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Beauvechain : 1956 - 1959

1956

- Janvier 1956: The Ambiorix's red wings are noted for the first time on the nose of the 350 Sqn's Meteors F8.
Those wings often called “flames” or “moustaches” represent in fact the wings of Ambiorix's helmet.
The wings will be noted later on the nose of the Hunter’s and on the air intakes of the CF-100's.

- January 1956: The delivery of a second batch of Meteors NF11 dedicated to the 10th Night Fighter squadron has started.

The two first aircraft are delivered to the Belgian Air Force on the 19th and 20th of January respectively.
Those Meteor NF11's are second hand R.A.F. aircraft and are not technically identical to the first batch.
The BAF serial numbers are from EN13 to EN24. (details below)

BAF S/N    RAF S/N    Contract Nr Delivered    Sqn Code   
         
EN13  WD602 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b)     23-02-56 ND-A
EN14 WD724 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b) 09-02-56  ND-B 
EN15 WD622 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b) 05-03-56  ND-C 
EN16 WD594 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b) 23-02-56  ND-D 
EN17 WD760 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b)  05-03-56  ND-E 
EN18 WD661 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b)  06-03-56  ND-F 
EN19 WD590 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b)  23-02-56  ND-G 
EN20 WD596 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b) 06-03-56  ND-H 
EN21 WD741 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b)  22-02-56  ND-J 
EN22 WD763 6/ACFT/3433 C.B.7(b)  20-01-56  ND-K 
EN23 WM221 6/ACFT/6141 C.B.7(b)  19-01-56  ND-L 
EN24 WM263 6/ACFT/6141 C.B.7(b) 22-02-56  ND-M 

 

It has to be noted that the two last aircraft of this batch, WM221 and WM263 are also different from the 10 first as produced from a different contract number.

 - 13th March 1956: A pair of Meteors NF11 belonging to the 11th Night Fighter Squadron are lost in similar circumstances during a night flight.

Both of them have been subject to a double flame-out caused by the freezing of the engine fuel filters. The water contamination of the fuel will be later confirmed by the investigation.

The two Meteors NF11 (EN15 & EN22) are taking off in the early evening for a training flight. The two night fighters are supposed to perform some mutual interception exercises (Practice Interception PI)
Having accomplished a serie of interceptions, communication problems with the controller force the two Meteors to stop the exercise and fly back to Beauvechain. 

- EN15 is in approach to runway 04 when both engines flame-out at low altitude.

The crew composed of Sgt Avi Rik Loots and Cdt Nav Georges Bernier decide to not jump out the aircraft and crashes on a house at Mont-Saint-Guibert.
Both of them are found alive and are only suffering from minors injuries.

The Meteor EN15, which is completely destroyed, had accumulated 453:45 flying hours of which 449:30 within the R.A.F. 

- EN22 for its part is flying in the north of St-Truiden when both engines are flaming-out.

Although the Meteor is flying too low to guarantee a successful evacuation (*) of the aircraft, the crew takes the decision to jump out anyway.
Cpn Avi Julien Notte and Lt Nav Hubert Dormans are found not far away from the wreckage, neither of the two parachutes had the time to deploy.

The EN22 is in a relative good shape, but will be written off. The aircraft had logged 801:55 flying hours, of which 796:35 within the R.A.F. 

(*) The Meteor NF.11 was not fitted with ejection seats.


- 26th June 1956: Maj Tony de Maere d'Aertricke becomes the new CO of the 350 Sqn.

- 29th August 1956 : Maj Nav Henri Cabolet becomes the new CO of the 11th Night Fighter Squadron.

- 4th September 1956: Cdt Olivier Leclercq succeed the CO Marcel Desmet at the head of the 349 squadron


- 11th October 1956: Celebration of the 10th years anniversary of the Belgian Air Force.

On this occasion 194 aircraft (*) are joined together at Brustem with the idea to perform a massive fly-by.
Aircraft, pilots, and mechanics are reviewed by HM the King Baudouin.
Unfortunately, a heavy fog on the airfield will force the authorities to cancel any flight presentation, except for the Acrobobs which perform at this occasion their last air show.

(*) : Meteor F8 - Meteor NF11 - F-84G Thunderjet - F-84F Thundersrteak - Hunter F4.

- 05th December 1956: A Meteor NF.11 belonging to the 10th Night Fighter Squadron (EN14 - ND-B) is lost during a flight in bad weather.

During a radar test flight in preparation for a night flight, the crew composed of 1Sgt Avi Jeroom Janssens and his navigator 1Sgt Jacques Pairoux is caught in bad weather with low clouds.

The ND-B continues to fly low and flies into the ground near Sart-lez-Spa. There's no survivor.
Le 1Sgt Janssens graduated from Prom 124 had joined the 350Sqn in January 1954 before to move to the 11th Night Fighter Squadron in 1956.

 

1957

- 1st January 1957: Officialisation of the PSV Flight (Pilotage Sans Visibilté / Instrument Flying Flight)

Wishing to improve the safety of the flights within the 1Wing, the Flying Group decides to create a PSV Flight at Beauvechain during the last months of 1956.
Initialy the flight is placed under the command of Cdt Guy Carlier before to be transferred to 1Lt André Richir
The PSV flight,  administratively attached to the 10th Night Fighter Squadron, define a new technology for the instrument flying which doesn't exist at that time within the Belgian Air Force. 
The flight brings together all the Meteors T7 dispersed in the different wings of the Flying Group, this represent ten aircraft.
The procedures defined by the PSV Flight will drastically reduce the number of crash under bad weather conditions.

- March 1957: The 4Sqn is under conversion on Hunter at Chièvres when the Chief of the Air Force Staff decide to disband the squadron.

Even if the 4Sqn will never fly the Hunter, most of the aircraft ferried to Beauvechain in March 1957 are flown by pilots of the 4th squadron.


- March 1957: Following the Suez Crisis (October 1956 - March 1957) and on the request of NATO, 4 armed aircraft are placed in a constant state of alert during the day.

The 350Sqn is the first of the Belgian Air Force squadrons to start the long tradition of QRA (*) permanence with the Meteor F8.
The QRA aircraft are initially parked on the rear stand of hangar H5 as it provide a direct access to the runway.

(*) Quick Reaction Alert.


- 1st April 1957: The Auxiliary Squadron is transferred to Brustem.


- April 1957: The 349Sqn starts its conversion on Hunter F4.


- May 1957: The flight crew personnel of the 11th Night Fighter Squadron is reinforced.

 

- 6th May 1957:  The 349 Sqn is completely equipped with the Hunter F4.

A part of the 4th Squadron pilots is merged with the 349 Squadron.
The order of battle is as follow :

  Flight A     Flight B  
Lt Marcel   Ginion SLt Wilfried Bogaerts
Lt André Op de Beek   SLt Armand Dewilde
SLt Bernard Cruysmans SLt Achille Helderweirdt
SLt Pierre Hallaux SLt Marcel Van der Stockt                              
SLt André Puvrez SLt Fernand Van Leuven
1Sgt    Jos Menten Adj Alphonse   De Greef
1Sgt Yvan Somers 1Sgt    Jan Elen
Sgt Jean-Marie  Goedseels 1Sgt Louis Thys
Sgt René Schoels Sgt Michel Tricot
Sgt José Sepult Sgt Eric Zwaenepoel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


- 10th May 1957: First crash of a Hunter F4 for the 349 Squadron, the ID-3 crashes at Ave-et-Auffe (Rochefort).

Lt Bernard Cruysmans (349Sqn) is able to eject but is seriously injured.


- May 1957: The 350 Sqn begins the conversion on Hunter F4.


- 3rd June 1957: Lt.Col Albert Van Eeckhoudt replace Lt.Col Terlinden and becomes the new Base CO of the 1Wing.


- July 1957: The Avro CF-100 (*) Mk5 "Canuck" is selected to replace the Hunter.

An order is placed to Avro Limited (Canada) for 54 aircraft for an amount of $ 42.000.000, of which 75 % financed by the U.S. and 25 % financed by the Canada as part of the Mutual Aid Program.
Only 53 aircraft were delivered as one was damaged prior delivery.
The belgian serial numbers are going from AX-1 to AX-53.

(*) In the Canadian Military Aircraft Designation System, C stands for "Canada" and F stands for "Fighter".

The Avro CF-100 is the first fighter designed and mass-produced in Canada.
Since the early days of 1945, RCAF has expressed the desire to earn a new jet-powered interceptor/fighter aircraft able to defend the large plains in the Northern Canada from the Soviet strategic bombers which should become long-range bombers very soon.
The contract is signed with A.V. Roe Canada better known as Avro
In accordance with the "Department of National Defense" the aircraft must meet the following specifications : 


- 8th August 1957: The first crews from the 11th Night Fighter Squadron reach Cold Lake (Canada) and start their conversion course on CF-100 the next day.

The first class is composed of the following pilots and navigators :

Maj Henri Cabolet Nav Crew 1
Adj Jan Elen       "
Maj Cyriel "Pepe" Delers   Crew 2
SLt Marcel Degraeve Nav     "
1Lt Daniel "Jimmy" Maere   Crew 3
1Lt Jacques Rousseau Nav     "
1Sgt Rik Nuyens   Crew 4
1Lt Toussaint "Tom" Bouche Nav     "
1Sgt

Jan

Govaerts   Crew 5
Adj Piet Declerq Nav     "

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The conversion begins at the N°.3 AW(F) OTU (*) of Cold Lake. Three of the five crews start by 20 hours of training on B-25 Navigation-Trainer while the two last begin with the simulator program.
Twenty hours of day and night flying on CF-100 Mk.3 are scheduled from the 24 September, and are followed by 50 hours of day and night flying on CF-100 Mk.4.
The course at Cold Lake ends on the 15 November. The five crews are sent to Malton to received the final part of their training, a ground familiarization course of three days on CF-100 Mk.5. Ground familiarization only as the CF-100 Mk.5 is not yet available for flight training at that time.

(*) N°3 All Weather (Fighter) Operational Training Unit.

 

- 25 August 1957:  International meeting at Cannes.

Cannes 1957

 
To recall and commemorate the liberation of Cannes (24 August 1944) an international meeting is organized. 
Many air demonstration squadrons are involved of which the Belgian unofficial (*) formation led by Cdt de Maere d'Aertrijcke from the 350Sqn.
As the Belgian official display team of "Bobby" Bladt is temporarily unavailable due to the incapacity of its wing-man Lt Pierre Tonet, who bailed-out of a Hunter F4 (ID118) on the 07 August, the formation of Cdt de Maere is chosen to be the back-up team for the remaining of the 1957 season. 

 

(*)  Cdt Antoine "Tony" de Maere d'Aertrijcke, CO of the 350 Squadron, as is tradition has constituted an aerobatic team within the squadron, this means being a very good way to stimulate its pilots.

During the Meteor period several fighter squadrons have formed an aerobatic team, each of them hoping to represent the Belgian Air Force.
In order to avoid any contestation a competition was organised at Beauvechain in May 1956 and the verdict was without appeal : The aerobatic team "Acrobobs" formed by "Bobby" Bladt in 1952, would become the only official display team of the Belgian Air Force.
In addition, Cpn Yves Bodart, CO of the 4th Day Fighter Squadron was declared to be the only "Solo"' display pilot.

 

The departure from Beauvechain is scheduled to the Friday 23rd of August with a technical stop at Dijon, as the Hunter's are not fitted with external fuel tanks.
The aircraft are supposed to proceed directly to Hyères the same day, fly at an altitude of 40,000 feet and land at destination with the minimum fuel.
But severe storms forecast over the Côte d'Azur force Cdt de Maere to postpone the leg to the next day.
Tony de Maere and its formation lands safely at Hyère-Le-Plyvestre still flooded by the heavy rains of the day before on Saturday the 24th.

The Belgian team present at Hyères this 25th of August has the following structure :

Maj Tony de Maere d'Aertrijcke    350 Sqn    CO  Leader    ID61
Capt     Yvan Deprins 350 Sqn     ID**
Lt Michel Jacob de Beuken 350 Sqn     ID30
Lt Edgard     Salteur 350 Sqn     ID**
Maj Yves Bodart 4 Sqn CO Solo ID56

- 16th September 1957: Cdt Olivier Leclercq, CO of the 349 Sqn is killed in the crash of its Hunter ID-59 during an interception mission and dog fight with a Canadian F-86 Sabre belonging to the RCAF Station Marville (F)


- 17th September 1957: Maj Yves Bodart becomes CO ad interim of the 349 Squadron.


- November 1957: The 10th Night Fighter Squadron is disbanded.


- 29th November 1957: During a GCA approach for runway 22, SLt Marcel Ginion (349Sqn) experiences an hydraulic failure on its Hunter F4 (ID4) and crashes near Roosbeek (Tienen).  SLt Ginion is killed in the accident.


- December 1957: The Belgian military pilots having no experience about the transatlantic ferry flights, it is decided the delivery of the CF-100 Mk.5s overseas will be done by RCAF crews in a series of flights called "Jump Moats".


- 3th December 1957: Cpn Humbert d'Oultremont becomes the new CO of the 349 Sqn.


- 5th December 1957: Jump Moat I is launched.

A first batch of fifteen CF'100s is ferried by RCAF crews from 410th and 428th Upland squadrons from RCAF Station Uplands (Ottawa - Ontario) to the RCAF Station Marville (Meuse - France)
A few days later, the Belgian crews will accept their CF-100's, still in RCAF markings and will fly them to Beauvechain.
The first five Canuck's will land at Beauvechain the 17th December. (1)
A second batch of five will land the 18th (2) and a third the 19th. (3)
The last aircraft of this first batch will be delivered on the 20th December. (4)

  1. 17th Decembre:  1957 : AX1   - AX4  -  AX6   - AX8 -   AX13.
  2. 18th December:  1957 : AX2   - AX3  -  AX7   - AX14 - AX18.
  3. 19th December:  1957 : AX5   - AX9  -  AX10 - AX19.
  4. 20th December:  1957 : AX12.

 

- 17th December 1957: The first five CF-100's are ferried from RCAF Station Marville to Beauvechain by 11th Night Fighter Squadron crews.

The CF-100 serial #18685 is part of that first delivery flight, and will become soon AX1.


- 20th December 1957: Official ceremony celebrating the acceptance of the CF-100 by the Belgian Air Force authorities.

The ceremony is being held on the plateform facing the heavy maintenance hangar B28 in the south of the base not far from the hangar primarily used by the 11th Night Fighter Squadron in 1951.
The landing of the CF'100s is followed by the presentation of the air crew to the American, Canadian and Belgian authorities.

The following personalities appear on the official gallery :

The Belgian Air Force is represented by the following officers :