Douglas DC-2: KLM’s First All-Metal Plane

KLM’s most famous Douglas DC-2 was the legendary “Uiver” (Stork). The arrival of this aircraft type and the introduction of the Boeing 247, ushered in the age of the all-metal aircraft and a whole new form of aircraft manufacturing. 

Before that time, the fuselage, wings and tail were made of a wood, metal and canvas. Then a small aircraft factory in California was commissioned by Trans World Airlines to design a high-speed commercial plane made entirely of metal, with a retractable undercarriage.


The DC-2 carried 14 passengers

This was quite a challenge for the Douglas Aircraft Company, partly because Boeing was working on something very similar for United Airlines. The results of Douglas’ efforts exceeded everyone’s expectations. The prototype presented in 1933 had even better flight characteristics than TWA had ordered. The DC-1 was sensational and the company was flooded with orders. The plane that was eventually taken into production – the DC-2 – was slightly larger than its predecessor and could carry 14 passengers.

Transported by sea

News of this successful aircraft soon reached KLM and its president, Albert Plesman. He was soon convinced and immediately placed an order. The capabilities of the first new arrival were immediately put to an arduous test by entering it in the London-to-Melbourne Air Race.

The legendary PH-AJU “Uiver” arrived at Schiphol in September 1934. Contrary to current practice, the aircraft was not flown from the factory to the client, but was transported to the Netherlands by sea. It arrived in Rotterdam and was assembled at Waalhaven Airport. Only then did the big adventure begin. The air race started on 20 October with pilots Parmentier and Moll in the cockpit, accompanied by telegraph operator Van Brugge and flight engineer Prins.


Captured or destroyed

I will save the story of the race for another blog, but the DC-2 certainly proved its mettle (excuse the pun) and KLM immediately ordered fourteen more, and later another three. Initially, the DC-2s were deployed on the long-haul route between the Netherlands and its colonies in what is now Indonesia. Later, the DC-2s were increasingly used on European routes.

With the exception of a single plane, all of KLM’s DC-2s were either captured during the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 or destroyed during the bombardment of Schiphol. The lone survivor, “Edelvalk” (Lanner Falcon), found its way to England and briefly returned to the Netherlands shortly after the war.


If you would like to see a DC-2 in its full glory, head out to the Aviodrome in Lelystad, where you will find one painted in KLM colours, proudly bearing the registration of the “Uiver”.

Posted by:   Frido Ogier  | 
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Hendrik Jan Parmentier

het doet me altijd weer wat als ik het verhaal over de Uiver lees. De winkel van mijn vader heette ook Uiver, vernoemd naar deze kist, na de Melbourne race.

Frido Ogier

Dat is nu precies wat familiehistorie is: bijzondere herinneringen aan bijzonderde mensen. Je bent een Parmentier of je bent het niet :-) Dank voor je reactie. Leuk om te lezen!

Hartelijke groet,



Het roept bij mij ook herinneringen op omdat mijn man (1948-2005) een Uiver DC2 heeft “gevonden” en in 1984 een van de bemanningsleden was van de legendarische MacPherson race Londen-Melbourne. Deze DC 2 staat nu op Lelystad. Trots op Ton Degenaars, Bonne Pijpstra, Fred Schouten en Jan Plesman.

Frido Ogier

Zeker, Janny. Ik kan me dat heel goed voorstellen. Dat zijn zeer dierbare herinneringen. De herhaling in 1984 was minstens zo bijzonder! De DC-2 in Lelystad is de enige nog luchtwaardige volgens mij. Dank dat je reageerde.

Hartelijke groeten,


Jan Hemink

For your info Frido, next to the Dutch DC-2 in Hangar T2 at the Aviodrome airfield in Lelystad, another DC-2 is in the MOF, the Museum of Flight in Seattle. At my visit in 2013 the aircraft was parked in front of the museum at the airside of the former Boeingfield in a TWA-livery with registration NC 13711. As far as I know these two DC-2’s are the only ones in the world, in such a good technical condition, that have the possibility of flying sightseeing flights if you wish.

Frido Ogier

Nice to know Jan! Thanks for your reply and this information. If i’ll ever visit Seatlle I centainly will take a look. Kind regards, Frido

JH van Kersbergen

Beste Frido
voor zover ik weet (en kan nagaan) is Plesman in deze periode niet in Amerika geweest, maar pas na de oorlog. Het verhaal is dat hij in ’33 Fokker naar Amerika ‘gestuurd’ heeft, om bij Douglas naar de DC-1 te gaan kijken.
Verder was de DC-2 niet ‘the first all-metal plane’ maar het eerste geheel-metalen vliegtuig VAN DE KLM.
Beste groeten,
Jan Huigen

Eduardo Tabarelli

I`m very grateful for your cooperation sending to me KLM`s history of development . I remember was a boy and have seen “Constellation” airplane at “Congonhas Airport”, here in Brasil , by the time 60`s . PANAIR has been flying with them .

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