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Aeronaut
W.Pieters
The Belgian Air Service in the First World War
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W.Pieters - The Belgian Air Service in the First World War /Aeronaut/

Romantic view of the first (unofficial) Belgian aerial combat victory.
Romantic view of a German Taube shot down by early AA-fire.
Another partially successful project was the triplane built by Cesar Battaille in August 1911, to name but a few. This triplane is now on display in the Brussels Air Museum.
Side view of the first (and only?) Belgian-built triplane, by Cesar Battaille.
Front view of the first (and only?) Belgian-built triplane, built by Cesar Battaille.
It is obvious that meanwhile other Belgians were trying to create their own aircraft. Engineer Eugene Debongnie actually became one of the first Belgians to open a workshop for aircraft production at Nieuport in 1910, called Les etablissements Debongnie a Nieuport-Bains. His only aircraft, the Debongnie monoplane (the first such built in Belgium), was launched on the beach, only to fly some 50 meters. After each landing the aircraft was heavily damaged and rebuilt again. One of the most important financial supporters was Henri Crombez. Crombez later purchased an Anzani 18 h.p. to adapt to the Debongnie monoplane, again with minor success.
The Debongnie Monoplane was kept operational due to the financial support of Henri Crombez.
Belgian Aircraft

Farman-Nelis GN1 - GN6 Series

  Capitaine Georges Nelis, who was in charge of the Calais-Le Beau Marais (France) maintenance and repair center of the Aviation Militaire Beige during World War I, started experimenting with refined versions of Farman pusher aircraft as early as 1916. Because no official documents are available on the GN aircraft produced, most available information comes from study of the remaining photographs. Nelis was assisted with design work by engineer Lt. Mathieu Demonty. The first two GN types were powered by a Le Rhone rotary engine, while the last four GN types had more powerful Hispano-Suiza water-cooled V-8 engines. All GN designs replaced the Farmans original undercarriage with a simpler, lighter design of reduced drag, the crew nacelle was generally more streamlined than the Farman original, and the wings were equal span, giving more agility than the Farman’s long-span upper wing.
  On 1 November 1916 there was one GN, powered by a 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza, flying with Iere Escadrille de Chasse. Jacquet & Robin were the crew; they apparently flew this GN (a GN4?) in addition to the GN2.
  Six more GNs were expected to be built in 1917 at the Parc de Calais, but it is not known if all were completed. On 2 November 1916, 20 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engines were ordered for the BEs and the GNs, the latter under construction. For the first trimester of 1917, three GNs were expected at the front and one at the Parc de Reserve at Calais. It is thought that only six GN aircraft, one of each type, were constructed, but this is not confirmed and it is possible more were built; GN4 photos show more than one configuration, indicating the possibility that more than one GN4 was built.
  In addition to the GN2 flown on operations by Jacquet & Robin, it is likely the GN3 was flown operationally (probably by Prosper Georges), at least two crews flew the GN4 operationally, and the notable observer/photo crew of Wouters and Jaumotte flew the GN5 on operations.
  The following GN types have been identified:

Type Distinguishing Characteristics
  GN1 Two-seat reconnaissance airplane, Le Rhone engine.
  GN2 Two-seat reconnaissance airplane, Le Rhone engine.
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GN2, Jacquet/Robin, 1ere Escadrille
The GN 1 was powered by a Le Rhone rotary engine, as was the modified GN 2 that followed it.
Another view of the GN 1.
On 27 February 1917 the Belgian GN 1 was tested at Calais-Beaumarais. Test pilot S/Lt Rene Vertongen (back to the camera) is discussing the results with GN 1 designer Capt Georges Nelis (L) and Capt Fernand Jacquet.
Details of the GN1’s Le Rhone rotary engine installation.
The GN2, flown by Jacquet and Robin, Iere Escadrille.
Like the GN 1, the GN 2 was powered by a Le Rhone rotary. Here the GN 2 poses for additional photographs clearly showing its relatively clean lines for a pusher. The landing gear of all the GN types was simpler, more robust, and had lower weight and drag than that of the Farman. AII GN types had the span of the upper wing reduced compared to the Farman, the span of upper and lower wings being about equal. The shorter wing span improved roll rate.
The GN2 was flown on operations by Jacquet & Robin.
After modifications requested by Capitaine Jacquet, the GN 1 became the GN 2. Here pilot Capitaine Fernand Jacquet and his observer, Sous-Lieutenant Louis Robin, pose in front of the GN 2.The 'sale gueule’ (grinning skull) is about to be painted on the aircraft, as indicated by the chalk marks to guide the painter. Jacquet and Robin flew a number of operations in this one-of-a-kind aircraft.
A reconnaissance aircraft of 2me Escadrille, identified as a GN by its equal-span wings, on a photographic mission.
Belgian Aircraft

Farman-Nelis GN1 - GN6 Series

  Capitaine Georges Nelis, who was in charge of the Calais-Le Beau Marais (France) maintenance and repair center of the Aviation Militaire Beige during World War I, started experimenting with refined versions of Farman pusher aircraft as early as 1916. Because no official documents are available on the GN aircraft produced, most available information comes from study of the remaining photographs. Nelis was assisted with design work by engineer Lt. Mathieu Demonty. The first two GN types were powered by a Le Rhone rotary engine, while the last four GN types had more powerful Hispano-Suiza water-cooled V-8 engines. All GN designs replaced the Farmans original undercarriage with a simpler, lighter design of reduced drag, the crew nacelle was generally more streamlined than the Farman original, and the wings were equal span, giving more agility than the Farman’s long-span upper wing.
  On 1 November 1916 there was one GN, powered by a 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza, flying with Iere Escadrille de Chasse. Jacquet & Robin were the crew; they apparently flew this GN (a GN4?) in addition to the GN2.
  Six more GNs were expected to be built in 1917 at the Parc de Calais, but it is not known if all were completed. On 2 November 1916, 20 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engines were ordered for the BEs and the GNs, the latter under construction. For the first trimester of 1917, three GNs were expected at the front and one at the Parc de Reserve at Calais. It is thought that only six GN aircraft, one of each type, were constructed, but this is not confirmed and it is possible more were built; GN4 photos show more than one configuration, indicating the possibility that more than one GN4 was built.
  In addition to the GN2 flown on operations by Jacquet & Robin, it is likely the GN3 was flown operationally (probably by Prosper Georges), at least two crews flew the GN4 operationally, and the notable observer/photo crew of Wouters and Jaumotte flew the GN5 on operations.
  The following GN types have been identified:

Type Distinguishing Characteristics
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  GN3 Single-seat night fighter, Hispano-Suiza engine, two forward-firing Lewis machine guns.
  GN4 Two-seat reconnaissance airplane, Hispano-Suiza engine, side radiators.
  GN5 Two-seat reconnaissance airplane, Hispano-Suiza engine, front-mounted radiator.
  GN6 Two-seat reconnaissance airplane, Hispano-Suiza engine, grill radiator.
GN3, Georges, Parc d'Aviation
GN4, Galler/Crabbe, 2me Escadrille
GN4, Schuermans/Delelienne, 2me Escadrille
GN5, Jaumotte/Wouters, 2me Escadrille
The single-seat GN3 night-fighter mounted two Lewis guns and was powered by a Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine. The radiators were mounted on the sides of the nacelle and a searchlight with 30cm reflector was fitted to the front of the nacelle to illuminate the target. Of course, using the searchlight would also give a defending bomber gunner a good target to shoot back at! Together with its generator/dynamo, the searchlight weighed 100 kg & cost 4,000 francs. It was effective up to 1,500-2,000m distance. The GN3 was likely flown on operations by Prosper Georges during attempts to intercept Gotha night bombers.
After the GN3 night fighter, the next GN design was the GN4 reconnaissance airplane, shown here during testing. The additional power from the GN4’s Hispano-Suiza engine compared to a standard 135 h.p. Farman F40, coupled with reduced drag from the refined under-carriage, should have given it somewhat greater speed and climb, both useful qualities for a combat aircraft. Although the Hispano-powered GN types were an improvement over the Farman F40, aircraft of tractor configuration were the real answer to the Farman’s limitations.
The two men in front of the GN4 are Sergent Robert Galler (R) & Lieutenant Edmond Crabbe (L) of 2me Escadrille. They flew together between 28 April until 29 August 1917, which means the GN4 was at the front sometime during that period.
Lt Georges Laporte & I Sgt Lucien Hallet, 3me Esc, fought off two hostile aircraft on 12 August 1917.
The GN4 was a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft powered by a Hispano-Suiza V-8. Twin radiators were mounted on the sides of the nacelle. Yet another derivative of the ubiquitous Farman F40, it is seen here at le Beau-Marais on 2 September 1917.
S/Lt Maurice Schuermans & Lt Andre Delelienne, 2me Esc, crashed their GN4 on 24 September 1917. Delelienne was seriously injured. By this time either the GN4 had been modified with a fairing for a larger camera or the photo is of another GN4.
Crash of a GN, probably the GN4 that was destroyed in a crash on 24 September 1917 while being flown by S/Lt Maurice Schuermans & Lt Andre Delelienne.
The GN5 reconnaissance aircraft powered by a Hispano-Suiza V-8 is shown during testing. The rear view shows a nacelle distinctly different than that of the GN4 in the crash photo.
The GN5 reconnaissance aircraft powered by a Hispano-Suiza V-8 is shown during testing. A row of Sopwith Triplanes is in the background of the photo.
The GN5 two-seat reconnaissance aircraft powered by a Hispano-Suiza V-8 is shown with Jaumotte and Wouters, the crew that flew it on operations. Wouters demonstrates the camera. The unusual front-mounted radiator was likely an attempt to reduce drag by eliminating the external block radiators of the GN4. Wouters and Jaumotte teamed up in April 1915 and were a team until October 1917. They crashed twice: on 19 July 1916 their F40 was destroyed and on 25 September 1916 they crashed on landing. Their second crash may have been in the GN5.
The GN6 featured a different radiator design than the earlier GN4 and GN5 but was powered by a similar Hispano-Suiza engine. Eliminating the external block radiators of the GN4 was an attempt to improve speed by reducing drag. The odd appearance of the nacelle may be because it was not completely painted yet. The presence of a mechanic on the nacelle in both photos is an indication that both were taken on the same occasion. It is not known if the GN6 was flown on operations.
Belgian Aircraft

Hispano-Suiza-Powered BE2 & RE8

  To improve their BE2’s mediocre performance the Belgians replaced the 90 h.p. air-cooled RAF Ia engines in some of their BE2c aircraft with a 150 h.p. water-cooled Hispano-Suiza V-8. The observer was also moved to the back seat and given a flexible Lewis gun, and a synchronized Vickers was provided for the pilot. Unfortunately, while speed was somewhat improved and armament was greatly improved compared to the standard BE2c, the extra weight of the heavier engine installation and additional armament reduced combat ceiling to only 11,000 feet. Maneuverability, never the strong suit of the overly-stable BE2, also suffered from the additional weight and stall speed was increased, reducing stall margins and safety of flight.
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BE2c #63, Pilot School
BE2c #4461-7 Mayrett, Crombez/de Woelmont, 4me Escadrille
BE2c RIRI, Crombez/Coomans, 4me Escadrille
BE2c #17, Gilbert/Callant, 6me Escadrille
Future ace Edmond Thieffry, 3me Escadrille, is seated on BE2c # 4097.
BE2c, baptized Mayrett, serial number 4461, tactical number 7, at Houthem.
Lieutenant Henri Crombez and Lieutenant Fred de Woelmont, 6me Escadrille, in BE2c #4461 Mayrett.
BE2c Mayrett flown by Crombez and de Woelmont, 4me Escadrille.
S/Lts Fred de Woelmont & Henri Crombez, 4me Esc, were attacked by three enemy aircraft on 19 March 1916, but were able to outmanouevre them.
On 10 August 1916, Adjt Bob De Leener dedicated this photo to his friend S/Lt Richard Fanning.
Lt Walter Gallez ready for take off for what is the first war mission of a BE 2c in Belgian service, on August 1st, 1915.
BE2c #63 of the pilot school and unknown crewmembers.
Adjt Egide Roobaert, here seen in his BE2c, crashed to his death off Calais on 19 December 1916 whilst practicing in a Nieuport.
Lts Walter Gallez & Marcel de Crombrugghe de Looringhe, 6me Esc. were hit by Shrapnel on 26 September 1916. Gallez landed at La Panne with a slightly injured observer.
The first BE2c, #1, is here seen in its hangar in the background; a Nieuport 10 is in the foreground.
Modified BE2c #4467, baptized FLYING FOX. Most likely this Hispano-Suiza-powered aircraft was flown by Adjudant Paul Sterpin & Sous-Lieutenant Pierre d’Ursel.
Adjudant Armand Glibert (L) and Sous-Lieutenant Henri Crombez in modified BE2c, #17. This Hispano-Suiza-powered aircraft was lost in an aerial combat on 8 April 1917 while being flown by Adjudant Armand Glibert & Sous-Lieutenant Jules Callant; both men were killed.
Modified BE 2c #17 with Hispano-Suiza engine. Armand Glibert is standing on the left, back to the camera.
A BE2c of the Belgian Air Service converted to Hispano-Suiza power. Several different radiator configurations were used in these conversions.
Three Hispano-powered BE2cs are ready to take off from Houthem. RIRI is in the middle, and BE2c #4467 FLYING FOX is in the back.
Lts Charles Coomans & Henri Crombez strafed German trenches on 19 August 1917.
S/Lt Marcel de Crombrugghe de Looringhe & Lt Walter Gallez, 6me Esc, were involved in the combat of 8 April 1917 in which the only Belgian BE 2c was shot down, killing its crew.
Lieutenants Walter Gallez and Charles Dumont, 6me Escadrille, in a modified BE2c powered by a Hispano-Suiza engine. Note that the cowling differed from other modified BE 2cs.
The cockpits of a Hispano-Suiza-powered BE2c showing the armament, pilot’s instruments, and the curved engine cowling.
S/Lt Raymond Rondeau & Lt Fred de Woelmont, 6me, were forced to land in a field on 5 August 1917. Rondeau crashed in doing so.
Most likely the aircraft of I Sgt Jacques Lamarche & Lt Eugene Roland, 6me Esc, who crashed on 26 October 1917.
Adjt Paul van der Poorten & Lt Emile Rombeaux, 6me Esc, suffered engine trouble on 28 May 1917. Paul van der Poorten crashed on landing with this result, wrecking his BE 2c.
Offstv Walter Gottsch, Jasta 8, claimed his eight victory on 8 April 1917 over a Belgian BE 2c. He is here seen posing in front of the wrecked two-seater.
The remains of the crashed BE 2c #17 on 8 April 1917 in which Adjt Armand Glibert & S/Lt Jules Callant lost their lives.
The Belgian air service converted at least nine of its BE2c aircraft to use water-cooled 150 h.p. Hispano-Suiza V-8 engines. The substantial additional power provided a useful speed improvement but the additional weight of the engine with its radiators and coolant reduced ceiling and maneuverability. The adjacent sketch illustrates one of several different radiator configurations used with the conversion. Perhaps as significant as the increased speed was the improved self-defense capability gained from moving the observer and his flexible Lewis gun to the rear cockpit.
Belgian Aircraft

Hispano-Suiza-Powered BE2 & RE8

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  When the RE8 arrived in Belgium in July 1917, the Belgian airmen viewed it with skepticism because the loss of crews on this particular type was alarmingly high in the RFC. Again the Belgians sought to improve the type’s mediocre performance by installation of a Hispano-Suiza V-8, this time using the 180 h.p. version. The engine installation was similar to that in the Belgian BE2c aircraft down to the circular radiator and SPAD-like cowling with multiple louvers. A number of photos show an additional rectangular radiator mounted externally on the starboard side of the cowling; it is not known for certain if this was a standard fitting or only used in hot weather. The modest 30 h.p. increase over the RE8’s standard 150 h.p. RAF 4a engine apparently did little more than compensate for the increased engine and radiator weight, and all around performance of the modified RE8 was similar to the standard version. As with the Hispano-powered BE2, the increased weight compromised maneuverability, handling, and flight safety. After half a year, the unloved “Harry Tates” were exchanged for SPAD XIs.
RE8 A3715 '6', 6me Escadrille
RE8 A4179 '4', Wittewrongel/Van Thorenburg, 6me Escadrille
RE8, Wittewrongel/Van Thorenburg, 6me Escadrille
RE8, Stampe/Gilles, 6me Escadrille
RE8, Simonet/Piron, 6me Escadrille
Nice view of an RE8, A3715, #6.
Adjudant Joseph Wittewrongel’s RE8, A4179, Belgian number 4, 6me Escadrille, seen at Houthem airfield early Spring 1918.
Close up of the machinegun mounting on an R.E.8.
Five R.E.8s of 6me Escadrille. The two nearest the camera have been modified with Hispano-Suiza engines.
I Sgt Jean Stampe & Lt Rene Gilles, 6me Esc., in front of their Hispano-Suiza-powered R.E.8.
S/Lt Raymond Rondelard Rondeau & Lt Fred de Woelmont, 6me Esc., in their Hispano-Suiza-powered RE8.
Stampe and Gilles in their RE8 of 6me Escadrille.
Joseph le huit Wittewrongel, here standing in front of his RE8, ended hostilities after accomplishing 118 flights over the front.
On 1 July 1917 an RE8 was destroyed in a crash-landing, novice pilot Sergent Gaston Boel coming out unscathed. His observer Lieutenant Paul Dubost was slightly injured.
Winter scene of a modified R.E.8, serial number A4700, with unknown man in front.
Adjt Victor Simonet & Lt Albert Piron, 6me Esc, flew so low on 11 August 1918, that they were shot up by ground fire. Simonet force-landed West of the lines. The RE8, #8, in which this happened is now on display in the Royal Army Museum in Brussels.
Pilot Alphonse Sohet stands in front of an RE8 converted to use a Hispano-Suiza engine; the photo clearly shows the many cooling louvers in the engine cowling and the additional radiator mounted externally on the starboard side of the fuselage. It is not known if this was a standard fitting or used only during hot weather. The additional drag of the external radiator must have limited any performance gains from use of the Hispano-Suiza compared to the standard engine.
The cockpit of an RE8.
S/Lt Jacques Ochs was severely wounded in a crash on 17 August 1917. His pilot, ISgtMr Maurice Vertongen was more fortunate and came out safe.
Possibly the remnants of the RE8 flown by I Sgt Edouard Herman & Lt Henri van Geel on 23 October 1917. Both men were killed.
The Belgian air service converted some of its RE8 aircraft to use the water-cooled 180 h.p. Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine, but the modest additional power was absorbed by the additional weight of the engine with its radiators and coolant, resulting in negligible performance improvement.
Two short seaplanes in their sheds at M’toa.
Two seaplanes are prepared for a flight.
A Short seaplane is leaving the base.
Only one Short returned from the Belgian Congo. It flew at Calais, but it is not known if it flew until the end of hostilities.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, de Robiano/Verhaegen, 2me Escadrille
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter 'S8', N5236, A8166, Declercq/Meunier, 4me Escadrille
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter 'S2', N5236, Orta/de Burlet, 3me Escadrille
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter 'S3', N5237, Kervyn de Lettenhove/d'Hendecourt, 4me Escadrille
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter 'S7' FLYING FOX, N5241, Sterpin/d'Ursel, 6me Escadrille
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter 'S28', Brughmans/de Glymes, 3me Escadrille
The first Belgian Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter flight on 16 April 1917. The large camera being installed required the under-fuselage fairing seen on some Strutters.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter ‘S28’, Brughmans/de Glymes, 3me Escadrille.
On 24 June 1917, the first victory of a recce-squadron crew was scored. Lt Louis de Burlet & S/Lt Jose Orta, 3me Esc, downed a two-seater for not only their only confirmed victory, but also the unit’s only victory.
Louis de Burlet was one of the most experienced observers. Here he demonstrates one of the cameras he used with Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters. The extended camera fairing under the fuselage is clearly shown.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter ‘S8’, N5236, A8166, flown by Declercq & Meunier, 4me Escadrille, with burning grenade insignia.
Chef d’Escadrille Robert Dhanis, 3me Esc, in front of one of the unit’s Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters.
Adjt Jacques Ledure and his observer, Lt Henri Verelst, 2me Esc.
Sous-Lieutenant Jacques de Meeus d’Argenteuil & Lieutenant Charles Coomans returning from a photographic mission.
Lt Charles Coomans, 4me Esc, led two squadrons over the battlefield on 17 April 1918, strafing attacking German troops.
Adjt Jean Meeus and Lt Armand Ducellier, 3me Esc, were involved in an aerial combat on 29 May 1918, being rescued by their escorting fighter pilot.
Adjt Gusto de Mevius & Capt R. d’Hendecourt, 4me Esc, scored a possible victory on 30 September 1917. After he had landed, d'Hendecourt heard about his removal. The large under-fuselage camera fairing used by some Belgian Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters is clearly evident.
Sous-Lieutenant Jose Orta & Lieutenant Louis de Burlet returning from an reconnaissance mission.
S/Lt Jose Orta (seated) and Lt Louis de Burlet, 3me Esc, flanked by their ground crew, undertook several ground-strafing missions during September 1917.
Adjt Etienne de Robiano & Lt Romeo Verhaegen, 2me Esc, were shot down on 13 July 1917 by Ltn Julius Buckler, Jasta 17. Their F40 was destroyed, but both men came out safe. Here they are shown in front of a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter.
Lt Louis Robin & ISgtMr Willy Heyvaert, 3me Esc, strafed German trenches on 20 October 1917.
Lt Alberic Rolin & S/Lt John de Roest d’Alkemade, 4me Esc, scored an unconfirmed victory on 1 June 1917. The claimed aircraft was a Siemens-Schuckert SSW DI, which was basically a German copy of the Nieuport.
Capt Emile Rombeaux volunteered for the first trials with a parachute on 17 November 1917.
Belgian airmen were asked to range fire for French heavy artillery. Adjudant Fernand Sauveur and Lieutenant Frederic Lints were among those chosen to do this hardly coveted task.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter FLYING FOX of Paul Sterpin (L) and Pierre d’Ursel (R.), 6me.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter ‘S7’ FLYING FOX N5241 flown by Sterpin and d’Ursel, 6me Escadrille.
Six Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters, S1, S2, S3, S4, S5 & S6, warming up at Houthem. The second Strutter, S2, is manned by S/Lt J.Orta & Lt L.de Burlet. Next to it is S3, flown by S/Lt J.de Meeus d’Argenteuil & Lt C.Coomans. Next is S6, flown by I Sgt W.Coppens & Capt G.Declercq. In the far distance is S1, flown by S/Lt C.Kervyn de Lettenhove & Capt R.Lesergeant d’Hendecourt. The crew of S4 and S5 are unknown. Surely the two pilots were Adjts J.de Roest d’Alkemade & R.Rondeau.
The reconnaissance squadrons moved from their respective airfields to Oostcamp mid October 1918, following the advance. Seen here are a mixed bag of aircraft belonging to 4me Escadrille: nearest to the camera is SPAD XI Sp6, flanked by Sopwith Camel Sc11. On the far side is Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter S10. The Sopwith Camel is now on display in the Brussels Air Museum.
King Albert is being instructed by Capt Fernand Jacquet for his second flight over the front, on 6 July 1917. He is piloted by S/Lt Jacques de Meeus d’Argenteuil.
King Albert is discussing with Capt Fernand Jacquet before taking of for his second front flight on 6 July 1917.
Ready for take off: S/Lt Jacques de Meeus & King Albert, 6 July 1917.
S/Lt Jacques de Meeus flys King Albert, 6 July 1917.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter S13 in an uncomfortable situation, apparently causing a lot of commotion.
S/Lt Etienne de Robiano & Lt Romeo Verhaegen, 2me Esc, crashed two Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutters on a single day: 25 September 1917.
I Sgt Didier Malherbe - Capt Victor Biver, 4me Esc, severely damaged their Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, S15, on 23 April 1918.
S/Lt Jose Orta, not used to flying the faster Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, crashed this aircraft on his first landing.
On 14 January 1918 Adjt Arsene Delaunoit - Capt Leon Colignon, 3me Esc, crashed on landing, severely damaging their beautifully decorated Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. As the aircraft was already worn out, it was struck off charge and considered destroyed.
On 31 October 1917 this Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter crossed the trajectory of a shell. I SgtMr Jean Meeus & Lt Robert Mongenast, 3me Esc, escaped unhurt.
Whilst taking pictures of Km-post 5,5 of the Yser on 17 February 1918, Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter, S11, flown by Adjt Walter Mouton and Lt Pierre Depage, 3me Esc, was shot down by AA-fire. They came down in the dunes, close to the French encampment called Bador.
Adjudant Robert Galler, former 2me Escadrille pilot, took off in a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter #S171, on 2 July 1917, but crashed soon afterwards. He was instantly killed.
Sopwith Camel, Sc23, Tollet, 2me Escadrille
Sopwith Camel, Sc35, Mantel, 2me Escadrille
Sopwith Camel, Dhanis, 3me Escadrille
Sopwith Camel Sc7, Olieslagers, 9me Escadrille
Sopwith Camel, Cremers, 11me Escadrille
Sopwith Camel, Sc11 #B5747, 11me Escadrille
3me Esc lost two Sopwith Camels in August 1918.
Sopwith Camel used by 3me Escadrille for their escort missions.
Capt. Ernest Mantel in front of his Sopwith Camel of 2me Escadrille. The fuselage band was pink and white; the white fin had pink polka-dots.
Edouard Tollet in front of his Sopwith Camel Sc23, 4me Escadrille.
I SgtMr Jean van der Voordt, 11 Esc, flying under a formation of scouts on 15 October 1918, singled out a Fokker that dived straight into the ground.
Leon Cremers in his Sopwith Camel, 11me Escadrille. On 11 November Cremers flew at 10m over his hometown, Ghent, and recognised an uncle and his wife. Cremers turned and dropped a letter to his parents which he saw was picked up by his uncle.
Two balloons were destroyed on 27 September 1918: one by S/Lt Willy Coppens and the other by Adjt Robert Rondeau, 11 me Esc, his first of two victories.
Olieslagers stands by his Sopwith Camel Sc7, 9me Escadrille.
Lt Jean Olieslagers, 9me Esc, scored his 5th and (final) 6th victory in May 1918.
Sergent Gustave Boel who was killed in a crash on take off for an escort mission at Houthem on 7 August 1918.
The reconnaissance squadrons moved from their respective airfields to Oostcamp mid October 1918, following the advance. Seen here are a mixed bag of aircraft belonging to 4me Escadrille: nearest to the camera is SPAD XI Sp6, flanked by Sopwith Camel Sc11. On the far side is Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter S10. The Sopwith Camel is now on display in the Brussels Air Museum.
Adjt Robert Gordinne, 9me Esc, crashed this Sopwith Camel on 11 April 1918.
Adjt Edmond Weekers is joking to Adjt Robert Gordinne’s about his flying capabilities after the latter’s crash-landing on 11 April 1918.
Sergent Jacques Stevens of 4me Escadrille had an accident flying Sopwith Camel Sc32 on 29 July 1917.
The wreckage of Sgt G.Boel’s Camel.
Sopwith Pup, ‘SB4', probably 5me Escadrille
Nice view of a Sopwith Pup, decorated with the Comet of 5me Escadrille de Chasse.
Sopwith Pup ‘SB4’, likely of 5me escadrille, waits for its next mission.
Sous-Lieutenant Georges Lallemand standing next to a Sopwith Pup, used for escort missions by 3me Escadrille. Lallemand, a two-seater pilot, often flew this aircraft to protect the men of his squadron.
Adjt Georges Lallemand, 3me Esc, scored two victories on 21 October 1917. Only one was credited to him and his observer, Lt Henri Cornelius.
The GN5 reconnaissance aircraft powered by a Hispano-Suiza V-8 is shown during testing. A row of Sopwith Triplanes is in the background of the photo.
On 15 April 1915, Sergent W.de Roy and Sous-Lieutenant H.de‘T Serclaes, Esc II, crashed on take off in a captured Albatros.
The Aviatik two-seater was frequently spotted over the Belgian lines.
Aerial shot of the downed Aviatik C227.
Remains of Aviatik C227, shot down by Fernand Jacquet & Louis Robin on 20 May 1916 being brought ashore.
Remains of the Aviatik, C227, shot down by Lieutenants Fernand Jacquet & Louis Robin, Iere Escadrille, on 20 May 1916.
Remains of Aviatik C227, shot down by Fernand Jacquet & Louis Robin on 20 May 1916.
The partially restored Aviatik now on display at the Brussels Air Museum.
On 28 January 1917, Belgian pilots engaged an ‘Aviatik scout’, much faster than the Nieuport. It may have been the little-known Fokker D.V.
A spectacular accident occurred with novice pilot Sgt Lucien Feron, 4me Esc, on 22 September 1918. On take-off, he crashed his Breguet into a Bessoneau hangar. Both he & his observer, Sous-Lieutenant Servais Gruber, came out unhurt. Here he stands by a Fokker D.VII.
The Fokker DVII, shot down by Lt Crombez and du Roy de Blicquy on 14 October 1918.
Captured Gotha G.V downed by Belgian AA-fire. One engine was hit and the pilot was able to bring his aircraft down safely. Here it is shown after being restored and marked with Belgian insignia.
A Gotha G.V downed by AA-fire was restored at Houthem and is seen here during the work in one of its Bessonneau hangars.
Belgian AA-fire brought down a Gotha bomber on 7 June 1918.
A Gotha G.IX in Belgian markings rests on the field at Evere, 1919.
This Gotha G.IX(LVG) 299/18 illustrates its LVG-style markings, its camouflage fabric, and the fairings over the radiators in the upper wing above the engines.
Not mentioned in the Ordres Journalieres, this Halberstadt (Hannover ???) was brought down behind Belgian lines on 19 June 1918.
On 25 April, Adjudants Gusto de Mevius & Georges Kervyn de Lettenhove, claimed a Pfalz D.III. These are the remnants of the aircraft. Georges Kervyn is seen on the far left, bending towards an item of interest.
Jean Olieslagers was the fifth qualified pilot in Belgium and became a famous pre-war pilot in Europe.
Early in 1915, Sergent J.Tyck collected this Bleriot XI to fly reconnaissance missions.
The Bleriot XI two-seater flown by Jules Tyck in late 1914 or early 1915. Picture taken at La Panne.
In May 1915, the Belgian Air Service still used the Bleriot XI at the front. Observer Louis Robin and his pilot, Roger Castiau, are here seen ready for take off.
Jan Olieslagers and Louis Robin flew together in a Bleriot XI during March 1915. They both flank their Chef d’Escadrille of Esc II, Julien Stellingwerff.
Breguet 14, Cajot/Bricoult, 2me Escadrille
Breguet 14, Delloye/Crabbe, 2me Escadrille
Breguet 14, Olieslagers/Foidart, 2me Escadrille
Breguet 14 #2371, 3me Escadrille
Breguet 14 #1, Demarteau/de Schietere de Lophem, 5me Escadrille
The first Breguet XIV A2 delivered to the Av.M. being checked by a young admirer.
Breguet 14 of Charles Delloye and Jean Van Aubel, 2me Escadrille.
Sgt Maurice Damblon - Lt Lucien Ducastel, 2me Esc, flew the next to last Belgian mission of the war on 11 November 1918.
Sergent Amedee Lierneux & Sous-Lieutenant Jean van Aubel of 2me Escadrille in front of Breguet XIV A2 7012.
Breguet 14 #1 flown by Gaston Demarteau and Rene de Schietere de Lophem, 5me Escadrille.
Breguet 14 #1, Demarteau/de Schietere de Lophem, 5me Escadrille
Breguet 14 flown by Jozef Olieslagers and Fernand Foidart, 2me Escadrille.
Olieslagers by his Breguet 14 of 2me Escadrille.
Adjt Robert Cajot and Lt Alfred Bricoult (L), 2me Esc, were shot down by Lnt zS Theo Osterkamp on 28 September 1918 to become prisoners of war.
S/Lt Raymond Rondeau and Lt Gaston Mesmaekers, 6me Esc, were attacked by 5 hostile aircraft on 19 May 1918. The speed of their Breguet saved them.
A Breguet of 2me Escadrille is being prepared for a flight.
Interesting picture of the Breguet XIV flown by Sous-Lieutenant John de Roest d’Alkemade & Lieutenant Charles Coomans on June 1st 1918. The picture was taken by Adjudant Jean Stampe & Sous-Lieutenant Rene Gilles at 4,000m altitude.
Not mentioned in the daily orders, this Breguet of 3me Esc, crashed on landing on 14 May 1918.
A Breguet XIV A2 was damaged in a crash-landing on 31 July 1918. It belonged to 4me Esc, but its crew, both safe, remain unknown.
Adjt Max Olieslagers, 2me Esc, crashed his Breguet on a rather rough landing on 24 June 1918. He was seriously injured, but his (unknown) observer was safe. Possibly this fortunate man was Capt Fernand Foidart.
Adjt Marcel Boddaert and Lt Prosper de Mathelin, 5me Esc, were shot down by two Fokkers out of a strong formation in November 1918.
Breguet 14 #2371 of the 3me Escadrille comes to grief.
Student pilots in Etampes: Raoul Vanhaverbeke, Paul de Goussencourt (KIA), Edouard Herman (KIA), Leon de Maelcamp (KIAcc), Prosper Houba, unknown, Max Vilair XIIII (PoW), Carlo Verbessem (KIA).
11me Esc lost novice pilot Sgt Max Martin in a dogfight over Roulers on 4 October 1918. He was shot down by Ltn Franz Piechulek of Jasta 56.
Lieutenant Adhemar Tapproge, wounded in a crash on 7 August 1914. He was still hospitalized and captured by the Germans on 24th.
American volunteer Sergent Kenneth Lithauer next to his Caudron GIV, baptized Helen.
Caudron GIV named Lulu.
Sergent Santiago Campuzano (L) and Lieutenant Pierre de Zaeytydt of Escadrille C74 in front of their Caudron, personalized with a winged dragon. They flew the first recce mission for the escadrille Franco-Beige on 10 June 1916.
Ground crew and aircrew of Caudron GIV le Punch. On the right are Sergent Jacques Bizet (L) and Lieutenant Leon Ronge.
Sergent Kenneth Littauer (L) and Sous-Lieutenant Richard Fanning. Fanning was the son of a British father and Belgian mother and bilingual English-French. Therefore he was assigned as the observer of Littauer.
Half visible on the lift is Czech pilot Jan Stork. He served as Jean Lousteau and flew as a Sergent with Esc C74. Also in flying suit is Capitaine Fernand Balon. On the far right is Sous-Lieutenant Deguent. The function of Deguent with Esc C74 is unknown.
Sergent Santiago Campuzano and Lieutenant Pierre de Zaeytydt take off for a war flight.
Line up of Escadrille C74s Caudron GIVs. Ten aircraft can be seen.
Pilots and observers of Escadrille C74. Lieutenant Armand Stas is standing on the far left. Lieutenant Paul Thomas is easily recognized by his long beard. Second from right is Lieutenant Joseph Toussaint. The other officers are unknown.
American volunteer, CpI Kenneth Littauer, and his Belgian observer, Capt Charles Michaux, Esc C74 crashed on take off on 18 March 1917. This was the result.
Sgt Raymond Choisnet and Capt Paul Crahay, Esc C74, suffered engine failure on 5 August 1916 and crashed at St-Sixtus-wood.
Brigadier Bernard Schwarz & S/Lt Richard Fanning, Esc C74, crashed on landing on 14 August 1916. Schwarz is here seen next to his crashed Caudron.
Lieutenants Paul Manseron and Joseph Toussaint crashed on 30 September 1916. Toussaint is seen in the middle of the photo, apparently not impressed.
After the crash on 30 September 1916, Lts P.Manseron & J.Toussaint, still in their flying outfit, are willing to pose, together with their Chef d’Escadrille, Capitaine Paillard. On the extreme left are Lieutenant A.Stas and Brigadier J.Bizet.
On 9 October 1916, Sergent Raymond Laffont crashed on landing. He was injured, whilst his observer, Lieutenant Armand Stas, came out unscathed.
On 9 October 1916, Sgt Paul Laffont and S/Lt Armand Stas, Esc C74, crashed their Caudron G.4 rather heavily. Laffont was so seriously injured that he could not fly any longer.
Sgt Raymond Choisnet and Lt Charles Michaux, Esc C74 crashed on landing on 17 December 1916, although not mentioned in the daily orders. The photos, however, are more than clear.
On 17 December 1916, Sergent Raymond Choisnet and Capitaine Charles Michaux crashed, possibly during a test flight.
At 1230, December 24, 1916, Marechal-des-Logis Louis Mouy and Lieutenant Alex Godart, were hit by a shell and subsequently crashed. The aircraft was destroyed, but both men were safe.
On 24 December 1916, Sgt Louis Mouy crash landed east of Het Sas after being hit by Shrapnel. Both he and his observer, Lt Alex Godart, were safe.
On 20 April 1917 Paul Thomas flew his first mission with C74. Thomas is on the right; his French pilot, Jean Lousteau, is on the left. Their Caudron G.6 is named Renee.
Escadrille C74 used different types of Caudron two- & three- seaters.
MdL Marcel Bouchon & Lt Victor Biver, Esc C74, crashed on 16 October 1917.
On 6 August 1914, Sergent Henri Crombez was obliged to abandon his personal Deperdussin monoplane and leave by train to Wilryck.
Civil pilot Henri Crombez in his personal Deperdussin.
The first military flight of the Compagnie des Aviateurs. Lt Georges Nelis is the pilot. Photo taken in December 1910 at Kiewit.
Picture taken on 20 June 1913, when Theo Wahis gained his military wings. Left to right are mechanic Teeuwen, Alfred Sarteel, Framjois Dechamps, Robert Dhanis, Georges Nelis, Theo Wahis, Emmanuel Bronne, dr Rucq, Julien Stellingwerff, Jean Hagemans, Adolphe Schmit, Arsene Demanet & Fernand Van Loo.
Seated in the nacelle are instructor Rene Vertongen and student pilot Felix Liedel. In front are L to R: Hubert, Jules Jaumotte, Albert Massaux, Julien Root, Raoul de Cartier, & Jean Renard. The picture was taken either at the military pilot school at Brasschaet, or at the civil pilot school at St-Job in 1912.
Bollekens’ JERO-Farman Aircraft Builders Until the Start of Hostilities

  Woodworkers since 1858, the start of their participation in aircraft-building started in the Autumn of 1909. Belgium’s first pilot, Baron de Caters, organised an ‘air show’ at Antwerp between 23 October & 2 November, during which he himself participated in his own Voisin. He crashed and severely damaged his aircraft. Baron de Caters asked Bollekens if they were willing to repair his damaged Voisin within four days, in order to continue his participation at the meeting.
  Taking up the challenge, Bollekens managed to repair the aircraft in time by working day and night. In July 1910, de Caters bought himself an Aviatik two-seater with Aviatik GmbH at Mulhausen, Germany. Then the company Aviator, of which de Caters was a major participant, ordered four of these aircraft to be built by Bollekens. These aircraft were replicas of the original Aviatik, but underwent a number of approvements. One of the main improvements Bollekens carried out was the use of silver spruce instead of poplar for the longer parts of wood. These four aircraft were the first ones in Belgium to be built in series. Of these four aircraft, two were purchased by de Caters, which he took to India. His flights in India were the second flown over that country (after Frenchman Henri Jullerot).
  When de Caters got into financial trouble, Bollekens took over the four aircraft which had never been paid, together with the hangars built at Sint-Job airfield. The airfield itself was hired from de Caters. With a runway of 1,350 meters and 500 hectares it was quite an impressing airfield (in the garden of de Caters!), which housed some 12 fliers, featuring Jan Olieslagers, Jules Tyck and Comte Joseph d’Hespel. The pilot school, originally started by de Caters, was also taken over by Bollekens. Meanwhile another four aircraft were built by Bollekens and powered with a Gnome 50hp engine, designed by Seguin.
  The Belgian army in the mean time, were considering different types of aircraft for an eventual order, and considered the Farman as the best solution. For strategic reasons a Belgian constructor was needed. Most likely the choice fell upon Bollekens because they had built a reasonable number of aircraft thus far; it had its own airfield, aircraft and pilot school and it was situated in the fortified place of Antwerp.
  On 1 March 1912 a contract was signed between Farman and Bollekens to built the formers aircraft under licence. The contract had a duration of five years. Only ten days later, the first order of four Farman F16s were ordered. Bollekens could not start to build these aircraft, however, for it had to wait for the original Farman which they had to duplicate. On 12 March 1912 the first instructor arrived: Fernand Verschaeve (who was killed in a flying accident 8 April 1914 at Sint-Job).
  On 15 October 1912 Bollekens and the army signed a contract, which meant that JERO was indebted to guarantee a three month coarse for the student pilot to obtain their civil brevet. (The name JERO derives from the name of their father: Jerome Bollekens.) Instructors, aircraft, airfield, surveillance, transport and fuel were all to be disposed by Bollekens, which received a small equivalent sum for each student pilot. Another contract for the education of pilots was signed on 14 May 1913, with its school at Kiewit. Frenchman Henri Molla, who had joined Verschaeve at Sint-Job as an instructor, was sent to Kiewit, together with Ernest Demuyter, whilst Mollas substitute became Rene Vertongen. It is thought that some 35 officers were trained by Bollekens. During the organisation of the Compagnie des Aviatieurs, JERO designed a dedicated trailer to carry aircraft, for which they obtained a patent. All squadrons were equipped with these trailers from December 1912. Another contract was signed between the army and Bollekens to maintain and repair the damaged aircraft, again for a small equivalent sum. Between July 1912 and August 1914, four JERO-Farman F16s & 20 HF-20s and/or HF-23bis were delivered to the Belgian Air Service.
JERO-HF20 ‘32’, crew and unit unknown
Lieutenant Felix Liedel who was mortally wounded in a crash at Martelange on 28 June 1914. He died on the way to hospital.
JERO Farman F16, manned by Robert Dhanis (L) and Emmanuel Bronne.
Lieutenant Baron Theo Wahis was destined to become the third Commanding Officer of the Av.M. early 1915.
Baron Theo Wahis (L) and Lucien Poot in a JERO-Farman HF20.
Sergent Max Orban (L) and Sous-Lieutenant Lucien Orban flew one mission together on October 17th, 1915. They were, however, not related to one another.
Pierre de Chestret & Joseph Gilles, 5me Esc, both relative new at the front, were forced to land on 3 April 1916.
Sgt Georges Labrique, a novice pilot with 6me Esc, who arrived at the front in June 1918, destroyed a Nieuport scout in a forced landing, being slightly injured, on 17 July 1918.
Lieutenants Pierre Lebon (L) and Julien Stellingwerff on the day of their trial with a mounted machine gun. This was the first such test in Europe.
The JERO-Farman HF20 which was used for the first trials with a mounted machine gun at Brasschaet during May 1911.
The JERO-Farman HF20 was the standard aircraft in the beginning of the war.
Farman HF20 over the front.
Picture probably taken during the army exercises in August 1913. From Left to right are: unknown, Adhemar Tapproge, Jean Hagemans, Paul Richard, Eugene Moulin, Arsene Demanet, Jules Soumoy and Fernand Jacquet.
Lieutenant Georges Nells who was the first military brevetted pilot.
Lieutenant Felis Isserentant & Sous-Lieutenant Edouard Delfosse, IIme Escadrille, in their Farman F20.
Sous-Lieutenants F.de Woelmont & P.Braun teamed up early March 1915.
Caporals Jacques de Meeus d’Argenteuil, Charles Kervyn de Lettenhove & Edmond Desclee at the pilot school, prior of being sent to the front in July 1915.
Lieutenants Robert Dhanis & Emmanuel Bronne prepare for a flight.
Chef d’Escadrille of lime Escadrille HF, Lieutenant Jules Soumoy. Capitaine Jules Soumoy crashed a new Farman F20 on take-off at Buc, France on 5 September 1914. He did not survive this crash.
Aircrew at rest somewhere in a field: L to R: Unknown, Fernand Jacquet, Paul Hiernaux, and Felix Isserentant.
Another shot at the pilot school: L to R: F.Lescart, W.de Roy, French officer, G.Mestach, unknown, R.Lagrange, R.Castiau on the wing, and R.Vertongen in the cockpit.
Damaged wings of a Farman, which had been hit by AA-fire.
Capitaine Francois Dechamps was killed on 21 December 1914, whilst handing a bomb to one of his mechanics. The latter let it slip through his fingers and the explosion caused some 15 casualties, including Dechamps.
Lieutenants E.Moulin & P.Rigaux crashed this JERO-Farman HF20 sometime in March 1915.
Fatal crash in which Lieutenant Hubert lost his life on 10 July 1914 at Kiewit.
Jean Godefroid crashed and was seriously injured. He could not continue to be trained as a pilot.
What is left of Godefroid’s JERO Farman HF20.
JERO Farman HF20, # 22 after its crash in Roosteren, Holland. Its crew, Lieutenants Albert de Bueger and Albert Schmit, were released but the Farman was left in Dutch hands.
Lieutenants Jules Jaumotte and Leopold Bussy, IIme Escadrille HF crashed on 24 October 1914 at Furnes.
The remains of the Farman flown by Adjt Charles Ciselet. Observer Lt Joseph Gilles did not survive.
Romantic view of the first (unofficial) Belgian aerial combat victory.
The only seaplane of the Av.M. in 1915 was a converted Farman HF20, but most likely not built by JERO.
Farman F40, Jacquet/Robin, 1ere Escadrille
Farman F40, Brabant/Orban, 4me Escadrille
Farman F40, Coomans/de Meeus, 4me Escadrille
Farman F40 #2265, Kervyn de Lettenhove/d’Hendecourt, 4me Escadrille
Farman F40, de Roest d’Alkemade/Rolin, 4me Escadrille
Farman F40, Pirmez/Declercq, 4me Escadrille
Farman F60, Lacroix/de Burlet, 8me Escadrille
S/Lt Alberic Rolin & Adjt Fereol Jenatzy, 4me Esc, were involved in a daring bombing raid on Ghistelles airfield on 19 May 1916.
Farman F40 #2265, flown by Kervyn de Lettenhove and d’Hendecourt, 4me Escadrille.
Capitaine Roger Lesergeant d’Hendecourt and Adjudant Charles Kervyn de Lettenhove, 4me Escadrille, prepared for a photographic mission in front of their F40 Brownie.
Capitaine Roger ‘le petit pere’ Lesergeant d’Hendecourt and Adjudant Raymond ‘Rondelard’ Rondeau, 4me Escadrille, in front of Brownie (F40).
On 30 July 1916, Capt Fernand Jacquet & Lt Louis Robin scored their third combined victory. S/Lt Jean Olieslagers is standing next to the wing.
On 23 June 1916, Capt Fernand Jacquet & Lt Louis Robin, Iere Esc, scored their 2nd combined victory.
Fernand Jacquet & Louis Robin in front of their Farman F40, decorated with a skull.
The most important photographer of the Av.M., Capitaine Jules Jaumotte, is flanked by his observer, Lieutenant Louis Wouters, Iere Escadrille.
Capt Fernand Jacquet & Lt Louis Robin, Iere Esc, in front of their F40 la sale gueule (The Mean Muzzle).
Nose art on Fernand Jacquet’s & Louis Robin’s Farman F40.
On 18 March 1917 King Albert saw his baptism in the air as an observer. He was piloted by Capitaine Fernand Jacquet. Lt Louis Robin is supporting the ladder.
Jacquet’s Farman brought back to its shed after a flight.
Capt Fernand Jacquet was obliged to return his Farman F40 back to Calais on 30 April 1917, being deprived of his observer S/Lt Louis Robin.
The most important photographer of the Av.M.,Capitaine Jules Jaumotte, is flanked by his observer, Lieutenant Louis Wouters, Iere Escadrille. The Farman F40 has striking nose art inspired by Charlie Chaplin.
Fereol Jenatzy in his Farman F40 with Charlie Chaplin decoration.
Farman F40 with nose art of Charlie Chaplin and four members of the ground crew.
Adjt Jacques de Meeus d’Argenteuil (R) and Lt Charles Coomans, 4me Esc, were obliged to land at an RFC-airfield in Northern France on account of a snow storm, on 22 March, 1917.
Lieutenant Charles Coomans & Adjudant Jacques de Meeus d’Argenteuil, 4me Escadrille after their succesful raid to Antwerp and Ghent on 19 September 1916.
Lt Charles Coomans (L) & S/Lt Jacques de Meeus, 4me Esc, were shot out of the sky on 9 June 1917 by a red Halberstadt DII.
Farman F40 Cerberus (flown by ISgtMr Albert Pirmez) shows its striking nose art. The picture was taken on 2 August 1916. Standing in front of the aircraft is the Av.M.’s CO, Major Roland Van Crombrugge.
Another view of the Farman F40 Cerberus flown by Albert Pirmez and Gustave Declercq, 4me Escadrille
Adjt John de Roest d’Alkemade & Lt Alberic Rolin, 4me Esc, flew to Antwerp on 7 September 1916.
Farman F40 of de Roest d’Alkemade/Rolin, 4me Escadrille, with Raymond Rondeau (L) & unknown observer (R).
Lt Louis de Burlet and Adjt Francy Lacroix, 8me Escadrille, tried a new landing ground at Bray-Dunes.
Farman F40, Brabant/Orban, 4me Escadrille.
Another view of Medusa
Farman Medusa flown by Marcel Brabant & Lucien Orban, 4me Escadrille.
Lt Leon Colignon (L) and his pilot, Sgt Arsene Delaunoit, 3me Esc, demolished this beautifully decorated F40 after being shot down by AA-fire on 3 June 1917.
Albert Hellemans flew an equally striking F40 in 3me Escadrille. Were both inspired by the Colony in Africa?
Roger de Kerchove (L) and Max Vilain XIII (R) in their flamboyantly-decorated Farman F40.
I Sgt Max Vilair XIIII & Lt Henri van Sprang, 3me Esc, were shot down by ground fire on 27 July 1917, flying this F40 #45.
Lt Henri Cornelius, 3me Esc, who scored his only victory as observer to Adjt Georges Lallemand, on 21 October 1917.
Two photos of Georges Lallemand and his Farman with its personal boar insignia. He flew with 3me Escadrille.
Serg Georges Lallemand and S/Lt Henri Cornelius, 3me Esc, in F40 #6, with boar as personal insignia. Picture taken in February 1917.
Cdt Albert Wibier, CO of the wireless company, flew a recce-mission on board Albert Wieleman’s F40, #23 on 6 November 1916.
The second brother of the Ciselet family to be killed in action was I Sgt Marcel Ciselet, 6me Esc, shot down by AA-fire on 18 May 1918.
I Sgt Jules Goossens-Bara & S/Lt Leon Decubber, 3me Esc, where attacked by three hostile aircraft and forced to land at Steenkerke on 21 October 1916.
A Farman F40 is seen taking to the air.
A Farman F40 in flight.
Brownie, the F40 of Adjudant Charles Kervyn de Lettenhove & Capitaine Roger Lesergeant d’Hendecourt, out on a mission.
Machine gun emplacement on an F40, probably that flown by Sous-Lieutenant Jose Orta and Lieutenant Louis de Burlet.
S/Lt Willy de Roy & Lt Joseph Henin, 2me Esc, were sent to France to study wireless transmitter instructions. On 11 December, flying over Amiens, they suffered engine trouble and were forced to land. Both were seriously injured in the crash.
The Farman F60 or F61 of De Marteau and Verhaeghen, 8me, used for night bombing in 1918.
The only aircraft of 8me Escadrille with its crew: S/Lt Francy Lacroix and Lt Louis de Burlet.
Clear view of a bomb rack on a Farman F40.
S/Lt Louis de Burlet took this picture of a heavy landing of one of his squadron’s F40s. Possibly it depicts the crash-landing of Sgt Georges Lallemand & Lt Honore Cornelius, 3me Esc, on 5 December 1916.
The end of the Farman F40 with Cerberus markings, 4me Escadrille, 23 Jan. 1917.
On 23 January 1917, Adjt Fereol Jenatzy, 4me Esc, took 2me Esc’s Lt Harry de ‘T Serclaes on a recce mission. He landed heavily with this result.
Novice pilot Sgt Jean Pauli miscalculated his landing on 24 April 1917. He had just survived his first aerial combat and perhaps was rather nervous.
Lts Jules Jaumotte & Louis Wouters, 3me Esc, crashed on 6 July 1916 in their Farman F40.
Capt Fernand Jacquet & Lt Louis Robin, Iere Esc, crashed their F40 on 8 September 1916. Both came out unscathed.
FBA 1, T.Orta/Schollaert, Escadrille d'Hydravions
FBA 1, T.Orta/Ochs, Escadrille d'Hydravions
FBA 1, Escadrille d'Hydravions
FBA 1, Castiau/Gouzee, Escadrille d'Hydravions
FBA 1, Boin/Roberte, Escadrille d'Hydravions
Adjudant Florent Schollaert flew the very first recce mission of the unit with Sous-Lieutenant Tony 'Totor’ Orta on 12 December 1917 in this FBA #588.
A Belgian FBA is launched for another flight.
FBA I La Miquette flown by Victor Boin and Maxime Roberte, Escadrille d’Hydroavions.
Lieutenant Henri Gouzee (L) and his pilot, Sous-Lieutenant Roger Castiau.
FBA #2 which returned from a reconnaissance mission on 12 April 1918. Sous-Lieutenant Tony Orta is seen standing in the nacelle.
The Belgian FBA flying boats of the Escadrille d’Hydro-avions, based at Calais.
FBA #2 piloted by Sous-Lieutenant Tony Orta and French observer Fouque taking to the air on 12 April 1918.
FBA #5 on display at the Brussels Air Museum.
FBA I with shark-mouth marking, flown by F.Orta & Ochs.
Hanriot HD.1 No.1, Coppens, 1ere Escadrille
Hanriot HD.1 No.24, Coppens, 9me Escadrille
Hanriot HD.1 No.8, Olieslagers, 1ere Escadrille
Hanriot HD.1, Olieslagers, 9me Escadrille
Hanriot HD.1 No.30, De Meulemeester, 9me Escadrille
The first HD 1, #H.D.1, was delivered in August 1917, refused by such men as Jean Olieslagers and Andre De Meulemeester, and passed on to future ace Willy Coppens.
Hanriot HD 12 of the Red Flight, belonging to Iere Escadrille de Chasse, early 1918.
A British pilot is flanked by seven Belgian fighter pilots. LtoR: Gilbert Ory, Pierre Dubois, Leon Gerard & Carlos Verbessem. Seated LtoR: Pierre Braun, Willy Coppens & Georges Kervyn de Lettenhove. Apart from Braun, 5me Esc, all pilots belonged to Iere Esc.
In July 1918 the Green-White Flight of Lt Jean Olieslagers, I Sgts Edmond Kervyn de Meerendre and Maurice Jamar, 9me Esc, was involved in some aerial combats.
The White Flight of Capt Walter Gallez (M), Adjts Willy Coppens (L) and Pierre Dubois, 9me Esc, claimed a two-seater on 12 March 1918. Pierre Dubois was the one who was credited.
Adjt Willy Coppens, Iere Esc, had a strange combat on 14 October 1917, when his seat collapsed and fell on the floor of his aircraft.
Adjt Willy Coppens, 9me Esc, flew a mission he ‘just wanted to do’, on 19 February 1918. Starting at 0835 at Les Moeres, he was over Brussels at 0952 flying at 2,400 feet. Coppens circled over the city until 1005 and landed back at 1045.
Adjt Willy Coppens, 9me Esc, opened his score on 25 April 1918.
After S/Lt Edmond Thieffry, Adjt Willy Coppens, 9me Esc, became the second fighter pilot to claim more than one victory in one day. The first time was on 8 May 1918, scoring his 2nd and 3rd victory.
Adjt Willy Coppens, 9me Esc, had just scored his 5th victory on 19 May 1918, and is being congratulated by his comrades.
S/Lt Willy Coppens. 9me Esc, brought his score to 13 at the end of June 1918. Herewith he became the best scoring Belgian pilot.
Sous-Lieutenant Willy Coppens, 9me Esc, brought his score to 32 during September 1918.
I Sgt Mr Leon Cremers, 11me Esc, crashed a Hanriot HD 1 on 13 September 1918.
Adjt Pierre Dubois, 9me Esc, was the first fighter pilot of the newly created Groupe de Chasse to claim a victory, on 12 March 1918.
S/Lt Pierre Dubois, 9me Esc, was the last fighter pilot to crash. He did so on 10 November 1918.
Sgt Etienne Hage, 9me Esc, scored his first of three balloons on 29 September 1918.
Capt Paul Hiernaux, 11me Esc, became that squadron’s Chef d’Escadrille, and was also the first to be involved in an aerial combat in May 1918.
Sgt Leon Guillon, 11me Esc, claimed two victories in October 1918. With this he became the units top-scoring pilot.
Adjt Jacques Lamarche, 11me Esc, claimed a possible victory on 11 August 1918.
Novice pilot, Sgt Hector Maurage, 6me, Esc, only flew two war missions, but on his 2nd, he attacked a balloon.
Adjt Andre De Meulemeester, 9me Esc, scored two victories in February 1918. One of them was credited as his 7th. The other remained unconfirmed.
Adjt Andre De Meulemeester, 9me Esc, equaled Thieffry’s score, by downing his 10th victim on 17 May 1918.
Adjt Gusto de Mevius, 9me Esc, scored his only confirmed victory on 25 April 1918.
Lt Florent Noirsain is standing next to Hanriot HD6 at Calais in October 1917.
I Sgt Mr Joseph Vuylsteke, 11me Esc, became Lt Willy Coppens’ substitute with the Groupe de Chasse. He scored his only victory on 1 November 1918.
Craftsmen of Iere Escadrille de Chasse in front of one of their Hanriots.
Two views of a Hanriot in the Brussels Air Museum painted to represent Olieslager’s HD 1 of 9me Escadrille.
The machine gun of the first HD 1 was slightly off center. Thereafter the machine guns were placed in the center by the Service Technique at Beaumarais.
S/Lt Jean Olieslagers, Iere Esc, crashed his HD 1 on 4 November 1917, putting him into hospital for a month.
One of the Hanriots, in this case HD13, of 9me Escadrille de Chasse, destroyed during the bombardment on Les Moeres airfield on 13 June 1918. The aircraft was part of the Green-White Flight.
The Flight “Jaune”, of 9me Esc, was, during an evening sortie, pursued and attacked by a flight of RAF Dolphin scouts escorting a DH4 on 7 July 1918. The Hanriot of de Mevius was severely damaged in the attack, but fortunately the pilot was not hit.
Letord three-seater l’Indesirable with unknown French pilot on the left.
Sergent Fernand Goebbels & Caporal Robert Gendebien carried out bombing missions in early October 1914.
MF 11 bis, Jacquet/Robin, 1ere Escadrille
MF 11 bis, J.Orta/de Burlet, 3me Escadrille
French MF11bis, flown from the Belgian airfield at Kerkepanne.
The French escadrille at Kerkepanne.
The French Escadrille MF36 was also based on the Belgian airfield and was involved in many combats.
Sous Lieutenant Louis Robin & Lieutenant Fernand Jacquet, Iere Escadrille, ready for take off at La Panne airfield in their MF 11.
Rear view of a Maurice Farman MF 11 bis at the airfield of Houthem.
The painted MF 11 bis, flown by Capt Fernand Jacquet & Lt Louis Robin, Iere Esc de Chasse.
A Farman MF 11 takes off at Houthem.
Nice view of a Maurice Farman MF 11 bis in flight.
German anti-aircraft fire attempts to down a Belgian Farman on a reconnaissance mission. The shrapnel-bursts were photographed by Lieutenant Charles Coomans while flying on board Adjudant Jacques de Meeus’ Farman.
On October 26th, 1915 Adjudant W.de Roy & S/Lt H.de ‘T Serclaes forced a seaplane down at sea.
MF 11 bis flown by De Burlet.
Although the Av.M. reported bad weather and no flying on 4 August 1917, Adjt Jacques Ledure & Lt Henri Verelst, 2me Esc, were badly shot up and proudly showed this in this picture.
On 19 July 1915, Sergent G.Delattre & Lt R.de Cartier, Esc II, were forced to land on the beach after a combat.
Close up of the engine of a Maurice Farman MF 11 (or MF 11 bis). It is believed to be a Renault-engined, but not confirmed.
Instructors Fernand Petit, Florent Noirsain, Raymond Boschmans, Paul Hiernaux and, seated, Robert Desmet, at Etampes Pilot School.
Instructors and pilots at Etampes: L to R: H.Deplus, W.de Roy, J.Piret, A.De Neef & F.Lacroix.
Pilots (and student pilots?) at the Pilot School in Etampes: L to R: Abel De Neef, Florent Noirsain, Fernand Lescart, Fernand Petit, Raymond Boschmans, unknown, Andre Delelienne, Major Louis Tournay, Robert Desmet, Georges Nelis, Paul Hiernaux, Charles Van den Born, Raoul de Cartier, Raoul Limnander & Louis Vloeberghs.
Esc II at the front (L to R): Capt A.Sarteel, Lt J.Landrin, S/Lt E.Delfosse, S/Lt H.de’T Serclaes, Lt R.de Cartier, I Sgt M.Olieslagers, I Sgt E.Desclee, Lt Elsserentant, S/Lt W.de Roy & S/Lt L.Robin in front of one of the escadrille’s Farman MF 11 aircraft.
Newspapers published this picture of the Belgian Pilot School at Etampes.
Portrait of the groundcrew of 2me Escadrille.
Lt Pierre Rigaux (R), 4me Esc, was killed on 20 March 1916, when hit in the chest by a bullet from an attacking Fokker Eindecker.
On 9 March 1916, S/Lt Charles Coomans & Sgt Marcel Brabant, 4me Esc, were attacked by a hostile aircraft. Coomans had the nerves to take a picture of the attacking aircraft prior to taking to his guns.
Lt Louis de Burlet (in cockpit) and Adjt Jose Orta, 3me Esc, claimed a possible victory on 30 June 1916.
Capitaine P.Richard & Lt R.Limnander suffered engine trouble on 7 September 1915 and were obliged to return to their airfield.
John de Roest d’Alkemade & Roger Lesergent d’Hendecourt, 4me Esc, were hit by AA-fire on 16 March 1916.
View inside the cockpit of a Maurice Farman MF 11, most likely the one flown by Adjudant Tony Orta & Sous-Lieutenant Louis de Burlet, 3me Escadrille.
A Farman MF 11, possibly French, hit by AA fire on 25 April 1915.
On November 27th, 1915, Ier Sergent Jacques de Meeus and Sous-Lieutenant Charles Coomans, Esc IV, crashed. This is their aircraft.
The 21st March 1916, I Sgt Raymond Rondeau had to pose next to his crashed Farman after his disastrous flight the previous night in which Lt Pierre Rigaux was killed.
Sergent Georges Mestach, pre-war pilot, in front of Belgium’s only Morane-Saulnier H.
French pioneer Roland Garros in the days of his successes in early April 1915.
N10 #169, pilot and unit unknown
N10 #318, crew and unit unknown
Sous Lieutenant Henri Crombez and his observer, Lieutenant Roger Lesergeant d’Hendecourt, IVme Escadrille, in one of the first Nieuport N10s delivered to the Av.M.
On 5 March 1916, Adjt Egide Roobaert & S/Lt Pierre d’Ursel, 5me Esc, had an aerial combat with an LVG. Afterwards they were forced to land on account of a snow storm.
Nieuport N10 # 169 flown as a two-seater.
Nieuport N10 #318, possibly belonging to 4me Escadrille, at Houthem airfield.
S/Lt Jules Tyck in front of his Nieuport 10, with a mechanic in the cockpit.
Adjt Roger Castiau & S/Lt Louis Robin ready for take off in their Nieuport 10.
Adjt Roger Castiau & S/Lt Louis Robin, Esc II, were very active in August 1915.
Lieutenant Henri Crombez in front of his Nieuport N 10.
Capitaine Felix Isserentant is flanked by Adjudant Roger Castiau (L) and Sous-Lieutenant Louis Robin, IIme Escadrille, after their return from a long-distance reconnaissance over Brussels on 19 September 1915.
Louis Robin & Roger Castiau, 2me Escadrille, before take off to Brussels on 19 September 1915. In 1974, Louis Robin was wrapped in this Belgian flag, before being laid in his coffin.
Three future fighter pilots, probably in France: L. to R.: Jean Olieslagers, French officer, Alfred Sarteel who was in France serving with the technical branch, Jules Tyck, and the unfortunate Robert Lagrange.
Nieuport N10 taking to the air, most likely at Houthem.
Nieuport N10 # 169 after conversion into a single seater.
On February 26th, 1916, Sous-Lieutenant Jules Tyck was the first pilot of the newly created Iere Esc de Chasse who saw combat with an enemy aircraft.
CpI Charles de Munck, Iere Esc de Chasse, saw his first taste of combat on 1 April 1916.
Four fighter pilots of the newly created 5me Escadrille de Chasse. Max Orban (in the cockpit) and Edmond Desclee (R), escorted an F40 to Antwerp on 7 September 1916. Bob De Leener (L) & Teddy Franchomme are happy to pose with them.
The first BE2c, #1, is here seen in its hangar in the background; a Nieuport 10 is in the foreground.
This Nieuport 10 has a machine gun mounted to fire above the propeller arc.
S/Lt Jean Olieslagers, Iere Esc, scored two victories in two days, doubling his score to four, on 14 & 15 June 1917.
S/Lt Jean Olieslagers is on duty to carry out an offensive patrol whenever he is ordered to do so.
Adjt Jean Bastin, 2me Esc., scored not only his own, but also the squadron’s only victory, on 3 November 1918.
Abel De Neef, the first brevetted pilot at Etampes, arrived at the front 11 January 1916.
During the absence of Sous-Lieutenant Willy Coppens, I Sgt Maurice Jamar took the opportunity to borrow the former’s Hanriot HD23 to destroy the Leffinghe balloon on 10 July 1918. It was Jamar's only victory.
Adjt Edmond Thieffry, 5me Esc, scored two victories in March 1917, one each on the 15th and 23rd.
S/Lt Jules Tyck crashed twice during July 1915. These are two views of his aircraft after one of these crashes.
Nieuport 11, Coppens, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 11, Olieslagers, 2me Escadrille
Nieuport 11, MOUSTIQUE, pilot and unit unknown
Nieuport 11 'N3', Thieffry, 5me Escadrille
Nieuport 11, SOIT!, Hanciau, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 16 'N1497' FOX-TROT, Roobaert, 5me Escadrille
I SgtMr Willly Coppens, Iere Esc, saw his first taste of aerial combat as a fighter pilot on 21 July 1917.
Adjudant Edmond Thieffry in front of a Nieuport N11.
S/Lt Paul Hanciau, pre-war pilot, was shot down and killed on 30 September 1917. His wife was not allowed to attend his funeral!
Two Nie.11s of contrasting hues but bearing the same legend Soil! (So be it!). Standing by the light-coloured aircraft is Lt.P Anciaux of the 1" Escadrille of the Aviation militaire beige.
Sous-Lieutenant Paul Hanciau’s Nieuport N11, named SOIT!
Nieuport 11 Moustique (Mosquito).
Sous-Lieutenant Sacha Petrowski received this brand new N23, #N5020, and decorated it with yellow & red bars on its wheel covers. In the background can be seen N23 Vampire and N16 Moustique.
Adjudant Thieffry’s Nieuport N11, N3, in its shed.
I Sgt Charles de Munck, Iere Esc, scored a possible victory on 6 September 1916.
Capitaine Arsene Demanet, Chef d’Escadrille of Esc I and fighter pilot.
Carlo Verbessem was killed on 19 December 1917, hit by AA-fire. He is here flanked by Alfred Mouton & Pierre Dubois, all of Iere Esc.
S/Lt Jean Olieslagers (L) scored his 2nd confirmed victory on 17 June 1916. He is standing in front of his own Nieuport, next to S/Lt Jules Tyck.
S/Lt Jean Olieslagers during the time of his first success on 12 September 1915. He became the first Belgian fighter pilot to be credited with a victory. His Nieuport 11 is named Le Demon (The Demon), his pre-war nickname.
I Sgt Andre De Meulemeester, Iere Esc, in front of his Nieuport N11.
Van Cotthem with his dog in front of his Nieuport.
Adjt Albert Van Cotthem, Iere Esc, was shot down by Hptm Gustav Stenzel. Van Cotthem survived, but his Nieuport was a write-off. This is his Nieuport in better days.
Two instructors and three student pilots: L to R: Teddy Franchomme & Honore Deplus. The three student pilots were all killed in 1917: Leon de Maelcamp d’Opstaele, Robert Ciselet & (standing) Armand Verhoustraeten.
I SgtMr Charles de Montigny, 10me Esc, was the second Belgian pilot to claim a balloon, on 30 May 1918.
S/Lt Jean Olieslagers claimed yet another unconfirmed victory on 30 March 1916. His opponent was seen to crash, but too far behind enemy lines.
Russian Sacha de Petrowski flew his first war flight on 28 September 1916, after more than a year’s absence.
ISgtMr Pierre de Chestret de Haneffe, 5me Esc, scored a possible victory on 13 November 1916. It was his first aerial combat.
The brothers Charles and Robert Gordinne, here seen next to their instructor Honore Deplus (in the cockpit) were not the most aggressive fighter pilots and ended the war with other squadrons.
This Nieuport N11 was still operational with 5me Escadrille de Chasse in 1917.
I SgtMr Armand Verhoustraeten was shot down & killed by Belgian ground fire on 7 December 1917.
Sgt Jacques Demeuse, carrying Lieutenant Jean Lagae as observer, crashed his Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter in a forced landing on 18 September 1918.
I Sgt Jacques Goethals, Iere Esc de Chasse, already was engaged in aerial combats, but fought his first combat as a fighter pilot on 1 April 1916.
Adjt Teddy Franchomme, 5me Esc, flying above Flanders' field in his N11.
Nieuport N11 in flight.
Interesting view of Adjudant Pierre ‘Bambino’ Braun, 5me Escadrille de Chasse, completing a loop East of the lines, over Langemarck, on 20 December 1916.
Sous-Lieutenant Jan Olieslagers flying over the front in one of the few camouflaged Nieuports of the Av.M.
Seven Nieuport N11s with on the left that of S/Lt J.Olieslagers, parked at Les Moeres.
Harold de T’Serclaes and Jean Olieslagers, 2me Escadrille, in front of a Nieuport.
Line up of Nieuport N11s from 5me Escadrille de Chasse.
On 1 September 1916, 5me Escadrille de Chasse was established.
Nieuport 11 FOX-TROT, August 1916.
Nieuport 11 FOX-TROT flown by the Belgian Air Service was also armed with Prieur rockets.
Adjudant Egide Roobaert flew this Nieuport N 16, armed with the ‘le Prieur’ rockets, designed to destroy observation balloons.
The construction of the ‘le Prieur’ rockets to attach on the Nieuports’ wing struts.
Close up of a damaged Nieuport N11. Note the mechanism of the interrupter gear.
Yet another close up of the interrupter gear mechanism on a Nieuport N11.
Close up front view of the mechanism of the interrupter gear on a Nieuport N11.
Inside look of the cockpit of a Nieuport N11, with its twin machine gun emplacement to fire over the propeller arc.
In June 1917, Adjt Edmond Thieffry, 5me Esc, crashed twice and in as many times, his Nieuport was a write-off.
CpI Lily Evrard crashed to his death on 21 September 1916 at the pilot school.
I Sgt Fernand de Woot de Trixhe, Iere Esc, crashed his Nieuport on the airfield during a test flight. He was killed instantly.
Nieuport 23 VAMPIRE, Kervyn de Lettenhove, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 23, Goosens-Bara, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 23, Verhoustraeten, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 23 'N3625', De Meulemeester, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 23 ‘N5105’, Verbessem, 1ere Escadrille
Nieuport 23 ‘N5617’, Franchomme, 5me Escadrille
Nieuport 23, Thieffry, 5me Escadrille
A Breguet from 2me Esc failed to return from a recce-mission on 22 October 1918. Adjt Rene Gerard and Capt Victor Biver were shot down by ground fire and taken prisoner.
Baron Edmond Desclee in front of his Nieuport 23 of the 5me Escadrille. The unit marking was a comet; the comet’s tail of Desclee’s aircraft had an inscription reading VA OU JE TE POUSSE (beat it or I’ll make you).
Teddy Franchomme’s Nieuport N23 was still flown in 1918. Sous-Lieutenant Louis Robin flew it after he gained his wings.
S/Lt Louis Robin, 7me Esc, was the most active pilot in May 1918, flying no less than 53 war missions, during which time he attacked several hostile aircraft in his outdated, second hand, Nieuport N23.
Nieuport 23 N5017 of the Escadrille Comete, the main subject of the cover painting, reveals markings anomalies with an apparently dark tailplane and wing roundels under transformation, the port appears in French colours while the starboard marking has been overpainted. The red paint used to apply the fuselage insignia was obviously of poor quality!
Adjudant Teddy Franchomme, 5me Escadrille de Chasse, returns from an offensive patrol.
S/Lt Jacques Goethals was in combat with German ace Lt Xaver Dannhuber on 27 September 1917. Both were each others equal.
S/Lt Jacques Goethals, 10me Esc, who was at the front since 1915, was still an active and aggressive fighter pilot in 1918.
Jules Goossens-Bara in his Nieuport 23.
Adjudant Jules Goossens in his N23 above Flanders’ fields. The pilot, however, seems to be so tall that it is possible that it is Ier Sergent-Major Gusto de Mevius, who also flew this aircraft on a regular basis.
I Sgt Georges Kervyn, Iere Esc, had a minor revenge to the loss of his brother on 21 August 1917, claiming his second confirmed victory.
Capt Paul Hiernaux, Iere Esc, was attacked by an Allied aircraft on 3 July 1917.
Robert De Leener in his Nieuport 23, 5me Escadrille.
De Meulemeester and Coppens with a Nieuport 23.
ISgtMr Andre De Meulemeester and novice pilot, Sgt Georges Kervyn de Lettenhove, Iere Esc, scored a combined victory on 12 June 1917.
Adjt Andre De Meulemeester, Iere Esc, scored two victories in July 1917 to bring his total to four.
Adjt Andre De Meulemeester, Iere Esc, scored his 6th victory on 4 November 1917.
I Sgt Alfred Mouton is flanked by I Sgt Gusto de Mevius & Adjt Jules Goossens, Iere Esc.
Sous-Lieutenant Sacha Petrowski received this brand new N23, #N5020, and decorated it with yellow & red bars on its wheel covers. In the background can be seen N23 Vampire and N16 Moustique.
Adjt Edmond Thieffry scored the first double for the Av.M. on 3 July 1917, bringing his score to 6.
S/Lt Edmond Thieffry in front of his Nieuport 23 while serving with Sme Escadrille. While flying a SPAD VII and serving with 10me Escadrille, he was shot down and made POW on 23 February 1918. At that time he had 10 victories and was Belgium’s leading ace.
Sgt Carlo Verbessem, Iere Esc, crashed this new Nieuport N23 on 19 August 1917.
Ier Sergent Armand Verhoustraeten flew this Nieuport N23 with green line on the fuselage.
Air mechanic Schagt in front of a Nieuport N23.
The N23 seen from above over the front.
This is how machine guns were tested. Sometimes, the target was missed, and on one occasion, such a machine gun test ended with the death of a cow. From then on these tests were forbidden.
SPAD VIIs Sp7 & Sp5 flanked by an unknown SPAD. In the background can be seen at least three Nieuport N23s.
Adjt Charles ‘Sidi’ Ciselet, 5me Esc, was credited with his only victory on 9 June 1917 in a hectic combat in which an F40 was shot down and another fighter pilot was severely wounded.
S/Lt Charles Nungesser at Les Moeres on 2 May 1917.
Ponnier PO 18, pilot and unit unknown
Air Mechanic Van Damme standing in front of a Ponnier, still operational in 1917, at La Panne.
Ponnier Po 18 being flown at the front.
The definitive M.1 with fixed fin and enlarged tailplane and elevators.
The ill-fated Ponnier Scout. Some of these aircraft actually reached the front, including this aircraft, called le Vampire. It was flown by Sous-Lieutenant Abel De Neef.
Adjt Abel De Neef, Iere Esc, was slightly injured in a crash flying this Ponnier.
A Ponnier at Beaumarais, Calais.The man holding the bicycle is mechanic Thys, who became famous as a three-time Tour de France winner.
Adjudant Pierre Braun was photographed on 3 September 1916 in his Ponnier Scout.
Although officially not on strength of the Av.M., the Ponnier was used at the front and used by both Iere & 5me Escadrille de Chasse. This Ponnier is photographed at La Panne (aka Coxyde) airfield.
Abel de Neef poses in front of a Ponnier fighter with decorated spinner.
An unknown pilot landed somewhat heavy in the countryside, close to Lampernisse, on 15 September 1916.
SPAD VII, De Leener, 5me Escadrille
SPAD VII ‘Sp1’, Thieffry, 5me Escadrille
SPAD VII ‘Sp2’, Ciselet, 5me Escadrille
SPAD VII ‘Sp5’, Orban, 5me Escadrille
SPAD VII ‘Sp7’, 5me Escadrille
Capitaine Georges Guynemer, Esc Spa3 landed at Les Moeres airfield on 9 September 1917.
Capitaine Georges Guynemer, Esc Spa3 landed at Les Moeres airfield on 9 September 1917.
SPAD VII ‘Sp2’ of Ciselet, 5me Escadrille.
S/Lt Charles Sidi Ciselet, 5me Esc, was severely wounded in a 5 vs 1 combat on 23 September 1917. He would not recover before the end of hostilities.
SPAD VII, Sp4, of 5me Escadrille de Chasse.
SPAD VII, Sp7, with wet feet.
SPAD VIIs Sp7 & Sp5 flanked by an unknown SPAD. In the background can be seen at least three Nieuport N23s.
S/Lt Edmond Thieffry, 5me Esc, received a SPAD SVII in August 1917 and scored three victories within 10 days, bringing his total to nine.
S/Lt Edmond Thieffry, 10me Esc, was shot down and taken prisoner on 23 February 1918. He was Belgium’s top scoring ace with 10 victories at that moment.
41-year-old S/Lt Rene Vertongen, test pilot at Calais-Beaumarais, disappeared over the Channel on 1 February 1918, flying a HD 1 to the front. He washed ashore in April.
S/Lt Edmond Thieffry scored his 10th & final victory on 16 October 1917.
S/Lt Albert Van Cotthem, test pilot at Calais-Beamarais, scored his only victory on 18 March 1918.
S/Lt Bob De Leener, 10me Esc, scored his only victory by downing the Ruyterhoek balloon on 16 September 1918.
Adjudant Teddy Franchomme was transferred to the Pilot School where he saw out the war, but not before he had flown a Spad VII at the front.
Adjt Edmond Weekers, 10me Esc, cooperated in the shooting down of a Drachen-bailoon on 30 May 1918, but was not credited.
Adjudant Max Orban is surveying the damage on his SPAD SVII after a rather heavy landing.
Although not mentioned in combat orders, Adjt Georges Medaets turned over during a landing at Les Moeres airfield on 10 September 1917.
I Sgt Charles Wouters, 10me Esc, suffered engine failure on 12 April 1918. His landing was somewhat clumsy.
SPAD XI, Ledure/Verelst, 2me Escadrille
SPAD XI ‘8’, Wittewrongel/Van Thorenburg, 6me Escadrille
SPAD XI, de Roest d’Alkemade/Coomans, 7me Escadrille
SPAD XI ‘Sp4’, Simonet/Piron, 6 me Escadrille
SPAD XI ‘Sp6’ #6366, Crombez/de Blicquy, 4me Escadrille
SPAD XI ‘Sp11’, Gisseleire/Roland, 6me Escadrille
SPAD XI ‘Sp16’, de Rochelee/Van Landuyt, 4me Escadrille
An unknown observer and SPAD XI ‘Sp4’ of the 6me Escadrille.
King Albert I ready to be taken over the front by Lieutenant Henri Crombez on 24 October 1918 in a SPAD XI.
Lts Henri Crombez and Paul du Roy de Blicquy, 4me Esc, attacked a Fokker which had just set fire to a French balloon (74 Cie) northeast of Houthulst Forest and forced it to crash-land on October 14th, 1918.
SPAD XI ‘Sp6’ of Crombez and de Blicquy, 4me Escadrille.
Rene Garsou poses in front of a SPAD XI. Interestingly, it appears to have black undersurfaces and wheel covers as if intended for night operations.
S/Lts Albert Gisseleire and Max Roland (L), 4me Esc, where surprised by an 11-aircraft strong formation on 3 October 1918. Although in the ensuing fight Roland managed to claim one of the Fokkers, his pilot received a direct hit in the head and was killed instantly. Another bullet hit the fuel tank and the aircraft fell like a torch. Roland was killed in the subsequent crash.
SPAD XI ‘Sp II’ flown by Gisseleire and Roland, 6me Escadrille, both killed in action on 3 October 1918.
On 19 May 1918, Cdt Jules Jaumotte and Lt Jacques Desclee, 7me Esc, were involved in their only combined aerial combat.
Adjt Jacques Ledure, seen here right, next to his former observer, Lt Henri Verelst, 10me Esc, scored two victories over balloons in August 1918. Here they stand before their SPAD XI aircraft.
Desire de Rochelee & Joseph Toussaint, 4me Escadrille, seated in SPAD XI ‘Sp16’ in early 1918
SPAD XI ‘Sp16’ of de Rochelee & Van Landuyt, 4me Escadrille. The Zebra was likely added post war.
SPAD XI ‘Sp28’; the zebra marking was applied post war.
SPAD XI ‘Sp16’ of de Rochelee & Van Landuyt, 4me Escadrille. The Zebra was likely added post war.
S/Lt John de Roest d’Alkemade and Lt Charles Coomans, 7me Esc, flew at tree-top level on 28 September 1918 & were hit by ground fire. One tried to help out the other, but both were killed by a machine-gun post.
Victor Simonet (L) and an unknown aviator in front of Simonet's SPAD XI ‘Sp4’ of the 6me Escadrille, 1918.
Alphonese Sohet at right, 6me Escadrille.
Henri Verelst & Jacques Ledure standing in front of the 2me Escadrille’s SPAD XI #Sp.28 decorated with Ledure’s personal insignia.
The last (known) Belgian flight of the war was flown by Adjt Joseph Wittewrongel & Lt Yvon van Thorenburg, 6me Esc, taking off on 0830 & landing at 0945.
SPAD XI of 2me Escadrille with unit insignia on fuselage.
From left, SPAD XI ‘Sp30’, ‘Sp18’, ‘Sp9’, and unknown.
Adjudant Joseph Wittewrongel and Lieutenant Yvon Van Thorenburg taking off in their SPAD XI for the last war flight of the Av.M. on November 11, 1918.
SPAD XI in flight, believed to be King Albert I in the back cockpit.
The reconnaissance squadrons moved from their respective airfields to Oostcamp mid October 1918, following the advance. Seen here are a mixed bag of aircraft belonging to 4me Escadrille: nearest to the camera is SPAD XI Sp6, flanked by Sopwith Camel Sc11. On the far side is Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter S10. The Sopwith Camel is now on display in the Brussels Air Museum.
Belgium evaluated a single SPAD XVI, which was a SPAD XI with 240 h.p. Lorraine 8Bb, but continued using the standard SPAD XI.
The SPAD XI, flown by S/Lt John de Roest - Lt Charles Coomans, 7me Esc, at Houthulst Forest, on 28 September 1918.
SPAD XIII ‘Sp26’, de Chestret de Haneffe, 10me Escadrille
The nose of Sous-Lieutenant Edmond Thieffry’s SPAD XIII, with white and red cowling. Thieffry was shot down and taken prisoner in this aircraft on 23 February 1918.
Baron Pierre de Caters in his Voisin de Caters during the Aviation Week in Antwerp October 1909.
Baron Pierre de Caters during the aviation week in Antwerp. He crashed during this week and involved the carpenters of Bollekens in aviation.
Baron Pierre de Caters, the first qualified Belgian pilot, since December 1909.
A Voisin of 3me Esc is prepared for take off at La Panne.
CpI Edgar Goeyens ready to be sent to the front on 3 February 1916. He was posted to 3me Escadrille on 7 March 1916.
Ground crew of 3me Escadrille with an unknown pilot and a chaplain in the nacelle of a Voisin.
Sous-Lieutenant L.de Burlet teamed up with Adjt J.Orta after he had abandoned his assigned pilot, Adjt J.d'Hespel.
Lieutenants Maurice Benselin (R) and Jean Petit, 3me Escadrille, ready for take off on 20 April 1915.
S/Lt T.Orta & Lt H.Gouzee, Esc III, were hit by AA fire on 1 June 1915. Orta made it back to the airfield with a slightly wounded Henri Gouzee.
Lt Rene Reniers & Adjt Albert Hellemans saw & engaged 10 hostile aircraft single-handed on 25 January 1916.
New observer Louis de Burlet is seen left, next to Sylvain Hugon and Jose Orta, Esc III.
Lts E.Crabbe & R.Desmet, Esc II, in front of their new Voisin L3 #V407.
Always together. R.Dhanis & E.Bronne, in front of their new Voisin.
Lt R.Hedo & S/Lt G.Declercq in front of their Voisin at the airfield of Kerkepanne.
Future ace Edmond Thieffry teamed up with S/Lt Henri van Sprang, 3me Esc, but crashed one aircraft after the other.
Ready for battle: a Voisin of 3me Escadrille.
After suffering engine trouble, Lieutenants S.Hugon & G.Declercq, Esc III, crash-landed their Voisin.
Voisin L3 V341 after the crash into a hangar on 26 June 1915. S/Lt L.de Burlet & Adjt J.Orta are standing on the left.
On 26 June 1915 Adjt J.Orta & S/Lt L.de Burlet crashed their Voisin into a hangar. L. to R.: P.Hiernaux, F.Jacquet, H.Vindevoghel, R.Verhaegen, A.Behaeghe, G.Delattre.
Lts Lucien Poot & Constant Coomans, 3me Esc, are congratulated by Lt Florent Noirsain after a crash on take off in their Voisin on 15 April 1916.
Lieutenant Leopold Bussy, pre-war pilot, took off on 7 May 1915 with a new Voisin L3 heading for the front. He crashed, however, and was killed.
On 20 March 1916, a massive bombardment took place on Houttave airfield. The French sent over these Voisin Canons.