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This work presents a complete model for the design and optimization of multiwavelength distributed Fabry-Pe/spl acute/rot (DFP) fiber lasers that are made by superimposing two chirped fiber Bragg gratings in a photosensitive codoped erbium-ytterbium (Er-Yb) fiber. The model is based on a matrix formulation of coupled-mode equations taking into account the chirped grating superstructure and including a spectrally resolved gain medium. The performed analysis reveals that the signal power of each channel is strongly localized near a minimum of the superstructured-grating envelope. As a consequence, the overlap between the power distributions in neighboring cavities is small, thus reducing the effect of cross-gain saturation and allowing a high number of channels in a short piece of fiber. The simulations also show how the saturation of the cross-relaxation mechanism between ytterbium and erbium leads to flat output spectra without the need for an additional equalization scheme such as a complex grating apodization profile. Furthermore, to validate the theoretical model, we present the experimental realization and characterization of a multiwavelength laser emitting in a single-mode and single-polarization over 16 wavelengths spaced by 50 GHz and with a total output power of 52 mW.