Van Berkel WA Replica


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Jan 28, 2008
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On a recent visit to the Aviodrome at Lelystad, Netherlands recently I came across a nearly complete Van Berkel WA replica in one of the hangars.

It is distinctive with its fixed tail and no vertical fin visible, with the fin below the topline of the fuselage in a rudder type position (see image).

One of the resident staff gave me a brief history of the reasonably unheard of (outside of Holland) type.

Wilhelm Van Berkel (1869?-1952) was a Dutch inventor of the Berkel meat slicer and manufacturer of precision measuring devices like weighing scales.

During the First World War , the company was also engaged in the production of ammunition and guns for the Dutch army before following a logical step to set up an airplane division in 1918. In April 1918, a Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 made an emergency landing in the neutral territory of the Netherlands at Rottumeroog and it was interned.

The Dutch authorities undertook some test flights until it had an accident and a year later the Netherlands Government purchased a license to build the Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 aircraft.

The factory was on the Keileweg 9 in Rotterdam. Head of the aircraft department was R.J. Castendijk and John Kerner was head of the engine department.

The first aviation task was then the construction, under license, of 35 Hansa-Brandenburg W.12 floatplanes for the Dutch Navy (MLD). The first copy flew in 1919 and was called the van Berkel WA. Although the design was based on the W.12 , senior engineer Von Baumhauer gave a complete overhaul to the original design. The floatplane was larger and the Benz engine more powerful.

The MLD ordered seven and in 1920 the first copy made its first flight. Delivery of the remainder was long-awaited one as the MLD received the seventh copy in 1923.

All were used in Dutch-India operations in a climate not suited to wood and fabric. The performance was not impressive in 1933 these aircraft were also taken out of use.

The Neptune Association started collecting information about the WA in 1993 in order to build a full-size replica.

The search for information was difficult as most had been burned and the information gathering went on until 1999. Information about the wing construction was especially hard to find.

By 2002, the Aviodrome Museum was willing to find money in the project and the biplane replica is in 2017 being assembled and readied for a Maritime Expo at Lelystad later this year.

Many thanks for the museum staff for the potted history !

As a side note the Van Berkel project list was excellently described by Apophenia a couple of years ago (see,26065.msg265827.html#msg265827)

See also: (in Dutch so you may want to open the page with your favourite translator)


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