I was just wondering if anyone knew why the Belgians got rid of their Hunter F6's in 1963, but kept their F-84Fs until 1972. I'm guessing it's because the latter were nuclear capable/tasked and in any case had better air to ground capability. Hawkers bought back the Hunters and they mostly went on to have long and sometimes interesting histories with (sometimes multiple) other air forces:
Belgian Air Force Hunter Vs F-84F
Posted 25 August 2019 - 1505 PM
F-84s are good enough to drop bombs, but for air to air, nothing beats the coolness of this:
When you only have so many pilots and bases, the old planes are sold out.
Posted 25 August 2019 - 1507 PM
From the above:
N°1 Wing started receiving its Starfighters in April 1963, these reequipping 350 Squadron, 349 Squadron followed suit in October of that year. The aicraft remained assigned to squadrons until April 25th, 1966, when the Wing pooling was instated. The control and daily management of the aircraft was the responsability of the Wing Maintenance Group. N°10 Wing started its Starfighter era on June 1964, N° 31 Squadron reequipping first. For the sake of convenience, initial operations were carried out from Beauvechain air base, where assistance for the type conversion could be given by N°1 Wing. Most aircraft left for Kleine Brogel air base in July. The 31 Squadron was the recipient of all Starfighter earmarked for N°10 Wing; 23 Squadron kept operating F-84F Thunderstreak, sending its pilots to 31 for conversion. Effective on January 1st 1965, the aircraft were pooled in the Wing, the remaining F-84F going to the N°10 Wing F-84F Base Flight before being quickly phased out.
N°1 Wing main mission was the air-defence. Therefore between 1957 and 1996, Beauvechain air base hosted a NATO 24 hours alert section. The F-104 became operational in the role in August 1964. The 24 hours alert section, with two aircraft (one ready at 15 minutes, one ready at 30 minutes), became the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) section. In 1967 this section was enlarged to four ships - two pairs of aircraft. In 1970, they were hosted in a dedicated hangar and renamed Interceptor Alert Force (IAF). Later in the 70's, they were transferred to a special hardened shelter complex, close to one of the Beauvechain runway ends. The F-104G were replaced in the role by four F-16A Fighting Falcon in September 1980. N°10 Wing One-O-Four main missions started with the FBS (fighter bomber strike only) role. To fulfil this sensitive as well as secretive commitment, Kleine Brogel air base hosted a 24 hours nuclear QRA since the early sixties. The F-104G replaced the F-84F in this role in 1965 at Kleine Brogel. However, the F-84F’s of number 2 Squadron at Florennes continued the FBS (Fighter Bomber Strike) Mission on F-84F until December 1966 (when all F-104G's of Kleine Brogel were operational FBS). The tactical nuclear weapons were US nuclear B-61 free-fall bomb, controlled and maintained in special storages facilities by the 52nd Special Ammunition Group homed at Meeuwen. The B-61 is said to be of great tactical flexibility, since the yield as well as the time and type of detonation can be chosen in flight. The weapon can be used by aircraft flying at altitudes as low as 15 meters. The bombs were 3.61 meters long and had a diameter of 0.34 meters. The US forces retained custody of all US nuclear weapons and would have released US nuclear weapons to the Belgian Air Force only in accordance with NATO defence plans, SACEUR directives, and US national control procedures. As one of the NATO Nuclear Quick Reaction Alert Force's, this QRA was housed in a heavily protected hardened shelter complex near the Kleine Brogel eastern runway ends. Around 1972, even more sophisticated and flexible smaller nuclear weapons were introduced. The weapons were later also stored in special vaults in the aircraft shelters themselves. In 1968, 10FBW changed to the dual role FBS/FBA missions and had to train also with conventional weapons. Weapons used by the F-104G in this role were the 20mm Vulcan/Gatling gun, 3 napalms bombs or 2 Snakeye bombs or two LAU rocket launcher pods with each 19 X 2.75" FFAR rockets. The Starfighter phase-out started in late 1979, older airframes going first to Saffraanberg Technical Training School (T.T.S.). N° 349 Squadron was first to relinquish its Starfighters for General Dynamic F-16A Fighting Falcon, allowing N°1 Wing F-104G/TF-104G operations to be centralised within 350 Squadron from April 1st, 1980. At the same time the Flight TF-104G was disbanded and replaced by the F-16 Conversion Flight. This lasted until April 14, 1981, when all remaining 350 Squadron Starfighters were flown to Koksijde air base storage park, where they joined others already stored.
Posted 25 August 2019 - 1515 PM
The old airbase Beauvechain has a free air museum on Sundays, run by volunteers. No annoying barricades between you and the aircraft, so you can walk around, crawl underneath, peek into the cockpit etc. Among other aircraft they have a F-16A, a F-104, a Mirage III or V (?), a set of British fighters and a DDR MiG-21. If you are in or near Bruxelles, I recommend taking a look. http://musee.1wing.free.fr/
Posted 26 August 2019 - 1943 PM
All that F104 stuff is great, but it doesn't explain why they kept the F84F and dumped the Hunter.
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