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Fokker F.VII

Forerunner of world successes.
On 12 November 1919, the Smith brothers, Ross and Keith, departed from London in a Vickers Vimy bomber on the first flight to Australia. The two pioneers safely landed their aircraft en that continent on 12 December. In The Netherlands, their much-talked-of flight stimulated the vision of an air connection with Holland's large island colony in the Far East, the Dutch East Indies. What interested the Dutch especially was that the Vimy had made landings in the archipelago on its way to Australia. Year after year thereafter, Plesman and Fokker asked themselves why the Dutch could not do what the English had achieved in 1919. The Vimy, as a bomber, had not even been designed for such pioneering flights. A suitable type of aircraft was still not available in Holland - until a new Fokker commercial airliner, the F.VII, changed everything. The F.VII was a logical step forward after the Fokker F.IV and Fokker F.V. Increasing air traffic demanded larger and more modern aircraft that could fly over longer distances carrying more passengers. Also, Plesman was conscious of the limitations of the five-seat F.III and told Fokker that he wanted to have a bigger aircraft.


Click on the picture to enlarge

This led to a contract between KLM and Fokker on 10 December 1923 for the delivery of a passenger aircraft of the type F.VII. Flying to the Indies. The fact that Plesman wanted to fly to the Indies with this aircraft played an important part in its design, and it could well be that Fokker took this into account. He certainly much regretted that the F.V was not suited to flying to the Indies and that the Netherlands-Indies Flying Expedition Committee had turned down the military C.IV as it definitely wanted a real passenger aircraft. The leading characteristics of the F.VII were: accommodation for eight passengers, a two-man crew, dual controls, a single engine and a high wing. The price indicated in the contract was 24,000 Dutch guilders, excluding the engine as this would be supplied by KLM - as had been the case with the F.III. In contrast with the aircraft types already described, the F.VII was not designed by Platz but by Walter Rethel, head of the drawing office in Fokker's Amsterdam North factory.


Click on the picture to enlarge

First flight East Indies.
On 12 November 1919, the Smith brothers, Ross and Keith, departed from London in a Vickers Vimy bomber on the first flight to Australia. The two pioneers safely landed their aircraft en that continent on 12 December. In The Netherlands, their much-talked-of flight stimulated the vision of an air connection with Holland's large island colony in the Far East, the Dutch East Indies. What interested the Dutch especially was that the Vimy had made landings in the archipelago on its way to Australia. Year after year thereafter, Plesman and Fokker asked themselves why the Dutch could not do what the English had achieved in 1919. The Vimy, as a bomber, had not even been designed for such pioneering flights. A suitable type of aircraft was still not available in Holland - until a new Fokker commercial airliner, the F.VII, changed everything. The F.VII was a logical step forward after the Fokker F.IV and Fokker F.V. Increasing air traffic demanded larger and more modern aircraft that could fly over longer distances carrying more passengers. Also, Plesman was conscious of the limitations of the five-seat F.III and told Fokker that he wanted to have a bigger aircraft.

On 11 April 1924, the F.VII, still without registration letters, made its first flight from Schiphol with the Fokker test pilot Herman Hess at the steering wheel. That was the start of a series of test flights performed at high tempo. KLM test pilot A. N. J. Thomassen à Thuessink van der Hoop (more commonly known as van der Hoop) joined the flights on a number of occasions preparatory to the flight he wanted to make to the Indies with the new Fokker aircraft which had meanwhile been chosen for this pioneering venture.

The Indies flight was to be made by van der Hoop together with Lieutenant H van Weerden Poelman of the Army Aviation Department , and KLM flight engineer P. A. van den Broeke.

After the introduction of a number of technical changes such as the fitting of a different stabilizer, the machine was handed over to KLM on 17 June and given the registration H-NACC. KLM started to build up experience with the F.VII on the airline's busy routes. On 1 September 1924, the aircraft was officially sold to the Netherlands-Indies Flying Expedition Committee. The name Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Royal Dutch Airlines) stayed on the aircraft in full, together with the KLM logo. For the Indies flight, H-NACC had to be drastically modified, and Fokker therefore started to work on the aircraft again with a will. The capacity of the fuel tank was enlarged from 66 to 224 gallons and because of the warm climate that the F.VII would be experiencing, a supplementary radiator was fitted under the engine. On top of the engine, an extra cooling water tank was installed and all but two of the cabin windows were covered with fabric.

As there were no passengers, the seats were removed - and to prevent the aircraft sinking in soft landing fields, larger wheels were fitted. A result of these numerous changes was that the machine was much lighter. This was necessary to enable sufficient fuel to be loaded plus a selection of spare parts including a propeller, cylinders, pistons and magnets. In spite of all these precautions, much remained for improvisation en route. For example, navigation when flying over countries and areas that were hardly mapped. Here van der Hoop had to use survey maps which were far from complete and were to different scales. The map of Thailand even had the place-names printed in local characters.


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