The Royal Dutch Naval Air Service’s excellent Do-24K seaplane still attracts a lot of attention. As a result I have been able to update this blog’s Do-24K page, especially the table at the end, providing the readers with an overview of each individual plane’s fate.
It was (and is) an imposing seaplane, although an Australian pilot had misgivings when he first took off in one. Used to flying the Short “C” class flying boats with their elevated cockpits, he compared a rough water take off in a Do-24K to “… a submarine rising to the surface and then taking off with waves lapping over the cockpit roof…”
Called “X” boats (because of their serials), the Dutch Navy used the Dorniers for reconnaissance and anti-shipping missions, the latter in cooperation with submarines. This deadly combination was fairly successful during the early stages of the pacific war.
And at least one Japanese destroyer was sunk by bombs from a Do-24K.
But when the Japanese captured more and more airfields, their fighters started to exact a heavy toll. In the end, the offensive role of the Do-24K was abandoned, replaced by reconnaissance and evacuation missions.
During three months of operations, six “X” boats were shot down, eight crashed (in most cases due to battle damage) and a staggering 18 were destroyed while moored at various bases. In the end, only six escaped to Australia.
The death toll was also heavy: at least 46 crew members were killed in action. The worst casualties were caused on March 3, 1942 at Broome where five Dorniers (and three Cats) were strafed and set afire by Japanese fighters. At least 16 crew and 48 passengers were killed – but that number is uncertain. (see my post “Broome, Australia’s Pearl Harbor” )
More information on the history of this magnificent airplane may be found at the page “Do24K in Dutch Service”.