The Red Baron's Plane
One of the most famous and recognizable fighters of World War I the Fokker Dr.I was built in response to the earlier success of Sopwith's Triplane. At first, German airmen weren't too impressed with the odd-looking airplane. They were even less happy when a few of the fighters were lost in crashes due to structural failure. Famous ace Heinrich Gontermann was killed when his Dr.I tore apart in mid-air over his home airfield while he was doing stunts for his squadron mates.
However, there were also great proponents of the Fokker Triplane. Famous aces including Werner Voss and Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, were very pleased with the fighter's high rate of climb and remarkable agility. They soon racked up many victories over Allied machines in the Triplane.
Even though most of the men in his squadron had switched to newer biplanes, 19 of von Richthofen's final 21 combat victories came while he was flying his trusty all-red Dr.I.
In total, 320 Fokker Dr.I Triplanes were built before production was finished in May of 1918. There are no known surviving original Fokker Dr.Is. The last original aircraft, once flown by von Richthofen, was on display in a Berlin museum when it was destroyed by Allied bombs during World War II.
The Museum of Flight's aircraft was started in 1958 by a New York dentist Richard Coughlin. It was completed in 1972. When it was seriously damages in an accident, Doug Champlin purchased the wreckage and had it completely rebuilt in 1978. In 1990, the Warner Scarab radial engine that had been used by Coughlin on the aircraft was replaced by an authentic Le Rhône rotary.