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EAA Experimenter

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What Our Members Are Building

Tommy Thompson's 3/4 scale 1918 Fokker D-VIII

As of March 10, 2012

By Tommy Thompson, for Experimenter


I have always liked the WWI-era airplanes. Overall they are simple to build, fly slow, and appeal to lots of aviation enthusiasts. Plus it's a rare sight to see one flying. The Red Baron died at age 25 just two months before the D-VIII saw production. Two hundred and ninety-five were built during the last six months of the war. Only thirty-six ever saw combat, and a D-VIII had the last aerial confirmed kill as well. It was nicknamed the "Flying Razor," and I'll share with you my build of this modern rendition of this historic aircraft.

It has always captured my imagination as a unique early parasol design for its time.

I'm building mine in the garage. I've built it to the point of installing the floor boards, seat frame and pan, cabane struts, and center section. I've finished the main gear, cut out the instrument panel, riveted the firewall, turtle deck, and tail assembly. One wing is complete and the other about 90 percent. The elevator operates with a tube, the rudder with cables and ailerons on a push-pull tube arrangement.


I have an A084 four-cylinder opposed engine and will use a wood prop on a direct-drive aluminum hub. My biggest issues have been making patterns with cardboard or scrap sheet aluminum and driving 8 miles to a shop to fabricate the final design. I plan to work on the fuel tank soon and build the motor mount after that.

It will be covered with 1.8-ounce Dacron and will use the Stits Poly-Fiber system. I have learned that it takes a lot longer to design, measure, and then make a bracket or part than I ever imagined. And I have looked at all the paint schemes from that era and haven't yet decided on the colors I'll use either.


I have a private pilot certificate and a light-sport repairman certificate. But I like to consider myself a 21st-century barnstormer.

The Fokker D-VIII airframe kit is available from Airdrome Aeroplanes in Holden, Missouri. It came with 65 pages of CAD construction drawings. It's all aluminum tubes and riveted together using gussets.

The main wheels are 26 x 2.125 and weigh 15.8 pounds each. They are 45 pounds per square inch (psi) max tire pressure, and each one has a max load of 310 pounds. Available from Northern Tool for $35 each, they are industrial grade and made for heavy-duty lawn and garden carts. I will put brakes on them as soon as I figure out how to adapt them.

Fokker   Fokker
Fokker   Fokker

The wings don't fold, but I designed them to be in unpinned at the ends of the center-section leading edge and tailing edge spars, then unbolted at the bottom of the fuselage strut junction. The center section is 5 feet, 2 inches wide, and each wing panel is 9 feet long.

Right now I have an A084 surplus military generator engine that weighs 122 pounds. It's rated at 45 hp at 3,250 rpm and is a direct-drive, four-cycle, four-cylinder opposed and uses a 57 x 25 wood prop which makes 240 pounds of static thrust. I found it on Craigslist, the engine only 100 miles away from my home and for only $600. By my calculations, it should cruise at 70 mph and climb about 600 fpm with a fuel burn of about 2 gallons/hour.


General Information
  Experimental Ultralight
Empty weight 275 pounds 253 pounds
Useful load 242 pounds 242 pounds
Stall speed 32 mph 32 mph
Cruising speed 80 mph 63 mph
Top speed 92 mph 78 mph
Rate of climb 1120 fpm 750 fpm
Powerplant Rotax 503: 52 hp Rotax 377: 35 hp

Engines that have been successfully installed: Volkswagen conversion, Continental A65, and Lycoming O-145.

"The most effective way to do it, is to do it." Amelia Earhart


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