The Triplane

In the Spring of 1917, a new type of fighter began to appear alongside the traditional biplane types. The British Sopwith Triplane, although under-armed, boasted an astonishing rate of climb and excellent manoeuvrability giving it a real edge over the Albatros D.III. As a result, German aeroplane designers embarked on producing their own triplane but only one, that from Fokker, was to achieve production, service and legendary status – the Dr.I. One of the very first examples of the Fokker Triplane was flown at the Front by Leutnant Werner Voss, second only to von Richthofen in number of victories. In September, the 21-year-old Voss would lose his life in a truly epic combat. Single-handedly he took on the best of No 56 Squadron, holding off concerted attacks by seven of the unit’s SE5as and putting bullets into every one of them. As one of the participants, James McCudden VC, later recalled, the German pilot:

‘seemed to be firing at all of us simultaneously, and although I got behind him a second time I could hardly stay there for a second, his movements were so quick and uncertain that none of us could hold him in sight at all for any decisive time…’