February 1942 was a very bad month for the Dutch Lodestar crews; they lost six of their precious transports in a row. The Japanese destroyed two Lodestars on the ground, two crashed with loss of life and, most galling of all, two more were involved in ground collissions and had to be written off as total losses.
Shown below is what remained of the fifth Lodestar put out of action that month. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair at Archerville (Brisbane) on February 17, 1942
Now you masy ask: why had a Dutch Lodestar flown all the way to Queensland?
In its hurry to re-arm, the Dutch government had ordered 162 (!) N0rth American B-25C “Mitchell” medium bombers to replace their outdated Glenn-Martin 166’s. The order had been placed belatedly and although North American did their utmost, the Mitchells could not be delivered sooner than February / March 1942 .
Rumour had it that the US Army had its eye on these bombers. So by mid-February 1942, four Lockheed L18’s were taken out of their hectic schedule to ferry a number of ML-KNIL crews (43 personnel in all) to Archerfield with orders to accept the incoming B-25’s and return to Java immediately.
The ferry flight did not go well. En-route from Cloncurry to Archerfield, one of the Lodestars developed severe engine trouble on both engines and made an emergency landing in a meadow near Cincallera. The others continued their flight and reached Archerfield. where they ran into another mishap. In the night of February 17, an Australian National Airlines (ANA) DC-3 smashed straigth into a row of parked aircraft.
One of the Dutch Lodestars and an American B-17 bomber were completely destroyed.
The crews waited and waited but the badly wanted Mitchells were not delivered until Java had already fallen The bombers would later form the nucleus of Dutch no 18 bomber squadron that would operate from north Australia during the remainder of the war.