Leutnant Emil Rolff of Jasta 6 was killed today shortly after takeoff when the wing of his Fokker EV collapsed. This is the second accident in three days, as on 16 August, Ernst Riedel of Jasta 19 was killed when a portion of his wing broke away during a practice flight. The EV was immediately grounded.
The original EV was a parasol cantilever winged monoplane built around the Oberursel UrIII rotary engine, but engine shortages meant the obsolete UrII was used instead. However the EV was lightweight and streamlined enough that this still provided decent enough performance. The first production EV aircraft were shipped to Jasta 6 in late July and examples also went to Jasta 1, Jasta 19, Jasta 24 and Jasta 36.
Various publications and websites suggest that Rolff scored a victory in an EV on 17 August 1918, but there is no evidence in any of the official records to support this claim.
According to Anthony Fokker, the wing failures were caused by the army technical bureau, which had forced him to modify the original design by over-strengthening the rear main spar. This faulty design allegedly caused the wing to twist and fail. Fokker claimed that this defect was resolved by reverting to his original design.
However, further investigation revealed that the source of the wing failures was a result of shoddy and rushed construction. Fokker had subcontracted construction of the EV wings to the Gebrüder Perzina Pianoforte Fabrik factory. Due to poor quality control, inferior timber had been used and the spar “caps”, forming the upper and lower members of each spar assembly, had been placed too far apart during the fabrication. Because the resulting spars were vertically too large to pass through the ribs, excess material was simply planed away from the exposed upper and lower surfaces of the cap pieces, leaving the assembled spars dangerously weak. Other problems included water damage to glued parts, and pins that splintered the spars, rather than securing them.
Once these issues were addressed the wings were tested and shown to be well within required standards. Production restarted, but new aircraft did not reach the front until 24 October 1918 – too late to have any impact. It’s unclear whether i5 was flown operationally at all. By this point it was renamed the DVIII to try and disassociate it from the earlier failures.