From the Belgian aircraft preservation front

 

 

Namur-Temploux: The never ending battle between preservation and vandalism

 

The local flying club at Namur-Temploux inaugurated some ten years ago a memorial for the Belgian Air Force pilots who lost their life on the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak and RF-84F Thunderflash between 1955 and 1972. It consists of a commemorative stone and two immaculately restored aircraft. Thunderstreak FU-51 (s/n 52-7215) served with the 2nd Tactical Wing of the Belgian Air Force from 1956 till 1971. Thunderflash FR-30 (s/n 51-17015) was with the 42nd Reconnaissance Squadron of the 3rd Tactical Wing between 1963 and 1971.

 

F-84F FU-51

 

RF-84F FR-30

 

A few years ago, however, these aircraft fell victim to vandalism in the form of stolen panels, a wrecked rudder and lots of graffiti. Out of respect for the fallen pilots, the manager of the clubhouse repainted both aircraft in their original colour scheme .

 

F-84F FU-51

 

RF-84F FR-30

 

To deter young hooligans to repeat such acts of vandalism, a warning is placed in front of the exhibits that every damage inflicted to the monument will be prosecuted by all possible legal means. It is worrying that such historical aircraft, which are publicly displayed as a sign of respect for their history and for the men who flew them, are in recent years loosing more and more the battle against deep disrespect and unbridled vandalism.

 

 

 

The last remaining Belgian Mirage VB preserved at Spa – La Sauvenière

When the Belgian Air Force withdrew the Dassault Mirage VBA from use in the early 1990s all aircraft were placed in storage at the barracks of Weelde reserve airbase. Subsequently, 25 airworthy aircraft were sold to the Fuerza Aérea de Chile, while the remaining airframes went to the specialised French company SAGEM for valorisation as spare parts. Only a handful of aircraft were preserved in Belgium.

A number of ground attack aircraft went on display (BA-15 in the Air and Space Museum in Brussels) or were transformed into monuments (BA-22 in the Florennes barracks and BA-26 at the Armed Forces Headquarters in Evere). Two reconnaissance aircraft are preserved (BR-10 at the 1 Wing Historical Centre in Beauvechain and BR-04 at the Lallemant Memorial in Florennes). No complete twin seat trainer aircraft remained in Belgium. The Royal Technical School at Saffraanberg disposes of BA-03 and BA-17 as instructional airframes, while the Air and Space Museum stores a number of incomplete aircraft or aircraft parts in its reserve at Vissenaken (BA-16, BA-45, BA-51, BA-55 and BD-13).

The final aircraft in storage at Weelde was Mirage VBA BA-30. Late in the month of June it was transferred to the civil airfield of Spa – La Sauvenière, where it joined the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash FR-27, which was officially inaugurated there as a monument on 3 August 1996. At present the new display is still lacking a number of parts like the air intake cones, the auxiliary air intake doors, the upper part of the rudder, the Doppler antenna cover under the nose and some access panels. After the summer holidays the aircraft will be completed with parts taken from aircraft stored at the Vissenaken reserve of the Air and Space Museum
BA-30 (c/n 030) entered service with the Belgian Air Force on 7 February 1972. It flew with the No. 2 and 3 Tactical Wings at Florennes and Bierset airbases respectively. The aircraft was damaged when it left the runway during landing on 9 July 1991 following a brake malfunction. As the type was then already destined to be phased out, the aircraft was not repaired. Due to its landing mishap, it was also not suitable for sale. 

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Mirage 5 BA-30

© Text and pictures by Jos Schoofs (September 2005)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated 29/12/11 13:51   Daniel Brackx

brackda@gmail.com