Fokker F.VII

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.

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
Status Retired
Primary users SABENA
Polish Air Force
Polskie Linie Lotnicze LOT
Produced 1925-1932
Developed from Fokker F.V
Variants Fokker F.10

Design and development

The F.VII was designed as a single-engined transport aircraft by Walter Rethel. Five examples 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 consisted of a fabric-covered steel-tube 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 eight- to 12-passenger Fokker was the aircraft of choice for many early airlines, both in Europe and the Americas and it dominated the American market in the late 1920s. However, the popularity of the Fokker quickly waned after the 1931 crash of a Transcontinental & Western Air Fokker F-10, which resulted in the death of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne. The investigation revealed problems with the Fokker's plywood-laminate construction, resulted a temporary ban from commercial flights, more stringent maintenance requirements, and a shift to all-metal aircraft such as the similar Ford Trimotor and later Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2.[3]

Pioneers and explorers

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


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 200 hp (149 kW) Wright J-4 Whirlwind radial engines. Probably only 18 were built while many F.VIIa were upgraded to the F.VIIa/3m standard.

First two Fokker F.VIIa 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.VIIBb/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 ten 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 ten 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.

Licensed versions


Civilian operators

  • CIDNA operated seven F.VIIa aircraft.
  • Air Orient operated eight F.VIIb 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.
 United States

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 June 21, 1926, a KLM F.VII (H-NACL) force-landed at Seabrook Beach, Sandgate near Hythe, Kent, due to fuel exhaustion caused by pilot error; all five on board survived, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On July 9, 1926, a KLM F.VII (H-NACC) struck ground in fog at Wolvertem, Belgium, killing both pilots.
  • At 9:44pm on 31 August 1927 the oil tanker SS Josiah Macy reported the last known sighting of the F.VIIa St. Raphael on a trans-atlantic attempt from Upavon, England to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, piloted by Leslie Hamilton and Frederick F. Minchin, with Princess Anne of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Freudenberg as passenger.
  • On 7 September 1927, Old Glory disappeared with Lloyd W. Bertaud and J. D. Hill at the controls of an attempted transatlantic flight from Old Orchard Beach, Maine to Rome, Italy. The flight's last known location was in the North Atlantic, 960 km East of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
  • On September 17, 1927, a Reynolds Airways F.VII (C776) crashed at Dunellen, New Jersey due to loss of control following engine failure, killing seven of 12 on board. The aircraft was formerly operated by KLM and had been imported to the United States.
  • On July 4, 1928, Alfred Lowenstein disappeared during a flight over the English Channel in unknown circumstances.
  • On August 15, 1928, a Pan Am F.VIIa/3m (NC53, General Machado) ditched in the Gulf of Mexico off Egmont Key, Florida.
  • On September 11, 1930, a Sabena F.VII (OO-AIN) crashed on climbout from Croydon Airport due to an in-flight fire, killing both pilots.
  • On December 6, 1931, a KLM F.VIIb/3m (PH-AFO) crashed at Bangkok after failing to take off, killing five of seven on board.
  • On April 3, 1940, a BOAC Avro 618 Ten (G-AASP, Hercules) crashed on takeoff from Cairo; there were no casualties, but the aircraft was written off.
  • On May 10, 1940, a KLM F.VII (PH-ACJ) was destroyed on the ground at Schiphol Airport by the Luftwaffe during the German invasion of the Netherlands.

Specifications (F.VIIb/3m)

Data from

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 8 passengers
  • Length: 14.6 m (47 ft 11 in)
  • Wingspan: 21.7 m (71 ft 2 in)
  • Height: 3.9 m (12 ft 10 in)
  • Airfoil: root: Goettingen 386 (20%) ; tip: Goettingen 388 (11.3%)[10]
  • Empty weight: 6,725 kg (14,826 lb)
  • Gross weight: 11,570 kg (25,507 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright J-5 Whirlwind 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 164 kW (220 hp)
  • Propellers: 2 or 3-bladed fixed-pitch propellers


  • Cruise speed: 170 km/h (110 mph, 92 kn)

See also

  • Alfred Loewenstein, a Belgian financier who fell mysteriously to his death from his private Fokker F.VII

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  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. "Centennial of Flight information on the Fokker crash investigation.", 2003. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  4. 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." Archived 2005-11-09 at the Wayback Machine 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. Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.
  • 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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