On December 23, 1939, Dutch aviation pioneer and aircraft manufacturer Anton Herman Gerard “Anthony” Fokker passed away. He is most famous for the fighter aircraft he produced in Germany during the First World War.
It is believed that at the age of about 16, Anthony Fokker witnessed his first airplane flight and his enthusiasm for aviation was awakened. He enrolled in a school in Germany that offered a course in aeronautics. He helped building an aircraft there, but unfortunately, when the instructor wrecked the plane the course was canceled. However, Fokker kept building airplanes and took the third home. Fokker made a triumphal flight honoring Queen Wilhelmina’s birthday. His father was incredibly proud of his son and financed Fokker’s formation of a company to manufacture airplanes. He increased the interest of German officials and sold two planes quickly. The young engineer also opened a flight school and trained German Army pilots and moved his factory to Schwerin, Germany. [1,2]
It is assumed that Fokker was quite surprised by the outbreak of World War I. In the past, the engineer and pilot tried to sell his planes to other European countries without any success and since the Dutch declared themselves neutral, Fokker decided to stay in Germany. More of his unarmed scout and observation planes were demanded, but airmen quickly began dueling in the skies. The Germans were able to take down a French pilot who had a machine gun attached to his plane and Fokker was ordered to advance his technologies as well. He managed develop an innovative mechanism to synchronize a machine gun’s firing with propeller rotation so its bullets would never strike the blades, mounting the gun on one of his scout planes. The officials were doubtful at first but only until August 1915, when the first Fokker plane took down an enemy. The Germans realized their incredible advantage and for several months, there was no defense against them until the French managed to capture a Fokker plane, revealing the secret. [1,2]
Around 1916, Fokker refused to give up his Dutch citizenship and he was declared a naturalized German and was allowed to leave the country. Still, Fokker kept building more and better airplanes including the triplane, which was used by the infamous Red Baron. His D-8 monoplane was so maneuverable, that the British called it the Flying Razor. After Germany’s surrender, the Fokker factories were supposed to be liquidated, but he smuggled numerous planes and engines to Holland, where he established a new factory.
The F-2 he developed was used by the Dutch Airline KLM before Fokker moved to the United States in order to establish the American Aircraft Corporation. He created the famous Fokker trimotor, which was a huge sensation and set new benchmarks in the matter of comfort and safety. Fokker trimotors began setting records all over the world including the flight from from California to Australia. In 1929, General Motors acquired the Fokker Aircraft Corporation and build the 4-engined F-32, the United States’ largest transport of the time. 
At yovisto, you might be interested in the history video lecture ‘How to Design an Aircraft’.
References and Further Reading:
-  Anthony Fokker Biography and Accomplishments at National Aviation
-  Anthony Fokker at Luftfahrtgeschichte
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