Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Panzer Divisions

The military historian Matthew Cooper described the German Panzer arm of service as: 'a failure. A glorious failure ... but a failure nonetheless ... The significance of this failure was immense. The Panzer Divisions, the prime offensive weapon, had become indispensable ... in both tactical and strategic terms ... Upon the fortunes of the armoured force was based the fate of the whole army ...’. ‘He concluded that the fault for the demise of the Panzer arm lay in the hands of Hitler and the Army commanders, 'who failed to grasp the full implications of this new, revolutionary doctrine and consistently misused the force upon which their fortunes had come to depend'. Another reason was the neglect of equipment and organizational requirements, which stunted the Panzer arm's potential in the field.

Hitler was impressed by armour operating in conjunction with other arms. In 1933, after witnessing a demonstration of mobile troops, he had been very enthusiastic, although armoured theory and practice were not new in the Germany Army. Indeed, it would be true to say that Germany's armoured force was born on the steppes of Russia during the 1920s. Among other prohibitions, the conditions of the Versailles Treaty forbade the German Army from having armoured fighting vehicles. To circumvent this restriction, the governments of republican Germany and the Soviet Union entered into a conspiracy: the Soviet Union would grant a vast area of land upon which the German military commanders could practice manoeuvres, while in another part of that territory, factories would be set up to construct the armoured fighting vehicles which German experts had designed and which the German commanders needed for their manoeuvres. A great number of German senior commanders and armour theorists went to Kasan in the Soviet Union and developed the skills required in handling armour in the mass and in conducting exercises using aircraft. Between them, the Army and Luftwaffe commanders evolved and developed the concept of Blitzkrieg.

This collaboration between Germany and Russia lasted until 1935, when the Nazi government withdrew the Panzer and Luftwaffe detachments from Soviet territory. Thereafter, it was on German soil that tank design and construction was carried out. The first types of Panzer had been given the cover name 'agricultural tractors', to hoodwink the officers of the Armistice Commission, and because that name fitted In with conventional German military thinking that armoured vehicles would be used principally to bring supplies forward across the broken and difficult terrain of the battlefield. This negative attitude towards the strategic employment of armour as a separate arm of service was common to many generals of the high command: one even went so far as to say: 'The idea of Panzer divisions is Utopian.' But the protagonists advanced their ideas, and a Mechanized Troops Inspectorate was set up in June 1934. Hitler's repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles brought the expansion of the German Army, and with it the beginning of an armoured force. As early as July 1935, an ad hoc Panzer division successfully carried out a training exercise which demonstrated that the movement and more particularly, the control - of major Panzer units was practicable. Even further than that, a general staff exercise had studied the employment of a whole Panzer corps in action. The year 1935 also saw the birth of a new arm of service when the Armoured Troops Command was created, which was followed by the raising of the first three Panzer divisions. The Armoured Troops Command had, as yet, no real authority, for armour was not considered to be an equal partner with the infantry, cavalry and artillery arms.

General Guderian was given the post of Chief of Mobile Troops, and took over the development and training of the entire mechanized force of the Army. As a consequence, he had direct access to Hitler. During 1938, two more Panzer divisions were created, as well as a command structure which allowed the Panzer arm - in theory, at least - to be one of the partners in the Field Army.

It was one thing to be accepted as a partner, it was another to be equipped for that role. The Panzers which the armoured divisions needed were issued to non-Panzer units, and another hindrance was that tank quality was poor. The majority of machines in the armoured force were Panzer I and II types, which were not only obsolete, but were under-gunned and under-armoured. A third negative factor was the raising of three light (mobile) divisions in November 1938. These, together with a fourth division, were created instead of Panzer divisions.

It was not until 1940 that the OKW placed all German armour within the framework of its Panzer divisions. This favourable situation was of brief duration, for by the middle years of the war one-fifth of the AFV strengths still remained outside a divisional framework. One final factor was that the German leadership neglected to plan for new types of replacement tanks. Apart from the existing III and IV types, no preparation was made to produce adequate stocks of tanks or other armoured vehicles or any new marks of Panzer. It was not until 1943 that top priority was given to AFV production. Total production of Panzers in the second month of the war, September 1939, was only fifty-seven machines. Clearly, there was a need for improvement.

German superiority in the matter of Panzer operations during the war owed nothing to the number or quality of the machines it fielded, but was rather the product of superior organizations and training. The campaign in Poland did not see the Panzer force being used in the way that Guderian and the other theorists had planned. It was, instead, the speed with which the whole German Army moved - not just that of the Panzer divisions - which brought victory. For the Polish campaign, the German Army had fielded 2,100 tanks, and lost 218 of them. More serious than the 10 per cent battle loss was the high rate of mechanical failure, which kept 25 per cent of the machines out of action at anyone time. There had been no improvement by 1940, when the war in the west opened. For that campaign, out of a total of 2,574 machines, fewer than 627 were of the heavier Panzer III and Panzer IV types, and 1,613 were the obsolete Panzer I and II. Nevertheless, as Guderian recorded, the Panzer force fought its battle more or less without interference from the OKW, and as a result, achieved dramatic successes.

One of the few examples of Hitler's direct interference was when he halted the Panzer divisions outside Dunkirk, an act which allowed Britain to withdraw the bulk of its Army. As a result of the experiences gained through the victory in the west, it became clear that the Panzer arm of service would soon rise to become a partner equal to the infantry. Hitler was determined to invade the Soviet Union, but needed to increase the number of Panzer divisions. To achieve that growth, he could have decided to increase the output of German tank factories. Instead, he deluded himself that numbers equalled strength, and raised the number of armoured divisions from 10 to 21 by the simple expedient of halving the AFV strength of each division. Thus, each division was made up of a single tank regiment numbering 150-200 machines. Hitler was convinced that a Panzer division fielding a single armoured regiment had the striking power of a division which fielded two regiments. It was a fatal mistake, particularly since Panzer production in the first six months of 1941 averaged only 212 vehicles per month. The total number of machines available for the new war against Russia was 5,262, of which only 4,198 were held to be 'front-line' Panzers, and of that total, only 1,404 were the better-armed Panzer III and IV. Those vehicles, good as they were, were soon to be confronted by the Red Army's superior T 34s and KV Is. Although inferior in every respect, the Panzer llls and IVs were forced to remain in front-line service until the Panzer V (Panther) and the Panzer VI (Tiger) types could be rushed into service. An example of the blindness of the general staff towards armour requirements was shown by General Halder, who seemed to be satisfied that 431 new Panzers would be produced by the end of July 1941, although this was less than half the number of machines lost during that period. Throughout the war, replacements never equalled the losses suffered.

To summarize: German industry was not equipped for the mass production of AFVs, and the ones which were produced for the Army were inferior to those of its opponents - certainly until the Panther and the Tiger came into service. Although the Panzer arm fought valiantly to the end, from 1943 it was firmly on the defensive, except for a few isolated offensives. The greatest mistake was that the supreme commander, Hitler, would accept no limitations upon his strategic plans, and sent major armoured formations across vast areas of country without consideration for the strain upon crews or machines and the drain upon the petrol resources of the Reich, and then committed those tired crews and worn-out vehicles to battle against unequal odds. Because of those and many other factors, Matthew Cooper must be seen as correct in his verdict that the Panzer arm was a failure.

The Panzer divisions of the German Army were eventually numbered 1-27, 116, 232 and 233. The establishment also contained named Panzer divisions, as well as light divisions, which were later upgraded to Panzer status. When general mobilization was ordered, the Army had five Panzer and four light divisions on establishment.

The infantry component of the 1st Panzer Division was Schützen Regiment No.1, made up of two battalions, each of five companies; the 2nd Panzer Division incorporated the 2nd Schützen Regiment, with two battalions, each of five companies; the 3rd Panzer Division had the 3rd Schützen Regiment, also with two battalions, each of five companies; the 4th Panzer Division's infantry component was the 12th Schützen Regiment, with two battalions, each of four companies; and the 5th Panzer Division had the 13th Schützen Regiment, with two battalions, each of four companies.

The organization of the light divisions was not standard. The 1st Light Division had Cavalry Schützen Regiment No.4, which was reorganized into a motorized infantry brigade, with a single infantry regiment, a recce battalion and a tank regiment. The 2nd Light Division had Cavalry Schützen Regiments Nos 6 and 7, formed into two motorized infantry regiments, a recce regiment and a battalion of tanks; the infantry regiments were made up of two battalions, each of which fielded four squadrons. The 3rd Light Division had Cavalry Schützen Regiment No. 8 on establishment, formed into a motorized infantry regiment of two battalions, each fielding two squadrons; the divisional establishment was completed with a motorcycle battalion and a Panzer battalion. The 4th Light Division fielded Cavalry Schützen Regiments Nos 10 and 11, forming two motorized infantry regiments and a Panzer battalion; each of the motorized regiments was composed of two battalions, both of these fielding four squadrons.

In the months between the end of the Polish campaign and the opening of the war in the west, the four light divisions were upgraded to Panzer division status, and were numbered 6-9. Three motorized infantry regiments were taken to create the 10th Panzer Division. Other infantry regiments were used to increase the strength of the first three Schützen regiments to three battalions, as well as helping to create the 11th Schützen Regiment.

The number of Panzer divisions on establishment was increased from 10 to 20 during the autumn of 1940, and that number was further increased during 1941, with the 21st Panzer Division being raised for service in Africa. During the winter of 1941/2, Panzer divisions Nos 22, 23 and 24 were raised. The 24th was created by conversion of the 1st Cavalry Division, whose mounted regiments were renamed and renumbered Schützen Regiments Nos 21 and 26.

On 5 July 1942, the Schützen regiments of Panzer divisions were renamed Panzergrenadier regiments, and there was a change in organization, with the disbandment of the machine gun company which had been on the strength of each battalion. Panzer Divisions Nos 25, 26 and 27 were formed during 1942. Ten divisions were destroyed on the Eastern Front and in Africa, the 14th, 16th and 24th were lost at Stalingrad, while the 22nd and 27th suffered such severe losses that they had to be broken up. The 14th, 16th and 24th Divisions were then re-raised in France. In Tunisia, the 10th, 15th and 21st Panzer Divisions were lost, as were the 90th Light Division and the 164th and 999th Light Africa Divisions. The 15th and 90th Light were re-raised as Panzergrenadier divisions. The 21st Panzer was also re-raised in its former role. Neither the 164th Light nor the 999th Light were re-formed.

Most of the Panzer divisions on establishment were reorganized along the lines of a 'Panzer Division 1943 Pattern'. In this, the first battalion of each division became armoured Panzergrenadiers, able to fight from their armoured vehicles. The first three companies of the battalion had a war establishment of 4 heavy and 39 light machine guns, 2 medium mortars, and 7.5 cm and 3.7 cm guns. No.4 Company had three heavy PAK, 2 light infantry guns, six 7.5 cm and 21 machine guns.

The first, second and third companies of the battalions in the new-pattern division each had 4 heavy machine guns, 18 light machines guns and 2 medium mortars. No.4 Company had 4 heavy mortars, 3 heavy PAK and 3 machine guns. No.9 - the infantry gun company - had 6 guns mounted on tracks. No. 10 Company was the pioneer company, and was equipped with 12 machine guns and 18 flame-throwers. During 1943/4, the 18th Panzer Division was broken up, and units were taken from it to create the 18th Artillery Division. During this period the 'Panzer Lehr' Division was raised, and three reserve Panzer divisions were used to create the 9th, 11th and 116th Panzer Divisions. The military disasters of the summer of 1944 brought about the creation of Panzer Brigades 101-113, which were used to reinforce Panzer or Panzergrenadier divisions which had suffered heavy losses.

During the autumn of 1944, the Army followed the pattern of the SS in combining two Panzer divisions into a permanent corps structure. Until that time, Army Panzer Corps HQs had been administrative units, to which divisions had been allocated as required. Army Panzer corps were then created, and 'Grossdeutschland', 'Feldherrenhalle' and XXIV Panzer Corps were created. The first named contained the 'Grossdeutschland' Panzergrenadier Division, the Panzergrenadier Division 'Brandenburg' and the 'Grossdeutschland' Musketier Regiment. The 'Feldherrenhalle' Corps had 1st and 2nd Divisions of that name, and the XXIV Panzer Corps contained the 16th and 17th Panzer Divisions, as well as the 29th Panzer Fusilier Regiment.

The final reorganization of the Panzer arm of service saw the creation of the 'Panzer Division 1945'. This was an internal rearrangement which created and fielded a Panzer battle group because there was insufficient fuel to move all the Panzer vehicles, and only the machine gun company and the heavy weapons company were mobile.

The war between Germany and the Soviet Union

The war between Germany and the Soviet Union which began on 22 June 1941 was waged on an extraordinary scale across a front of 1,000 miles. The war was Hitler’s inspiration. Following the success of German forces in 1939 and 1940 he finally decided in December 1940 to launch a quick strike at the Soviet Union using the same war of movement and concentrated armoured/ air fighting power that had succeeded until then. Divided into three army groups, North, Centre, and South, three million German and allied forces drove against the unprepared Soviet armies in a series of devastating pincer movements which brought them to the edge of Leningrad and Moscow in four months, and to the economically rich Donets Basin in the southern Ukraine. The winter weather prevented the quick victory Hitler wanted, but the following spring German forces moved forward again in the south to try to capture the whole of the southern industrial and oil region and to swing behind the remaining Soviet forces to the north to complete one final annihilating encirclement. By September German forces had reached Stalingrad on the Volga and the edge of the Caucasus mountains.

The German attack was a model of operational skill and tactical efficiency, but by the late summer of 1942 there were clear signs that the momentum was lost. In November the Soviet armies on either side of Stalingrad inflicted the first major defeat on the invading force. The encirclement and capture of 300,000 men of the German 6th Army in Stalingrad in January 1943 was regarded world-wide as the point at which the tide turned against the aggressor states. The German defeat has often been blamed on Hitler himself, who had taken over direct command of German armies in December 1941. While it is certainly the case that he led his forces into a campaign where they became vulnerably overstretched across the steppe of southern Russia, few German generals even in the autumn of 1942 thought that Soviet forces were capable of very serious resistance in the south. The roots of the German problem go deeper than this. During the first eighteen months of the conflict the German forces underwent a gradual process of ‘de-modernization’. The numbers of aircraft and tanks were constantly reduced through high battle losses and the diversion of resources to other fronts. Production in the Reich failed to keep pace. At the end of very long lines of communication the maintenance and repair of vehicles and planes became a logistical nightmare. The severe climate—bitterly cold in winter, hot and dusty in the summer—took a heavy toll of vehicles. Armoured divisions began the war with 328 tanks apiece; by the summer of 1943 they averaged 73; by the end of the war the figure was 54. The German army fell back on the use of horses. During 1942 German industry turned out only 59,000 trucks for an army of 8 million men, but the same year 400,000 horses were sent to the Eastern Front. The German forces concentrated their air and tank power on a few élite divisions; the rest of the army moved like those of the Great War, by rail, horse, or foot.

The Soviet forces experienced entirely the opposite process. From a feeble platform in 1941 Soviet armies and air forces underwent an extraordinary programme of reform and modernization. Soviet military leaders set out deliberately to copy the success of their enemy. Air forces were concentrated in large air armies, centrally co-ordinated for the most flexible response to problems at the front line, and with great improvements in radio communication which made it possible to give effective support to ground forces. Armies were reorganized to match German practice, with a core of heavily armoured and mobile divisions. Small improvements, such as the installation of two-way radios in tanks, supplied from the United States as aid, produced a radical change in fighting power. Stalin gave high priority to supply and logistics, and by 1943 the number of aircraft and tanks produced began to overhaul German production by a wide margin, while the technical quality improved remarkably in the course of two years. The most significant reform came in the attention paid to operational skills. Stalin devolved responsibility for organizing operations to the general staff and his exceptionally talented deputy Marshal Zhukov. Under his leadership the Soviet forces proved capable of planning and executing operations involving millions of men, a feat quite beyond Soviet generals in the early stages of the war.

The effects of these far-reaching reforms were demonstrated in the largest and most significant set-piece battle of the war, at Kursk in July 1943. In an effort to stabilize their front- line German generals planned to lure the Soviet forces into a huge pitched battle on the Kursk steppe where they hoped to encircle and capture the core of the revived Red Army. Zhukov prepared a defensive field of such depth and sophistication that the German armoured spearheads were only able to move a matter of miles before annihilating Soviet counter-offensives broke the German line and drove the invading force back beyond the Dnieper River. In the following eighteen months Soviet offensive tactics succeeded in driving back what had been regarded until then as the finest army and air force in the world. German forces swung on to the defensive, concentrating on using tanks as mobile defensive artillery, and switching to the mass production of anti-tank guns and heavy defensive armament. The growing imbalance of forces in favour of the Red Army disguised the extent to which the balance on the battlefield began to swing back to the defender. In the gruelling advance into Germany both sides suffered extraordinary losses. It was here that the Second World War was won and lost. The Red Army destroyed some 607 divisions of German and allied forces between 1941 and 1945. Two-thirds of German tank losses were inflicted on the Eastern Front.

June 1941 - the largest invasion ever mounted - Babarossa - and the great conflict that ensued....

Fokker D.VII

Easy flier: The Fokker D.VII was considered a fairly easy aircraft to fly – an important consideration, since, by the summer of 1918, pilots were being rushed to the front after a bare minimum of training.

Goering's Circus - Fokker D.VII Original Painting - Roger H. Middlebrook GAvA “We got into a dogfight with the new brand of Fokkers… we put up the best fight of our lives, but these Huns were just too good for us.” Lieutenant John M. Grider British pilot’s diary entry on first encountering the Fokker D.VII

By 1918, German pilots were desperate for a single-seat fighter to replace their outdated Albatroses and Fokker Dr.I triplanes. After evaluation trials held at Adlershof, Berlin, at the end of January, the Fokker D.VII was selected for mass production, and the first models arrived at the front the following April. Hard-pressed Jastas (fighter squadrons) greeted their new mounts with relief and enthusiasm. German pilot Rudolf Stark wrote: “The machines climb wonderfully and respond to the slightest movement of the controls.” Their impact on the fighting peaked during the summer of 1918, by which time some 40 Jastas were flying D.VIIs, many of them with BMW engines that gave substantially better performance than the original Mercedes power plants. Operating in skies crowded with Allied aircraft of all kinds, D.VII pilots achieved exceptional kill-rates. For example, one squadron, Jasta Boelcke, scored 46 confirmed victories in a month for the loss of only two of its own pilots. The BMW-powered D.VII was especially effective at high altitude – its pilots were among the first to be issued with experimental oxygen equipment, as well as parachutes. Flying high gave the D.VII the initial advantage in encounters with Allied fighters and also allowed it to hunt down the Allied reconnaissance aircraft, which depended on altitude for safety. About 1,500 D.VIIs were delivered before the end of the war in November 1918.
Fokker's chief designer, Reinhold Platz, had been working on a series of experimental planes, the V-series, since 1916. These planes were characterized by the use of cantilever wings, first developed during Fokker's government-mandated collaboration with Hugo Junkers. Junkers had originated the idea in 1915 with the first all-metal aircraft, the Junkers J 1, nicknamed Blechesel ("Sheet Metal Donkey" or "Tin Donkey"). The resulting wings were thick, with a rounded leading edge. This gave greater lift and more docile stalling behavior than conventional thin wings.

Late in 1917, Fokker built the experimental V 11 biplane, fitted with the standard Mercedes D.IIIa engine. In January 1918, Idflieg held a fighter competition at Adlershof. For the first time, frontline pilots would directly participate in the evaluation and selection of new fighters. Fokker submitted the V 11 along with several other prototypes. Manfred von Richthofen flew the V 11 and found it tricky, unpleasant, and directionally unstable in a dive. In response to these complaints, Reinhold Platz lengthened the rear fuselage by one structural bay, and added a triangular fixed vertical fin in front of the rudder. Upon flying the modified V 11, Richthofen praised it as the best aircraft of the competition. It offered excellent performance from the outdated Mercedes engine, yet it was safe and easy to fly. Richthofen's recommendation virtually decided the competition, but he was not alone in recommending it. Fokker immediately received a provisional order for 400 production aircraft, which were designated D.VII by Idflieg.

Fokker's factory was not up to the task of meeting all D.VII production orders. Idflieg therefore directed Albatros and AEG to build the D.VII under license, though AEG did not ultimately produce any aircraft. Because the Fokker factory did not use detailed plans as part of its production process, Fokker simply sent a completed D.VII airframe for Albatros to copy. Albatros paid Fokker a five percent royalty for every D.VII built under license. Albatros Flugzeugwerke and its subsidiary, Ostdeutsche Albatros Werke (OAW), built the D.VII at factories in Johannisthal (designated Fokker D.VII (Alb)) and Schneidemühl (Fokker D.VII (OAW)), respectively. Aircraft markings included the type designation and factory suffix, immediately before the individual serial number.

Some parts were not interchangeable between aircraft produced at different factories, even between Albatros and OAW. Additionally each manufacturer tended to differ in nose paint styles. OAW produced examples were delivered with distinctive mauve and green splotches on the cowling. All D.VIIs were produced with the lozenge camouflage covering except for early Fokker-produced D.VIIs, which had a streaked green fuselage. Factory camouflage finishes were often overpainted with colorful paint schemes or insignia for the Jasta, or the individual pilot.

Albatros soon surpassed Fokker in the quantity and workmanship quality of aircraft produced. With a massive production program, over 3,000 to 3,300 D.VII aircraft were delivered from all three plants, considerably more than the commonly quoted but incorrect production figure of 1,700.

In September 1918, eight D.VIIs were delivered to Bulgaria. Late in 1918, the Austro-Hungarian company MÁG (Magyar Általános Gépgyár - Hungarian General Machine Company) commenced licensed production of the D.VII with Austro-Daimler engines. Production continued after the end of the war, with as many as 50 aircraft completed.
Many sources erroneously state that the D.VII was equipped with the 160 hp Mercedes D.III engine. The Germans themselves used the generic D.III designation to describe later versions of that engine. In fact, the earliest production D.VIIs were equipped with 170-180 hp Mercedes D.IIIa. Production quickly switched to the intended standard engine, the higher-compression 134 kW (180 hp) Mercedes D.IIIaü. It appears that some early production D.VIIs delivered with the Mercedes D.IIIa were later re-engined with the D.IIIaü.

By the summer of 1918, a number of D.VIIs received the "overcompressed" 138 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa, the first product of the BMW firm. The BMW IIIa followed the SOHC, straight-six configuration of the Mercedes D.III, but incorporated several improvements. Increased displacement, higher compression, and an altitude-adjusting carburetor produced a marked increase in speed and climb rate at high altitude. Because the BMW IIIa was overcompressed, using full throttle at altitudes below 2,000 m (6,700 ft) risked premature detonation in the cylinders and damage to the engine. At low altitudes, full throttle could produce up to 179 kW (240 hp) for a short time. Fokker-built aircraft with the new BMW engine were designated D.VII(F), the suffix "F" standing for Max Friz, the engine's designer. Some Albatros-built aircraft may also have received a separate designation.

BMW-engined aircraft entered service with Jasta 11 in late June 1918. Pilots clamored for the D.VII(F), of which about 750 were built. However, production of the BMW IIIa was very limited and the D.VII continued to be produced with the 134 kW (180 hp) Mercedes D.IIIaü until the end of the war.

D.VIIs flew with different propeller designs from different manufacturers. Despite the differing appearances there is no indication these propellers gave disparate performance. Axial, Wolff, Wotan, and Heine propellers have been noted.
The BMW-engined D-VII had the highest ceiling of any (operational) pursuit aircraft of the war.  
The most admirable quality of the D-VII may have been the fact that it maintained its performance advantage right up to the limit of that performance and did not degrade long before that limit was reached.   It was also an easy aircraft to fly. . .forgiving to the novice, and one that made average drivers seem more qualified than they actually were.

The only plane the D VIII didn't have manoeuvrability on was the Sopwith Camel and that's only with regards to right turning.   Anyways mostly the D VIII was up high where the Camels were mostly low.

The D VIII (BMW) was faster than the Fokker Dr 1, could climb better at higher altitudes, shared the same advantages of the advanced airfoil design.   In short it had it all on the Dr 1 except manoeuvrability, which it didn't need since its enemies on the allied side were not as manoeuvrable as the D VIII.   In addition it was much easier to fly, take off and land than the Dr 1 which in the general scheme of things makes for a superior pursuit force overall.

Later on, Hermann Göring complained about the problem caused by the unbalance of having some D.VIIs with the BMW motors and the rest having Mercedes motors.   He stated, when engaging the high flying allies the Jasta was basically reduced to half engagement strength, since the BMW powered D.VIIs would leave the Mercedes powered D.VIIs in their wake.
    V 11: Prototype
    V 21: Prototype with tapered wings
    V 22: Prototype with four-bladed propeller
    V 24: Prototype with 179 kW (240 hp) Benz Bz.IVü engine
    V 31: One D.VII aircraft fitted with a hook to tow the V 30 glider
    V 34: D.VII development with 138 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa engine
    V 35: Two-seat development with 138 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa engine and undercarriage fuel tank
    V 36: D.VII development with 138 kW (185 hp) BMW IIIa engine and undercarriage fuel tank
    V 38: Prototype Fokker C.I
Frontline Strength
Fokker D.VIIs being accepted and being delivered are two different things.
1. When the acceptance flight was made at Schwerin-Gorries Airfield by the Army pilot it is the date listed on the acceptance sheets.
2. Sometime after the acceptance flight the aircraft was disassembled and loaded and blocked on flat cars.   When there are enough flat cars to make up the train, the train departs to the designated Armee Flugpark(en).   There were probably no trains made up and departed from the Fokker Flugzeugwerke in March 1918.   The Front Bestand (Front inventory lists) show 19 Fokker D.VII in the Front Line Inventory on 30 April 1918.   None of these D.VIIs had been delivered to units, all were at the Armee Flugpark being reassembled and test flown.   Jasta 10 of JG Nr1 "Richthofen" did not receive their Fokker D.VIIs until around the 24-25 of May 1918. It is my understanding that Jasta 10 was the first to receive the Fokker D.VII.