Air-Minded: Soesterberg Photoblog, April 1961

My friend Peter van ____, who was the 32nd Tactical Fighter Squadron’s Dutch military liaison officer when I flew F-15s at Soesterberg Air Base from 1978-1982, just sent me a batch of NATO archival photos taken there on 5 & 6 April 1961. The occasion was either a NATO exercise or possibly the production of a newsreel about NATO operations in the Netherlands.

Some of the photos show a Zulu alert scramble of 32nd TFS F-102As (Zulu is code for 5-minute air defense alert, one of the NATO missions assigned to the 32nd at Soesterberg). Peter tells me the alert barn in these photos, which looks to me like the same one I sat alert in almost two decades later, burnt down some time during the 1960s, almost taking two F-102s with it, and that the alert barn of my time was its replacement.

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Other photos show RNLAF Hawker Hunter fighters, along with visiting RAF Gloster Javelins and Luftwaffe F-86 Sabres (in my day we were frequently visited by Belgian F-16s, F-104s from Canadian bases in northern Germany, Luftwaffe Alpha Jets and F-4s, FGR2 Phantoms & SEPECAT Jaguars (and the occasional Buccaneer) from British bases in the UK & northern Germany, and a mix of F-4s and F-15s from USAF bases in Germany).

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These are just some of the photos. Hold the mouse over the thumbnails to see descriptions. Click on the thumbnails to see the larger originals in my Vliegbasis Soesterberg album on Flickr.

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© 2017 – 2023, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.


4 thoughts on “Air-Minded: Soesterberg Photoblog, April 1961

  • Paul, nicely done. remarks: ref Zulu is not a code!it’s military time or Zulu time is often used in aviation and military as another name for UTC … “Zulu” Military Time is a fixed time zone that never observes Daylight Saving Time …for war operations. kind of a “time hack” for all involved.
    ref. the Hanger used to be twice as big. I’ll send you a separate picture that I have on file of that.
    The left side had 2 Hunters on alert, the right side 2 F-102As. I’ve got an eye witness report from an F-102 pilot involved in the fire that I’m going to use in EHSB history booklet I’m working on.
    Great job,

  • Hello Paul,

    Great photos from yesteryear! As a hoot, I recall the AZANG @ Tucson had F-102s. They were spotless & looked like shiny pennies.

    Some of the Hunters (the ones we the 2-digit nose numbers) look like they may be Belgian. The planes w the “P-XXX” nose-codes are Dutch I think. Gotta use my useless pile of knowledge for something! The Hunter @ Pima is one handsome airplane & must have been a blast to fly.

  • Hello Bob,
    The ones with the 2-digit nose numbers are RAF look at the RAF roundel on them and on the Javelins. The planes with N-xxx are Dutch…N for Netherlands and have RNLAF roundels

  • The roundel on Hunter No. 16 looks Belgian to me – outer red ring, middle one in yellow and a Black dot in the center. The plane also has a white dot near the nose which is probably the same Origami bird that can be seen in the photo of Hunter No. 68 (the one with the group near the boarding ladder). I’ve seen these on other belgian Hunters too, maybe some kind of unit logo. I wasn’t there of course but being an archivist I have some experience with old Black-and-White photos so maybe I can help a bit. The fin flashes on the Javelins have a different shade. Oh, and these are great photos. Making pictures like that was strictly forbidden on my side of the border. 😉

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