Just over a year ago, in February 2019, we published a story HERE about ambitious plans to build an accurate, airworthy replica of the iconic, though all-but-extinct Fokker D.XXI. Coming together under the direction of experienced aircraft aircraft maintenance and restoration professional, Jack Van Egmond, within his hangar at Hoogeveen Airport in The Netherlands, the diminutive Dutch WWII fighter aircraft is coming close to completion.
As we described in our previous article, the Fokker D.XXI fighter was designed for the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force, but a handful also saw service in defense of the homeland during the German invasion in May, 1940. While the prototype flew for the first time in March, 1936 and displayed encouraging performance, it only saw limited service in the Netherlands. Of the 148 examples constructed, 90 served with Finland, where they saw ferocious combat against the Soviets during the Winter War of 1939/1940 and the Continuation War from June, 1941 through September, 1944. Indeed, the sole-surviving complete airframe is a Finnish-built Fokker D.XXI on display at the nation’s Air Force Museum in Tikkakoski, Jyväskylä, Finland.
In total, 36 Fokker D.XXIs flew for the Dutch military, but despite their superior agility and the valiant efforts of their pilots, they were no match for the Messerschmitt Bf 109s they faced in combat. Germany completed their rout of Holland in just five days between May 10th and May 14th, 1940.
Of the Dutch Air Force Fokker D.XXIs, only the shattered remains of one example have survived. Luftwaffe Bf 110s reportedly shot this aircraft down near Nieuwkoop, Holland on May 11th, 1940. In 1993 a local group named the Crash Foundation excavated the crash site, and have reconstituted the forward fuselage into a compelling display at a small museum in Aalsmeerderbrug. There is also a full-sized replica on display at Nationaal Militair Museum located at the former Soesterberg Air Force Base in Soesterberg, Netherlands.
Despite its limited use in Holland, the Fokker D.XXI is still remembered with a great deal of pride in the nation; it represents the incredible bravery of the Dutch fighter pilots who flew them under impossible odds against the Luftwaffe juggernaut. The fact that none of these nimble fighter planes can take to the skies to remind the nation’s youth of what the Netherlands faced in WWII is a sore subject for some. This is part of what motivated Jack van Egmond at ATN Aircraft Division to recreate a D.XXI using original drawings and some original parts, so the world might once again see and hear the charismatic fighter in European skies.
The project to honor those who fought for Dutch freedom started in May, 2014 under the supervision of certified engineers, Fokker Technologies, ILNT and the Dutch Ministry of Aviation. The aircraft will use a Wright Cyclone GR-1820-F engine with a propeller modified from one originally intended for a Douglas DC-2. The D.XXI is conveniently listed as PH-XXI on the Dutch civil registry, and the aircraft’s official rollout took place during the Wings & Wheels Fly-in at Hoogeveen Airport during late May, 2019 (see video below).
They have worked hard on the project over the past year and, despite the curveballs which COVID-19 has thrown at them, the team has continued their efforts to resurrect their ‘Dutch Flying Legend’. The first engine runs should take place sometime soon, and the historic moment of the first flight can’t be far behind! Anyone wishing to contribute to this remarkable project can make a donation HERE.