Wielewaal at Schiphol Airport

It was the 67th DC-3 (model Douglas DC-3-194B. c/n 1944) to be completed by the Douglas factory in California. It was the 10th DC3 purchased by KLM for the route Amsterdam-Batavia and received the name ‘Wielewaal’ (Golden Oriole). Initial registration sign: VH-ANR.

The aircraft was flown from Santa Monica to New York in April 1937. It was disassembled and loaded aboard the S.S. Pennland and sailed from New York on 15 May 1937.  The aircraft was re-assembled at Waalhaven, Rotterdam in May 1937 by a team of KLM engineers including Joop Gijzemijter, who during the war became stationed at Archerfield Airport in Brisbane.. After a test flight, the aircraft was ferried to Schiphol. 

In 1941 the plane was transferred to the Koninklijke NederlandschIndische  Luchtvaart Maatschappijj  (KNILM) – Royal Dutch East-India Airlines ).

The following story is about its last civil flight. The aircraft left Calcutta on 14 Feb 1942 for Akyab and Medan. In Medan aircraft seats were removed to accommodate a group of 36 women and children who were evacuated to Batavia. The aircraft arrived in Batavia on 15 February 1942, the day that Singapore surrendered.

On 3 March 1942, Captain Eddy Dunlop, landed the aircraft on Boeabatoe Road, an unfinished highway, near Bandoeng, to evacuate His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor General, Dr. H. Van Mook to Australia. Several KNILM ground staff were also evacuated. Evert Herman van Hummel was the flight engineer onboard.

The aircraft took off from Boeabatoe Road on 7 March 1942 at 1.00am. It was the last civil aircraft to escape the East Indies. There was Japanese action occurring at Lembang, less than 15 km away from Bandoeng when they left the area. PK-ALW arrived at Port Hedland in Western Australia 7 hours and 32 minutes later.

All ex-KLM and KNILM aircrafts that had fled to Australia were ordered by the US Command to be leased / taken over by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF). The Wielewaal was one of the five Dutch planes that flew in formation under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in a protest of this take-over order (Flown by Captain Peter Deenik). The above mentioned Joop Gijzemijter was on board one of the other planes.

In June 1942, the plane was transferred to General MacArthur for his personal use and fitted with 7 passenger seats. It was reported that due to an excessive nosebleed during steep a descent into Canberra he did not use this aircraft again.

It was now part of the extensive fleet of airplanes that operated in the liberation of the South West Pacific and was used for air transport.   Its final service was on 13 January 1944 with No 36 Squadron Townsville – Melbourne (Essendon) (Flown by Capt L. Ball).

Restored DC3 Wielewaal – Picture by Peter Dunn

It was eventually sold to the Australian National Airways in May 1946. It was taken out of services in 1972. During its active lifetime it had flown close to 50,000 hours.

A restoration process started in 1981 and the plane is currently on display at the Queensland Air Museum. It’s the oldest DC-3 in Australia and also one of the oldest planes of its kind in the world.

In honour of the famous DC3 Wielewaal the KLM named – in 2011 – one of its Boeing 737-700 also Wielewaal.

KLM – Golden Oriole (Dutch: Wielewaal)

Paul Budde

Below is a file with the history of the Douglas DC-3-1945 VH-ANR (C/N 1944) Wielewaal (1937 – 1994)

The DC3 at the Queensland Air Museum in Caloundra – Sunday Mail 9 February 2003, page 5.


Aussie Airliners

Oz at War