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Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

Article about: The Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL) was the colonial airforce in the Dutch East-Indies (now Indonesia) from 1915

  1. #1

    Default Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

    The Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL) was the colonial airforce in the Dutch East-Indies (now Indonesia) from 1915 till 1950.


    The most famous unit of the ML-KNIL was the 18th Squadron, which was equipped with the North-American B-25 'Mitchell' bombers and operated out of Northern Australia, mainly against Japanese shipping and coastal installations. For this purpose a good number of the squadron's B-25's were converted to strafers by mounting 8 to 10 .50cal machineguns in the nose. A typical attack would be done by a pair of aircraft who would approach the target skimming the waves; the leader would use his machineguns to suppress any anti-aircraft defences to give his wingman a better opportunity to aim his bombs and if needed they would go round and change roles.


    Initially the 18th squadron was part of the RAAF, but control was soon handed over to the NEI-AF. Staff and most of the flight crews were NEI-AF personnel that had managed to escape when the Japanse invaded the Dutch-East Indies in early 1942, while most of the ground crews came from the RAAF. After the Japanese surrender in 1945 the squadron saw a lot of action during the Indonesian war of independence, until it was disbanded in 1950.


    For a short history of the NEI-AF see Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force - Wikipedia


    I have a few ML-KNIL items in my collection I'll post here over time. First of them is an original pilot's Wing, with the added 'W' in a wreath for 'waarnemer' (observer) for those that completed this course. This wing was made in the USA by Amico and was issued to my great-uncle, who earned his ML-KNIL wings in 1938. He was captured by the Japanese in 1942 and spent 3 years in a POW camp on Java, so I assume these were issued to him when he was called back into service after his recovery. He was a 1st Lieutenant Vlieger-Waarnemer at that time and would retire as a Lieutenant-Colonel Vlieger-Waarnemer in the Royal Netherlands Airforce, to which he transferred in 1950.

    Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

    Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

    Please feel free to add any NEI-AF/ML-KNIL material you might have.

  2. #2

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    Some more items from my NEI-AF collection. These 3 manuals for the B-25 belonged to my grandfather who was an officer in the Technical Service of the NEI-AF between 1938 and 1948. He also survived 3 years of Japanese hospitality and served with the 18th Squadron among others. I found these in his basement after his passing so i couldn't ask him about them, but his signature is on 2 of the manuals.

    Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

    This manual for aircraft fire extinguishing equipment is a 1946 translation of an American manual from 1943 and is marked 'Royal Netherlands East-Indies Army / Royal Airforce / Headquarters Military Aviation'.


    Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

    Next is this training manual about the engines of the B-25 bomber, made especially for the training and education of mechanics. This too is a translation of an American manual and features numerous illustrations and fold-out diagrams.


    Netherlands East-Indies Airforce, NEI-AF (Militaire Luchtvaart, Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger, ML-KNIL)

    Last but not least is this training manual for the B-25 bomber in general. This one too was specially published for the training and education of mechanics and covers a wide variety of the B-25's systems, again with numerous illustrations and fold-out diagrams. I found it laying in a pool of oil but with absorbent paper and lots of patience I was able to save it. The paper is strong but has become see-through even though it's not greasy to the touch. I suspect the cover originally would have been the same colour as the other training manual.


    My apologies for the watermarks, but these items are extremely rare and sought after and I would hate to see these pics appear on auction sites or used in other ways without permission. I can guarantee these items will never be for sale. I will add a few more items when time permits.

  3. #3

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    Interesting post. Fits nicely with the thread "Australian made field caps" started by Polly over on the Western Allies forum.

  4. #4

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    Indeed, I've been intending to post these items for a while now and the more information surfaces, the better!

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