Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Saved from the dustbin (7)

The elder readers of this blog may remember Scottish skiffle singer Lonnie Donegan. In the very early sixties he had a hit with the prozaic title My Old Man's A Dustman. This intro serves to tell you that also in KLM Cargo we have our own dustmen viz. Aris Zwart and Bert Besseling. They were the guys who saved all pictures shown in this series from destruction by being too quick for the Danish colleagues of Lonnie's father. For more details please see Dustbin  (1).  In any case I'm glad they did because it gives me a chance to show you some of these pictures and write about them.
The first two shots give an impression of what travel was like in the thirties. At the time KLM operated a scheduled service to Batavia, currently known as Jakarta, Indonesia. There was an intermediate stop in Palembang on the southern part of Sumatra. Looking at the first picture the airstrip was located right in the middle of the jungle. Based on the fact that the aircraft does not show a name below the cockpit, I presume this is a DC2 and not a DC3. If that is correct, the picture can be dated around 1935.
Palembang airport around 1935 with the "terminal" in the background.
The picture below shows the terminal facilities of Palembang. Please note the purserlike person in the doorway. The scene radiates a very relaxing atmosphere.
Captain Scholte entertaining his passengers?
While being in the Far East, here's a picture from down yonder. Australian National Airways Pty Ltd, mentioned on this hangar at SYD-airport, later became part of Ansett ANA. The DC3 in the foreground, the VH-ABR, crashlanded in New South Wales in 1948 but it was rebuilt and still around five years ago!
A hangar at the airport of Sydney. It probably doesn't exist anymore.
Before the second world war it was necessary to make absolutely clear that your plane was a civil aircraft and not a military plane. Hence the abundant identification.
Dakota DC3 PH-ASM. It was a KLM-plane between July 1939 and  May 16, 1940
when it was confiscated by the Luftwaffe. The German Airforce employed this
aircraft at least until September 1944. Its final destiny is unknown.
As is demonstrated by the picture below, also after WW2 it was apparently necessary to clearly show ones identification.
Douglas DC4 PH-TAP. As its name 'Paramaribo' does not appear where
it should be (on the nose), this shot is probably taken prior to its baptism on
June 21, 1946 but after May 31 that year when it was registered in KLM's name.
Fuel consumption is one of the main cost factors for the airlines today. This in spite of the fact that fuel efficiency has greatly improved over the past decades. The Douglas DC7C, capable of carrying approx. 100 passengers, was able to tank some 34,800 liters. But looking at its empty weight (33,000 kgs) and its maximum take off weight (almost 65,000 kgs), filling the tanks to the brim hardly left any capacity for passengers... But then, I may be wrong here. But right or wrong, it is a very illustrative picture.
Douglas DC7C, PH-DSL 'Baltic Sea'. The picture is said to show
174 barrels of 200 liters each totalling 34,000 liters.
Picture made between 8 Apr.1957 and Oct. 13, 1964.
As usual all data related to these aircraft, come from the unsurpassed site of Herman Dekker.


  1. It really looks like a DC3 that one in Palembang. I have been comparing pics on google images and the DC2 is a bit more squarish and the wheel suspension looks different too. DC2 has got the words Uiver on the nose, or perhaps not on all of them.
    The both stand on their one hindwheel, hard to see. These are wonderful aircraft and I can even remember flying in a DC4, fantastic.
    When in Darwin I happened to see a Conny fly over on a historic flight. I couldn't believe my eyes. In 1952 I flew in one. They were almost indestructable. Most pilots loved them, they were steady ships in the air.

  2. You may be right!
    There was just one DC2 with the name "Uiver", that was the PH-AJU.
    Thanks for your comments.

  3. The photograph of PH-ASM looks like it has been retouched. Especially the letters "SM" look funny.
    Otherwise great shots.

  4. @Rob
    I can vouch for the fact that neither this picture, nor any other one in this series, has been tampered with. However, I agree with you that some of these letters look kind of amateurish. But you have to appreciate the fact that this lettering has been applied some time during the thirties when not everything was as professional as it is today. Maybe it was a case of bad planning and the (self made?) M was a bit too large for the available space.
    In any case, thanks for commenting.

  5. The large markings HOLLAND were applied when World War Two broke out....Holland was a neutral country so KLM continued operating where they could... they were not permitted to cross French Airspace and were only allowed to land at Shoreham on England's South Coast. Rob can probably correct me, but I think it was after a KLM Douglas was shot up by the Luftwaffe on a Scaninavian service KLM painted their DC-2s and DC-3s orange with the large HOLLAND signs. In the spring of 1940 they even launched a non-stop over-water Amsterdam-Portugal DC-3 flight to link up with the new Pan Am Clipper flying boat service from New York but only managed a few flights before Holland was invaded.

  6. @Mick
    Thanks for your comment, much appreciated, I wasn't aware of these facts.


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