Super Universal
Restored Fokker Super Universal at the Western Canada Aviation Museum in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Role Airliner
Manufacturer Fokker-America
Canadian Vickers
First flight March 1928
Number built ca. 200
Developed from Fokker Universal
Variants Nakajima Ki-6
Fokker Super Universal airplane docked in a nose hangar, Ontario, [ca. 1925]
Fokker Super Universal of the Bryd Antarctic expedition of 1929
Fokker Super Universal in Alberta, Canada 1935. The person is famous Canadian aviator Leigh Brintnell

The Fokker Super Universal was an airliner produced in the United States in the late 1920s by Fokker America, an enlarged and improved version of the Fokker Universal, fitted with cantilever wings and an enclosed cockpit. It was also called the Model 8. It was subsequently also manufactured under license in Canada, and in Japan as the Nakajima-Fokker Super Universal and for the IJAAF as the Nakajima Ki-6 and later in the puppet state of Manchukuo as the Manshū Super Universal. It was used on the Byrd Antarctic expedition and was one of the most produced of the Fokker America models.

Design and development

The Super Universal was a conventional, high-wing cantilever monoplane with a fully enclosed flight deck and cabin and a fixed undercarriage. Improvements over its forerunner included an enclosed cockpit and a new wing that eliminated the requirement for struts, bringing it in line with the rest of Fokker's designs. The preceding Fokker Universal was built with an open cockpit but many were converted.[1]

Construction was as per standard Fokker practice, with the wing being made almost entirely of wood with two main spars and light ribs covered in thin sheets of plywood. The fuselage was built up from welded steel tubes, largely cross-braced with wires. Fairings, the floor and an internal bulkhead separating the pilot from the cabin were wood. A triangular-shaped door gave the pilot access to the cabin. The tail was also built up from steel tubing but used no internal bracing. The main structural members were larger diameter tubes, while smaller tubes gave the structure a small degree of camber. The standard undercarriage consisted of a tailskid with divided main gear legs sprung with bungee cords and attached to the wings and the fuselage, but floats or skis could also be fitted. (see also floatplane)

It was also called the Fokker Model 8.[2]

Operational history

The first Fokker Model 8 Super Universal, was used on the Byrd expedition to the Antarctic, and called the Virginia. It arrived was but was destroyed by a freak wind gust that blew it over a mile/kilometer. The wreck was found frozen in the ice in 1988.[2]

The Super Universal was received enthusiastically in the marketplace, selling better than any other of Fokker-America's designs (some 80 aircraft), and required the company to expand its factory space to meet demand.[1]

A further 15 aircraft were built by Canadian Vickers, and around 100 were built by Nakajima with some of these Japanese aircraft seeing military service as the Ki-6. The United States Navy also evaluated the Super Universal for military service, under the designation XJA-1, but decided not to purchase the type (the JA designation was later reused for the Noorduyn Norseman). The Fokker Universal was popular as a bush plane and many found their way into the Canadian north.

The first production Super Universal was named the Virginia by Richard E. Byrd and taken to the Antarctic in 1928. This aircraft was damaged after being ripped from its tiedowns and thrown backwards over one kilometre in winds estimated to have been at least 150 mph, and was abandoned, although Byrd subsequently revisited it to salvage useful parts.

For the operational history of the versions used by Japan and Manchukuo, see the Nakajima Ki-6 article.

The Fokker Super Universal which made up TWA fleet of airplanes were dealt a big blow, when one another Fokker design, the Fokker F-10, crashed near Bazaar, Kansas on March 31, 1931, with Knute Rockne, famous Notre Dame Football coach while en route to participate in the production of the film The Spirit of Notre Dame. Both pilots and all six passengers were killed. A long, thorough and well-publicized investigation concluded that the Fokker, operated by a company of the newly-formed TWA, broke up due to fatigue cracks in its famous cantilever stressed plywood wing, around where one of the engine mounting struts joined. However, questions about the crash due the exact weather conditions (it had actually turned back to due to conditions) and other aspects have lead to discussions about what happened. (see also 1931 Transcontinental & Western Air Fokker F-10 crash)

The Fokker Super Universal fleet was inspected and grounded after similar cracks were found in many examples, ruining the manufacturer's American reputation (the Dutch designer Anthony Fokker was then in business in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey). This resulted in a complete overhaul of standards for new transport aircraft and led to the use of all-metal construction in commercial aircraft such as the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2

Surviving aircraft

The last Fokker Super Universal, at a museum

In 1998, a Super Universal originally used for mineral exploration in Canada's north was restored to airworthy condition in Alberta and after being flown for a few years was placed on display at the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada in 2005.[3] Byrd's Fokker Universal was rediscovered by a New Zealand expedition in 1987 and the Antarctic Aviation Preservation Society intends to salvage and restore it.

Variants

The first Fokker Super Universal, the Virginia that was sent and lost in Antarctica in 1929
Western Canada Airways Fokker Super Universal, floatplane version
Postcard featuring the Nakajima Ki-6
XJA-1
A Super Universal evaluated by the United States Navy
Nakajima Super Universal
Civilian transport
Ki-6 (Army Type 95 Training Aircraft)
Military transport for the IJAAF
Nakajima-Fokker Super Universal
Nakajima-Fokker Ambulance Aircraft
Nakajima Navy Fokker Reconnaissance Aircraft
Short designation C2N1 and C2N2
C2N1 (Navy land-based reconnaissance aircraft)
Land-based recon and military transport for the IJN
C2N2 (Navy reconnaissance seaplane)
Land-based recon and military transport for the IJN
Manshū Super Universal
Civil and military transport built in Manchukuo (Manchuria)

Operators

Civil

 Canada
 Colombia
 Japan
 Manchukuo
 United States
Coastal Air Freight Fokker Super Universal
 South Africa

Military

 Argentina
 Canada
China-Nanjing
 Japan
 United States

Specifications

Fokker Super Universal 3-view drawing from L'Aérophile August,1928

Data from Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport[1]

General characteristics

Performance

References

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Molson 1974, p. 271.
  2. ^ a b "Fokker Super Universal (U.S.)". www.dutch-aviation.nl. Retrieved 2023-12-23.
  3. ^ "Fokker Super Universal, CF-AAM". Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. 7 June 2013. Archived from the original on 3 February 2019. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
Bibliography
  • Dierikx, Marc. Fokker: A Transatlantic Biography. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997. ISBN 1-56098-735-9.
  • Molson, K.M. Pioneering in Canadian Air Transport. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: 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 978-0-531-03708-9.
  • Seagrave, Sterling. The Bush Pilots (The Epic of Flight Series). Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Books, 1983. ISBN 0-8094-3312-5.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions, 1989. p. 410.
  • World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing, File 894, Sheet 44.