Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Russia - 1923 Fokker D.VII

Post Polish Russian War Soviet Aircraft

Someday I will learn how to be less obsessive, however I am not sure just when that will be. I have got stuck in to the inter war period. The depth of my madness can be measured in producing a total of 21 Fokker D.VII profiles in a single day. Add to that 4 new Nieuport 24 profiles and you can see what I mean. On the writing front, I have been working on my U.S.A.S section for my site. The structural part is in place. Now it is a matter of fleshing out the series of articles to bring it to life.

This example is the Fokker D.VII flown by A.T.Kozhevnikov. He was the squadron leader of № 1 OIAE. The sphinx was his personal insignia. There was only one photo of this aircraft and there is a debate whether the wings carried red stars. The colors used on the Sphinx is conjectural. Some believe the color on the head-dress were blue, others claim it was red. Blue is more in keeping with color choices used by the Egyptians.

I have not been able to find identification for the flights. This example is from a flight which used a curved white arrow as their insignia.

This flight used a white cat as their insignia.

This flight reversed the color scheme The red marking is a bunch of grapes on a white rudder.

This example shows the distinctive candy striped rudder see on many planes flying with the № 2 OIAE. The numbering conventions used by № 1 OIAE hold true. As with the previous examples use of red stars on the wings is conjectural.

A short History of Soviet Foker D.VII

After Anthony Fokker fled from Germany to the Netherlands with what was left of his inventory he needed a new large contract to rebuild is fortunes. He saw a perfect opportunity in selling arms to the Soviets. The market was wide open since no other weapon manufacturer would do business with the Bolsheviks. Fokker was not a man of deep political convictions, to him a customer is a customer, and Rubles spend just as well as Guilders. The Soviets contracted a large quantity of Fokker aircraft in during the early 1920's. These included 50 D.VII fighters, 42 C.III trainers, 3 C.1 two seaters, 52 D.XIII fighters. Fokker also sold the Soviets repair facilities for these aircraft.

The D.VII aircraft were delivered to Russia in two batches of 25. The first unit to receive them was the № 1 Otdelnaya Aviaeskadrilya (OIAE - independent squadron) was operational in Petrograd by December 1922 or early 1923. A second D.VII squadron № 2 OIAE was operational in Kiev by December 1922, guarding the Polish border. The aircraft of the squadron appear to have been divided into three flights of five plus a leaders aircraft. Each flight had its own tail marking and the aircraft of each flight were numbered 1 to 5.

The Fokker D.VII performed successfully in Soviet service for nearly a decade. The Soviets upgraded the D.VII in several ways including the installation of a wheel axle mounted auxiliary fuel tank. The D.VII remained in use as a trainer at least until the 1930's when it was phased out in favor of other more modern aircraft.


Jon Yuengling said...

Very nice as always. I like the differences in the greens, always a problem for modelers like myself when dealing with Soviet/Russian equipment.

kingsleypark said...

Intersting mix of squadron insignia. A bunch of grapes??

Didn't know that the Russians flew D.VII's, had always thought they had stuck to their home produced aircraft, so definitely learnt something new today

Unknown said...

Thanks all,

@Jon, When dealing with black and white photos it is best guess at best.

@kingsley Even in the days of the Russian Empire there was a reliance on French ad British designs. They lacked the skilled labor and machine tools needed for large scale aircraft production. Once the civil war began Russian aircraft innovation stopped. Factories were destroyed, documents lost, designers purged. They took a great leap backwards. Many stories of Anthony Fokker gloss over his contribution to the Soviet state. Seeing so many examples of an airplane specifically named in The Treaty of Versailles for destruction serving in the SSR in the 1020's begged the question of "How could this happen?". It felt good finding the answer.

Gary C. Warne said...

Those profiles are phenomenal. If the Reds had had them in 1920, I would have used them in my novel, but they come just a bit too late. I really like the Fokker with the Egyptian Pharaoh on the side. You do excellent work!

Unknown said...

Thanks Gary, you do anything often enough and long enough you start to get the hang of it. I am still looking for more examples to work up. I've been working on some more Latvian planes, I will show them to you soon.