Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Infamous Three Gun Fokker Eindecker E.lV.

The Fokker E.IV was essentially a lengthened Fokker E.III with a more powerful engine that was intended to enable the Eindecker to carry two or three machine guns, thereby increasing its firepower and providing redundancy if one gun jammed, which was a common occurrence at the time.

In September 1915 Anthony Fokker demonstrated the new model fitted with three forward-firing machine guns, mounted to fire upwards at 15° but failure of triple-synchronization gear caused damage to the propeller.

Oswald Boelcke, along with others, evaluated the E.IV at the Fokker Schwerin factory in November. He and other pilots discovered that mounting the much heavier engine onto the Eindecker airframe did not produce the aircraft Fokker was hoping for.

The increased inertial and gyroscopic forces of the spinning mass, of the larger engine, made the E.IV less manoeuvrable than the E.III. Not only that but the new engine was notoriously unreliable. It worked well when new but after only a few hours of operation it would loose power.

The removal of the left-side gun and reverting to just a pair of forward firing guns is believed to have been suggested by Oswald Boelcke. Dual forward firing synchronized machine guns became the standard armament for production E.IVs, as well as all future German D-type biplane fighters.

The E.IV was a troubled design from the beginning and never achieved the success of the E.lll and would soon be outclassed by newer designed French and British fighters.

It has been written that Max Immelman may flown a three gun E.lV in combat but today most historians now believe that no three gun Eindeckers ever made it into combat.

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  1. It was amazing how engine and gun technology actually emerged faster than aircraft technology overall. Especially early in the war. Later it was not as much of an issue as the planes got better on each side in the war. I wonder if part of the problem with the Eindecker had to do with balancing the plane.

    1. Engine torque must have had a lot of effect, also. The first quarter of the century was filled with "oh my gosh" things. Thanks for the comment.