Tag Archives: C-47

Wolfhounds Eagle and more *stars* in new National Military Museum

Old aircraft, new museum. That about sums it up for the soon to be opened Nationaal Militair Museum (no, we’re not gonna translate that into English) in the Netherlands – although not quite. This 35,000 square meter museum offers more than aircraft from old to not-so old; it offers a complete retrospective of the Dutch military over the years – but again, not quite.

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
A panoramic shot of the main hall. Click to enlarge! (Image © Dennis Spronk)

A twelve tonnes F-15 Eagle shows there’s even more to this museum, since the Dutch military did fly the Gloster Meteor, Hawker Hunter, F-84F Thunderstreak, F-5, F-16 and F-104 Starfighter present in the museum – or the Dassault Breguet Atlantic outside – but it never flew the F-15. This however, is where the exact location of the NMM comes into place: former Soesterberg Airbase, once home to 32nd ‘Wolfhounds’ Fighter Squadron of the US Air Force in Europe. It also explains the F-4 Phantom, F-100 Super Sabre and F-102 Delta Dagger the museum has in its collection, although not all are presented to the public.

Phantom
The F-4, once an inmate of the US Air Force ‘boneyard’ in Tucson, is hiding elsewhere. The museum’s spokesperson says there are plans to display it in or in front of a hardened aircraft shelter at Soesterberg airbase, but nothing is certain. As Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk noted during his visit on 2 December the Phantom II is in a superb restored condition.

Follow the leader, four historical aircraft types of the Royal Netherlands Air Force seem to make a barrel role in the main hall (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Follow the leader, four historical aircraft types of the Royal Netherlands Air Force seem to make a barrel roll in the main hall (Image © Dennis Spronk)
As if this NF-5A is making a real low level pass! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
As if this NF-5A is making a real low level pass! (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Sabre
Of all ex-US Air Force aircraft only the F-15 hangs inside, together with 18 other aircraft. The rest of the American stuff, including the F-86 Sabre and the Delta Dagger, are on the former platform in front of the museum. The other American planes are near the museum depot, which is the former hangar of 298 Squadron, about 150 yards/metres from the museum.

There's a special hall dedicated to the personal stories of military personnel, from past to present (Image © Dennis Spronk)
There’s a special hall dedicated to the personal stories of military personnel, from past to present (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Starfighter
Moreover a museum spokespersons says he hopes to add a F-104 to the military vehicles currently serving as gate guard to the museum. The Starfighter in question earlier got looks mounted on a pole near highway A28. But there is a Starfighter hanging beautifully inside, as well as a Hawker Hunter that looks stunning despite its age.

Birthplace
But above all, Soesterberg signifies the birthplace of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, back in 1913. The place breathes history for aviation fans, who’d do well to also to visit those parts of the museum offering interactive experiences and personal memories of working for the Dutch military. The main hall was built to resemble an aircraft hangar. Costs for the museum totaled 108 million EUR and is effectively a fusion of the former Army Museum in Delft and the Military Aviation Museum earlier in Soesterberg.

Spirfire hanging around in the main hall (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spirfire hanging around in the main hall
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

Mustang on alert! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Mustang on alert! (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Zulu Barn
The building also offers a nice view of the former airbase, which now has largely been converted to a park, but which also made local headlines these days due to the possible demolition of the ‘Zulu Barn’, from where the 32nd Squadron used to fly Quick Reaction Alert duties. In the light of history and the present day interceptions of Russian aircraft, this discussed demolition seems rather misguided.

A guide book will probably be presented to Dutch King Willem Alexander on 11 December, during the formal opening of the National Military Museum of the Netherlands. We’re also quite sure he won’t have to pay the 9,75 euro (about 10 dollars) entrance fee – but he will be immersed in military aviation history. Go see it for yourself.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Dennis Spronk

"Fly-by" of a Hunter and a Thunderstreak inside the main hall (Image © Dennis Spronk)
“Fly-by” of a Hunter and a Thunderstreak inside the main hall (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Both the Royal Netherlands Army and Air Force museums are merged into the new NMM (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Both the Royal Netherlands Army and Air Force museums are merged into the new NMM (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spitfire escorting a Mitchell (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Spitfire escorting a Mitchell (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Just a few day's before opening, there's always a to-do list. Changing the direction of the Dakota's rear landing gear is one of them (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Just a few day’s before opening, there’s always a to-do list. Changing the direction of the Dakota’s rear landing gear is one of them (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16A J-205 in the new National Military Museum of the Netherlands (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16A in the new National Military Museum of the Netherlands
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
This F-16A looks at if it's really about to take off! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
This F-16A looks at if it’s really about to take off! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to touch down and release the drag chute (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to touch down and release the drag chute (Image © Dennis Spronk)
What a sight! The F-15A was the last aircraft type flying with the Wolfhounds from Soesterberg Airbase Image © Dennis Spronk)
What a sight! The F-15A was the last aircraft type flying with the Wolfhounds from Soesterberg Airbase Image © Dennis Spronk)

AHF↑Inside: Market Garden Parajump 2014

Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk joined the preparations of the 2014 Market Garden Parajump at Eindhoven Airbase, the Netherlands, on Saturday 20 September 2014.

A historic Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) and modern-day C-130 Hercules aircraft were taking hundreds of modern day airborne assault troops up for a jump over Ginkel Heath (Ginkelse Heide) near the city of Arnhem, commmemorating the 1944 attempt to capture the strategic bridge over the river Rhine and to liberate the Netherlands from Nazi-Germany.

Ramstein C-130s taxiing at Eindhoven Airbase (Footage © Dennis Spronk)
VIDEO: Ramstein C-130Js taxiing at Eindhoven Airbase (Footage © Dennis Spronk)

The weather was a bit foggy to start with, but conditions improved during the day. Dennis started early in the day feeding us with some quick smartphone camera work (see “the B-roll” at the bottom of this page) he loved to share with you.

Due to the still foggy weather not all aircraft went airborne: a Royal Air Force C-130, a Belgian Air Component C-130 and two German Air Force Transalls let their engines run for a long time without leaving the ground. Later the RAF and BAC Hercs did take-off.

But the US Air Force & Air National Guard plus the Royal Netherlands Air Force did go into the blue yonder for the mass drop over Ginkel Heath in the municipality of Ede – following a first jump by 25 paras from the Skytrain (Dakota) – with 60,000 spectators on the ground at the field. Make sure to read Airheadsfly.com commemorates Market Garden as well.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editors Dennis Spronk and Marcel Burger

Early morning fog is slowly lifting from Eindhoven Airbase, with the platform full of Hercules airlifters (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Early morning fog is slowly lifting from Eindhoven Airbase, with the platform full of Hercules airlifters
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
A C-130H all the way from Kentucky (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A C-130H all the way from Kentucky (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Air and ground crew having fun (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Air and ground crew having fun (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A pair of American C-130Hs and crew (Image © Dennis Spronk)
A pair of American C-130Hs and crew (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Veteran Mario Petruno, 93 years old. Will join the aircrew during the commemorations of Operation Market Garden on 20 September 2014 as co-pilot! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Veteran Mario Petruno, 93 years old. Will join the aircrew during the commemorations of Operation Market Garden on 20 September 2014 as co-pilot! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Veteran Mario Petruno, 93 years old. Will join the aircrew during the commemorations of Operation Market Garden on 20 September 2014 as co-pilot! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Veteran Mario Petruno, 93 years old. Will join the aircrew during the commemorations of Operation Market Garden on 20 September 2014 as co-pilot! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to go? (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Ready to go? (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Airborne troops boarding these C-130J-30s from the 37th Airlift Squadron from Ramstein Airbase (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Airborne troops boarding these C-130J-30s from the 37th Airlift Squadron from Ramstein Airbase
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
First load of paras getting airborne on board this historic Douglas C-47A Skytrain, which is mainly known under its civilian name DC-3 Dakota (Image © Dennis Spronk)
First load of paras getting airborne on board this historic Douglas C-47A Skytrain, which is mainly known under its civilian name DC-3 Dakota (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Normally based at Savannah IAP, this Georgia Air Guard C-130H Hercules of the 158th Airlift Squadron is making its way to the runway (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Normally based at Savannah IAP, this Georgia Air Guard C-130H Hercules of the 158th Airlift Squadron is making its way to the runway (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The Kentucky Air Guard on the move (Image © Dennis Spronk)
The Kentucky Air Guard on the move (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Hercules Elephant walk at Eindhoven (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Hercules Elephant walk at Eindhoven (Image © Dennis Spronk)
And airborne (Image © Dennis Spronk)
And airborne (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Smartphone Reel (the B-roll)

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

Veteran Mario Petruno, 93 years old. Will join the aircrew during the commemorations of Operation Market Garden on 20 September 2014 as co-pilot! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Veteran Mario Petruno, 93 years old. Will join the aircrew during the commemorations of Operation Market Garden on 20 September 2014 as co-pilot! (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Waiting for the fog to clear over the drop zone, some of the troops deployed to Eindhoven kill time with a relax throw-and-catch-rugby game. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Waiting for the fog to clear over the drop zone, some of the troops deployed to Eindhoven kill time with a relax throw-and-catch-rugby game. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

1323 hrs. Airborne troops board the waiting Hercules aircraft (Image © Dennis Spronk)
1323 hrs. Airborne troops board the waiting Hercules aircraft (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Royal Netherlands Air Force C-130H G-273 taxiing to the runway (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Royal Netherlands Air Force C-130H G-273 taxiing to the runway (Image © Dennis Spronk)
Hercules airlifters rolling to the runway at Eindhoven Airbase. Despite still somewhat foggy weather the mission seems to be a go! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
US Air Force RS-coded Hercules airlifters rolling to the runway at Eindhoven Airbase. Despite still somewhat foggy weather the mission seems to be a go! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)

Thoughts on Tempelhof

Take a stroll over runway 09L. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Taking a stroll on runway 09L. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

It’s always a bit sad when something has lost its function, when it is left to not do what it was made to do. I have this feeling every time I see an aircraft forever stuck to the ground, but I also experienced it earlier this year as I took a stroll down a runway – in particular runway 09L of the former Berlin Tempelhof airport. If ever there was a famous airport in history, it’s this one. Now it is history.

An aircraft in a museum is like a big bird in a small cage; you would like to pet it, but above all you would like it to leave its cage and fly away. That’s a hard thing to do when you’re talking about a complete airport, including a monumental 450 meter long terminal building made from reinforced concrete. The terminal was designed for the Nazis by Ernst Sagebiel, and its style is very close to that of Nazi architect Albert Speer. That’s some history …

But Tempelhof truly earned its part in history when it was the epicentre of the Berlin airlift, that started in June 1948 and lasted for fifteen months. The numbers are astounding: allied C-47s and C-54s delivered over 2,326,406 tons of goods to West Berlin, for which over 278,000 flights were needed. The airplanes together flew over 92 million miles in the process, almost the distance from Earth to the Sun.

At the height of the airlift, one plane reached Tempelhof every thirty seconds. It must have been an impressive sight – difficult to imagine in 2013, as Tempelhof now offers views of people strolling by, cycling, having a pick-nick or relaxing otherwise. They only things taking to the sky, are kites. It’s a quiet and peaceful place in the great city of Berlin.

Peacefull and quiet. The impressive terminal building is in the background of this picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Peacefull and quiet. The impressive terminal building forms the background of this picture. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

But for a place that has such an indisputably rich history in aviation, it is remarkable to see only one aircraft left at the former airfield, which ceased operations in 2008. You’d expect an old Skytrain or Skymaster, but no, it is this very sad looking Noratlas N262, which apparently flew from Tempelhof under a US registration for many years and probably did a lot of sneaky stuff in the process. In the final years of the airfield, it served as a fire trainer.

The city of Berlin still has not decided what will eventually become of Tempelhof. In other words; what its new function will be. Perhaps its function will be to offer the people of Berlin a place to relax of go for a walk over the two kilometer runway. That’s fine, as long as it has a function. Things without function are always a bit sad.

And of course; put that N262 out of its misery and replace it with a nice preserved C-47 Skytrain and – why not – a C-54 Skymaster.  Berlin deserves it, Tempelhof deserves it, the aircraft deserve it.

© 2013 AIRheads’ Elmer van Hest

PS Airliners.net has a lot photos of Tempelhof in its not so quiet days.