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V.44./ Fokker F.I. prototype
Transport monoplane
Date first flight
never, build in 1919
number of passengers

Type designation


How did the type designation F.I and those for the later F-series Fokker civil aircraft come into being?

The obvious assumption would be that the F is an abbreviation of Fokker, and the Roman numeral is a serial number.

The latter expectation is correct, but there is another explanation for the letter F. In accordance with German War Office instructions, all Fokker military aircraft delivered had received a type designation comprising a letter plus a Roman numeral - for instance D.V, D.VI, D.VIII, and E.I, E.II, E.III and so on.

The D types were biplanes or, in German, "doppeldeckers", and the E types were monoplanes or "eindeckers". When in 1917 the first triplane appeared, it was the turn of F.

The aircraft became the F.I. This did not seem logical however, and was soon changed to Dr.1, for triplane or "dreidecker". In this way, F became available for the next design series - the new civil aircraft.

That F also happened to be the first letter of Anthony Fokker's surname was a happy coincidence as Fokker was more than a little publicity-conscious.

Fokker V.44/F.I

Fokker F.I Prototype

Transport monoplane with cantilever parasol wing, abandoned prototype for the F.I.

The end of World War One on November 11, 1918 had cast its shadow well before it. To "insiders" it had been clear for many months that the Germans could not win. Among the insiders undoubtedly was Anthony Fokker whose factory at Schwerin was one of the most important aircraft suppliers to the German Army.

This meant that he had contacts within the military hierarchy where the approaching end to the war must have been a regular topic for discussion.



The civilian population also could foresee the coming of peace and had started to think about the future again.

By 1917 a group of enterprising people with foresight had already established the "Deutsche Luft Reederei" - literally the German Air Shipping line - with the purpose of transporting passengers and freight after the war.

These developments, plus Fokker's conviction that air travel would not be limited to this one airline, persuaded him to exchange ideas with his chief designer Reinhold Platz on the design of an aircraft for transporting passengers.

It would be a type of aircraft for which there was not yet a name.

On this point, Platz in later years said "Germany was about to collapse; Fokker's days in this country were numbered, but already he foresaw the possibilities of commercial aviation".


So started construction of a Versuchsmachine' (i.e. prototype) designated the V.44, as a derivative of the Fokker V.29 and the Fokker V.43.

The V.29 was an enlarged version of the DNIII monoplane fighter, and the V.43 was a parasol-wing trainer with side-by-side seating for pupil and instructor.

From these the V.44 was developed as a parasol plane having seating for six - the pilot with a passenger or mechanic beside him and, behind, two rows of two passengers.

From the design of the V.44 it is clear that Platz had difficulty in identifying himself with the future requirements of air transport.


He was still thinking in terms of military aircraft. Evidence for this can be seen in his positioning of the pilot. He provided simply the usual opening in the top of the fuselage equipped with a ruinimurn wind shield. In those days this was no hardship for military pilots who in any case rarely reached the age of 25.

But on the V.44 the passengers too had their heads in the slipstream. And to board the plane, Platz wanted them to climb over the cockpit side - just as in fighter aircraft. How Platz pictured older passengers or women dressed in the cumbersome fashion of the day being happy about this, is not known. For this sheer lack of imagination, Fokker's chief designer was to be taken to task in an unexpected way.


In the Schwerin of that day lived a certain Herr Facklam who made his living by picking-up late-night drinkers who were too befuddled to make their own way home.

For this service he made use of a charabanc drawn by two horses. Influenced perhaps by the behavior of his esteemed clients, Facklam regularly expended a large proportion of his earnings on alcohol, so that arriving at the correct address was more often thanks to the instincts of the horses than to his own efforts.

Small wonder that Facklam won himself rather a reputation in Schwerin. Thus, on the morning when Platz entered the factory to find that his fellow workers had equipped the almost-finished V.44 with a large sign - "Facklam's Coach" - the message was obvious.

How Platz reacted is not known, but later he was happy to explain that "Sie hatten recht" - yes, they were quite right. He stopped manufacture of the V.44 there and then. There were already other examples of how transport aircraft were going to evolve.


Frits Koolhoven in England was in the news with his FK 26, and Professor Hugo Junkers in Germany had launched his F.13.

These passenger-carrying aircraft each had an enclosed cabin affording the air traveller a degree of comfort. Even most of the military aircraft which were rebuilt for passenger transport, had an enclosed cabin.

Platz therefore returned to the drawing board and designed the Fokker V.45, which later went into production as the Fokker F.II.

The V.44, subsequently identified as the F.I, never flew.

Nor, as far as is known, are there any photos or original drawings still in existence. This of course sets the imagination going, but happily in mid-1940 when information was sought from Platz, he was able to give more than enough detail for a sketch to be made.

This happened again 25 years later when two long-standing employees of Fokker, Marius Beeling and Herman Somberg, gave their recollections of this conversation.