The Fokker E.I was the first fighter aircraft to enter service with the Fliegertruppe of the Deutsches Heer in World War I.
Its arrival at the front in mid 1915 marked the start of a period known as the “Fokker Scourge” during which the E.I and its successors achieved a measure of air superiority over the Western Front.
54 aircraft were built.
The E.I was essentially an armed version of the Fokker M.5K single-seat reconnaissance aircraft (military designation A.III), which was in turn very closely based on the design of the 1913 French Morane-Saulnier Type H.
Like the Morane, the Fokker was an externally braced mid-winged monoplane with a vertically tapered box section fuselage, with fully movable horizontal and vertical stabilizing surfaces, also known as “flying” surfaces, giving the pilot the usual tail control functions; roll control was achieved through controlled wing warping, as was conventional in contemporary monoplanes.
Wing warping was achieved through external cables attached to the wing’s rear spar and running through a king post located in the front of the cockpit.
The fuselage structure was fabric covered welded chromium-molybdenum steel tubing, the biggest difference between the Fokker and the Morane, which had an entirely wooden framework.
Welded “cromoly” steel tube provided the basis for the structure of all Fokker fuselages for many years.
This unremarkable and derivative design was, however, transformed into a formidable fighter when it was fitted with the newly developed synchronizer gear, the Fokker Stangensteuerung system, firing a single 7.92 mm (.312 in) Parabellum LMG 14 or Spandau lMG 08 machine gun through the spinning propeller.
Indeed, the five production prototype airframes for the E.I design had been ordered and were under construction as A.IIIs but were completed as M.5K/MG aircraft, retaining the earlier “shoulder-wing” placement of the A.III type.
Subsequent production E.Is had their wings lowered slightly as Lieutenant Otto Parschau’s E.1/15 had later in its career during 1915 – from the M.5’s shoulder configuration, which improved pilot visibility.
(These were designated by Fokker as the M.14, which was also used for the following two Eindecker variants.)
All Fokker E.I aircraft had a 68.5 L (18.1 US gal) capacity, single gravity fuel tank, located forward of the cockpit, with a fuel gauge protruding from the sheet metal upper nose panelling, usually offset slightly to port.