Dierikx, Marc.


Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington and London, 1st ed., 1997. Xi + 250 pp., photo-plates. D.j., 23 x 15cm. FINE. Rising to prominence as a builder of biplanes and triplanes used extensively in World War I, Anthony Fokker (1890-1939) made aerial combat possible by inventing a device to synchronize machine gun fire with propellers. By 1918 he was the manufacturer of Germany's top fighter planes. A decade later he headed the world's largest aircraft manufacturing conglomerate, renowned for an innovative trimotor plane. Arguing that Fokker's early success was due as much to good timing and marketing strategies as to engineering genius, the author draws from archives in Europe and America to trace Fokker's mixed career as an aviation businessman. He shows how Fokker's reluctance to invest in research and development, his propensity for producing small-series, highly customized aircraft, and his struggle with quality control led to the eventual decline of his empire. The author shows how Fokker's financial strategies affected the sales of his planes and he details Fokker's unfounded confidence in the giant F-32, which tried to compensate with sheer size for its lack of technical innovation. During the early 1930's, as a salesman for the Douglas and Lockheed companies, Fokker played a crucial role in the American aviation industry's conquest of the European market and contends that the continuing American dominance of international aircraft construction is Fokker's most enduring legacy.

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