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WWII Flights To Lisbon

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    Re post 78 (where's that quote function?!? I have copy pasted below):

    10 May: German offensive against France started, including the invasion of neutral countries Holland and Belgium -> In the first hours of the war KLM lost 16 of its 29 aircraft at Schiphol to German bombs in the early morning of May 10th, with a further 11 damaged and 2 undamaged)
    -------: six KLM aircraft (5 DC-3s and 1 DC-2) arrived at Shoreham from Amsterdam, Lisbon and Naples (precise dates?) -> DC-3 Wulp was enroute Oporto to Schiphol on May 10th but was recalled to Oporto and after intense negotiations flown to Sintra and then Sintra to Shoreham 26 June 1940. DC-2 Edelvlak was stationed at Oporto for incidental charter flights. It too flew to Sintra for temporary shelter. And then Sintra-Oporto (picking up last spare parts) then Oporto-Shoreham 26 June 1940. DC-3 Ibis was on a regular service to Shoreham arriving 9 May 1940 and was held from departing as scheduled the next morning. DC-3 Zilverreiger was badly holed at Schiphol on May 10th 1940 but was repaired in between fighting and flown to Shoreham on 13 May 1940 with the intent to return the 14th with medical supplies but it was held at Shoreham. FK-43 Nonvlinder (impressed into military service at the time) was more or less stolen by a private pilot and flown to the UK May 15th, 1940 (as were some military aircraft later in 1940 and 1941). DC-3 Buizerd was flight the homebound service from Batavia to Schiphol on May 10th and was stranded at Naples . It flew via Marseille to SHoreham arriving 18th May 1940. DC-3 Reiger was stranded in ALexandria on the Batavia-service, and flew to Naples, then on to Shoreham arriving May 15th, 1940. Three DC-3s had been evacuated as a precaution to Batavia on May 7th (Pelikaan, Torenvalk, Wielewaal) and two further on May 10 (Gier) and May 11( Emoe). These five all joined the KNILM fleet in Batavia.
    ------ : at first they went to Whitchurch but were then relocated to Heston (date?) -> all six aircraft were flown to Ringway July 1940 for service and camouflage paint. There was no date that aircraft were all stationed at one field. Operations were spread over Whitchurch (for maintenance), Ringway (a depot and for instructional flights) and Heston (terminus point for the Lisbon line). This was also done to spread aircraft to decrease vulnerability in aerial attacks on airfields. The decision to leave Heston was made on September 20, but incidental flights later that month still left from Heston while operations were moved to Whitchurch. At the same time Ringway was also slowly suspended as a base.
    ------ : charter arrangements by KLM to BOAC agreed (date?) -> KLM first suggested to BOAC to fly charters for them on the lines Shoreham to Lisbon and Naples to Batavia on May 13th, 1940. The official agreements was effective 18 july 1940 with KLM providing crews, aircraft and maintenance, and BOAC insurances, oil and gas.
    6 Jun : the Whitchurch-Lisbon service inaugurated by DH.91 G-AFDL "Fingal" (an intermediate stop made in France)
    ----- : when the stop in France was no longer possible, the greater range of the DC-3 was crucial
    24 Jul : G-AGBB registered (C of A issued on 25 July)
    25 Jul : G-AGBD registered (C of A issued on 29 July)
    26 Jul : a trial service was operated by KLM (presumably by G-AGBB, as the only KLM DC-3 with a C of A) ->this was indeed Ibis. Four days earlier KLM had also reopened its KLM service to Batavia, this time from terminus Lydda (later Cairo in 1941) using KNILM aircraft
    1 Aug: DC-3s G-AGBC, G-AGBE and G-AGBI registered (C of A: 5 Aug, 25 Sep and 17 Aug respectively)
    DC-2 G-AGBH registered the same day (when was its C of A issued?)
    ----- : (was this when camouflage was first applied ?) -< July 1940 at Ringway
    ----- : the KLM aircraft flew to 10 degrees West, then turned south for Lisbon across the Bay of Biscay
    10 Aug: KLM assigned responsibility for Lisbon route (4 flights per week by DC-3; 1 flight per week by DC-2) from Heston
    20 Sep: KLM fleet, crew and ground staff reassigned to Whitchurch (when did they actually relocate?) -> over a period of several weeks
    21 Sep: G-AGBC (PH-ALR) crashed, Heston (landing in fog; hit anti-invasion pole; no passengers aboard; no crew injured) -> aircraft reamined there for several months for spare parts use
    October: 40 return flights made, carrying:
    O/B: 154 passengers; 6408 kgs of mail; 3452 kgs of freight
    I/B: 118 passengers; 5302 kgs of mail; 4134 kgs of freight
    24 Nov: G-AGBI (PH-ARW) destroyed by an incendiary bomb at Whitchurch during a German daylight air raid on Bristol -> Ibis and Buizerd were also damaged, but repaired within days

    - 6 October 1940: Zilverreiger limped into Whitchurch after a nervewrecking flight in thunderstorms with radio beacons going offline because of a misunderstanding that the DC-3 was an enemy aircraft. Engines quit on roll-out from fuel exhaustion. Captain was Tepas, who not two weeks before in poor weather had written off another DC-3 had had enough of the atrocious conditions they flew in.
    - 8 October 1940: KLM went on strike. And announced it would not resume service on Lisbon unless radio navigation beacon use procedures were reviewed and improved.
    - 23 October 1940: Lisbon service resumed with new procedures in place.
    - 7 November 1940: Air Ministry suspends KLM ops into Lisbon after "complaints by British copilots over KLM captains decisions". Sounds like a return favour for the KLM strike.
    - 17 December 1940: Lisbon service resumed permanently.
    - 11 September 1941: 250th service to Lisbon. AT the time there were only 41 staff including 11 Brits. And four DC-3s and a DC-2.
    - 15 June 1942: 500th service.
    - 15 November 1942: Ibis intercepted by Ju88s and badly damaged. Again on 19 April 1943 with only light damage. Shot down on 1 June 1943 over Bay of Biscany.
    - 28 January 1944: C-47A G-AGJR/PH-AZR (Roodborstje) delivered, followed by G-AGJS/PH-AZS (Spreeuw) late February 1944 and G-AGJT/PH-AZT (Tureluur) in April 1944.
    - 18 April 1944: 1000th service


      Re post 80:

      BOAC then increased its frequency on the Lisbon Run to four per week, with the returning I/B flights timed to arrive around dawn, because Whitchurch lacked approach lights and had no proper flarepath. I presume that the Dutch crews were employed on these BOAC flights - again, can anyone confirm this?

      Yes they were. KLM resumed ops on June 11th 1943 with the first nightflight. BOAC also independently ran a service with C-47s from early 1943 on to Lisbon, perhaps you may have confused some of the services of BOAC with that of the KLM/BOAC charter flights? The shootdown of Ibis and warweary equipment (which had flown with minimal maintenance, battle damage and in all weather, overloaded for three years) meant the regularity of KLM's Lisbon service began to suffer. Parts were in short supply (KLM even resorted to buying a crashed Scottish Aviation Fokker F.36 to make three 'new' engines for the DC-2 out of four damaged examples!). It was only when three C-47A's were delivered from early 1944 that the pressure was eased a little.

      WIth the end of the war in Europe in May 1940 all civilian ops in occupied Europe were still forbidden. Most of the KLM aircraft were "transferred" to 1316 Flight, which basically was KLM flying under military supervision. A fleet of C-54s was added later that years, as was a flood of C-47s, and while the service to Lisbon from the UK remained operational fro several months, the company was well on its way to being a fully fledged airline again.


        Incidently, at least one of the KLM Lisbon aircraft still survives. The former G-AGJT (Tureluur) is sitting at Jackson MS in a derelict condition awaiting conversion to Turbo DC-3... And the former G-AGJS is rumoured to be on display in Indonesia.


          You have done us proud, ericmunk. Thank you very much for so much additional information.

          I had kept my original notes to 1940 and only strayed into later years to follow up the contribution made by Jur. I hope hadn't got any of the years mixed up.

          I had not gone into KLM's Far East connections at all, largely because I know so little about that subject. Perhaps you could start another thread, ericmunk, if you have the time and the inclination. An outline chronology, even in note form, would be a very good starting point.

          Getting back to the KLM aircraft that came to Britain, would it be reasonable to assume that both the camouflaging and the application of British markings did not take place until each aircraft was officially given its British registration? If so, some of that painting work would have taken place in August 1940 as well as July 1940.

          Regarding your 6 October 1940 note: I believe it was indeed Capt. Tepas who was piloting G-AGBG/PH-ALR when it crashed at Heston on 21 September.

          Re: the issues between crew members in October and November 1940, this was new to me. As I understand it, the radio aids at Whitchurch were not the best. At the time, I think they were limited to a D/F station (a homing beacon, in effect). More sophisticated equipment came later but I don't know when. At least the BOAC and KLM crews could communicate with Whitchurch by radio, unlike most aircraft using that airfield (they relied on the use of lamp signals).

          Regarding the 24 Nov 1940 air raid: I believe other aircraft were damaged that day, too, including several of BOAC's Ensigns and the former DDL Condor, G-AGAY. I have not seen anything about damage to DH.91 Flamingos but, maybe, someone will be able to enlighten us on this aspect.


            What I have on the famous Prewar Amsterdam-Batavia service is more than just notes, Ian. More of an incipient book 😀

            Both the Hagens books are THE works when it comes to KLM airline politics. It describes in great detail the effort some British bureaucrats took to get their hands on the KLM aircraft in that desperate 1940 summer, until they realised the value their experienced crews had. Things got very nasty at times with official enquiries, an arrest, a strike and lots of backroom bickering and red tape in a rapidly changing theatre. Add to that that KLM was fighting for its survival as a company, you get the picture.


              Thanks for your reply, ericmunk. "An incipient book" sounds like a great project.

              I should say that my involvement here is a combination of (a) an aviation interest that has lain dormant for more than 50 years, (b) several boxes of books and magazines from that period -and earlier - and, since (a) lay inactive and (b) unopened for so very long, (c) a rather steep learning curve in very recent times. My experience of flying is not quite as old as the period about which we're talking (my first three flights were in a Vickers Viking, a Bristol Wayfarer and a modified Tiger Moth) but I find the subject interesting and this thread (and others here) most stimulating.

              I was not familiar with the 'politics', clashes and in-fighting that you describe but I am not surprised. I have read about similar tensions in connection with the Stockholm Run. At the time we're talking about, KLM was concerned about its survival as a company and the British authorities about the survival of the country - different perspectives, different priorities. As in most situations in life, different priorities generate personal tensions. Differences that, to a dispassionate outsider, may seem best resolved by rational discussion between cool heads, escalate dramatically ("spiral out of control" is a common phrase). There is a mathematical proposition that presents the process graphically but, not being a mathematician, I cannot recall what it is called.


                This is not strictly about flights to Lisbon but, since we slipped on to Pan Am Clippers, I am posting another image. As you can see, this was at Natal in Brazil.

                The photograph was taken for LIFE magazine by Hart Preston who, as I understand it, was there to record the development of the (land) airport at Natal. His photographs cover a wider range of subjects and this Clipper is one of them. Natal was a stop on South Atlantic aircraft delivery route in WWII and his photographs include shots of Pan Am DC-3s and, I think, some rather more anonymous DC-2s. Here's the Clipper (N18612, it looks like):
                Attached Files


         Well the Boeing 314s of Both Pan Am and BOAC did link Lisbon and Natal ...this thread from 2012 is connected


                    Whitchurch as surveyed in 1939.


                    A slider to the left of the map allows you to mix the map image with a satellite view.


                      Aerophilatelist John Wilson wrote this detailed analysis of the Natal-Lisbon Clipper flights, first result on


                        I would be grateful, steve-p, if you could check the date of the excellent map you linked. I ask because there are several hangars and buildings on the north side of the airfield and I'm not sure that they had been built by 1939 (I'll come on to this more fully in a moment). Also, the area to the north of the airfield and the area between Hensgrove and Whitchurch both seem more built up than I would have expected in 1939.

                        Below is a plan of the airfield as in "Air Pilot" in 1937, with North at the top. On the south side of the airfield, the hangar on the left is a showroom; to its right is the public hangar; next along, as marked, are the "Club House" and the Traffic Office" (the latter being the passenger terminal building); and, finally, just north of the "Traffic Office" is what was called the Public Hangar. Just south (more or less) of the "Club House", in the forecourt of the building complex, is another black rectangle: this was a squash court!

                        In his history of Whitchurch, Ken Wakefield does not mention the erection of buildings on the north side of the airfield until the sub-section on '1943' and, only then, at the end and just before the sub-section on '1944'. His description of events does not always follow chronology strictly, so I don't know how significant the positioning of the following words is but here is what he wrote:

                        "On the North Side, numerous buildings and huts were erected for use as offices and workshops by BOAC, KLM and the ATA. A Type T12 hangar was shared by BOAC and KLM and an adjacent Bellman hangar was used by the ATA. Eventually there were five hangars in this side of the airport with one of them - the most westerly - used as a depot by the Bristol Aeroplane Company".

                        Here's the 1937 plan:
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by ianwoodward9; 17th May 2017, 15:48.


                          It looks like a letter took about a week to reach Europe using the LATI service. The cover below is from a Swiss site. It was posted in Santos, the port for Sao Paulo in Brazil, on 13 March 1940. The handstamp shows it travelled by "Condor" (to Rio) and then by "LATI" to Rome, where it arrived on 19 March 1940. Apparently, it then went by Swissair from Rome to Locarno and presumably from there to Zurich by surface mail.
                          Attached Files


                            This is a letter in the opposite direction. It was posted in Bern on 11 September 1941, the postmark is a "Transit" one; from there it went to Chiasso (pencilled towards the top left hand corner), which is in the south of Switzerland, on the border with Italy. It has an international railway station. The letter then travelled from Chiasso to Rome by train and from Rome to Buenos Aires by LATI, apparently in I-BOLI though I can see no evidence for that (perhaps it's on the reverse of the cover).

                            The interesting thing is that one of Hart Preston's photo shows I-BOLI landing at Natal and that is dated by some as 23 September 1941. Could it have been carrying this very letter, I wonder? Is that the evidence for saying it was carried by I-BOLI?

                            Anyway, as you can see, there was even a printed air mail sticker saying 'LATI':
                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by ianwoodward9; 18th May 2017, 15:18.


                              Here's another image of D-ARPF, the ex-KLM DC-3 [note starboard passenger door, again], not at Lisbon on this occasion:
                              Attached Files
                              Last edited by ianwoodward9; 19th May 2017, 00:00.


                                This is another photograph in which D-ARPF is in the background. D-ARPF was 'acquired' by Lufthansa in the middle of 1940 and I have a question about this photograph of her.

                                The photo is of OY-DEM [DDL's Fw-200 named "Jutlandia"] but it is not dated. However,even from the part of it shown below, 'Jutlandia' is wearing the neutrality colours that it carried from early 1940 until August 1945, so it is very much a WWII photo - which leads to my question.

                                Maybe it is a trick of the light but D-ARPF appears not to be wearing the dark paint scheme we've seen in other photographs but a peacetime-like livery. Can anyone offer an explanation?
                                Attached Files
                                Last edited by ianwoodward9; 19th May 2017, 16:41.


                                  D-ARPF is the former "Valk" of KLM (PH-ALV). That was lightly damaged at Schiphol on May 10th, 1940 in a German bombardment. After repairs, it was handed over to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) on 1 June 1940, who later actually compensated KLM for it with 260.798 guilders in late 1942. The RLM assigned the aircraft to Lufthansa, who initially operated it in a natural finish c/s, later in camo. The aircraft was found abandoned at Barcelona in late 1944 and seized for KLM who had a difficult job proving ownership since it had formally been sold. The warweary aircraft was finally returned to Schiphol early 1946 and promptly sold to the UK where it was broken up for spare parts two years later.


                                    Thank you, ericmunk, for your explanation. Do you happen to know the date (roughly, at least) when D-ARPF changed from natural finish to camouflage?

                                    I have a couple of other questions.

                                    You mentioned that KLM staff had gone on strike between 8 and 22 October 1940, so presumably made no flights to Lisbon in this period. In Post # 78, I gave a figure of 40 for the number of flights made to and from Lisbon in October 1940 and also gave information about the loads. This came from a history of Whitchurch, as I recall. If KLM were on strike for two weeks, does this mean that more than the normal number of flights were carried out on non-strike days? Or did the BOAC crews fly the KLM aircraft when the KLM crews were on strike?

                                    The other question is whether you have any information of the precise dates that the leasing of individual aircraft started? And the dates when the lease agreement for each aircraft ended ?


                                      Re #97:re the strike the KLM history says that flights were flown, but only in perfect conditions, not in any bad weather that required beacons. So a reduced number of flights. No BOAC staff was allowed to fly the aircraft as a captain (there was a short spell where some flew as copilots but that did not go very well). They were KLM aircraft contracted out to BOAC with the specific stipulation they were flown by KLM crew. There are no individual aircraft leasing contracts. BOAC contracted KLM to fly a service and provide the aircraft and do the maintenance. KLM just put every aircraft it had on the service to keep the contract, as they were hopelessly short of aircraft, crew, parts, everything basically.


                                        Thanks for your response, ericmunk.

                                        In Britain we would probably call that "working to rule" rather than "striking" but your explanation helps explain the conundrum.

                                        I should add that my question in Post # 97 was prompted by a comparison with the Stockholm Run, where the set-up was different. There, each of the Norwegian-owned Lodestars was separately leased to BOAC - at least, that is what appears to have been the situation. Another difference is that there was a great deal more flexibility as to crewing, more interchangeability. That is not to say that there were no tensions between the Norwegian and British authorities. As on the Lisbon Run, there were different priorities, with inevitable clashes. The Norwegian side, as a broad generality, was prepared to take more risks than the British side when authorising flights.

                                        Moving on - as KLM was contracted to provide a service, I presume that it was required to meet certain contractual obligations, which prompts a number of questions.

                                        >>> Did the contract specify the number/frequency of flights?
                                        >>> Did the contract specify any penalties on KLM for a failure to meet its contractual obligations?
                                        >>> Did the contract allow for mitigating circumstances that might prevent KLM from meeting its obligations?


                                          FAO ericmunk...Do you know if the KLM staff newsletter 'De Wolkenridder' is archived (online?) anywhere. I note from the linked blog that the first issue in 1946 had an article 'De KLM vliegt naar Lissabon', though I doubt if it reveals much. I am trying to find copies of De Wolkenridder around February 1961 relating to KLM at London Heathrow.