with Bristol Mercury VIII engines,
in order to equip two squadrons. The first four
were built as three-seaters intended for ground-
attack, while the remainder were completed
as two-seat fighters. During the lead-up to
hostilities, a total of 26 GIs were operational
with the 3rd Jachtvliegtuigafdeling (JaVA) at
Rotterdam (Waalhaven Airfield), and 4th JaVA
Fighter Group at Bergen near Alkmaar. The
aircraft were actively involved in border patrols
and in order to ensure neutrality, on 20 March
1940, a GI from 4th JaVA forced down an RAF
Whitley after it had strayed into Dutch air space.

When Germany launched its offensive on
the Netherlands, it aimed its might on Bergen
and Waalhaven airfields, decimating the Fokker
GI force. During the short five-day conflict,
the available GIs largely flew ground attack
missions, strafing advancing German infantry
units, but were also used to attack Junkers
Ju 52/3m transports, scoring up to 14 confirmed
kills. When the Netherlands fell, the remaining
GIs were handed over to the Luftwaffe, which
continued to use the type in small numbers. The
remainder of the Spanish order was completed
at the Fokker plant by mid-1941 and the aircraft
were assigned as trainers for Bf 110 crews.

Above: The Fokker GI displaying its revolutionary
twin-boom layout. The crew compartment was
held in a centralised streamlined nacelle. The
pilot maintained a dominant position at the
front, overlooking the nose and both engines.
The rear gunner (also doubling as the radio
operator and navigator) sat directly aft of the
pilot and both shared a heavily-glazed canopy
view of the outside world.
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