The Fokker B.III was the Austro-Hungarian designation for the Fokker M.18, used in Austrian service as a training aircraft to prepare front-line pilots for the introduction of the Brandenburg D.I. The aircraft entered Austro-Hungarian service in a most unorthodox way – in April 1916 Fokker dispatched the prototype M.18 to the Austro-Hungarian testing ground at Aspern entirely on his own initiative. The staff at Aspern only learnt of this when the aircraft arrived at the airfield.
Despite this rather unusual first introduction, the Fokker M.18 arrived at just the right moment. The Brandenburg D.I was about to enter service, and there was a need for an intermediate aircraft for use in preparing front-line pilots for the switch to the new fighter. Accordingly, an order was placed for 18 Fokker M.18s, under the designation B.III. The new aircraft was to be powered by a 100hp Mercedes water cooled engine and use wing-warping controls.
Production began in June 1916, and deliveries in August. Seven aircraft were delivered that month, followed by nine in September. With the prototype, which remained Austria, this brought the total of B.IIIs accepted to seventeen. Another eight aircraft were built by the Austrian MAG company, one arriving late in 1916 and the remaining seven in March-May 1917.
Initially the B.III was allocated to frontline units on the Isonzo, Kärnten and South Tirol fronts. In February 1917 its front line role was over, and the aircraft were withdrawn to Flek 6, a training unit. The MAG aircraft were also delivered to this unit. MAG also took on the maintenance of the aircraft, which remaining in use until the end of the war.
Span: 29ft 8in
Length: 18ft 8in
Engine: 100hp Mercedes D.I water cooled engine
Maximum speed: 93mph
Time to 3,300ft: 6.2 minutes
Time to 13,000ft: 40 minutes
Armament: One Schwarzlose machine-gun on upper wing, firing over propeller.