The Fokker Universal was the first aircraft built in the United States that was based on the designs of Dutch-born Anthony Fokker.
Design and development
Anthony Fokker established the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation at the Teterboro Airport in Teterboro, New Jersey. One of his first ventures for the new company was building other aircraft under license. In 1926, he formulated plans to create an original aircraft designed for utility and air transport. The design was spearheaded by Robert Noorduyn and based on conventional Fokker designs. The mixed-material construction featured a welded steel tube frame for the fuselage and tail surfaces that were covered in fabric as well as a large wing constructed of wood with a wingspan of 14.55 m, mounted above the fuselage. Although the overall design was quite "clean," all cables, horns and attachments were mounted externally, adding considerably to the drag.
When the Fokker Universal (known within Fokker as the Model 4) was first developed in 1925, it had a 149 kW (200 hp) Wright J-4 or a 164 kW (220 hp) J-5 engine. The later Standard Universal version was powered by a 246 kW (330 hp) Wright J-6-9 engine. Two gasoline tanks were mounted in the wings near the forward edge. As typical of the era, the pilot sat in an open cockpit forward of the wing’s leading edge. The enclosed cabin below and to the rear of the pilot held four to six passengers or could be fitted for cargo hauling. Cargo capacity was estimated to be approximately 427 kg (940 lb); fuel capacity was 280 l (78 US gal) or 213 kg (468 lb)
They were sold new at the factory in 1927 for $14,200. At a time when Fokker America was mostly producing local versions of aircraft designed in the Netherlands, the Universal reversed this situation by becoming an American-designed aircraft produced by the parent company as the Fokker F.XI (although Fokker F.XI and Universal were not identical).
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Powered by the newly developed, air-cooled Wright R-790 Whirlwind radial engine which proved to be reliable, the Universal became widely regarded as a good choice for small air carriers and operators. The rugged utility aircraft proved it could haul cargo or passengers and its unique shock absorber system made of bungee cords enabled it to land on bumpy and uneven landing strips. Configurations could be readily changed from landplane to seaplane equipped with floats or if fitted with skis, the Universal could be used on rough ice and snow surfaces. An order for 12 Universals was placed by Western Canada Airways when its owner, James Armstrong Richardson, Sr. judged that the Standard Universal was the best available transport for use in the northern regions of Canada.
Fokker Standard Universal G-CAJD is also known as "The Ghost of Charron Lake". It was lost in a snow storm on 10 December 1931. After a 30-year search for the rare bush plane, it was discovered in 2005. A Western Canada Aviation Museum search team (the Fokker Aircraft Recovery Team, F.A.R.T.), using sophisticated side scan sonar technology, finally located the aircraft literally "parked" on the lake bottom. In July 2006, the Ghost's engine was returned to Winnipeg, along with several artifacts.
Manufacturer Fokker Aircraft Company (Atlantic Aircraft Corporation)
Designer Robert B.C. Noorduyn
Produced 1926-1931 Number built 44
Unit cost 1926 $14,200 (USD)
Developed into Fokker Super Universal
Capacity: 4 passengers or 940 lb / 427 kg cargo
Length: 33 ft 3 in (10.13 meters)
Wingspan: 47 ft 9 in (14.56 meters); Height: 8 ft 9 in (2.7 meters)
Wing area: 341 sq ft (31.68 meters2)
Empty weight: 2,192 lb (996 kg); Loaded weight: 4,000 lb (1,818 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Wright J-5 radial engine, 220 hp (164 kW)
Maximum speed: 118 mph (189 km/h, 103 kn)
Cruise speed: 98 mph (158 km/h, 86 kn)
Range: 500 mi (439 nmi, 805 km)
Service ceiling: 12,000 ft (3,658 m)
While not specifically designed for long-distance flights, the Universal was suitable for pioneering work. Charles Lindbergh had wanted to fly a Universal on his transatlantic flight but officials at the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation who reviewed his request in 1926, thought that Lindbergh's plans were too risky