Memorial of Verdun
Text : Luc Dujardin &  Pictures: Luc Dujardin & Serge Van Heertum - ©SBAP 2012 

 

Since 1992, a museum is open in the northern area of the Florennes air base. This museum was created on the initiative of Colonel Avi Xavier Janssens, and has been erected around a beautiful Spitfire Mk XIV. This aircraft (SG-47) was 30 years long, the gate guardian of the 2nd Tactical Wing headquarters building and was fully restored. The work of restoration began in 1986 and represented 12000 working hours. It is mainly volunteers and former 2 Wing technicians which, supervised by Adjt Delmotte (retired), allowed this magnificent machine to find all its magnificence. The Museum and its Spitfire are dedicated to a famous figure of the Belgian Air Force during World War II : Col Avi Raymond Lallemant, first commander of the 2nd Tactical Wing.
The Spitfire hall relates the war period, the creation of the base by the German Luftwaffe that  needed new airfields for its night fighter units. The base was bombed by allied air forces and, at last, occupied in 1944 by U.S. Air Force units with P-61 Black Widows (422 Night Fighter Squadron), P-38 Lightnings (370th and 474th Fighter Groups), P-47 Thunderbolts (365th Fighter Group) and B-26 Marauders (344th Bomber Group). After the war, it was decided that the Belgian Air Force will use this airfield for its 161 Wing (with 351 and 352 Squadrons), commanded by Raymond Lallemant. On February 1948 the Wing is renamed 2 Wing and the Squadrons renamed 1st and 2nd Squadron. The first jet aircrafts (F-84E Thunderjet) arrived at Florennes in 1951. A few years later, the Wing was equipped with the newest and more powerful version of this aircraft (F-84F Thunderstreak). The F-84 was replaced in 1970 by the French delta-winged Mirage V. The F-16 came in Florennes in October 1987 and a third F-16 unit (350 Squadron) in 1996 when the Beauvechain’s 1st Fighter Wing was disbanded. The F-16 were converted into F-16 MLU in 2000 and the 2nd Squadron was disbanded the following year in 2001 due to Belgian Defense budget cuts.
Another building dedicated to the Belgian Air Force years was inaugurated in 1997. You will find one aircraft of each type that was flown by the 2nd Tactical Wing units : F-84 G Thunderjet, F-84F Thunderstraek (unfortunately no RF-84F) Mirage VB, F-16. Some engines are also exposed and you can see the famous Rolls-Royce Merlin XX of the Spitfire, the Buick J-65-W-3 a turbo-jet engine whitout afterburner build under Curtiss-Wright license. The J-65-W-3 and the later J-65-W-7 were installed on the Belgian F-84 from 1952 to 1971. You can also see other jet engines like the SNECMA ATAR 09 C5 of the Mirage V and the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-200, first engine that has been fitted to the Belgian F-16 fleet from 1979 to 2004. During the Mid-Life Update programme, 108 of those engines were upgraded to become the F100-PW-220E that is still in service at the present time.
From 1984 to 1989, the 458th Tactical Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force was also based at Florennes, and you will see one of its launchers with a nuclear cruise missile in the Museum too.

Located at north side of the air base (Luc Dujardin) The logo at entrance (Luc Dujardin)
Supermarine Spitfire MK XIV SG57/RL-D (Luc Dujardin) The start point of Florennes museum (Luc Dujardin)
Wonderful restauration ! (Luc Dujardin) The specific 5 blades of the Mk XIV (Luc Dujardin)
Pilot office
(Serge Van Heertum)
Other items in the first hall like this Martin Backer Mk.4 ejection seat
(Luc Dujardin)
An incredible amount of historical pictures (Luc Dujardin) Some models relating the base history
A part dedicated to the 42 squadron (Luc Dujardin) 60 years of the base on a commemorating stone (Luc Dujardin)
The second hall (Luc Dujardin)
Republic F-84G "Thunderjet" (Luc Dujardin) Republic F-84F "Thunderjet" (Luc Dujardin)
Dassault Mirage V BR (Luc Dujardin) Lockheed-Martin F-16A "Fighting Falcon" (Luc Dujardin)
De Havilland DH-82 "Tiger Moth" (Luc Dujardin) Potez CM-170R "Fouga Magister" (Serge Van Heertum)
A clear and spacy museum allowing interesting pictures (Serge Van Heertum) (Luc Dujardin)
(Luc Dujardin)  (Luc Dujardin)
Also exposed an engine collection always in relation with the base history
(Luc Dujardin)
Like the famous Mirage ATAR 9C
(Luc Dujardin)
Representing the 458th Tactical Missile Wing of the U.S. Air Force...
(Luc Dujardin)
...the controversed cruise missile
(Serge Van Heertum)
Presented with man and material (Luc Dujardin) Anti aircraft 20mm Vulcan gun (Luc Dujardin)
Different armements like bombs... (Luc Dujardin) ...missile guidance system... (Luc Dujardin)
...and cluster bomb (Serge Van Heertum)
Teleguided aerial vehicle : Ultima (Luc Dujardin) A dynamic presentation (Luc Dujardin)
2 Squadron car left after the disbandment of the squadron
(Luc Dujardin)
why does the 1st squadron had the FA111 and the 2nd squadron not the FA222...
The real FA122 have flown with "222" for a short time...fun!
(Serge Van Heertum)
Other models linked to the base history...
(Luc Dujardin)
...and why not a funny model to underline the link between 1st squadron
and the city of Chimay with it's well known beer ! (Luc Dujardin)
Out of the base not far away of Florennes village another F-84F "Thunderstreak "
set as gat guardian and reprenting the FU164 / UR-S
(Serge Van Heertum)
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