Frits Koolhoven (1886-1946)

Frits Koolhoven was a car designer, racing driver, aircraft developer and pioneer aviator. Born in Bloemendaal, he studied at HBS technical school and at Liege and Antwerp technical colleges. Although he began his career as a mechanic at a car factory, he soon developed an interest in aviation. For a while Koolhoven worked as chief designer for British Aerial Transport (BAT). During the First World War, his work had a huge impact on aircraft design in Britain. He emerged as the leading rival of his compatriot Anthony Fokker, the other famous Dutch pioneer aviator. Koolhoven set up a factory in Rotterdam in 1926, which was destroyed early in the Second World War when German bombers devastated the city to force a Dutch capitulation in 1940.

In 1917, Koolhoven designed the FK 23 Bantam (the name refers to a Javanese fighting rooster), a technically superior combat plane for the British air force. The influence of Koolhoven’s designs is evident in modernist iconography of the 1920s.

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