The Fokker Eindecker fighters were a series of German World War I monoplane single-seat fighter aircraft designed by Dutch engineer Anthony Fokker. Developed in April 1915, the first Eindecker ("Monoplane") was the first purpose-built German fighter aircraft and the first aircraft to be fitted with a synchronization gear, enabling the pilot to fire a machine gun through the arc of the propeller without striking the blades. The Eindecker gave the German Air Service a degree of air superiority from July 1915 until early 1916. This period, during which Allied aviators regarded their poorly armed aircraft as "Fokker Fodder", became known as the "Fokker Scourge".
The Fokker E.III was the main variant of the Eindecker (literally meaning "one deck") fighter aircraft and was also supplied to Austria-Hungary and Turkey in addition to Germany. The E.111 and E.11 had larger span wings with a narrower chord. Most E.111 aircraft were fitted with a larger tank behind the cockpit which gave it an endurance of 2 Ĺ hours more than the E.11.
Most E.IIIs were armed with a single 7.92 mm (.312 in) Spandau LMG 08 machine gun with 500 rounds of ammunition; however, after the failure of the twin-gun Fokker E.IV as a viable successor, some E.IIIs were fitted with twin guns.
Fokker production figures state that 249 E.IIIs were manufactured; however, a number of the 49 E.IIs were upgraded to E.III standard when they were returned to Fokker's Schwerin factory for repairs.
The E.III was the first type to arrive in sufficient numbers to form small specialist fighter units, Kampfeinsitzer Kommandos (KEK) in early 1916.
Previously, Fokker Eindeckers had been allocated singly, just as the E.I and E.II had been, to the front-line Feldflieger Abteilungen that carried out reconnaissance duties.
On 10 August 1916, the first German Jagdstaffeln (single-seat fighter squadrons) were formed, initially equipped with various early fighter types, including a few E.IIIs, by the time numbers of E .111 aircraft were available they had become outmoded and were being replaced by more modern fighters. Standardisation in the Jagdstaffeln (and any real success) had to wait for the availability in numbers of the Albatros D.I and Albatros D.II in early 1917.
Turkish E.IIIs were based at Beersheba in Palestine while others operated in Mesopotamia during the Siege of Kut-al-Amara.
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