Fokker/Fairchild F27 Friendship, Fokker 50 & Fokker 60

The Fokker F27 is one of the most successfull examples of the first genera­tion turboprop aircraft in its class. More than 750 Friendships were built, both by Fokker and Fairchild, before the production line was transferred to the second-generation Fokker 50.  

The aircraft is characterised by high wings with a small dihedral and long main landing gear legs, retracting backward in the engine nacelles. The exhaust is at the side of the nacelle, below the wing leading edge. The nose is pointed and of the six cockpit windows the first side window is much smaller than the others, typical for the F27. The dorsal fin in front of the trapezium shaped vertical stabiliser is relatively large. The trailing edge of the vertical fin ends in the tail cone, with a nice curve.  

The pointed nose of a Fokker 50, with the typical small first cockpit side window that can be found on all F27 versions. The nose gear and nose shape can be different.

The long main landing gear of the F27 retracts backward in the long engine nacelles.

The F27 family has a trapezium shaped vertical stabiliser with a slightly forward tilted trailing edge, ending in a pointed tail cone. Also note the large dorsal fin.

Different versions

This is how to recognise the different versions of the F27, Fokker 50 and Fokker 60:

  • the shape of the engine nacelles
  • the shape of the propellers
  • the number of propeller blades
  • the length of the fuselage 
  • the size and number of cabin windows
  • the size and location of cabin doors and emergency exits
  • the presence of an airstair cabin door
  • the number of wheels on the nose gear
  • the presence of bent-up wingtips
  • the presence and location of a large cargo door
  • the presence of a radome under the fuselage and various other sensors
  • the presence of pylons under the wings for fuel tanks or weapons

F27-100 Friendship

The first production version was the Mark 100. The main cabin door of this version is in the left rear fuselage. This door slides inside when opened. In the left front fuselage is a small bagage door, nearly square in shape, with rounded corners. Like the Mark 300 and Mark 700 the F27-100 has four blade propellers with rounded tips. As on all Friendships the air intake is around the prop spinner, and a single exhaust on the outside of the nacelle. The early Mark 100s are characterised by a somewhat shorter, blunter nose. Many have however later been modified with the more familiar longer radar nose. 

Early F27s, in particular the Mark 100 and Mark 300, had a short, blunt nose without weather radar. Here you see what is looks like on an F27-100. (photo: Ken Fielding/WikiMedia)

The engine nacelles of the F27 Friendship have ring-shaped air intakes around the propeller spinner and an exhaust at the side. The F27-100 as shown here has rounded prop tips.

F27-200 Friendship

The Mark 200 Friendship has a different variant of the Rolls Royce Dart engine and also a different propeller: it has squared off tips. The F27-200 also has a long nose as standard. For the rest it is the same as the F27-100.

The F27-200 can be distinguished from the F27-100 by looking at the propeller tips. On the Mark 200 these are not rounded but squared off.

On this detail photo you can better see the square propeller tips of the F27-200 (and -400/-500/-600).

F27-200MPA/F27-200MAR (F27 Maritime)

Baed on the Mark 200 airframe Fokker developed a maritime patrol variant, that was marketed as F27 Maritime. It is also known as F27-200MPA and F27-200MAR. Compared to the civil version the F27 Maritime has a radome underneath the fuselage and an external fuel tank under each wing. The armed version was to be the F27 Maritime Enforcer, but it appears that none was built. There are however photos of Royal Thai Navy aircraft with pylons under the wings.

The radome underneath the fuselage and the fuel tank under the wing are the external features to identify this aircraft as an F27-200MPA or F27 Maritime

F27-300 & F27-700 Friendship

These combi versions based on the F27-100 have a large rectangular cargo door in the left front fuselage. In this cargo door there is a small other door, that opens to the left. For the rest they are the same as the F27-100, so with propellers with rounded tips and an inward sliding rear cabin door. Even the first Mark 300s had a blunt nose. The Mark 700 differs from the Mark 300 only by not having and all-metal cargo floor.

A large rectangular cargo door in the left front fuselage is the key feature of the F27-300. It still has the rounded prop tips and a narrow rear cabin door. (photo: Ken Fielding/WikiMedia)

F27-300M Troopship

This military version, named Troopship instead of Friendship, is the same as the standard F27-300 except for a wider rear cabin door. This allows for easier jumping out of the plane. Additinally, the small scoop next to the door is garded by a frame to prevent unwanted objects to enter the cooling intake.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force used nine F27-300M Troopships, with their wider rear cabin door.

F27-400 & F27-600 Friendship

Combine the engines en propellers of the F27-200 with the large cargo door of the F27-300 and you get the F27-400 and F27-600. Like for the Mark 300 and 700 the only difference between the Mark 400 and Mark 600 is the cargo floor.

The propeller tips are not well visible, but at least you can see the large cargo door (in which the small door is opened) and the opened rear cabin door of this F27-600.

F27-400M Troopship

A Troopship with the engines and props of the F27-200 is designated F27-400M. To recognise it from the F27-300M look at the propellers, to distinguish it from the F27-400 look at the rear cabin door, which is wider on the F27-400M.

The US Army has operated two of these aircraft which had the designations C-31A.

This aircraft is clearly an F27-400M: it has a large rectangular front cargo door, square prop tips and a wide rear cabin door.

F27-500 Friendship

After Fairchild made a stretched version of the F-27 (the FH-227, see below), Fokker did the same with the F27-600. However, the resulting F27-500 is only 1.5 metres longer than the Mark 600, so just a feet shorter than the FH-227. Still it has eleven oval cabin windows instead of ten on the shorter versions. The Mark 500 retains the large front cargo door of the Mark 600, and the rear cabin door. The main gear is somewhat longer though, making the tail point up a bit and the underside of the fuselage not parallel with the ground.

The main gear of the F27-500 is longer than on other versions and therefore the underside of the fuselage is not parallel with the ground. Also note the large front cargo door and scoop air intake beside the rear cabin door.

The F27-500s that Air France operated for the national post company has a wider rear cabin door than standard, so like on the Troopships.

Fairchild F-27

The Fairchild F-27 was the first model built under license in the United States, and equivalent to the Mark 100. The Fairchild version has an airstair door in the left rear fuselage opening down. While the F27-100s at first had a blunt nose, the Fairchild F-27s were equipped with a long nose from the start.

The Fairchild F-27 is very similar to the Fokker F27-100, but always has a long nose and a cabin door with built-in steps, opening down. (photo: Ken Fielding/WikiMedia)

Fairchild F-27A, F-27F, F-27J & F-27M

These are all equivalents to the F27-200, so with squared off instead of rounded propeller tips. They differ only in exact engine version, although F-27A was a dedicated passenger transport and the F-27F had an executive interior. You can still recognise it from the F27 Mark 200 by the airstair rear cabin door. Later built aircraft also have a narrow rectangular cooling air intake in the dorsal fin, against the leading edfe of the vertical stabiliser, instead of a round scoop next to the rear cabin door. Some earlier built aircraft, in particular F-27Fs, seem to have this type of intake as well.

This Fairchild F-27A is recognised by the airstair cabin door, absence of a large cargo door and the square propeller tips. (photo: Jon Proctor/WikiMedia)

Thanks to the narrow cooling air intake in the dorsal fin, at the leading edge of the vertical fin, you can for sure know that this is a Fairchild F-27, in this case an F-27F.

Fairchild F-27B

The Fairchild F-27 with a large cargo door, the F-27B, was not as popular as the Fokker versions. The F-27B the same as the standard F-27A except for a large rectangular door in the left front fuselage. 

To recognise the F-27B you have to see the large cargo door in the left front fuselage and the airstair rear cabin door.

Fairchild FH-227, FH-227B, FH-227C, FH-227D & FH-227E

Fairchild was the first company to identify a market for a stretched version of the existing F27s. So it made the fuselage 1.8 metres longer. Additionally, the scoop air intake next to the cabin door (for cooling air) was moved to the dorsal fin, like on late models F-27s. Together with the airstair cabin door this is the main way to distinguish the FH-227 from the 30 cm shorter Fokker F27-500. The aircraft was available with different Dart engines with different power settings, leading to the five different subversions. Also the propeller seems to differ among them, but most seem to have props with rounded tips. Finally, the cockpit windows are supposed to be modified on later models, but we fail to see the difference externally. Standard the FH-227 comes with a small, square cargo door in the left front fuselage, but some aircraft have later been fitted with a large cargo door, although this has no impact on the designation. 

The FH-227 is about as long as the F27-500, so other recognition points are needed like the small front cargo door and the narrow air intake in the dorsal fin. The airstrip door is another one but not visible here.

Fokker 50 (Fokker F27-050)

The Fokker 50 has the same basic external appearance as the previous F27 versions, but still has clear recognition points. The Fokker 50 has a double wheel nose gear, more but smaller cabin windows, an airstair door in the left forward fuselage, six blade propellers and the engine air intakesbelow the prop spinner instead of around it. The basic Fokker 50, officially designated F27-050, has four large cabin doors/emergency exits, two on each side, at the fron and rear of the cabin.

Note the airstair door at the front and many small cabin windows of the Fokker 50, as well as the six blade propellers.

The prototypes of the Fokker 50 still had the fuselage of the F27-500, including the large cargo door. The oval windows were initially taped over to create the look of the Fokker 50, but these were later removed.

Here you can better see the shape of the engine nacelle, with the air intake below the six blade prop.

The bent-up wingtips of the Fokker 50 act in a similar way as long winglets on other aircraft types.

Fokker 50 (Fokker F27-0502)

While also marketed as Fokker 50, the specific Fokker F27-0502 variant has two type III aft emergency exits compared to type I the standard F27-050. The type III exits are somewhat smaller than the type Is, and are located at the fourth of fifth cabin window from the rear. Nevertheless, these Fokker 50s may still have a type I door or similar as well.

The F27-0502 variant has type III emergency exits in the fourth or fifth cabin window, counted from the rear.

Fokker 50 Maritime Enforcer Mk2

Like for the original F27 Fokker developed special mission versions of the Fokker 50. Just one such version was finally built before Fokker went bankrupt. This was the Maritime Enforcer Mk2 (the Mk1 begin the F27). This is a maritime patrol version with a radome under the fuselage, several other bulges and sensor pods, and pylons under the wings to store weapons. 

The Republic of Singapore Air Force is the sole operator of the Fokker 50 Maritime Enforcer Mk2, the maritima patrol variant. As you can see it has multiple bulges and sensors on fuselage and wings. (photo: Gerry Steamier/WikiMedia)

Fokker 60UTA-N (Fokker F27-0604)

Just four Fokker 60s were built, and these were all utility transport aircraft for the Netherlands, hence the name Fokker 60UTA-N. The Fokker 60 is 1.62 m longer than the Fokker 50, but otherwise externally the same. The UTA-N variant has a large cargo door in the right forward fuselage, and a smaller, sliding door in left left rear fuselage. Two aircraft were later converted to maritime patrol aircraft, with a radome underneath the middle of the fuselage.

This photo of the right side of a Fokker 60UTA-N clearly shows the large cargo door directly behind the cockpit.

The maritime patrol conversion of the Fokker 60 features a radome underneath the middle of the fuselage.

Confusion possible with

Antonov An-24 & Xian Y-7

an 24b

The Antonov An-24 and its Chinese counterpart Y-7 have more and more equally sized cockpit windows, a forward retracting main gear and wings with anhedral on the outer wings. Also the trailing edge of the vertical stabiliser is exactly vertical.

Xian MA60/MA600


Being developed from the Xian Y‑7 the MA60 and MA600 share a lot of elements with the original aircraft. Thus the differences compared to the Fokker F27 are also similar. (photo: Allen Zhao/WikiMedia)