Two Belgian Starfighters on the move.

 

Since he was a young boy Johan Bringmans admired the Starfighter and already at the age of 11 he was able to go on ”spotting trips” to Kleine Brogel airbase where he could admire the sleek machines. Unfortunately at this young age he wasn’t yet equipped with a camera and spotting remained visual only, very often at the parents’ house over which the 104’s passed almost on daily basis. Johan really got stuck on the Starfighter when he assisted at the “Slivers” show at Brasschaat in 1973. Since some 30 years now Johan collects every possible item related to Belgian Starfighters, spanning from pictures to scale models (of which he has over 1.000). In 1986 he bought the tail section of FX-18 which remained at his parent’s house for many years.

In 2000 Johan had the opportunity to buy his first (complete..) 104 from Peutie based scrap dealer Robert Huygens. Registered FX-69 this machine is one of the very aircraft used by the Slivers at Brasschaat in 1973 (confirmed by the logbook of Sliver Palmer De Vliegher) and one of the most intensely used Starfighters of the Belgian Air Force. On Wednesday April 19th 2000 FX-69 was transported to Gosselies airport where restoration was started. Having suffered quite a bit by due to the many years remaining in the open air and the frequent moves (forklift damages) it was clear that the restoration would take many years. A lot of sheet metal work was performed by the local technical school and the undercarriage removed for inspection and complete restoration. At many instances and where necessary new parts were used to replace those being to much damaged.

Lockheed F-104G FX-69 will be completed with the tail of FX-70

In 2003 Johan also acquired FX70 which would serve as reference aircraft and spare part source. At the same time it was decided to use the tail section of FX-70 in stead of the one of FX-58 which was delivered with FX69. (the original tail section of FX-69 was used in the restoration of FX47 at Beauvechain). Between 2003 and 2007 many part where acquired including a complete cockpit with instrumentation, a new canopy, new nose landing gear and radar. From 2007 onward the need arose to look for a new location as the aircraft’s didactical value for the technical school did no longer exist as there was no skin work left and as the aircraft got together a roomier location was needed for final assembly and painting of the machine (with the tail in position FX-69 could not be moved out of the hangar at Gosselies).  Many locations where considered in Belgium but due to cost and security issues not a single one of them fulfilled the criteria Johan had put forward. After some positive negotiations with the management, Niederrhein (Weeze) (D.) was chosen as new location for Johan’s Starfighters. After all the former RAF base was also home to the one and only Belgian “TIGER” Starfighter FX-52 and Luftwaffe KG+101. On April 16th 2008 the new nose landing gear assembly was put on FX-69 and on April 23rd it was time for the big move from Gosselies to Weeze. BAHA member Robert Roggeman was present to picture the departure of FX69 and FX-70 from Gosselies.

The tail of FX-58 initially delivered with FX-69

Starfighter FX-70 covered with many battle damage repair training patches on the truck.

Almost ready to go to their new home at Weeze (Germany).

 

 Text © Daniel Brackx pictures © Robert Roggeman (May 2008)

Last updated 28/12/11 14:18   Daniel Brackx

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