Historic

15 Wing Transport and Communication

 

  

 

It was on February 01, 1948 that the Chief of Staff, General Lucien Leboutte decided of the creation of the 15 Wing Transport and Communication. This Wing included the 20 and 21 Squadron, former 366 and 367 Squadron from the 169 Wing. But the origins goes back to 1944, when the British Air Ministry decided to withdraw all Her Majesty pilots from the 525 Squadron, which in terms became exclusively a Belgian squadron. During April 1946, 525 Squadron was established definitively in Belgium at the airport of Evere, followed by the 'Belgian Flight of Metropolitan Communication  Squadron' from hendon.

These two units were to from the 169 Wing still headed by the Royal Air Force. The 366 Squadron was equipped with with 5 C-47 Dakota, where as the 367 Squadron flew 9 Avro Anson, 6 Airspeed Oxford, 4 DH89 Dominie and 3 Percival Proctor. The 366 Squadron was to enlarge its fleet by one C-47 Dakota a week, chosen between the surplus of the USAF stock at Furstenfelbruck.

 

In 1947 the inventory of the 169 Wing recorded also 3 Hawker Hurricane used mainly for fast liaison- or meteorogical reconnaissance flights. Also to be said is that one of the other missions entrusted to the 169 Wing was the transport of VIP (Very Important Persons). After the war, the Belgian Prince Regent flew back to Belgium aboard one of these C-47 Dakota.

 

 

                           

                                                                                                                  Melsbroek in 1955

 

Now back to the 15 Wing.

In 1950, the Wing left Evere to be established definitively at Melsbroek (military part of the airport of Brussels National). 1950 was also marked by the acquisition of 2 C-54 Skymaster (DC-4) which were used for flights to the Belgian colonies in Congo.

As the acquisition of a tactical military aircraft was a necessity, the choice fell on the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar and October 07, 1952 saw the inaugural flight in Belgian colors.

The C-119 was undoubtedly the speerhead of the 15 Wing during those early years. However, one need to know that delivery of these aircraft took place in several stages: 18 C-119F, 22 C-119G and finaly 6 more G-types in 1958 totalling 46 airplanes.

These 46 planes were never used simultaneously as cut-saving plans already existed in 1954. 18 F-type aircraft were resold : 8 to Norway and 10 to the USAF. Regarding the number of aircraft left a third squadron was integrated into the 15 Wing, the 40 Squadron (Green Sioux), but, due to the cut-savings, lasted only for a short period of time - from November 01, 1954 till April 30, 1955.

 

1953 saw the 21 Squadron modernising its inventory. 12 Percival Pembroke are ordered to replace all the aging planes, except for the DC-4. These last ones were replaced in 1960 by 2 DC-6A (ex-USAF) and 2 DC-6B (ex-Sabena).

 

 

                  

                                                              Melsbroek in 2002

 

 

1960 was also the year of the independence of Congo and the aircraft and crew from the 15 Wing were to live hard times. Missions flown were mainly transport of troops and the evacuation of Belgian colonial residents. As the demand for aerial transport was increasing, the 40 Squadron was reinitiated on December 01, 1960 and stayed operational  untill the retirement of the C-119G in 1972.

During the 60's, the 21 Squadron became the Royal Transport Squadron and it was aboard aircraft of this squadron that King Baudouin 1 flew numbers of his official visits.

 

With the arrival of the C-130H Hercules in 1972, the 15 Wing underwent a drastic reorganisation. These 12 C-130H replaced about 30 C-119 and so the personnel involved was also reduced.

 

      

                                Loading                              Material drop                                                      Para drop

 

1976 saw the last withdrawal of the trusted "DAK" but also of the Pembroke and DC-6 from the 21 Squadron. This squadron is then equipped with 2 Falcon 20E, 6 Fairchild Swearingen Merlin III, 3 Hawker Siddeley HS748 and 2 Boeing B727-29qc acquired from Sabena.

 

The C-130H Hercules were also to boost the humanitary missions of the 20 Squadron. Everyone recalls the deployements in the Sahel desert, in Angola, Guatemala, Somalia, etc... These aircraft lived also hard times in 1978 during operation 'Red Bean' with the dramatic events in Kolwezi (Shaba).

 

Nairobi (Kenya) in 1994 : evacuation of Belgian people during the even,ts in Rwanda. Other C-130's are involved (© Guy Liesse)

 

The 21 Squadron was again to modernise its fleet at the beginning of 2000. The HS748 Merlin III were abandoned in favour of the Brasilian Embraer ERJ135 and ERJ145. The Falcon 20E were upgraded, a Falcon 900D was added tot the inventory and the 2 Boeing 727 were replaced by two Airbus A310 bought from Singapore Airlines.

 

In 60 years, the 15 Wing made its path distinguishing itself during critical missions wherever needed in the world, but also during exercises like f.e. 'Airlift Rodeo'.

 

It is quite difficult to emphasize the complete story of the Belgian 'Sioux' so if you are realy interested in this rich history do not miss the splendid publication recalling those 60 years and which will be on sale at the open door !

 

 

The catchword of the 15 Wing demonstrates the spirit of its personnel, past, present and to come : TENACITY !

 

 

 

Fleet 1946 - 2008
     

Percival P.31C Protor 4

P1 to P6

1947 - 1954

 

Avro Anson C.1

NA1 to NA13

1947 - 1955

     

Avro Anson C.12

NB1 to NB2

1946 - 1953

 

Airspeed AS.40 Oxford

O1 to O42

1948 - 1959

     
 

De Havilland DH.89A Dominie C.1

D1 to D7

1946 - 1955

 

De Havilland DH.104 Dove

D10 to D22

1950 - 1960

     
 

De Havilland DH.114 Heron

OT-CGG

1950 - 1960

 

Douglas C-47B Dakota

K1 to K41

1946 - 1976

     
 

Douglas C-54A / DC-4 Skymaster

KX1 to KX2

1950 - 1971

 

Douglas DC-6A / C

KY1 to KY4

1958 - 1976

     
 

Fairchild C-119F Flying Boxcar

CP1 to CP18

1952 - 1956

 

Fairchild C-119G Flying Boxcar

CP9 to CP46

1953 - 1973

     
 

Aero Commander 560F

OT-CWB

1961 - 1973

 

Percival P.66 Pembroke C.51

RM1 to RM12

1954 - 1976

     
 

Lockheed C-130H Hercules

CH01 to CH12 awaiting CH14

1972 - Active

 

Boeing B727-29QC

CB01 to CB02

1976 - 1998

     
 

Dassault Falcon (Mystère) 20E

CM01 to CM02

1973 - Active

 

Hawker Siddeley HS.748-288 Srs.2

CS01 to CS03

1976 - 2002

     
 

Fairchild-Swearingen Merlin IIIA

CF01 to CF06

1976 - 2001

 

Dassault Falcon 900D

CD01

1995 - Active

     
 

Airbus A310-200

CA01 to CA02

1997 - Active

 

Embraer ERJ-135

CE01 to CE02

2001 - Active

     
 

Embraer ERJ-145

CE03 to CE04

2001 - Active

 

Airbus Military A400M

CT01 to CT07 ?

Forseen between 2015 - 2020

            

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