Anthony Fokker is a name that will forever live in military history. One of the first and most successful of the aviation pioneers, the Dutch designer’s fighters of the First World War are still remembered as both some of the most formidable and innovative machines of the conflict.
Indeed, Fokker is also generally heralded as creating the first truly effective fighter, the E.I, which was the first production fighter to have a synchronized machine gun; a development that was to become largely standard in all nation’s fighters.
This reputation for innovation meant that after the war Fokker, now established in his native Netherland’s, continued to be an important developer and builder of aircraft, and by the late 1920’s the Fokker company was the biggest manufacturer of aircraft in the world.
But the ‘30s saw the company decline and rapidly fall behind. Fokker himself was caught up in his business interests in the United States and suffering from declining health and the Dutch side of the company struggled to stay up to date with many aspects of developing aircraft design, particularly in building all-metal aircraft. This led to falling orders as Fokker aircraft became more and more outdated because of the rapid pace of aviation development at the time.
The situation really came to a head when the company failed to secure a major order from the Dutch East Indies in 1935. The colonial authorities there decided that a modern bomber was the perfect solution to their defence requirements and so set about selecting one.
Up until that time Fokker had been all but guaranteed to receive such an order from the Dutch East Indies Air Force, the ML-KNIL. Problem was, they didn’t have anything suitable.
Instead the ML-KNIL ordered Martin B-10 bombers from America, initially in small batches but then in increasing amounts year on year until the number stood at 121 aircraft. In the latter half of the 1930’s, that was a huge order.
Fokker had actually developed a broadly comparable aircraft during this process, the T.V, but the ML-KNIL had little interest as the partial wood-and-fabric construction of the Fokker aircraft was considered inferior to the all-metal B-10. Indeed, despite lobbying from the Colonial Office that the Dutch manufacturer should get the order the ML-KNIL refused to give ground and stuck with the Martin B-10.
This led Fokker to realise that they needed to up their game especially as it was apparent that, with the rapid march of progress, the B-10s would soon need replacing as well. So, in April 1938 they set about creating a thoroughly modern bomber aircraft that was a match for anything else of the time.
The Fokker T.IX.
This was of all-metal construction and was, finally, truly an aircraft fully comparable to other nations equivalents. Carrying a five-man crew the T.IX was powered by twin Bristol Hercules 14-cylinder radials that produced 1,375hp each and which gave the aircraft a top speed of 270mph (440km/h).
In terms of its defensive armament the T.IX never seems to have had it fitted and as such there are various reports as to what it would have been equipped with. But it likely would have retained the armament of its T.V predecessor which was composed of a 20mm cannon in the nose and single rifle-calibre machine guns in dorsal and ventral positions, though it is conceivable that may have been altered had things worked out differently.
Payload was 2,000kg (4,400lb) all carried in the internal bomb bay and, all-in-all, on paper the Fokker T.IX was a thoroughly competent aircraft of its time that appeared as good and often better than anything else in its class flying.
But as you’ve probably guessed, things did not work out for the Fokker T.IX.
Flight testing began in September 1939, a few days after the invasion of Poland and Britain and France’s declaring war on Germany. This for starters almost certainly meant that the T.IX could never reach production as Britain was not going to sell Fokker any more Hercules engines and there was no equivalent Dutch powerplant. Plus, Fokker had more than enough on its plate trying to get existing orders out the door.
Regardless, the flight tests, of which fifty were conducted, did show that the T.IX seemed to be a good aircraft in the air. Unfortunately, things came to a literal grinding halt in March 1940 when the aircraft’s undercarriage collapsed on landing.
Damage wasn’t particularly significant but as said Fokker had a mass of work on and repairing the T.IX wasn’t as much of a priority. So, when the German invasion of the Netherlands began in May, the T.IX was sitting in a hanger at the Fokker works where it suffered the further indignity of being damaged by shrapnel from German bombs.
With the fall of the Netherlands the aircraft, along with the entire Fokker production plant, fell into German hands. No doubt the remains were picked over by the aircraft’s new owners, but they had no real interest and Fokker was tasked with building parts for German aircraft.
The T.IX was broken up, though some parts were retained at technical colleges even after the war, though these too would eventually go to the scrapyard in 1960, spelling the end of an interesting aircraft that, despite its potential, was just too late in the day to get a chance.
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