Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
Single engine single seat fighter-bomber aircraft.
In Of the 197 Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks delivered to Belgium as of 1955, some 180 were acquired in the framework of the Mutual Defence Assistance Programme (MDAP). Most of these aircraft were delivered by aircraft carrier to the port of Rotterdam, as were Streaks destined for the Dutch Koninklijke Luchtmacht. From the port the aircraft were transported by road to Avio-Diepen at Ypenburg (Nl.) were the protective covers were removed and the aircraft made flyable. During several months some Belgian pilots have transferred in flight the fighter-bombers to the operational bases in Belgium. In August 1955 the first Belgian Thunderstreak was delivered to N° 3 Squadron of the 2nd Wing based at Florennes. Towards the end of the same month two Belgian pilots had the honour to break the sound-barrier, something which made it on the front cover of all national newspapers. In the hands of pilots such as Marette and Dupont, Belgian Thunderstreaks executed fascinating solo displays all over Europe.
Thunderstreaks served at the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Wing and the 23rd, 27th, and 31st Squadrons of the 10th Wing at Kleine Brogel airbase. The elegant Thunderstreak remained in service with the Belgian Air Force until May 1972 when the last operational aircraft was flown into storage at Koksijde airbase. The Thunderstreak was replaced by the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter at Kleine Brogel and by the Dassault Mirage 5BA at Florennes. Numerous F-84F were used as decoys at most of Belgium’s operational air bases and some of them were even modified to look like Mirage fighters which were identified by the personnel as “Thundermirages”. On the ground these modifications looked horrible but from the air it was very difficult to see the difference with a real Mirage. Thanks to this second career many Belgian Thunderstreaks have been preserved in museums or displayed as gate guardians.