BRIEF CANDLES

When Germany invaded the Netherlands during May 1940, pilots of the country’s tiny Fokker D.XXI force fought ferociously to defend its homeland. Pete London tells the story of these courageous Dutchmen

In December 1939 D.XXI ‘220’ was damaged while being flown by Sgt Jacob Roos. In May 1940, it was seized by he Germans while still under repair and cannibalised to support other captured examples.
PHOTOS PETE LONDON • KEY COLLECTION

In the mid-1930s, Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker laid down its first drawings in response the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force’s need for a solid, reliable and cost-effective fighter. Originally intended for use in the Dutch East Indies, the attitude toward colonial defence had changed by the time the prototype (serial FD-322) first flew on February 27, 1936. It was decided only bombers were needed but, despite this, Fokker received a contract for 36 examples for the Luchtvaartafdeling (LVA: Aviation Department) in December 1937, as well as seven for the Finnish Air Force shortly afterwards.

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