Luchtvaartafdeeling van het Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger (LA-KNIL)

Puma engine installed in a LA-KNIL Fokker D.VII.

The air arm of the ‘Koninklijk Nederlands-Indisch Leger’ (KNIL, Royal Dutch-East Indies  Army) was called ‘Luchtvaartafdeling’ (LA). The D.VII’s for the LA-KNIL differed from the LVA and MLD aircraft. They were fitted with a Siddeley Puma engine. This was desired by the LA-KNIL, because it was the same engine as used in the De Havilland DH-9’s they used and at that moment there was not much confidence in the use of liquid-cooled engines in the hot Dutch East Indies climate.

During the testflight of the first Puma powered D.VII on Februay 25, 1921, the aircraft crashed, killing the pilot, Adolf Parge. During take-off, the pilot made a very steep climb, and started a turn to the left, when the engine stopped. The D.VII then stalled, and dived into the ground from a height of approximately 80 meters. The second Puma D.VII was flown succesfully on April 27, 1921 bij Lt. Versteegh.

LA-KNIL Fokker D.VII over the Dutch East Indies countryside.

The D.VII’s were put into service in 1922, registered as ‘F-301’ to ‘F-306’. The D.VII in the Dutch East Indies was not a succes. There were a lot of troubles with the engines and the synchronization mechanism for the machinegun. The last D.VII was withdrawn in 1928.