The improved, three-engine F.VIIB-3m was the most numerous and successful type in the aircraft series; seen here in service with Linje Lotnicze LOT on the Warsaw-Bucharest route.
Role Passenger & military transport
Manufacturer Fokker
Designer Walter Rethel
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

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 several other companies under license. It was an airliner that could carry 6-12 people, depending on the version, and it used a variety of engines; early versions had one engine but three was more common.

This was an important airliner in the 1920s and 1930s; it was popular and made in several versions and used for record breaking flights. A variant of this aircraft, the F-10, was involved in famous aviation accident in that period that led to safety reforms in the USA. It was also used for an attempt to reach the North Pole, although there was a debate if it did reach all the way there: the aircraft was at least flown in arctic conditions in this attempt. Less controversially, it was flown in the first flight across the Pacific from Australia to the United States, and earlier it was used in flight from the United States to Hawaii.

In the 1930s, the aircraft began to fall out favor as newer designs that were larger, faster, and more streamlined entered service. Some major variations on this design included the Fokker F-10, which was bit bigger and could carry 4 additional passengers, and the Fokker F.VIII, which omitted the central engine to be twin-engined aircraft. The Fokker F.VII was also license produced by several countries including SABCA, Avia, Avro, and others.

Design and development

F.VII prototype at Schiphol airport.
The Napier Lion engine exposed in the nose of a F.VII

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 aircraft, 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-engine F.VIIA airliner to a trimotor configuration, powered by 200 hp Wright Whirlwind radial engines. The resulting aircraft was designated the Fokker F.VIIA-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.VIIB-3m had a slightly increased wing area over the F.VIIA-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]

The Fokker F.VIII (F.8) was similar, but a twin engine configuration rather than a trimotor, and it was bigger. The Fokker F.IX (F-9) had a similar configuration as the F.VII, but it was quite a bit larger and carried 20 passengers.

Operational history

Seating arrangement in the 8-passenger F.VIIB-3m
The Southern Cross in 1943.
Fokker F.VIIB-3m (CH-190) operated by Ad Astra Aero
The Josephine Ford at The Henry Ford museum

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, resulting in 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:


The F.VII with a single inline Napier Lion engine.
F.VII retrofitted with a Bristol Jupiter radial engine in KLM livery.
The French-registered F.VIIA flown for CIDNA (Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aérienne).
America before its journey across the Atlantic, which was a Civilian C-2 version
Single-engined transport aircraft, powered by 360 hp (270 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle or 450 hp (340 kW) Napier Lion 12-cylinder inline engines, accommodation for two crew and six passengers; five built. One converted to use 400 hp (300 kW) Bristol Jupiter 9-cylinder radial and two to use 480 hp (360 kW) Gnome-Rhône built Jupiter VI engine.[14]
Single-engined transport aircraft; the capacity was increased to carry 8 passengers and the aircraft received a new, simplified undercarriage with suspension and aerodynamic improvements (the ailerons were contained within the profile of the wing and capped by rounded wing tips, the aircraft was equipped with an adjustable stabilizer). Flown on 12 March 1925. First aircraft had a 420 hp (310 kW) V-12 Packard Liberty engine, but a further 39 F.VIIA examples had mostly Bristol Jupiter or Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engines.
The result of an attempt to improve the reliability of the aircraft by installing two additional underwing engines; flown on 4 September 1925. The first two aircraft were otherwise 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.
Main production variant with heavier engines (offered were the 300 hp (220 kW) Wright Whirlwind, Armstrong Siddeley Lynx or 360 hp (270 kW) Titan Major radial engines) as well as a greater wing span and modified wing geometry; 154 built, including those built under licence.
American-built version of the Fokker F.VIIB-3m; built by the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation in the United States.
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.
A C-2 of the United States Army
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. Re-designated 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 re-designated 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 Wasp radial piston engines; one built.
Military transport version for 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.
Re-designation of the TA-1.
Re-designation of the TA-2.
Re-designation of the TA-3.

Licensed versions

Avro 618 Ten


Civilian operators

Historical poster with stylized Fokker F.VII for the Belgian airline SABENA
F.VIIA of Polish carrier LOT powered by a Lorraine-Dietrich engine.
Fokker F.VIIB-3m of Spanish state-owned airline CLASSA.
Pan Am Fokker F.VIIB-3m
 United States

Military operators

 Belgian Congo
 Independent State of Croatia
Dutch bomber variant based on the F.VIIA-3m with bomb racks visible and large floodlights for landing in poor visibility; designated F.VIIA-3m/M.
 Spanish Republic
The slightly enlarged Fokker C-2A flown by the US Army Air Corps.
 United States
 Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Accidents and incidents

Old Glory was used for an attempted transatlantic flight in 1927, but it was lost en route

Specifications (F.VIIb/3m)

Fokker F.VII/3m 3-view drawing from NACA Aircraft Circular No.74

Data from European Transport Aircraft since 1909[29]

General characteristics


See also

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." Archived 2007-03-24 at the Wayback Machine Aeronautics Learning Laboratory. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  3. ^ Mola, Roger. "Centennial of Flight information on the Fokker crash investigation." centennialofflight.net, 2003. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  4. ^ a b c Baaker, Leo. "Famous Fokker Flights." tiscali.nl.Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  5. ^ "The Trans-Atlantic Flight of the 'America'." check-six.com, 19 October 2010. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  6. ^ "Accident Fokker F.VIIb/3m NX206". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Accident Fokker F.VIIa G-EBTQ". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Accident Fokker F.VIIa NX703". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  9. ^ Naughton, Russell. "The Pioneers - Charles Kingsford Smith". Monash University Centre for Telecommunications and Information Engineering (CTIE). Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 31 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Question Mark." Archived 2005-11-09 at the Wayback Machine USAF Historical Studies Office. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  11. ^ Flight 15 August 1929, flightglobal.com
  12. ^ Flight 25 April 1930, flightglobal.com
  13. ^ Jones, D. (1971) The Time Shrinkers: the Development of Civil Aviation between Britain and Africa. Rendel. pp. 142–152.
  14. ^ Stroud 1966, pp. 466–467.
  15. ^ Borja, Elizabeth (27 February 2021). "The Dream of Abyssinia: Two Black Aviators and Ethiopia". National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved 3 March 2021.
  16. ^ Baugher, Joe. "Cargo Aircraft Designations." US transports, 11 August 2007. Retrieved: 20 December 2010.
  17. ^ Painter, K.M. "Help From The Skies." Popular Mechanics, November 1929.
  18. ^ "Incident Fokker F.VII H-NACL". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Accident Fokker F.VII H-NACC". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Incident Fokker/Atlantic F.VIIb/3m NC55". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Accident Fokker F.VII C776". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Accident Fokker F.VII/3m G-EBYI". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Incident Fokker/Atlantic F.VII/3m NC53". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Incident Fokker F.VIIa/3m G-EBYI". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Accident Fokker F.VII OO-AIN". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  26. ^ "Incident Fokker F.VII/3m CH-161". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  27. ^ "Accident Fokker F.VIIb/3m PH-AFO". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  28. ^ "Incident Avro 618 Ten (Fokker F.VIIb/3m) G-AASP". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  29. ^ Stroud 1966, pp. 480–481.
  30. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". m-selig.ae.illinois.edu. Retrieved 16 April 2019.