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  • History of the base from 1946 to 1949.
  • The 160th (Belgian) Wing becomes the 160th Fighter-Day Wing.
  • The 160th Fighter-Day Wing becomes the 1st Fighter-Day Wing.
  • Mosquitoes NF30 acquisition.
  • Establishment of the 10th Night Fighter Squadron. (Mosquito NF-30)
  • Establishment of the Auxiliary Squadron.
  • Establishment of the 4th Fighter-Day Squadron
  • 349th Squadron receives its first jet, followed by 350th and 4th Squadrons.

 

Beauvechain : 1946 - 1949.

 

- December 1st 1946 :  Maj Louis Geerts, former leader of the famous 609th Squadron becomes Commanding Officer (CO) of the 349th Squadron.

 

  • Picture 4612-01 : Maj Louis Geerts, CO of the 349th Squadron (Shading his eyes from the sun) in front of the TD184 GE-R. Jan Mathys stands on his left.

 

 

1947

 

 

- 1947 : Both 349thand 350th Squadrons gradually become established.
Their first shelter is a former Luftwaffe hangar which has been restored ; the "Siemens Halle" was used to repair and overhaul aircraft electrical and radio systems.
The mechanics are settled on the side of the hangar.

 

  • Picture 4700-01: The first maintenance facilities of the 349thand 350th Squadrons ; the restored "Siemens Halle" ; actually a 75 meters long building built by the Luftwaffe, which can contain up to six aircraft, initially used to maintain aircraft electrical and radio systems.
  • Picture 4700-02: The mechanics in front of their first crew-room, on the side of the hangar.

 

- January 1947: The contract for the acquisition of 22 Mosquitoes NF30 (NF for Night Fighter) is signed.
Two additional aircraft are ordered to be used as Instructional Airframe. (NT450 and NT563)
The serial numbers start from MB-1 and end with MB-24.
They represent the fleet of the future Night Fighter Squadrons.
The first Mosquito (NT446 MB-1) is taken on charge on November 1947.

 

Note : Even if the use of wood is already regarded as obsolete in the late forties, the Mosquito is constructed of Balsa / Birch plywood.
Therefore, the lifetime of a Mosquito is consequently limited.
The whole Mosquito NF30 fleet will be retired from active duty on the 18th of August 1955, and struck off charge in October 1956.

 

- January 16th 1947: Lt Eric Born, at the controls of the Spitfire XIV TB373 crashes at the limit of the airfield.
A engine stall during the take off phase and the desire to reach the runway will be fatal to Lt Born.

 

- Early 1947: The Royal Air Force ranks are replaced by their equivalents in the Belgian Air Force.

 

 

 

160th Fighter-Day Wing 

 

- April 1st 1947: The 160th (Belgian) Wingbecomes the 160th Fighter-Day Wing.
The two squadrons, still flying the Spitfire LFXVI, start to receive the more powerful Spifire XIV.

 

Below the Battle Order of the 349th Squadron.

 

Flight A

Flight B

Mascaux Jean 

Van Den Bosch René

Mathijs Jan

Creckillie Armand   

Branders Léon

Laforce Albert

Deneyer Ernest

Techy Robert

Dubois Jacques

Goose Bruno

Moury Jean 

Godefroid Hubert

 

  • Picture : 4704-01: The first Spitfire XIV received by the 349th Squadronon July 3rd 1947 : the RM870.
  • Picture : 4704-02: The Spitfire XIV's cockpit.
  • Note :

1.

The RPM indicator shows a max RPM of 5000 RPM for the Griffon engine

(4000 RPM for the Merlin)

2.

The "BOOST" pressure shows a turbocharger max pressure of +24 PSI

(+16 PSI for the Merlin)

 

 

- June 1947: Sqn Ldr E. Van Lierdegives the command of the 350th Squadronto Capt R. Duchateau.

 

- November 5th 1947 : Maj L. Geerts ,CO of the 349th Squadron leaves the lead to Maj Paul Deschamps.

 

  • Pictures 4711-01 & 4711-02: The 349th Squadron(Pilots & Mechanics)
    The two squadron's flights and the CO Deschamps strike the pose in front of a Spitfire XIV.
    The Spitfire on the side is also a Spitfire XIV, the RM672 from the 350th Sqn, has been sold by the Royal Air Force to the Belgian Air Force in June 1947.
  • Below the detailed listings of all persons identified on both pictures 4711-01 & 4711-02
  •  115. 349 Sqn & Spitfire XIV.49 Sqn & Spitfire XIV.

  •  115.1 349 Sqn Ground-crew & Spitfire XIV

 

 

1948

 

- January 1st 1948 : Maj marcel Mullendersreplaces Maj paul Deschampsat the command of the 349th Squadron.

 

 

 

1st Fighter-Day Wing

 

 

February 1st 1948 : The 160th Fighter-Day Wingbecomes the 1st Fighter-Day Wing.
Both squadron (349th& 350th) are almost completely equipped with Spitfire XIV.

  • Picture 4802-01 : The SLt Tony de Maere d'Aetrijcke (350th Squadron) with the Spitfire XIV SG-66 MN-V photographed by SLt Albert Procureur.
  • Picutre 4802-02 : The SLt Albert Procureur (350th Squadron) with the Spitfire XIV SG-56 MN-W photographed by SLt Tony de Maere d'Aertrijcke.

 

- March 17th 1948 : The Treaty of Brussels is signed between Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The parties decide to create a common military defence system and strenghthen their economical as well as cultural links.
Belgium commits to provide for the late 1954, 12 day-fighter squadrons, each squadron consisting of 16 aircraft, and 8 night-fighter squadrons, for a total of 256 aircraft.
However, the threat of the USSR and Eastern Bloc will push the European countries to request very soon the assistance of the USA, this process leading to the establishment of NATO on April 4th 1949.

 

- May 1948 : A first batch of 3 Meteor T.7, the two-seat trainer version of the famous Gloster Meteor fighter is ordered at a cost of £ 31,000 per unit, and are serialled ED1, ED2, and ED3. The Gloster construction numbers are G-5-212, G-5-213 and G-5-214 respectively.
They are delivered in numerical order, September 9th and 20th December, 1948.

 

  • Picture 4805-02 : The ED3 with the squadron markings of the Koksijde Fighter School. (1950)

 

- June 1948 : Establishment of a night-fighter flight, consisting of 4 Mosquito NF.30, 4 pilots and 5 navigators.
This flight is the pioneer of our future first night fighter squadron, the 10th Squadron,which will be established within a few months.
The flight is placed under the command of a former RAF night fighter, Maj François Vandenplassche.

 

- July 12th 1948 : The 1st Fighter-Day Wing is going to Koksijde shooting practice range till August 7th.

349th Squadronas well as 350th SquadronSpitfires shoots on targets towed by Miles Martinet TT.1 aircraft, within the shooting range which is offshore the Belgian coast.
Originaly, 9 Miles Martinet aircraft are bought for the use of the Fighter School, and are delivered in early 1947. They will be used by the Flight 600, and later by the Target Towing Flight (TT Flight).
A military shooting range is also available not far away from Nieuwpoort at Lombardsijde, and is used for air-ground shooting, as well as bombing.

 

 

  • Picture 4807-03 : The shooting campaign starts with the gun harmonization.
    The aircraft is levelled on both axes, (pitch & roll) and alligned on a bore sight target.
    Guns and gun sight reticle are then adjusted.
    The Spitfire shown on this picture is a Spit XIV belonging to the 350th Squadron, it appears to be the SG29 MN-O.
  • Picture 4807-06 : The two mechanics (Haubourdin & Vilain) are working on the tail wheel, which seems to be at the origin of the damages noted on the aft fuselage.
    The rudder is already removed.
  • Picture 4807-08 : A metal box of A.L.63 Kills Lice (British Army Louse Powder)  !
    The fabric roller under the arm of the mechanic (Jan Vissenaeken) suggests the recipient only contains the necessary product required for the flight control surfaces covering.
  • Picture 4807-09 : The owner of these pictures : Etienne De Schrevel (Standing)
  • Picture 4807-10 to 4807-12 : Some of the pilots present during this shooting practice at Koksijde in July 1948.

 

- August 25th 1948 : Capt Guy de Patoultakes the command of 350 Squadron

 

- October 15th 1948 : The first Gloster Meteor T.7 is delivered to the 1st Fighter-Day Wing by Lt Gen Michel "Mike" Donnet.

 

  • Picture 4810-01 to 4810-04 : The Gloster Meteor T.7 shown seems to be the ED1.

 

- Beauvechain Air Base in 1948 :

 

 

  • Pictures 4800-01 to 4800-05 : A few picture of the airfield in 1948.
  • Pictures 4800-01 & 4800-02 : Note the two new aircraft hangars in the south-west of the fiel, between the two runways.
    The hangar on the left (C7) houses the 349th Squadron, while the right one (C3) houses the 350th Squadron.
  • Picture 4800-03 : Detail of the buidings at south-east of the base, at the end of the Runway 22.
    The two hangars have been constructed by the Luftwaffe, but only the larger on the left, the "Siemens Halle", is still operational.
    The one on the right, made of two sections (Erla Maschinenwerk) has been partly destroyed during the base bombing in 1944.
    Click on the link to display an aerial picture taken in the late fifties, during the CF-100 era.
  • Picture 4800-04 : Detail of the Ammunition Storage, also built by the Luftwaffe.
  • Picture 4800-05 : Another general view of the airfield. The previous detail pictures have been extracted from this picture.

 

 

1949

 

 

- January 15th 1949 : The military aviation is officially named : Belgian Air Force  (Force Aérienne Belge - Belgische Luchtmacht)

 

- March 12th 1949 : Belgium places an order for 48 Meteor F.4 at a cost of £29,400 each with delivery scheduled for completion by 30th November.
The Gloster Meteor F.4 (Fighter) is the advanced version of the Meteor F.3, first production aircraft built in 1944.
The Meteors will carry the Gloster construction numbers commencing G-5-246 and the Belgian Air Force serials EF1 to EF48, and will equip the 349th Squadron first, then the 350th Squadron.

The delivery from Gloster plant at Brockworth start in April with the EF2, EF6 and EF7.
The aircraft are received by the 349th Squadron, which become the first Belgian squadron to fly a jet fighter aircraft.

The ten members of this "Belgian Jet Squadron" are :

- Maj Mullenders Marcel   (CO 349th Squadron)

- Capt Divoy Léon            (Flight CO)

- Capt Kreps Herman

- Capt Mathijs Jan           (Flight CO)

- Capt Piquin Fernand

- SLt Bayard Robert

- SLt Leclerq Olivier

- Adj Goose François

- Sgt Saeys Harry

 

 

  • Picture 4903-02 : One of the first Meteor F.4 received by the 349th Squadron in April 1949, the EF7.
  • Picture 4903-03 : A group of mechanics and a pilot strike the pose with the EF2, which will be involved in the first fatal crash of the 349th Squadron with a Gloster Meteor.
    EF2 will collide with EF35 during a break, and will crash between Namur and St Gérard on the 20th of December 1951.
    The two pilots : Adj P. Deschamps and Sgt H. Meys will both die in the crash.
  • Picture 4903-04 : Adj François Goose in the cockpit of the Meteor F.4 GE-N.

 

- 4th of April 1949 : Twelve nations from Western Europe and North America sign the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) in Washington D.C.

A key feature of this treaty is Article 5, in which the signatory members agree that an "Armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all."
Initially, the alliance is not very well prepared to carry out this mission. Grave shortages of troops and equipment have to be corrected. Also, there is no command structure to direct the overall defence of Western Europe, just committees that are charged with drawing up plans for the defence of their regions.


- May 1949 : 350th Squadron pilots commence their meteor F.4 conversion training.

 

  • Picture 4905-01 to 4905-03 : Two Meteors F.4 from the 350th Squadron are flying over the Belgian Ardennes during the "Cupola" exercise which last on the 25th, 26th and 27th of August 1950.
    The leader of the formation is the 350th Squadron CO, Maj Guy de Patoul, flying the MN-M, his wing man is Lt Yves Bodart, in the MN-S.

 

- May 15th 1949 : The 349 Squadron is the first belgian squadron to be fully equiped with the Meteor IV.

 

  • Picture 490515-01 : The 349th Squadron flight line in September 1949.
    Note the control tower in the background. A closer look is available on the picture 4903-06.
    The control tower has been initialy built by the Luftwaffe on a place being at the intersection of the two runways, in front of the hangar C7.
  • Picture 490515-02 : A closer look on the Control Tower.
  • Picture 490515-03 : An other view of the flight line.
  • Picture 490515-04 : A mechanic (José Theys) in the cockpit of the personal aircraft of Maj Marcel Mullenders, 349 Squadron's CO.
    The triangular pennant painted on the side of the forward fuselage shows that pilot is directly issued from RAF.
  • Picture 490515-05 : Closer look on the mechanic and the pennant.

 

- June 3rd 1949 : First crash for the night fighters, the Mosquito NF30 MB-3 ND-K crashes at Beauvechain and is declared Cat.5
Less than two weeks later, the MB-6 is also destroyed.
Fortunately, both air crews will escape unhurt.

 

- June 12th 1949 : Meeting of Evere.

Less than two months after the receiving of the first Meteor, (April 1949) a section composed of 9 Meteors F.4, led by Maj Mullenders (CO 349 Squadron) is performing some simulated strafings during the Meeting of Evere, which celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Belgian military aviation.
The 10th Squadron's CO, Maj François Vandenplassche, leads a formation composed of six DH.98 Mosquitoes.

 

 

- July 1949 : Both squadrons (349th & 350th) are completely equipped with the Meteor F.4, each squadron aligning 16 aircraft.

 

 

 

10th Night Fighter Squadron.

 

- July 2nd 1949 : Establishment of the 10th Night Fighter Squadron.

(De Havilland Mosquito NF Mk30 - Squadron Code : ND - Emblem : The Silver Dragon)

Insigne 10eme Escadrille02

 

The 10th Squadron's first CO is Maj François Vandenplassche who will leave the command to Maj Charles Roman on the 1st of October.

 

  • Picture 4907-01 : The 10th Squadron's CO, Maj François Vandenplassche, leads a formation composed of six DH.98 Mosquitoes during the meeting of Evere, on the 12th of June 1949.

 

 - September 24th 1949 : The 1st Fighter Wing participate to the "Bulldog" exercise.

Units of the French and Belgian Air Force, join American, Dutch and British aircraft in the R.A.F. autumn manoeuvers which begin on Friday 23rd and is expected to continue until next Monday or Tuesday.
The operation is designed to give Bomber Command experience in attacking heavily defended industrial targets. For this purpose, attacks will be made on London, Portsmouth, Cardiff, Southampton and Bristol.
Thirteen squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force will join the regular fighter bomber and anti-aircraft commands in the exercise.
France, Belgium and Holland are providing jet fighter squadrons.
The United State Air Force is using its new B-50 heavy bombers for the first time, in addition to its B-29 Superfortress.

The Belgian Air Force is back in England for the first time since the war, and this is also the first time they are taking part in Western Union air exercise.
The 1st Fighter Wing's CO, Maj Albert Van De Velde is in command, and the contingent is drawn from 350th and 349th squadrons, which became famous as part of the R.A.F. during the war.
About a third of the pilots served with the R.A.F. at that time and the remainder have all been trained in the country.

 

  • Picture 4909-01 : A Meteor F.4 from the 349th Squadron taking-off from Thorney Island - Hampshire airfield on the 25th of September 1949.
  • Pictures 4909-02 to 4909-04 : As soon as received by the 1st Fighter Wing, in September 1949, the Meteor F.4 EF48 is taking part to Bulldog exercise during the last days of September.
    The aicraft is not bearing any squadron markings yet, but only the belgian serial. It is photographed by a Meteor of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

 

- Octobre 13th 1949 : The Mosquito NF.30 MB-9 is damaged beyond repair at Wevelgem. The air crew is unhurt.

 

- October 30th 1949 : The function of OSN (Officier Supérieur Navigant) is formalized. Maj Joseph Renier DFCis the first OSN of the 1st Fighter-Day Wing.

 

- November 25th 1949 : First fatal crash for the 10th Night Fighter Squadron. The MB-7 ND-E crashes shortly after take-off at Piétrebais.
The pilots, 1Lt Marcel Huls and his navigator Capt Paul Remy are killed.

 

 

 

Auxuliary Squadron

 

- Decembre 1st 1949 : Establishment of the Auxiliary Squadron.

 

(3 Spifires Mk IX and 6 Spitfire Mk XIV - Squadron Code : GV - 31 pilots - Emblem : The Winged Torch)

 

InsigneEscadrilleAuxiliaire02

 

The insigna is initially designed by Capt Jean Rigole, former 350th Squadron pilot, and Léon Rubin.
It shows a black hand holding a golden torch, which is supported by two golden wings. A blue circle is surrounding the assembly.
 

(Motto : "Nunquam Flamma Extinguitur")
(The flame never goes out)

 

 The Auxiliary Squadron consists of a small core composed by active personnel, which is completed by reserve personnel.
The squadron represents the reserve of our fighter pilots.

The flight trainning is performed during the week-end, and includes all the operational missions normaly assigned to an active squadron.
Some pilots also show-up during the week for the night flight trainning.

The first Auxiliary Squadron's CO is Lt Col (Res) Le Roy du Vivier. The second-in-command is an active officer : Lt Auguste Francken.

  • Picture 4912-01 : Harry "Lange" Saeys is assisted by the ground-crew before a flight with the Spifire XIV GV-X.
    The hangar facing the Spitfire is the hangar C7 hosting the 349th Squadron and Auxiliary Squadron.
    The hangar in the background is the C3 hosting the 350th Squadron and the 4th Squadron.
  • Picture 4912-02 to 4912-04 : Another Auxiliary Squadron's Spitfire XIV (GV-C) during the start-up.
    Note the detail of the Aux Squadron insignia.
  • Picture 4912-05 : Spitfire XIV MV382 SG80 - GV-T from the Auxiliary Squadron.

 

 

4th Day Fighter Squadron

 

- December 1949 : Establishment of a new Day Fighter Squadron : The 4th Day Fighter Squadron.

 

(16 Meteor F.4 - Squadron Code : SV - Emblem : The Eagle)

 

Insigne4emeEscadrille02

 

The white eagle insignia initially appears with the Military Aeronautic (Aéronautique Militaire - Militair Vliegwezen) in 1935.
The emblem is adopted by the 5th and 6th Fighter Squadrons, belonging to the 3rd Group / 2nd Aeronautical Regiment. This group is initially equipped with Fairey "Fox".
Many metal as well as textile badges are immediately produced, some to be fitted on the jacket, and some for the flight suits.
In both cases, a white eagle on guard, ready to fall down on its prey is standing on a red or blue circle, depending on the squadron served ; the 5th or 6th Fighter Squadron.
The motto : "Quaerens Quem Devoret" (Looking for its prey) is written in black in the lower portion of the circle.
By the end of 1949, the emblem of the former 6th Squadron, the white eagle in the red circle, is allocated to the 4th Squadron.

  • Below a picture of the original mettalic badge.

 

The first Commanding Officer (CO) of the 4th Squadron is Capt Jean Mascaux.

 

The 4th Squadron initially shares the C3 hangar with the 350th Squadron. The 350th Squadron uses the ramp facing the runways, while the 4th Squadron use the ramp at the back.
By the end of 1949, the 4th Squadron receives its first Meteor F.4, the additionnal twelve will be delivered in early 1950.

 

 

- December 1949 : The 1st Fighter-Day Wing is now including five squadrons. 

  • 3 Fighter Day Squadrons. (349th Sqn - 350th Sqn - 4th Sqn)
  • 1 Night Fighter Squadron. (10th Sqn)
  • 1 Auxiliary Squadron.

 

- December 1949 : The initial order of 48 Meteor F.4 very quickly appears to be inadequate to align 16 serviceable aircraft per squadron.
An additional order of 23 Meteor F.8 is placed with Gloster Aircraft Company to re-equip one of the two Day-Fighter Squadron.
Serials of this batch are EG-201 to EG-223.
The 350th Fighter Squadron will be the first squadron to receive the new fighter, 349th and 4th Squadrons will continue to operate the Meteor F.4 till February and April 1953 respectively.

 

- December 1949 : The 1st Fighter-Day Wing flew a complete year on Jet Fighter aircraft.

The total flight time at the end of 1949 is 1588 flight hours on Meteor F.4 and 110 hours on Meteor T.7.
On the other hand, the Mosquitos of the 10th Squadron flew a total of 1120 flight hours.

 

 

Next : 1st Wing : 1950 - 1955  

 

    

 
 
 
 
 

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