THUNDERSTREAKS OF THE KLu

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TA-19/P-127 ready for take off              TB-3/P-269, coming in at                         TC-21/P-264 of 316 sq at

at Volkel, June 1956, with sgt.                Gilze-Rijen. TB is the 315                         his home base Gilze-Rijen

Evert Motshagen as pilot making         squadron-code.                                         (photo: Piet Buitelaar)

his first F-84F flight.

(photo: Piet Buitelaar)

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (or Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Klu), received a total of 180 F-84F Thunderstreaks which were used in the period 1955 – 1971. I will now give you an overview of the most important items of the history of this magnificant aircraft in Klu-service. 

This information has already been published in my book ‘Thunderstreak’, published in 1986 as the first part of the aviation series ‘Vliegend in Nederland’ (‘flying in The Netherlands’). The ISBN is 90-71533-02-7, editor Flash Aviation in Eindhoven. The book is written in the Dutch language and contains 48 pages and 77 photos, of which 10 in colour. Unfortunately the book is sold out and there will be no reprint.
 
1.      Arrival in The Netherlands.
As a replacement for the F-84G Thunderjet the Klu received between 1955 and 1958 180 F-84F Thunderstreaks. They were delivered as a part of the ‘Mutual Defense Aid Program’ (MDAP), which ment that they remained of the USA. Of the 180 aircraft, 103 were delivered by cargoships and aircraft carriers; the other 77 were flown from the USA to the airbases of Volkel and Eindhoven.
The Thunderstreaks deliverd by ship were first flown from the Republic plant in Farmingdale to Brookley Air Base. There they were ‘cocooned’, which ment that they were faired in plastic as a protection agains sea water and air. Then 20 to 30 aircraft were shipped to Rotterdam harbour. There they were unshipped and transported to Ypenburg Air Base, some 15 miles away from the harbour. This transport happened at nighttime about the highway Rotterdam-The Hague; the Thunderstreaks were one for one coupled behind a traction and towed to their destiny. A major operation, as backgammon-boards had to be removed to make place for the broad aircraft. In total 270 aircraft were transported in this way, as a number of the F-84F and RF-84F for the Belgian Air Force arrived at Rotterdam harbour too.
                                                         
                            Arrival of the first Dutch Thunderstreak (P-103)                             Ypenburg 1956: a platform with 
                                   in Rotterdam harbour, June 1955                                                 Dutch and Belgian Thunderstreaks, 
                                                                                                                                 KLu Thunderjets ready for 
                                                                                                                                 delivery to the Danish Air Force
 
At Ypenburg Air Base a team of mechanics of the Dutch aviation factory Avio Diepen welcomed the aircraft, removed the cocoon, gave a 50-hours inspection and carried the Belgian or Dutch colour scheme. Then the Republic test pilot Bob Amstrong made a test flight, and if everything was okay a Belgian or Dutch pilot arrived to collect the aircraft and transfer it to the future homebase. As 6 or 7 aircraft arrived every night again, it was very busy at the main parkingplace at Ypenburg, as also the old F-84G of the Klu arrived here for delivery to the Danish Air Force.
A number of aircraft arrived with the operation ‘hi flight’; these aircraft were flown from the states via Greenland and Prestwick in Scotland to their new homebase at Volkel or Eindhoven. They were flown in an USAF colour scheme with red painted wingtips and rear fuselages because of the long flight over the ocean.
In the first years of their operational life the Klu Thunderstreaks were painted silver. They all got a registration, beginning with P-. As the RF-84F Thunderflash were registered as P-1 to P-24, the Thunderstreaks started with P-101. It seems to be logical that the last registration had to be P-280, but due to a mistake the registration were P-101 to P-277 and P-298 to P-300.
In the fifties the Klu used the British system of squadron codes; each squadron within the West European Union had its own unique code. For example, 311 squadron at Volkel used PP-, so the second delivered Thunderstreak got the code PP-2 on the nose and the registration (P-121) and USAF serial number (52-7189) on the tail. When an aircraft changed squadron, the squadron code had too be changed as a result, so most of the Thunderstreaks have used several different squadron codes.
 
2.      Thunderstreaks in action
 
3.      Demo teams
 
4.      Accidents and incidents
 
5.      180 Thunderstreaks in detail