The Fokker Scourge was a term coined by the British press in the summer of 1915 to describe the then-current ascendency of the Fokker Eindecker monoplane fighters of the German Fliegertruppen over the poorly-armed allied reconnaissance types of the period.
The early months of the First World War saw the tentative beginnings of air-to-air combat, at first using improvised methods. The first purpose-designed fighter aircraft included the British Vickers F.B.5 - machine gun armament was also fitted to several French types, such as the Morane-Saulnier L and N. Initially the German Air Service lagged behind the Allies in this respect - but this was soon to change dramatically.
In July 1915, the Fokker E.I became operational – this was the first type of aircraft to enter service with the pioneering example of a "synchronization gear" (often referred to mistakenly as an "interrupter gear"), the Fokker Stangensteuerung, which enabled a machine gun to fire through the arc of the propeller without striking its blades. This gave an important advantage over other fighter aircraft. This aircraft and its successors - also commonly known as the Eindecker (German for "Monoplane") for the first time supplied an equivalent of Allied fighters.
Germany's First Aces
Born: May 19, 1891
Died: October 28, 1916
Born: May 19, 1891
Died: October 28, 1916
By late 1915 the Germans had achieved air superiority, making Allied access to vital intelligence derived from continual aerial reconnaissance more dangerous to acquire. In particular the essential defencelessness of Allied reconnaissance types was exposed. The first German ace pilots - notably Max Immelmann and Oswald Boelcke began their careers.
The number of actual Allied casualties involved was for various reasons very small compared with the intensive air fighting of 1917/18. The deployment of the eindeckers was less than overwhelming - the new type was issued in ones and twos to existing reconnaissance squadrons - and it was to be nearly a year before the Germans were to follow the British in establishing specialist fighter squadrons. The eindecker was also, in spite of its advanced armament, by no means an outstanding aircraft - being closely based on a pre-war French racer.
Nonetheless - the impact on morale of the fact that the Germans were fighting back in the air, and effectively too, created a major scandal in the British press.
Fortunately for the Allies, two new British fighters were already in production which were a technical match for the Fokker, the Airco F.E.2b and the D.H.2. These were both "pushers" and could fire forwards without gun synchronisation. The F.E.2b reached the front with No 20 Squadron in January 1916, and the D.H.2 in February.
On the French front, the tiny Nieuport 11, a tractor biplane with a forward firing gun mounted above the arc of the propeller (on the top wing) also proved more than a match for the German fighter when it entered service with Escadrille N.3 in January 1916. With these new types the Allies re-established air superiority in time for the Battle of the Somme, and the "Fokker Scourge" was over.
Synchronised guns nonetheless quickly became the norm – and later versions of the Nieuport, as well as most new British fighters, were to be fitted with them for the rest of the war.
Like the Fokker scourge, the period of Allied air superiority which followed it was brief. By August 1916 the fighters in the Luftstreitkräfte had been grouped into specialist fighter squadrons, the Jagdstaffeln, and these units were receiving the first of the new Albatros fighters. These were once more able to turn the tables - and by the spring of 1917 were causing very high casualties in the Royal Flying Corps – culminating in the rout of "Bloody April" (April 1917).
In the following two years, Allied aviation became overwhelming in both quality and quantity, with the result that the Germans were only able to maintain limited control over a small area of the front at any time. When even this seemed threatened, they started a crash programme to develop a new aircraft. The result was the famous Fokker D.VII, leading to a short but notable second "Fokker Scourge". The Fokker D.VII was so effective that Germany was required to surrender all of them to the victorious allies as a condition of the Armistice of Compiègne.
Fokker Fodder was a derogatory term coined by the British Press in early 1916 for the aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps in France, at a time when Allied aircraft types - especially the British Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 – were badly outclassed by the Fokker Eindecker, one of the very first true fighter aircraft.