Text & Pictures: Bruno Ghils  © sbap 2013

This month of August, with a little composure for amateurs of airshows, the Wings and Wheels at Ursel is always worth a visit during the weekend for all passionate. Aviation passionate is sometimes also interested in military history so being able to see vehicles which were part of this history is always worthwhile. Once again it was an excellent edition gathering a great number of military vehicles from the Second World War together with an even great number of more recent cars properties of private collectors. At Ursel as nowhere else you can have a little nostalgic tear in your eye in front of so many Minerva, fleuron of the Belgian industry and bringing back wonderful memories for those who had the chance of doing their military service during the great era…

At Ursel, we do need to mention the great number of uniform collectors from all eras, ranging from the years 1900 to the Gulf war, through Bastogne and Vietnam. Collectors can also find their happiness at the enormous exchange organized on site.

But besides these private collectors, there is traditionally the presence of the Belgian Land Component with some modern material (LMV, Dingo, Pandur…) and some more historical ones presented by the Royal Army Museum (MRA). This year you could see three elements from the Leopard family and all the kinds of CVRT… pure nostalgia guaranteed!

Let’s not forget the Belgian Air Component which sent one of his formidable ambassadors in the person of ‘STEF’, the ever smiling member of the RED DEVILS, presenting his SF260. The RED DEVILS booth had a great success offering the possibility to have a chat with the pilot or his crewmembers of to buy a souvenir from the team. The public relation member of the team the well-known ‘Fifi’ put up its best for the pleasure of everyone. These opportunities are very rare, so the public was eager to photograph and being photographed with the Marchetti (one cannot stop dreaming of a complete demo of the team next year). Many thanks to the REDS to hold the colors of our Air Force up high!

We would like to thank the organizers, the owners of the vehicles, the collectors and the Ministry of Defence for giving us those historical and pleasant days and the facilities so we could bring you this report.

B67-Ursel

Before and during World War II, there was another airfield at Ursel, located on the other side of the Urselseweg. October 30th, 1944, four squadrons of the Royal Air Force (RAF) 123 Wing landed here (163, 183, 198 and 609). At this time the 609 Squadron was under the order of Charles Dumoulin (C/O). The 123 Wing remain at Ursel airfield until November 24th, 1944. The Wing moved than to the Netherland airfield of Gilze Rijen.

Despite the bad weather, the ‘Typhoon’ fighter-bombers took off each day from there base at Ursel to fly to Flanders Zeeland to attack the enemy troops at very low altitude

The Typhoon stays in the heart of many of the 700 Belgian pilots in the RAF, partially because most of them flew with the 609 squadron. In the beginning, this squadron was rather known as an elite squadron due to its actions during the Battle of Britain. Some Belgian pilots, some of which were from noble families, joined the British students. The best knows amongst those pilots was Jean de Selys Longchamps.

After the war, the airfield was dismantled and another was built for to NATO standards the Belgian Air Force, which had great ambitions. After some cogitations, mostly economical ones, no fighter Wing was ever based or assigned at Ursel. Nevertheless, this airfield stays the property of the Belgian Defence, using it as a reserve airfield during various exercises.

Ursel airfield satelite view (Google map)

Ursel airfield is made up of two parallel runways (main runway 2430 x 22 meters), 12 dispersals (6 at each end) but no hangar nor navigational aids… it is a ‘naked’ airbase… and not accessible to the public.

Despite its military use, the airfield is since 1978 the venue for civil activities (aero club). There was a great time when airshows, deployments and others exercises where held at Ursel, but nowadays only ‘Wings & Wheels’ subsists. And also here the aerial activities were severely reduced…one can remember the presence of a B17, a Catalina, a Hawk and Tucano from the RAF, P51 and numerous war birds, even the Typhoon solo display of the RAF…

Will big airshows return to Ursel in a near future as to revive the aeronautical history of this little Flanders corner? It certainly is the will of the organizers of the ‘Wings & Wheels’

 

 

Aircraft code: 609 (PR), 164 (FJ), 183 (HF) & 198 (TP)

123 Wing was stationned at B-67 Ursel from October 30 until November 24th, 1944 (Bruno Ghils)
 
Civilian activities at Ursel airfield (Bruno Ghils)
EAA Super Acro Sport (Bruno Ghils) Piper PA-28-181 (Bruno Ghils)
PZL 110 "Koliber" (Bruno Ghils) Bell 206L "Long Ranger" (Bruno Ghils)
RAF trainers owned by private pilots now (Bruno Ghils) Bristol Buldog T.1 (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) The Victors Belgian civilian team (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
The presence of Belgian Air Force (Bruno Ghils)
Always a pleasure to meet the "Red Devils" (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils) A future "Reds" ? (Bruno Ghils)
Public relations "fifi" (Bruno Ghils) Number 4 and solo of the team..."Stef" (Bruno Ghils)
RAF Austin K2 (Bruno Ghils) Desert Willys (Bruno Ghils)
German Kubelwagen (Bruno Ghils) M151 MUTT Jeep 3 (Bruno Ghils)
Gooooood morning Vietnam ! (Bruno Ghils) Mercedes Unimog (Bruno Ghils)
RAF land Rover (Bruno Ghils) KMAR Nekaf jeep from Netherlands (Bruno Ghils)
Belgian Minerva jeep's concentration  (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
Armed Minerva (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
M24 Chaffee (Bruno Ghils) Gepard (Bruno Ghils)
FV 101 Scorpion (Bruno Ghils) CVRT Samson (Bruno Ghils)
Leopard I (Bruno Ghils) Piranha II (Bruno Ghils)
Crane equipped Leopard I in action (Bruno Ghils) (Bruno Ghils)
(Bruno Ghils)

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