The Fouga Magister in Belgian Air Force service

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The Fouga Magister in Belgian Air Force service

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 07 jan 2011, 21:47

The beginning

When the Belgian government started in the mid 1950's to look for a new jet trainer to replace the aging Harvard, 2 major candidates were considered: the British Jet Provost and the French Potez-Air Fouga CM170 magister. After evaluating both aircraft, the Belgian government decided on September 28, 1958 to place an order for 45 Fouga's. The aircraft were constructed in Toulouse, after which they would be flown to Kamina AB (BAKA) in Belgian Congo and delivered to the GVS (gevorderde vliegschool/Advanced Flying School). On January 18 1960, Flying Boxcar CP-32 took off in Melsbroek and headed for Toulouse. Once there, the first crated Fouga (MT-1) was loaded and the journey continued over Algeria to Congo.
After stops in Aoulef, Niamey, Douala and Leopoldville, the C-119 finally arrived in BAKA in the morning of January 22, 1960. Immediately work started to reassemble the Fouga as fast as possible.
Wings and tail were put back on the fuselage and all systems were tested. After waking up the locals by testing the engines in the middle of the night with all hangar doors open, the Fouga was declared airworthy. The following day, MT-1 made it's first flight piloted by Lt. Col Kreps, DFC.
In total 20 Fouga's were transported to BAKA. Serials were MT1 to 18, MT-23 and MT-24. The GVS was scheduled to welcome its first students in September 1960, but Congo declared it's independence on July 30. Almost immediately rebels started fighting and it was decided to arm several Harvards and later some Fouga's. Armament consisted of 2 7.62MM guns in the nose and 2 pairs of 5" rockets under the wings. The armed Fouga's were MT-4, 6, 10, 14, 17 and 19. The Fouga's were used to control rebel forces and to defend the airport of N'Djili wich was fundamental to evacuate refugees and bring in supplies. On july 11 Maj. Nossin fired at a train but the bullets bounced back and hit the fuselage.
On july 13, rebel forces attacked the airfield of Ndjili, wich was vital for the evacuation of refugees to Belgium. It was succesfully defended by Belgian commando's and Harvards. In the following days 4 of the 6 armed Fouga's were send to Ndjili to help defend the airfield. Each day the Fouga's were on QRA from 5AM and several recce flights were made. Lt. vercammen had to make an emergency landing when a rebels completely shot-up the tail of his Fouga. After that week, no more flights were made and all Fouga's returned to BAKA. Later all military bases were evacuated to make place for UN troops.
The Fouga's needed to be crated and transported back to Belgium as soon as possible. This caused some severe problems as there were only 3 crates available for the Fouga's and only 1 fitted in a C-119. In the end 15 of them were flown to South-Africa before being crated and it took 2 months before all Fouga's safely arrived in Koksijde AB, Belgium. The independence not only ended the presence of the Belgian Air Force in Congo but also caused a big problem for the Belgian pilot training program.

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