Netherlands Institute of Military History Photo
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The pioneering years of military aviation / De pioniersjaren van de militaire luchtvaart. From Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie. After the first motorized flight by the Wright brothers in December 1903, Netherlands military personnel soon recognized the military potential of the aircraft. Aircraft, as well as balloons and airships, seemed ideally suited to carrying out reconnaissance. The Dutch army's aviation branch - the Luchtvaartafdeling or LVA - was therefore established in Soesterberg in 1913. The photos show several activities at, around and above the air base. The balloons with wicker baskets, the open, ramshackle planes and the men in leather gear are characteristic of the pioneering years of military aviation in the Netherlands at the time of the First World War.
At age 20, while studying in Germany, Dutch student Anthony Fokker built his initial aircraft, the Spin (Spider) - to fly in his home country. In 1912, in Berlin, he founded Fokker Aeroplanbau and later, Fokker Aviatik GmbH. Fokker sold several Fokker Spin monoplanes to the German government and supplied the German Army in World War I. To allow machine gun firing through the arc of the propeller, Fokker developed a synchronization gear. Fokker Eindecker aircraft became the most feared aircraft over the western front, leading to a period of German air superiority. In 1919, Fokker returned to the Netherlands and founded Nederlandse Vliegtuigenfabriek near Amsterdam. He renamed the company to avoid using the Fokker brand because of his World War I involvement. After relocation, many Fokker C.I and C.IV military airplanes were delivered to Russia, Romania. Success came on the commercial market, too, with the development of the Fokker F.VII, a high-winged aircraft capable of taking on various types of engines. In the 1920s, Fokker became the world's largest aircraft manufacturer. His greatest success was the 1925 F.VIIa/3m trimotor passenger aircraft, which was used by 54 airline companies worldwide and captured 40% of the American market. Fokker continued to build military planes, delivering them to the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Foreign military customers eventually included Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland, Hungary, and Italy. In 1923, Anthony Fokker moved to the United States and established an American branch of his company, the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, which was renamed the Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America. In 1930, this company merged with General Motors Corporation. Soon, unhappy with GM management, Fokker resigned. On December 23, 1939, he died in New York City. In Europe, the Fokker factories were confiscated by the Germans. At the end of the war, the factories were completely stripped by the Germans and destroyed by Allied bombing. Post-World War II brought rebuilding to the company. A new factory was built next near Amsterdam in 1951. In 1958, the F-27 Friendship was introduced, Fokker's most successful postwar airliner, reaching almost 800 units sold. Fokker contributed to many European aircraft and satellite projects, as well as to the Ariane rocket.