Belgian Air Force Demo Team 2012

   Text: Serge Van Heertum  &  Pictures : Adj Bart Rosselle (COA IPR) © sbap 2012



One year after the 350 Squadron, the 349 Squadron was created in the Royal Air Force. October 1942 was the administrative creation date of the squadron in the UK. November 1942, the brand new squadron is formed at Padgate near Manchester.  On December 8th the squadron moved to Glasgow to be boarded in ships direction North Africa. The first C.O., two pilots, the administrative officer and six P-40B “Tomahawk” are onboard of the Dutch ship “Amstelkerk” . After a stop at Freetown in Sierra Leone the convoy moved to Ikeja in Nigeria were the squadron will be operative. After the liberation of North Africa in May 1943, the 349 squadron moved back to the UK. Many missions will be accomplished during 1943-1944 and the squadron took part at the D-Day on June 6th, 1944. As from September 1943 the squadron was equipped with the Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vb model until the arrival of the new model  the Mk IXb in February 1944. After the victory the squadron was based successively at Wunsdorf (B116) and Fassberg (B152) until October 1946 when the squadron moved back to Belgium at Beauvechain. At this period the squadron was equipped with Spitfire LF 16 and Mk XIV. The 349 was the first jet operating squadron with the arrival of the Gloster Meteor F.4 in May 1949. End of 1953 the F.4 model was replaced by the F.8 more performing. The Meteor flew under the 349 squadron colors until the arrival of the Hawker Hunter in April 1957.

This fighter will be fast replaced and the basic day fighter replaced into all-weather with the arrival of the CF-100 Mk V “Canuck” at the end of 1958. Mid 1964 the squadron is fully equipped and operational on the new fighter, the Lockheed F-104G “Starfighter”. The 349 squadron was  operational on the “starfighter” until the arrival of the new General Dynamic (later Lockheed-Martin) F-16 “Fighting Falcon”. The squadron was the first declared fully operational on the new fighter on January 1st, 1981

This little overview to highlight the 70 anniversary of the squadron in 2012 and the special paint applied on the FA110. The plane wears a modern style white and blue
scheme, colors of the squadron. The tail is decorated with an upper view of a Spitfire and a “Mace” imago of the squadron since the Royal Air Force period. “Strike Home, Strike Hard” is what the squadron did during 70 years when it was involved in war operations, the last in Lybia and still ongoing in Afghanistan
Thanks to Adj Bart Rosselle, official photographer of the Belgian Air Force and ComOpsAir IPR we are able to present our readers a selection of air to air pictures of the GE-X alias FA
110. Enjoy the flight and like we said…Happy Birthday 349 Squadron !

Profile by Alexander Vandenbohede

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