Text: Serge Van Heertum - Images: Coll Serge Van Heertum/sbap  © sbap 2014

For more than a century the little images or chromos have always fascinated children and moved them to enter into collections. These little images appeared at the end of the years 1800 and were part of promotional 'gifts' for some product. People of our generation surely remember a.o. the little images of the Jacques chocolates which was a rage in the 60's.

Later on those kind of gifts disappeared to give way to the same kind of album but were one had to buy image packs to complete the album. This phenomenon extended quite a lot, especially coming from a company with an Italian sound. All the subjects were covered going from cartoons onto world sporting events.
But what is interesting to us, are the chromos dedicated to the Belgian Air Force. No complete album as such, sometimes just a couple of pages or just one image.
The images are presented in the numerical order, giving the impression of a serious mix up…like it was in some of the books…enjoy the trip in the past.

The Martougin chocolate


This Antwerp chocolate saw the light in 1902 and quickly evolved to one of the big Belgian manufacturers. The brand launched its own album collection with the little images offered in the packages. One album was dedicated to the Belgian Army in general and one part was of course logically dedicated to the Belgian Air Force. This album dates from the beginning of the 50's and sadly no date can be found inside the album but the chromos seem to have been edited between 1951 and 1955. The founder Alfred Martougin passed away on June 03rd, 1952 and the factory was bought by the chocolate factory Van Houtem in 1967.
122 images sized 7,5cm x 5cm

Flight controls instruction at Saafranberg Link trainer

Link trainer

Student pilot in a Harvard

Amunition handling on Meteor F.8

Instructor signing the logbook

Instructor and student ready for start up

Go for a training flight on SV-4bis
Meteor F.8 line Start up
F-84G on taxi After flight inspection
Pilot in a F-84G of 3 Squadron Parachute folding

Survival equipment

Pilot after a flight on Harvard

In the control tower

Travel in a DC-3 Dakota
Harvard at landing on Brustem runway Jet engine instruction
Looking to a Rolls Royce Griffon engine Work on Oxford engine
Harvard on taxi
The meteorological station Work on a Mosquito NF-30



During the 60's, the F.N.A.P.G. (Fédérartion Nationale des Anciens Prisonniers de Guerre - National Federation of Former Prisoners of War) also published an album called “Nos Armes” (Our Forces) where besides the Army and the Navy, the Air Force also was prominently figured. The earnings were destined for the Fond Nachez founded to assist former prisoners of war of which most of them suffered from pulmonary problems due to the bad detention conditions and allowing them to be sent to the “Belgica sanatorium” at Montana in the Swiss Valais region.

Some of the images in the album were also published as postcards... or was it the other way around ? Also possible.
118 images, sized
9cm x 7cm


SV-4bis Harvard in final

Looking the map before a flight on Meteor F.8

Concentration of the pilot
After flight check The parachute at survival team

The 3 Squadron F-84G line

Light armoured vehicle in use by the UDA
Start up Meteor F.8 from 4 Squadron F-84G formation flight
Embarcation of para-commando's in a C-119G F-84F Thunderstreak from 27 Squadron
7 Squadron Hunter F.4 in flight Radar settings
Radar settings 27 Squadron F-84F on towing

F-84F in the clouds

Meteo observations
2 F-84F from 27 Squadron, one metal and one NATO camouflage Refueling of a F-84F
Hawker Hunter towing Hunter F.4 ID13 / 7J-R
Signing the form Hunter line at Chievres air base
FU67 / RA-H in flight In the OPS room
Wind measument The FU83 / RA-K on taxi

The SV-4bis flight line at Goetsenhoven

Turnaround before flight
Go for the mission Radion communications
F-84G Thunderjet NBC exercice

Emergency exercice on S4b

Look at the tail of ID13
Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star FT-23 Refueling of the FT-21 (wearing a big red lion on the tail KB)
Climb out of the F-84F After flight inspection


Belgian Air Force…Seamen…

68 feet Thornycroft speedboat V01 for the air-sea rescue

Another little speedboat of the Air Force

A mix between the Navy codes and the Belgian Air Force flag

Recovery exercise

Côte d'Or


In 1870 Charles Neuhaus opened a little chocolate factory in Schaerbeek in the Brussels region and created the brand Côte D'Or, recalling the Côte de l'Or (Golden Coast) actually Ghana where the cocoa beans he used came from.

Getting older, Neuhaus retired in 1889 and left his company to the Bieswal company, which created the Joseph Bieswal & Company making a common cause with the chocolate factory Michiels taking up residence in the buildings of the old mill of Moulart, Bara-street in Anderlecht, right across the Bruxelles-Midi (Brussels South) train station in 1899. Production stayed there until the 80's, reeking the district and tickling the papilla’s of all the train station users. In 1906 the associated chocolate factories and the need of machines led to the creation of the “société anonyme Alimenta”. That same year the logo of Côte d'Or sees the light : an elephant before a palm tree and three pyramids, borrowed from a Ghanaian stamp, which would be slightly modified (the actual logo is only an elephant) and the graphical aspect of the brand remained the same since then.

The capital of the company, now Alimenta S.A., was brought to 500.000 Belgian francs and new buildings were erected in 1908, harbouring new machinery. The famous Côte d'Or “paquet”, which still exists, was created in 1911 and in 1929 they had the “Supertoff”, a candy with soft caramel and forerunner of the “Chokotoff” which appeared in 1934.

During those years the company kept on growing and stretching out : the trademark Côte d'Or was registered in the United States in 1931 and the Brussels World Fair of 1935 gave it an international notoriety especially thanks to the Mignonette, created for the occasion. From 1940 to 1946 due to the difficulty to procure quality cocoa beans, the company decided to lay down the brand and replace it by the brand Congobar.

After the Second World War, creations continued with the chocolate bread spread “Pastador” in 1952. For the Brussels World Fair of 1958, the burnt almond bar “Dessert 58” is put on the market.

It is during this period the brand, like its contenders, launched a collection of albums with images to be glued, Tens of albums were edited and one of these retraces the Belgian Antarctic mission of 1957 - 1958, ran by Gaston de Gerlache, former Belgian pilot in the RAF.

They are only a couple of aeronautical images, the major part of the album being dedicated to the mission and the wildlife.
After multiple industrial and financial episodes, the chocolate Côte d'Or still exists but is far from being still a real Belgian chocolate.
164 images, sized 10,5cm x 7,5cm

Auster (Taylorcraft) A.O.P. 6 after a snowstorm

Same for the Bell 47 H-1

Auster (Taylorcraft) A.O.P. 6 from 369 Squadron but detached to the mission

Bell 47 H-1 OO-SHW from SABENA



The first images or “chromos” were published in 1872 and in the next 100 following years some 2.000 series were printed as an advertising gift when buying their products. The Liebig chromos had a pedagogical an educational aspect covering almost every knowledge domain. The chromos were distributed in several countries and several languages. Most of the series were made up of 6 cards, printed through a lithographic process using up to 12 colours.
At first the merchants offered just a sole chromo per purchase but later on (1939) one could exchange coupons for complete series. This universal series distributed in several European countries ended in 1975 after more than 100 years and some 2.000 themes. The series which took our interest puts forward the pilot's achievements of the Belgian Aviation and holds the serial number S1777 (Gloire de l'aviation Belge - Glory of the Belgian Aviation).
6 images, sized 11cm x 7cm


Americana - München

 The phenomenon of the little images offered with such or such product tended to disappear, but the charm of the image collections and albums to complete would continue to flood the market with a more lucrative aspect and so in 1975 we had the l'Aviation / Vliegtuig (Aviation / Airplane) Parade - Americana. An album with many images but featuring only one airplane of the Belgian Air Force; a Lockheed F-104G accompanied by its NATO counterparts.
311 images sized 8,5cm x 5cm

Jet Gum


In 1977, the album Jet (Gum) of the Editions Nomodia came on the market. As it was an editor from Antwerp, the Air Force received a prominent place with some twenty images, also a big one cut in 8 parts and some small squadron markings (drawings).

503 images sized 8,5cm x 5cm


RF-84F of course…

Little error…S-58 and not S-65

Ever since then, other collection albums flooded the market, a few devoted to aviation. This overview of some Air Force chromos is probably not complete and perhaps within old boxes on the attic or wandering around on a flea-market our readers may find other treasures and why not make this profitable to the readers to complete this page ?


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