The Case of the Furtive Fokker
First of all, kudos to Tim Dubé for organizing a fine convention, The Big Five-O, in Ottawa for the Canadian Aviation Historical Society, and keeping it running right on time.
I enjoyed very much all the program sessions presented at the hotel, as well as the evening at Vintage Wings, the air show at the Gatineau airport, the time at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Battle of Britain Parade there on Sunday. As my flight home to Edmonton on Monday didn't leave until 7 pm, I had the day to myself and spent four hours in a return visit to the Canadian War Museum.
However, one of the main reasons I attend CAHS conferences is to meet again friends and colleagues I know, and to make new acquaintances who share an interest in aviation history. It was great to see you all!
The session by Edward Soye, dealing with the Fokker trophies of the First World War and the first CNE Airshow, was all new information for me. I was particularly interested to learn that one of the Fokkers obtained from the war was to be assigned to my alma mater, the University of Alberta. Some time ago I learned a little about that, but only a little. See attached image, a photo I shot of the screen in Ed's presentation, which is a letter that names the U of A as a Fokker recipient.
I inquired about the U of A Fokker D.VII to Dr. Rod Macleod, professor emeritus of history at the U of A. I had the pleasure of serving on the board of the Alberta Aviation Museum with him for five years. Rod is a past president, and I believe back on board for another term. We have a Fokker biplane at the museum and I asked for details about it.
Rod replied with the following note. Henry Marshall Tory, mentioned in the note, was first president, and president at the time the Fokker was offered to the University:
"Our Fokker is a D.VIII, not a D.VII and is a replica. The story of the U of A Fokker is interesting. Henry Marshall Tory wanted to set up an aeronautical engineering program at the end of the war and requested war trophy aircraft. Whether or not any were ever delivered is a mystery. The UFA government that came in was opposed to any government spending that didn't directly benefit farmers. They also had a strong pacifist element. For both those reasons they killed Tory's initiative. I suspect the aircraft were never delivered. Certainly there is no indication in the university archives that they were ever here."
So now I'm more curious than ever! What happened to the U of A Fokker? Does anybody know? Is the engine still somewhere?
Yesterday I stopped at the magazine stand in the grocery store and out of idle curiosity, picked up a copy of the October/November issue of Our Canada, a magazine that once published an article of mine, and which I buy from time to time. Amazingly, there is an article in there about the Fokker D.VII in the museum of the Brome County Historical Society in Québec, which Ed Skoye mentioned in his presentation!
Attached, from the Glenbow Museum and Archives in Calgary, is a picture of a Fokker D.VII. Could it be the U of A Fokker? Seated in the cockpit is Elmer Fullerton (1891-1968), a Member of Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame, the person who designed the RCAF tartan.
For more information and photos of that aircraft, see:
Scroll to the bottom of this page: http://www.aerofile.info/fokkerd7/d7html/canada.htm#Alberta to see a note about the U of A Fokker.
More information about the Fokker D.VII is at: http://www.outerzone.co.uk/plan_files_01/1018/fokkerd7.pdf (PDF file), including the plans for building a model!
Here are some YouTube clips of Fokker D.VII models or replicas flying:
and some air to air video of a Fokker replica.
While there seems to be doubt about whether the University of Alberta received a Fokker D.VII in 1920, and if it did, its whereabouts appear to be unknown. However, Edward Soye in my previous letter, has provided some excellent information.
To start with, here is a news clipping he sent from the December 6, 1935 front page of The Gateway, the student newspaper of the University of Alberta.
The aircraft that was shipped to Alberta was none other than Fokker D.VII 8493/18. This was one of the aircraft that had been used widely by the CAF in England. In fact, it was the one that had been emblazoned with the No 1 Squadron logo. I showed a photograph of the squadron's CO, Andrew McKeever, leaning against the leading edge of this very machine while it was still in England.
It was shipped from Borden on May 12th, 1920. Apparently it was displayed at the university between the 6th and 8th of July, 1920. The engine from this aircraft (45105) is the one that is now in a flying D.VII Replica in the Netherlands - via Tasmania.
See Edward's impressive, highly informative and well illustrated about the Fokkers that came to Canada, published by Vintage Wings of Canada, at: Those Canadian Fokkers - War Trophies and the Nascent Canadian Air Force.
More to come...