Fokker D.XXI over Holland

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Sep 19, 2006
On this forum, not a lot attention is paid to the small countries like my own little country The Netherlands. Of course it's understandable and with good reason, as the five days of fighting here hardly had any impact on the course of WW2. Still, the Germans lost more then 300 planes in the sky over Holland.

I would like to make a tribute to all those small handful in small countries that flew the missions even if they knew it was suicidal against the overwhelming odds (In Holland, the Luftwaffe outnumbered the LVA 10 to 1). Therefore I made a translation of an account, written by a Dutch pilot, which I found on a Dutch website. Please pardon my mistakes, I'm not a professional translater.

It is written by pilot Carl Steensma, a civil KLM pilot who flew Fokker D.XXI's in the LVA. On May 10th 1940 he had to escort 2 T-V bombers on their way to the airfield Waalhaven, which was captured by German para's.:

We'll see….

The weather was beautiful on that day, May the 10th. At 2000 metre there was only some Cumulus. The two T-V's took off to bomb Waalhaven. We followed them immediately. The fighters would be flying around a lot, above the T-V's.. and we'll see…

… a Heinkel
Even before we arrived at Rotterdam, I saw a Heinkel flying, below and to the right. I steeply dived upon him, with the intention to fly past and underneath it while firing. Then I would pull up and take a shot at it from straight under it.

The idea worked out quite nicely, but the moment I fired my 4 machineguns, I had a real fright. Tracers flashed right in front of me and for one moment I thought I was being shot at from behind.
In all my life, I had never fired tracers, not even practiced with it. And nobody had thought of informing me about this very useful ammunition.

Meanwhile, the Heinkel was a few hundred meters above me and I steeply pulled up my kite, almost vertical, and I sprayed the port engine, the hull and the cockpit, too. In order to get away quickly, I cut the throttle and with a quick roll, I dived away. Then I pushed full throttle to gain height again. The last I remember of the Heinkel was a silhouette turning to the left. I was alone, eh well….

…but German fighters everywhere..
When I was circling, I saw Me 109's at greater altitude then me. Me 109's to the left and right
A neat 'Kette' fare above. I still know exactly what I thought: "Look, that's a real piece of art. What I was doing seemed to me very amateurish and clumsy…and most unreal.

…me in my KLM clothes…
Then I was, over Waalhaven in my KLM uniform, under a clear blue sky in a D.XXI with deadly ammunition. The place where I got my first licence. The place where the enemy was. The place that had to be bombed by the T-V's. And I had to make it possible by downing all the flying Jerries in the sky…madness.
…being attacked
The way they attacked didn't surprise me. From far I had seen how they dived on their prey from a small group in neat formation, one after the other and after a long furious blast disappeared the heights again.
I was much more manoeuvrable, but that was about it. I had to make a mess out of it, turning from the right to the left like a madman and see what would happen.

..victory over a German fighter..
..The last attacker tried some kind of sloping looping. By flying directly in his line, I forced him to dive steeper and longer than he probably intended to do. I got on top of him with half a roll and when he pulled up, I fired for what I was worth. I kept the straight line, out of which he couldn't escape because of his high speed. In the middle of the line of fire, debris suddenly started to fly. Around me I saw some smoke becoming darker and darker.. the last dive of that Me 109.

..being shot myself…
Surprised about the ease of things, I ascended with roaring engine in order to gain altitude… and was totally surprised by some big noise. Fire seemed to spray between my legs and I literally freezed from terror.

…but I could escape
The instrument panel was destroyed. Oil poured over my feet. Loose fabric was on the right wing. And my right leg felt funny. I felt with my hand and it became smeared with blood.
After this, Steensma escapes in a cloud. Although the flaps and breaks don't work he manages to land on Schiphol. There he had to be carried out of the plane. The bullets had ripped though his KLM uniform, right under his arm and also between and through his legs. The plane was a write off as there was no time to repair it.
During the war Carel Steensma tried to escape to England. His leg had to be amputated in a German prison.
On the 4th of May 2006 he died at 93.

Users who are viewing this thread