01/13/2004. Remarks by Alfred
Damen: The Do-24 was largely designed around a Royal Netherlands Navy
specification to replace their ageing Dornier Wal flying boats in the
Marine Luchtvaart Dienst (MLD = Navy Aviation Service).
The MLD wanted the same reliability and rugged seaworthiness the Wal
offered (due to the unique Stummel floats on both sides
of the aircraft) but with a much improved performance.
The initial contract for 6 Do-24 K-1s was signed in 1936 (MLD
s/n X-1 to X-6) to be built by Dornier in Friedrichshafen.
The X-1 to X-3 were directly shipped to the Dutch East Indies in
1937, probably to the main seaplane base at Morokrembangan (near Surabaya).
As an exception the X-4 was delivered to Fokkers Aviolanda
subsidiary in Dordrecht to be fitted out with Dutch avionics and armament.
As the MLD envisaged a conflict in the east they resolved to procure
72 Do-24 Ks. Fokker, De Schelde and Aviolanda would build the
majority as Do-24 K-2s under license in the Netherlands. An
additional order for 24 Do-24 K-1s was placed with Dornier (MLD
s/n X-7 to X-30) and these were delivered during 1938 and 1939.
During 1939 the X-30 was upgraded to Do-24 K-2 standard and reserialed
X-37. The X37 was since then known as the VIP plane for Navy brass.
In the meantime Aviolanda and de Schelde were tooling up to produce
the bulk of the seaplanes, but only 6 Do-24 K-2s (MLD s/n
X-31 to X-36) had been delivered by May 10, 1940 when the German Army
attacked the Netherlands. The Germans found a large number of
unfinished Do-24 K-2s as well as spares when they occupied the
production plants. Production of these planes continued under German
supervision for most of WW II.
The X-1 flew reconnaissance flights and operational sorties against
Japanese shipping with the MLD in the Dutch East Indies until March
As the Japanese were at that time invading mainland Java it was
decided to evacuate all flying assets to either Australia or Ceylon.
The X-1 left lake Wendil on Mar 2, 1942 at 22.00 hrs with 20 persons
jammed aboard (while the normal complement was 6!) Many of these
passengers were women and children.
The X-1 reached Roebuck Bay, near Broome, early in the morning of
March 3, 1942. They anchored in the bay together with 4 other MLD
Dorniers, Australian Catalinas and a large Short flying boat.
Unable to reach the shore because of the tide, it was decided to wait
on board of the aircraft.
But at 09.20 local time a fierce attack was carried out by 9 Japanese
fighters (Mitsubshi A6M2 Zeros) led by Lieutenant Zenziro
Miyano. In this attack the X-1, as well as the X-3, X-20, X-23 and
X-28 were riddled with bullets, exploded and sank. Most of the
escapees perished either from Japanese bullets or by drowning in the
fierce ebb currents of Roebuck Bay.
Some years ago it was established that the wrecks of the flying boats
are still on the bottom of this forlorn northwest Australian bay.