After the First World War the Belgian
"Aviation Militaire" wanted to replace its Spad XI and Breguet XIV observation
aircraft with more modern equipment. Against all advice and
by the Aviation Militaire authorities, Colonel Van Crombrugge, head of the
Belgian Air Service at the Ministry of Defence, selected the Ansaldo A300-3. A
first order of thirty 300 hpFiat
A12bis engine powered A300-3's, was
placed with Ansaldo in 1920, delivery starting as soon as May 1921.
Later a second order for 44 Ansaldo A300-4 aircraft (introducing an improved
cowling and two Lamblin radiators suspended under the fuselage) was placed with
Sabca-Haren who was to build the aircraft under license. Delivery of these
improved aircraft started in early September 1923. Due to an error in the tail
assembly plans and drawings provided by Ansaldo to Sabca, the aircraft had to
take a 50 kg led weight in the tail to correct the imbalance. Of course this
didn’t help the already mediocre stability of this machine. An incredible large
number of accidents were the result of instability at slow speeds while landing.
It was not a surprise that most pilots nicknamed the Ansaldo the "flying
coffin". The Ansaldo was used by the following squadrons of the 1st Groupe
d'Observation based at Goetsenhoven: N° 2 Squadron (Mew), N° 3 Squadron (Holy
Leaf), N° 4 Squadron (Zebra) and N° 5 Squadron (Swallow). Some Ansaldo's were
also used at the Pilot Training School at Asch and later at Wevelgem. The
last Ansaldo A300's were withdrawn from operational service by the end of 1928.
O-13, "25", II/1Aé
25 Aug 1928
O-16, 1/II/1Aé (Mew), destroyed in fatal crash at Ezemaal on 25
O-19, 4/III/1Aé (Zebra) "64"
20 Jul 1928
O-24, 4/III/1Aé (Zebra)
04 Sep 1923
06 Oct 1926
02 Apr 1925
O-50, I/3 (Techn Sq), 3/II/1Aé (Holy Leaf)
28 Apr 1925
24 Dec 1928
O-63, I/3 (Techn Sq), 1/II/1Aé (Mew)
Ansaldo A300-4 Squadron
3/II/1Aé (Holy Leaf) at Beverlo in the mid-twenties.