ML KNIL Wings – Netherlands East Indies Military Airforce

Recently I was able to acquire a small collection of badges and wings from the Netherlands East Indies Army (KNIL) from the 1940s.

Today I will describe two wings of the Airforce (ML KNIL) from this collection:

Bomber Wing
Radio Operator (Telegraphist) Wing

Crew Wings

Both of these models of wings were introduced in 1940. At that moment there was still peace in the Dutch East Indies but the war in the Netherlands already was lost. Wings were still produced locally. This changed after the Indies were lost to the Japanese in 1942. All forces and planes evacuated to Australia as far as possible. Troops left behind ended up as Prisoners of War with the Japanese invaders. During the war the operations in the pacific were continued from Australia. The education of new pilots and aviation crews for the Dutch East Indies Army was mostly done in the USA. This had as a result that wings were produced in both the USA and Australia.

Makers

In the USA one maker was used, Amico. In Australia two makers were used KG Luke and Stokes. All makers have slight differences in the feathers of the wings Colour is the easiest distinction between the USA and Australian versions. Amico used the dark bronze colour that was also the standard before the war. In Australia the colour (and material?) was brass. Most wings produced after 1941 are also marked by the maker but not all.

Pre war style closure
War period style closure

Stokes

Both of these wings are made by Stokes but are from different batches. One is a rare variation with the pre-war style closure in place of the regular pin with safety closure. According to Rob Vis (the foremost Dutch Wing Collector) in 1942 when the KNIL had to evacuate to Australia a rush order was placed for some types of wings and these were ordered with the old (then standard) style closure. Later production batches all had the regular pin backs. The bomber is an even rarer variation as post 1945 these were no longer produced. The bombers were used as strafers in Indonesia so bomb aimers were no longer trained.

Stokes marking on the Radio Operator wing
Example of an Australian made wing being worn (navigator)

Amico

Below an example of an Aviator combined with Navigator (W for Waarnemer) wing made by Amico in the USA. Note the different style of wing/feathers and the darker colour despite being polished to shine in the past.. (This wing not part of the recent additions).

1st Lt Samson wearing the Aviator/Navigator combined wing

Copies

According to Mr. Vis reproductions of the Stokes early batch type of wing also exist but are of lower quality. As all of the ML KNIL wings are relatively rare reproductions have been made to fool collectors so please study before buying!

A great overview of all ML KNIL wings can be found here.