Another type of airplane that plays an important role in Book 1 of ‘The Java Gold’ is the Lockheed Lodestar.
Known as the Lockheed type L18 (or the C-60 in military service) the Dutch Army Air Service had nineteen Lodestars at its disposal. At the outbreak of the Pacific war, the squadron was based at Andir, near the city of Bandung in western Java.. These L18s and their crews played an extremely important role in ferrying army and air service units to their war destinations around the archipel as well as carrying supplies to both KNIL(Dutch Army) and allied units outside Java.
During January and February 1942 Lodestars were also tasked with the evacuation of large numbers of civilians (mainly women and children) from locations that were coming under Japanese threat, such as Tarakan, Balikpapan and Makassar.
As the ‘Lodestar’ was a military transport, there was neither need nor demand for passenger comfort and amenities. Here’s what a typical Lodestar cabin looked like when passengers were to be carried.
Canvas covered ’bucket seats’ in a practically bare interior. To qualify this as a ‘Spartan arrangement’ is a very large understatement.
Normally the Lodestar would carry up to 12 passengers; but during the evacuations this number was usually doubled or even tripled…