Next aircraft

Type of aircraft
Date first flight
11 April 1924
number of passengers
liquid-cooled Rolls-Royce Eagle/Bristol Jupiter air-cooled radial engine/Napier Lion

First flight East Indies


On 11 April 1924, the F.VII, still without registration letters, made its first flight from Schiphol with the Fokker test pilot Herman Hess at the steering wheel. That was the start of a series of test flights performed at high tempo. KLM test pilot A. N. J. Thomassen à Thuessink van der Hoop (more commonly known as van der Hoop) joined the flights on a number of occasions preparatory to the flight he wanted to make to the Indies with the new Fokker aircraft which had meanwhile been chosen for this pioneering venture.

The Indies flight was to be made by van der Hoop together with Lieutenant H van Weerden Poelman of the Army Aviation Department , and KLM flight engineer P. A. van den Broeke.

After the introduction of a number of technical changes such as the fitting of a different stabilizer, the machine was handed over to KLM on 17 June and given the registration H-NACC. KLM started to build up experience with the F.VII on the airline's busy routes. On 1 September 1924, the aircraft was officially sold to the Netherlands-Indies Flying Expedition Committee. The name Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij (Royal Dutch Airlines) stayed on the aircraft in full, together with the KLM logo.

For the Indies flight, H-NACC had to be drastically modified, and Fokker therefore started to work on the aircraft again with a will. The capacity of the fuel tank was enlarged from 66 to 224 gallons and because of the warm climate that the F.VII would be experiencing, a supplementary radiator was fitted under the engine. On top of the engine, an extra cooling water tank was installed and all bur two of the cabin windows were covered with fabric.

As there were no passengers, the seats were removed - and to prevent the aircraft sinking in soft landing fields, larger wheels were fitted. A result of these numerous changes was that the machine was much lighter.

Fokker shakes hands with Van der Hoop. The departure of the first flight to Batavia is about to take place

This was necessary to enable sufficient fuel to be loaded plus a selection of spare parts including a propeller, cylinders, pistons and magnets. In spite of all these precautions, much remained for improvisation en route. For example, navigation when flying over countries and areas that were hardly mapped. Here van der Hoop had to use survey maps which were far from complete and were to different scales. The map of Thailand even had the place-names printed in local characters.

Emergency landing


Emergencylanding in Philippopel, Bulgaria

One month later, on 1 October, H-NACC was waved-off at the start of its historic flight from Schiphol. Two days later the flight was interrupted by an engine failure. The reserve radiator sprang a leak, allowing the cooling water to escape. Following this, there was an unfortunate emergency landing near the Bulgarian town of Philippopel. The undercarriage was crippled and the wing slightly damaged, all of which could luckily be repaired on the spot.

More dramatic was the state of the engine which was so bad that a new power unit was needed - but the budget made no allowance for this.

New engine, gift from 'het leven'

The Dutch magazine 'Het leven' ('The Life'), a rather saucy magazine for those days - it even showed pictures of women in bathing costumes - came to the rescue. Via a collection raised by its readers, the magazine provided the money for a new power unit. The engine was installed on the spot under primitive conditions, enabling the flight to be resumed on 2 November after a month's delay.

In Sengora

The courageous crew were saved from any further incidents, and on 24 November H-NACC arrived in Batavia where the crew were given an enthusiastic welcome. After a thorough inspection in Bandoeng, H-NACC made a number of flights over the Indies. After this, Rotterdamse Lloyd brought the by now famous F.VII back to Holland free of charge onboard the steamer 'Kertosono'.

End of the first journey

Those who thought that after this successful flight by H-NACC, there would be a regular service to the Indies, were wrong. To outsiders, the F.VII no doubt appeared very modern, but those more intimately concerned with the aircraft knew only too well that there was still much to be done.

Air travel was really still in its infancy and much had yet to be created, designed and tested before a reliable air service over such long distances would be possible.

The crew of the first flight to the Dutch Indies: Van der Hoop, Van Weerden Poelman and Van den Broeke. On the right General Snijders and most left Albert Plesman

Fokker F.VII

Fokker F.VII

Close-up of the Rolls-Royce Eagle engine, the cockpit and the landinggear of the F.VII. The pilot was still rather unprotected in the open air

This F.7 was demonstrated in England. It had a Napier Lion engine

Fokker F.VII

Forerunner of world successes

On 12 November 1919, the Smith brothers Ross and Keith, departed from London in a Vickers Vimy bomber on the first flight to Australia. The two pioneers safely landed their aircraft en that continent on 12 December.

In The Netherlands, their much-talked-of flight stimulated the vision of an air connection with Holland's large island colony in the Far East, the Dutch East Indies. What interested the Dutch especially was that the Vimy had made landings in the archipelago on its way to Australia.

Year after year thereafter, Plesman and Fokker asked themselves why the Dutch could not do what the English had achieved in 1919.


The Vimy, as a bomber, had not even been designed for such pioneering flights.

A suitable type of aircraft was still not available in Holland - until a new Fokker commercial airliner, the F.VII, changed everything.

The F.VII was a logical step forward after the Fokker F.IV and Fokker F.V. Increasing air traffic demanded larger and more modern aircraft that could fly over longer distances carrying more passengers. Also, Plesman was conscious of the limitations of the five-seat F.III and told Fokker that he wanted to have a bigger aircraft.
This led to a contract between KLM and Fokker on 10 December 1923 for the delivery of a passenger aircraft of the type F.VII.

Fokker F.VII cabin

F.VII interior

Fokker F.7 HN-ACC

Luxury restroom in the Fokker F7

Flying to the Indies

The fact that Plesman wanted to fly to the Indies with this aircraft played an important part in its design, and it could welt be that Fokker took this into account.

He certainly much regretted that the F.V was not suited to flying to the Indies and that the Netherlands-Indies Flying Expedition Committee had turned down the military C.IV as it definitely wanted a real passenger aircraft.

The leading characteristics of the F.VII were: accommodation for eight passengers, a two-man crew, dual controls, a single engine and a high wing.
The price indicated in the contract was 24,000 Dutch guilders, excluding the engine as this would be supplied by KLM - as had been the case with the F.III.

In contrast with the aircraft types already described, the F.VII was not designed by Platz but by Walter Rethel, head of the drawing office in Fokker's Amsterdam North factory.

Rethel held the same position there as the better-known Platz did as chief designer in Veere. Rethel was a German


but with the small, dark appearance of a Frenchman.

He had lost his right hand but it is not known in what circumstances. Compared with Platz, he had had a sound technical education as welt as experience from working with Kondor Flugzeugwerke during the First World War.

In the Second World War, although he was an outspoken anti-Nazi, Rethel worked with Messerschmitt.

As the design assignment for the F.VII did not go to Platz, it might be wondered if this was because of the poor sales results with the F.IV and F.V, but that seems unlikely. When Fokker issued the assignment for the F.VII Platz had his hands full with completing military orders.

In addition, during 1924, the transfer of the Zeeland factory to Amsterdam was getting underway - and was not to be finished until 1925.

The move was logical as Amsterdam North was much closer to the government Department of Aviation (RSL) and to Schiphol where KLM was based.

Starting point

Rethel took the ill-fated F.V as his starting point for the F.VII. He looked at the things that were wrong and immediately got away from the noisy plywood outer skin and returned to the well-proven linen fabric.

He kept the plywood inner skin of the cabin, but he had it well padded which deadened the noise as well as the vibration.

In addition, the F.VII had a greater wing span than the F.V. Another important change was the increased undercarriage track, initially to 11 ft 10 in and later to 13 ft 1 1/2 in, corresponding to 20 per cent of the wing span.


With earlier Fokker types it was not always very pleasant to bump over the grass of the airfields of that time (when there was no concrete).

The larger wheel track improved the comfort but resulted in the need for complex tubular steel parts which, after a while, required to be altered.

The first change came soon after the machine was assembled in January 1924: tests showed that the propeller touched the ground when the aircraft was horizontal. As a remedy, the undercarriage legs were lengthened and the two-bladed propeller was replaced with a fourbladed design of smaller diameter.

Replaceable power units

H-NACC returned to KLM in June 1925 whereupon the airline replaced the liquid-cooled Rolls-Royce Eagle engine with an Bristol Jupiter air-cooled radial engine. This did not involve extensive changes as one of the new features that Rethel had introduced was an interchangeable powerplant assembly which facilitated replacement of the complete engine. Virtually all subsequent Fokker types included this provision.

The F.VII later flew for a period with a so-called Reed propeller that looked like a twisted aluminium strip. Until then, propellers had been made from wood and were therefore easily damaged: hail showers could also leave their, mark.

Also, as engine power increased, so wooden propellers had to be made thicker and heavier to prevent their tips from bending forward. Metal propellers could be made thinner and were thus more efficient. H-NACC did not remain the only F.VII in KLM service. The airline ordered three more aircraft in July 1924. These F.VIIs, like H-NACC, were initially equipped with Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, but later they also had other engine types installed including the Gnome-Rhône Jupiter engine built under license to Bristol.

The cabin of the F.VII was roomy but was not in the same style in all KLM machines. The firm Mutters in The Hague, was responsible for the interiors which were in different colors. KLM employees therefore spoke of the 'red', 'green' and 'grey' F.VIIs.


Plesman had demanded good, washable materials as passengers were quite often air sick. This was not only because they were nervous - most of them had no previous flying experience - but also because in those days aircraft flew low, generally not higher than 1,500 ft, so the turbulence was very noticeable.

To increase safety, an escape hatch was fitted in the roof of the F.VII cabin.

This was intended as a means for evacuation in the event of an emergency landing on water. No life jackets were carried on board however. Around the turn of the year 1924/25, Fokker built a fifth F.VII. This was the last aircraft as continuing technical progress plus the experience gained with the F.VII, warranted the development of a new model.

The final F.VII had a Napier Lion engine and was registered H-NFOKKER.

This eight-letter registration was contrary to regulations but that did not bother anyone in those days. The aircraft was demonstrated in London by Fokker personally, as well as by the test pilot H. Grase.

This led to a favourable response in the press but failed to bring in any orders. The Napier engine was later replaced by a Jupiter and the aircraft was given a more sober registration: H-NACR.

This fifth F.VII also entered service with KLM. However, most of the F.VIIs remained with the airline for only a short period.

Final destinations

Regrettably, fate failed to keep H-NACC for posterity. A year after the Indies flight and while still in service with KLM, the aircraft flew into the ground near the Belgian village of Wolverthem during heavy fog on 9 July 1926.

A few weeks before, on 26 June, another of the F.VIIs had made an emergency landing at Hythe in England, and had to be broken up.

In 1927, KLM sold an F.VII back to Fokker who found a customer for it in America. H-NACR held on longer and in 1929 again underwent a change of registration to PH-ACR when new international regulations came into effect. Until then, Dutch aircraft had been given registrations starting with H-N followed by an identifying group of three letters. in 1929, the Dutch national letters were changed to PH-, followed by three letters.

Normally, when an aircraft was repainted, the last three letters were retained - so H-NACR became PH-ACR.


KLM sold this aircraft to Australia in 1931. PH-ACJ remained in operation with KLM the longest. Eventually, after it had flown for many years of faithful service, the airline presented the aircraft to the Royal Netherlands Aviation Society (KNVvL), who had plans for a national aviation museum.

These plans were not realized until 1955, and the museum's collection is at present housed in the Aviodome at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam. PH-ACJ however, is not included in the Aviodome collection. During German bombardment of Schiphol on 10 May 1940, the aircraft was so extensively damaged that it had to be demolished.

Despite the fact that only a small number of F.VIIs were built, the aircraft was in many ways the forerunner of the most successful commercial type to be manufactured by Fokker between the wars.