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The airforce


On the third day of the invasion the Dutch airforce suffered from exhausted flight- and groundcrews, worn down airplanes and lacking spares. More than half the fleet had been destroyed beyond repair and ground crews were working around the clock to keep the still fly-able airplanes operation. Wreckages and unfinished planes were stripped from parts, cork and other material were used to fill holes in the shot up fuselages and engineparts were patched up so they could last yet another mission.

The air-crews were exhausted from extensive operations. Sometimes three missions a day were flown, three times the endurance and anxiety of war missions within some hours only.

The handful of fighters and light bombers were only capable of teasing the opponent. The squadrons to really punish the enemy, to really contribute to the outcome of battles or clashes failed. Nevertheless, men and material were put into action relentlessly.  

Missions on the 12th

At the 12th many reconnaissance and light ground-support sorties were made, usually executed by Fokker C-V or C-X planes escorted by a few Fokker D-XXI or G-1 fighters.

At Delft and Rotterdam a ground assault mission was executed by some C-V's and D-XXI. The Feyenoord stadium parking place, allegedly in use as a prime landing space by German planes, was bombed by two C-X's with eight 50 kg bombs each. Another pair of C-X's bombed Waalhaven AFB with twelve bombs of which eleven hit the airfield. All planes safely returned to base.

To the Moerdijk bridges, the Afsluitdijk and Arnhem reconnaissance missions were flown. They all came back with poor results.

A ground attack mission to the Grebbeberg, by C-V and obsolete Fokker D-XVII fighters, was aimed at the German forces assaulting the Dutch frontline. It was followed by a flight of three G-1 fighter-cruisers that strafed the German formations in the area of Wageningen. This mission was executed successfully, but one of the fighters was heavily damaged by ground fire and had to be written off.

After this second mission to the Grebbeberg, a third mission followed by a flight of C-V light attack planes that were unescorted. At the Grebbeberg the planes were attacked by German fighters and two of the C-V's were forced into emergency landings. The first C-V made a crash landing in front of the Grebbeberg. The flight-sergeant - pilot of the plane - jumped out of the C-V and stuck his hands up when some German soldiers approached. He was shot on the spot. His observer/bomb aimer managed to hide behind the wreckage and lived to tell. The second plane crashed just in front of the forward defences of the Betuweline and were salvaged by a Dutch patrol. They made it back to their outfit the next day.

Also a number of individual reconnaissance flights were performed, usually by the Fokker C-V planes. Many of these flights did not bring home details of any significance. But often their appearance over the battlefield gave a moral boost to the Dutch soldiers on the ground. If they spotted the planes, that is.

The one remaining Fokker T-V bomber received one mission on the 12th. The airforce command wanted to spare the plane for an important mission. Curiously enough it was assigned to bomb the German artillery around the Wonsline in Friesland, a non-critical position. Halfway there the mission was called off due to German fighter activity. It did not fly another mission that third day.