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Author Topic: Soesterberg airbase, home of 32nd fighter sqd (queens own)  (Read 4112 times)
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« on: 7 December 2014, 14:47:17 »

Next week on 13 december 2014 a new museum will open on the former airbase Soesterberg.

Inside view museum RNAF F-16

History of the ground:
101 years ago this place saw the birth of what would become the Royal Dutch Airforce.
2 cardealers (Verwey en Lugard from Den Haag)  decided to build flying cars.
They choose a spot between Zeist and Soesterberg, a strip of grass on the heath fields somewhere in 1910.
They initially had succes and managed to fly with simple structures, but they soon went bankrupt.
It was than the army started with a new unit, the army air section, commander was a captain of the engineers named Henk Walaardt Sacré.
The first plane bought for this new unit (part of the army) was a Brik.
A monument was erected on the Vlasakkers training ground opposite the base to commemorate this moment.
In this early stage their wasnt enough money, so only 3 more planes could be bought ( French Farmans)
During world war 1 because of the Dutch neutrality many pilots of Germany, England and France made emergency landings.
The pilots were detained and the planes were kept by the army.
This way the airmen could keep up track with new technologies.
After the war the planes were returned or bought (when in good shape)

During world war two the base was bombed by the Germans in may 1940.
The Germans expanded the base. They made 3 runways ( concrete) and many hangars for the HE111's stationed on the field.
In  the early stage of the war the Germans used the base to fly to Great Britain, later in the war the base wasnt that important.
In 1944 the RAF bombed the base several times, during one raid they hit a large part of the nearby town killing around 400/500 civilians.

After the second world war in 1951 the base was rebuilt by the Dutch army.
In 1954 the base was ready  to accomodate new troops. In that year the US decided to hand over a squadron of fighters to support the Dutch airforce.
This became known as the 32nd fighter squadron, or because the were placed under Dutch command, the Queens Own.
The first  squadron flew with the F86 Sabre. Soon these planes were replaced by the F100 Super Sabre.
In 1960 again a new plane came to Soesterberg, the F102 Delta Dagger. The name of the unit changed into 32nd fighter interceptor squadron.

32nd fighter squadron
In 1969 came the F4 Phantom II to Soesterberg.

F4 Phantom II/ and other types the US sqdr flew with

The last plane to see action was the F15 Eagle.

F-15 Eagle

In 1994 the US squadron left the base. The Cold war ended and budget cuts hit everywhere.
The unit was sent to Saoudia Arabia.
The people around the base werent happy nor were the pilots and groundcrews.
On the base throughout the years the Americans were proud to show their unit to the public once a year.
The Dutch army also used the field, 322 squadron flew with F86's followed later by 298 transport squadron with Alouette helis and 334 squadron with F27 Fokkers.
Both types are faced out, however the Aluette is still used by the Royal Family.
In 1995 the base was used by the tactical helicoptergroup from 11 airmobile brigade. (Chinooks/ Cougars)


F-27 Friendship

Because of the ongoing budgetcuts the base finally closed in 2008.
Most of the ground will be given back to nature.
The monument for airmen, several buildings and the runway will remain intact, its impossible to remove it.
The members of the Amsterdam glider foundation can thus keep flying from the former airbase.
The base still has a closed area where some army units are housed.
But along the runway the newly build museum has found its place, 3 large buildings with the collections of many smaller ( closed) musea from various branches of the army.
The shelters for the planes will be closed accept for 8. Here sheep will find a new home as well as some cultural activities.

More about the Royal Netherlands Airforce: RNAF

My topics are about my personal opinion, my thoughts and what I think. They do not reflect the official opinion of the ministry of defense of the Netherlands.
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