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- Monday September 4th 1978: Joining the armed forces in Saffraanberg


August-September 1978


On August 16th 1978, two months after passing the selection exams, I receive a mail from the Command of the Air Force Technical School. It’s evident that I'm very nervous when I open the letter… 

The few lines, it contains, quickly relieve me… 

pdfThe Letter.pdf

I made it !
I have to present myself on September 4th at the gate of the Technical School to join the armed forces. I’m accepted at the School as candidate to become technical NCO, to follow an A2 complementary training in aircraft mechanics… even more, I’m selected to join the Air Force ! 

All those fighter aircraft, I saw flying by, I will soon be able to approach them…

- Monday September 4th 1978 :  My parents are driving me to the school this morning…. as I do not have a driving license yet. The school is not far away from the nice city of St Truiden, on  the national road that goes from the city to Liège, it’s located in a place called : Saffraanberg

The first thing I note on our arrival is a very nice Spitfire IX on a pylon, close to the entrance.


Spitfire MK912 in Saffraanberg



This aircraft, a mark LFIX (Low Level Fighter), was build in Castle Bromwich - Birmingham in 1944, it carries the serial number MK912.
In June 1944, it is transferred to the 312 (Czechoslovak) RAF Squadron. The first missions are the protection of the Normandy beaches following the D-day.

In June 1946, it is sold to the Royal Netherland Air Force and is shipped to Java island where it takes part in July 1947 to the recovery of the Netherlands Indies.
The aircraft will fly under these registrations : H-119, H-59 and finally B1 (Fokker)
End of 1948, the MK912 is shipped back to Rotterdam and is stored in a hangar.
In April 1952, fifteen dutch Spitfire's IX (B1 - B15), included the MK912 (B1) are sold to the Royal Belgian Air Force. The MK912 is assigned to the Basic Flight School (EPA - Ecole de Pilotage Elémentaire) of Goetsenhoven. It will fly under the registration SM-29 till 1953.
In June 1953, it is affected to the Koksijde Fighter School. The same year, it is badly damaged and is stored in Brustem, located just a step from Saffraanberg 
It’s scrapped in 1955 and placed on a pylon at the entrance of the Technical School on August 27. It will keep that place for almost thirty years.

In June 1988, the MN-P is removed from his pole and is transferred to the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces (Brussels) who exchange it for a Bristol Fighter F2B belonging to Guy Black, founding member of the Historic Aircraft Collection.

In 1997 it’s bought by the “Historical Flying Limited” - Audley End - Essex (GB) ; it is fully restored and made airworthy again.

In May 2003, it’s sold again to the Canadian Ed Russel from the Russel Group Aviation.

In 2011 it’s bought by Peter Monk. The MK912 is now based at the Biggin Hill Heritage hangar Ltd - Biggin Hill - Kent. (GB)

On the 1st Aug 2015, the aircraft suffers a major loss of power during take-off, the pilot Dan Griffith makes a emergency landing, but the MK912 is badly damaged.
It should be currently under refurbishment.

(See "Links" for more information)


Spitfire MK912 at Biggin Hill (GB)



  •  Photo Saff2013-01 & Saff2013-02 : Spitfire IX MK912, property of Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar Ltd in 2013.


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