If you decided between 1929 and 1935 to journey by air from Amsterdam to Batavia (or the other way round) it would mean travelling in a Fokker FXII or FXVIII tri-motor. These airplanes were constructed along the lines of the famous WW1 Fokker D VII fighter: a thick plywood wing and a fuselage of welded tubes, covered with painted fabric.
Taking this flight required quite a lot of stamina. It would mean sitting for ten and a half days in a leather-upholstered cane chair, with three clattering radial engines creating a rather noisy environment. The planes also lacked somewhat in comfort as there was no sound proofing or temperature control…
Something faster and more comfortable was obviously needed.
After the spectacular success of KLM’s standard production Douglas DC2 in the 1934 ‘Melbourne Race’, KLM’s boss Albert Plesman decided to replace all Fokker equipment on the KLM Dutch East Indies Line with the superior all-metal Douglas airliners.
May 23, 1935 saw the departure of Douglas DC2 PH-AKK ‘Koetilang’ on KLM Flight 235 , the inaugural flight of the twice-weekly Amsterdam – Batavia service. Apart from six passengers this DC2 also carried 325 kg mail.
The flight was a huge success. Not only were passengers carried in much greater comfort, but the DC2 slashed the total flying time in half! It was cut down from over 10 days down to five and half, as this copy of the 1935 KLM timetable shows…
It also meant the end of the KLM – Fokker partnership.