Dutch Auster On the Move

United Fuel Cells

In early March came news from the Netherlands that the WWII-veteran Auster AOP Mk.III liaison aircraft which spent the past three years on display at the Nederlands Transport Museum in Nieuw-Vennep near Schiphol Amsterdam Airport now has a new home with the Museum Deelen near Arnhem.

This Auster Mk.III, a British-built militarized derivative of the Taylorcraft Model A, initially served with Britain’s Royal Air Force as NX537, joining No.658 Squadron during 1943 before moving to No.485 Squadron. With the Allied liberation of significant regions of the Netherlands in late 1944, came a requirement from the newly-in-place Dutch Government for its own aircraft. NX537 was one of 20 surplus RAF Auster Mk.IIIs which they acquired. She joined the Dutch-manned No.1316 Flight Metropolitan Communications Squadron on November 5th, 1944, having earlier undergone modifications to install an extra-long range fuel tank. Technically still functioning within RAF Transport Command, No.1316 fielded a variety of transport types, including Douglas Dakotas. In mid-April, 1945, NX537 joined nine other examples with No.6 (Dutch) Communication Flight RAF at Gilze-Rijen. These aircraft, while operating with a RAF camouflage and roundels, had a small orange triangle on their noses to denote their Dutch connection. With her formal handover to the newly-re-established Dutch military in May, 1946, NX537 gained a new serial number, X-7. She continued her military service for another decade before they struck her off charge in the late 1950s.

NX537 went on the Dutch civil registry as PH-NIN in 1958 but, sadly, an accident in 1964 brought an end to her flying days. Unusually, her remains went into store for many decades before the volunteers at the Deelen Museum resurrected them with a marvelous static restoration, returning the aircraft to her former glory in the guise she wore while serving as NX537/G with No.6 (Dutch) Communication Flight.

Interestingly, three other former Dutch military Austers exist in preservation in their homeland, these being MZ236 in store with the Nationaal Militair Museum in Soesterberg, NJ957 in a private collection (and reportedly the first Dutch aircraft to land in Amsterdam after liberation during WWII), and MZ231 which is still airworthy with the Dutch Air Force Historic Flight al Gilze-Rijen Air Base.

The Neeman Museum, while small, has a marvelous collection of WWII artifacts, including the elegantly displayed crash remains of many combatant aircraft. One of these items is a remarkably well preserved length fuselage from the all-but-extinct Short Stirling four-engined bomber (LK545), which owes its existence to its service as a garden shed! While NX537 will be kept indoors, for the most part, she will come outside for special events from time to time.


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