Fokker D.VII “RK” rolled out at Great War Flying Museum

Report and photos by Gord McNulty, CAHS Vice President

Fokker D VII full scale replica C GWWI rolled out at GWFM Brampton Ontario July 15 2018 Gord McNulty 545

Fokker D.VII, full-scale replica, C-GWWI, rolled out at GWFM, Brampton, Ontario, July 15, 2018.

After eight years of dedicated volunteer work, the Great War Flying Museum rolled out its full-sized replica Fokker D.VII “RK” on July 15. As the first aircraft built by the museum, D.VII --registered C-GWWI --- now has a bright new identify in the colours of Lt. Richard Kraut, the original pilot of RK.

During the past 30 years, C-GWWI had worn the colours of two famous German aces. First flown in 1977, it was originally painted in an all-white paint scheme as flown by Hermann Goring. Then it was painted in the blue, red and white colours of another German ace, Rudolf Berthold.

In 2007, the aircraft was substantially damaged when it hit trees and terrain during a forced landing after an engine failure at the Geneseo, New York air show. The pilot fortunately walked away in what the museum website described as “combining equal parts of stick and rudder work with luck.”

The GWFM chose this latest paint scheme because of its distinctive RK insignia and historic Canadian connection.

Timo Veth of Amsterdam a great grandson of Richard Kraut in the cockpit of the Fokker D VII with GWFM staff and a camerman and reporter from CBLT TV in Toronto 545

Timo Veth of Amsterdam,  a great grandson of Richard Kraut, in the cockpit of the Fokker D.VII with GWFM staff and a camerman and reporter from CBLT-TV in Toronto.

In a celebration at its base at the Brampton-Caledon Airport, the GWFM marked the occasion with special guests including the great grandsons of Richard Kraut, Timo and Luka Veth, and granddaughter Martina Weimann. They came from the Netherlands for the rollout on a fine summer day. Bringing RK’s original medals and photos for a one-time-only display, they expressed their appreciation for the GWFM’s efforts in keeping history alive with a restoration they described as amazing.

 io Tourism Minister at Fokker D VII rollout celebration 545

Nat McHaffie, President of the GWFM, accepts congratulations from Sylvia Jones, Ontario Tourism Minister, at Fokker D.VII rollout celebration.

Emcee Jacquie Perrin pilot and broadcaster speaking during the GWFM rollout of the Fokker D VII 545

Emcee Jacquie Perrin, pilot and broadcaster, speaking during the GWFM rollout of the Fokker D.VII.

Nat McHaffie, GWFM President and Curator, described the rollout as the launch of a campaign to build a hangar extension.

RK was the most colourful frontline D.VII acquired by Canada at the Armistice. Also, RK was likely the only surrendered D.VII that had seen frontline service. Most of the others were factory fresh, often without markings at all.

On March 1, 1919, RK was flown from France to England to join the newly formed Canadian Air Force, which operated Fokker D.VIIs alongside their British Sopwith Dolphins. The museum’s collection includes a photo of Canadian ace Andrew McKeever getting aboard RK while it was flown in England.

Following the war, nearly two dozen D.VIIs were shipped to Canada as part of the War Trophy program, intended to form a national war museum. It was more than 20 years later before the Canadian War Museum took shape. In the meantime, RK had been scrapped along with most of the remaining Canadian D.VIIs.

C GWWI Fokker D VII painted in RK colors of Richard Kraut rolled at Brampton July 15 2018 Gord McNulty 545

C-GWWI, Fokker D.VII, painted in 'RK' colors of Richard Kraut, rolled at Brampton July 15, 2018.

Richard Kraut, known as “Red” by his family, was remembered by his granddaughter as a “real gentleman, polite and straightforward. He joked with us and loved to teach us outdoor sports; rowing, sailing and mountain climbing were his favourites.”

Kraut had a long career in military and civil aviation. He was extensively interested in observation work and imaging. A photo taken during the war shows him ascending with a camera in a balloon basket and one of his lifetime hobbies was painting.