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Fokker G-1

Introduction

The Fokker G-1 was an exclusive and remarkable design with its twin boom fuselage. It was designed as a fighter-cruiser. The American designed Lockheed P-38 Lightning would be an effective member of the very limited twin-boom design family

Design and construction

The Dutch Fokker G-1 was designed by engineers Beeling and Erich Schatski as a fighter-cruiser. The design was dedicated to a dual-role: interception of enemy bombers and light ground support / long-distance recce. In order to suit this role the plane had to be fast, firm and heavily armed.

The Fokker G-1 was an absolute sensation when it was introduced to the world at the 15th Paris aeronautical fair in 1936. Apparently the French press gave the plane the nickname "Le Faucheur" [The land-mower], after its formidable nose-armament. The design was revolutionary: double boom fuselage and eight front-end machineguns in the nose.

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Fokker G-1 fighter-cruiser

The G-1 body construction was composed of a wooden wing and central fuselage unit in combination with a nose and boom-construction of steel rods.

The armament was impressive. It had two batteries of four rapid-fire machineguns 7.9 mm FN each in the nose, and one rapid fire machinegun in a rear turret. The plane was designed to be able to also transport 400 kg of internal payload. In fact this operational option was never lifted due to lacking racks.

The G-1 was a model that was copied in later foreign models like the Focke Wulf Fw-189 Uhu [1937] and the Lockheed P-38 Lightning [1937]. Although earlier twin-boom designs had been seen, the designers of both planes admitted that the G-1 design had tempted them to copy the concept into their respective new fighter-cruisers designs. The P-38 would be by far the most successful twin-boom design of them all.

The G-1 was constructed in a period in which engine manufacturers were overwhelmed with new orders. Basically the international industry chose to dedicate its production slots to indigenous demands, and as such the G-1 was fitted with second choice Bristol Mercury engines. These engines proved quite capable, but more powerful engines would have even increased the quite stunning performance of the G-1 in 1936. With the Mercury engine the plane was able to reach a [proven] maximum speed of 475 km/hr [alt. 13.000 feet].

The plane had attracted international purchasers during the 1936 Paris fair and orders were received from Spain [via Estland], Denmark [license construction] and Sweden. Countries like Hungary, Turkey, Switzerland and Belgium had shown their interest and flew several test and trial missions in 1939. Actual orders were not received from these countries.

The Dutch airforce finally purchased 36 of the G-1 Mercury version in order to fit out two squadrons [2 x 12 plus 6 spare] with these planes. These were all delivered before 10 May 1940. Also 25 off G-1 [fitted with the slightly less powerful Wasp engines], which had been constructed for Spain, were confiscated in October 1939 by the Dutch Ministry of War. It wasn't until April 1940 before the factual order was given to arm these planes according to Dutch specification [which apparently was altered to only four i.s.o. eight machineguns in the nose for this G-1 Wasp version]. Of these 25 planes only three had been armed before war break-out and an unknown number was still armed during the Five Days' War. The majority would however fly with Luftwaffe crosses on their tail sections ...

May war

The first G-1 air-victory was unfortunately gained when a British Whitley bomber [N1357 of 77 Squadron] was shot down at 28 March 1940 over Rotterdam. Holland - being a neutral country - had the obligation to intercept any kind of intruder of the Dutch air-space and although the Germans invaded the Dutch air-space far more often than the British, the latter were the first to meet up with a G-1 in a fatal engagement. The five men Whitley crew suffered one fatality; four men were imprisoned and evacuated to the UK when war broke out in May 1940.

During the May war the G-1 proved itself a very capable plane. Unfortunately it was this particular modern plane that suffered the most from the German first strike. At the swampy airfield Bergen the heavy G-1's had been parked on the concrete platform in front of the hangars, rather than being spread over the swampy runways on which the heavy plane would have sunken away. When the German planes flew in from the sea-side they totally surprised the base and destroyed the majority of the modern squadron on the ground. Only three planes were saved (a few others could be reapaired during the war days though).

At Waalhaven the other modern squadron of G-1's had been able to scramble prior to the arrival of the massive German airforce, but due to the loss of all larger western air-fields the planes were unable to return to a suitable landing-place. Out of this squadron only one plane would be saved, although only two had been actually shot down out of eight planes scrambled.

As such the German first strike had decimated the modern G-1 fleet. The remainder - reinforced by some operational G-1 Wasp's - fought intensively with the Luftwaffe and managed to claim quite a number of air-victories.

After the capitulation the Germans captured a mere twenty G-1 planes. The Luftwaffe made intensive use of these planes for various training-programs. There are some strong indications that some G-1's have even seen some actual fighter action with black crosses on their tails. Also, there are indications that some Italian units have made use of the G-1 when stationed in Belgium.

Specifications

Type:  Fighter-Cruiser
Manufacturer:  Fokker [Netherlands]
Crew:  2 or 3
In service:  1939-1940
Number in service:  36 off G-1 Mercury, 25 off G-1 Wasp
Engines:  2 off Bristol Mercury VIII, 830 hp
2 off Pratt and Whitney Twin-Wasp Jr, 750 hp
Speed:  475 km/hr max.[13,000 feet], Mercury
445 km/hr max [10,000 feet], Wasp
Weight [in flight]:  4,500 kg Mercury, 4,400 kg Wasp
Ceiling:  9,600 m Mercury, 9,300 m Wasp
Flight time [max]:  4 hrs [1,500 km]
Armament:  8 x 7.9 mm front, 1 x 7.9 mm rear - Mercury
4 x 7.9 mm front, 1 x 7.9 mm rear - Wasp
Option: additional 400 kg internal payload