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KNIL flight history honoured with Brewster replica

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

SOESTERBERG – The Militaire Luchtvaart Museum (MLM) has added a replica of a very rare, light-weight but long-range plane once used in the Dutch East Indies in the fight against the invading Japanese armed forces. None of the original 600 Buffalo fighters that the U.S. aircraft maker Brewster built have survived, making the replica a unique addition to the MLM collection. There exists only one other replica, which is located in New York. The museum says it is honouring the flight veterans of the Royal Netherlands Indies Army (KNIL) with the replica of the Brewster Buffalo. According to the museum, KNIL pilots were very fond of the plane’s functionality in the far-flung island colony although they were not as fast as their Japanese opponents, the Zero. The Brewsters flew their last sortie on March 7, 1942. Altogether, 17 Dutch pilots were killed, and 30 of the 71 aircraft were shot down (most units of the 140-plane order had not yet been delivered); 15 were destroyed on the ground, and several were lost to misadventure. Dutch pilots claimed 55 enemy aircraft destroyed. In a major engagement above Semplak on February 19, 1942, eight Dutch Brewster fighters intercepted a formation of about 35 Japanese bombers with an escort of about 20 Zeros. The Brewster pilots destroyed 11 Japanese aircraft and lost four Brewsters; two Dutch pilots died in that action.