Aviation club owner builds replica of the Red Baron’s Fokker

Paul Ford, co-owner of the Derby Aero Club in Egginton, South Derbyshire, has spent many hours and £180,000 to create a replica of the the famous plane piloted by Manfred Von Richthofen, otherwise known as The Red Baron, during WWI.  Ford’s creation is an exact duplicate of the original Fokker Dr1, which was responsible for taking down more than 70 planes during the war until The Red Baron died in 1918.  Ford’s plane is ready to take passengers in order to participate in mock dogfights.

Builder Paul Ford has spent the last 5 of his 45 years building the replica of the famous German plane.

It took about 3500 hours in total for Ford to build the plane, which is one of the most recognizable from World War One.

When Ford was 30, he made a model of the plane that could fly.  He knew then that at some point he would built a life-sized model.  His wife, Sarah, was reluctant to believe that it would happen until the materials arrived at the house.

The replica not only looks like the original…

… it also features machine guns like the famous plane.  The only difference is that these ones don’t work.

Rather than having features added to an existing plane, Ford’s creation was built from scratch.

It can be taken to the skies just like the original and viewed by the members of his club.

None of the original 320 Fokker Dr1 Dreideckers are still in existence.

Ford was careful to duplicate the plane’s original paint patterns.  He notes that although there are other planes that look similar to the Fokker, this is the one he wanted to replicate.  It’s even a little unstable like the Fokker was.

Ford explains that the reason the Fokker was unstable is because it helped it to more quickly get out of the line of fire when being attacked.  The first time that Ford flew the plane he was very nervous, but that didn’t last very long.

Originally a cavalryman, the Red Baron (1892-1918) flew a German fighter plane during WWI and was a member of the German Army Air Service beginning in 1915.  He was a very skilled pilot and was recognized as a hero by the Germans.

The German fighter pilot was killed when his plane was shot down on April 21, 1918.  There were a lot of questions surrounding his career and his death.  He may be the most recognizable fighter pilot in history and he has been been a frequent topic in movies and books.

Von Richthofen’s plane is not the only war plane Ford has built.  He has also been working on replicas of other planes that were used during WWI and flown by the Germans.  He intends to have these completed by next year.  His next project after these will be a plane used by Britain.  Ford notes that each plane costs about £50,000 to built, but once they are finished, they are worth much more.  But Ford has no intention of selling any of his creations, The Telegraph reports.

Ford is grateful for the help he received while building the plane.  David Emmerson, David Hutchinson, Terry Dobner and his wife all contributed to building the plane.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE