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1st Squadron
Thistle-Belgian Air Force
Active 16 April 1913
Country Belgium Belgium
Branch Air Component
Part of 2nd Tactical Wing
Motto(s) Nemo me impune lacessit (No one provokes me with impunity) (Latin)
Commander Lieutenant-Colonel V. Maniet
Aircraft flown
Fighter F-16 Fighting Falcon

The 1st Squadron is a fighter squadron in the Air Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. It is part of the 2nd Tactical Wing and operates F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The 1re Escadrille de Chasse was the first fighter squadron of the Belgian Air Component. The squadron was founded during World War I, reorganized into a dedicated fighter unit, and became part of a fighter wing before war's end.

History[edit | edit source]

The origins[edit | edit source]

The 1re Escadrille de Chasse was founded in February 1916 as the first dedicated squadron of the Aviation Militaire Belge. It drew upon the men and equipment of the previously existing provisional Escadrille I. In August 1917, upon receiving the new Hanriot-Dupont 1 aircraft, the first version of the famous “Thistle” symbol was designed by André de Meulemeester as the squadron's insignia, to be painted on the aircraft. He also selected the squadron motto “Nemo me impune lacessit” or “No-one can challenge me unpunished”. In March 1918, it would be reorganized into the 9ème Escadrille.[1]

Aerodromes[edit | edit source]

1 Coxyde: February 1916 - June 1916

2 Les Moeres: June 1916 - March 1918[2][3]

Notable personnel[edit | edit source]

Sopwith Camel in the markings of 1st Squadron.

1 Andre de Meulemeester

2 Fernand Jacquet

3 Jan Olieslagers

4 Willy Coppens[2][3]

Aircraft used[edit | edit source]

1 Nieuport 10

2 Nieuport Scouts

3 Nieuport 16

4 Nieuport 17

5 Hanriot HD.1

6 Sopwith Camel[2][3]

Operations[edit | edit source]

At the start of World War I, Belgium was neutral. An overwhelming invasion by the German army left Belgium partially occupied by the end of 1914, with its preserved territory shielded by deliberate defensive flooding at Nieuwpoort by the Belgians. As a result, the Aviation Militaire Belgium was based in the diminished remnant of a small country, and performed largely in a static defensive mode.[4]
Captain Fernand Jacquet and Lieutenant Louis Robin scored the squadron's first victory on 20 May 1916. It would claim 52 aerial victories and be credited with 15, at a blood cost of five Belgian pilots killed in action and one accidental death.[1]

Present day[edit | edit source]

After WWII, the modern Belgian Air Force was founded in 1946. The "Thistle" was accorded to 351 Squadron of 161st Wing at Florennes Airbase. On January 10, 1948, this unit became 1st Squadron of 2nd Wing. From that day to the present, the squadron shares the identity and the traditions of the 1ère Escadrille de Chasse of 1917 . In July 1971, 1 Squadron leaves Florennes for Bierset, to constitute 3rd Wing together with 8 Squadron.[5] Designated to transform to the F-16, the unit swaps bases with 42 Squadron of Florennes in 1989.[6]

Airbases[edit | edit source]

1 Florennes: 1948-1971 ; 1989–Present

2 Bierset : 1971-1989

Aircraft used[edit | edit source]

1 Spitfire XIV

2 F-84 E/G/F

3 Mirage 5BA[7]

4 F-16 Fighting Falcon[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Champagne, Jacques P. & Detournay, Gaston L. Blasons Familiers d'une Chevalerie Nouvelle. Editions CARACTERE - Arlon
  • Mangin, Jean A. & Champagne, Jacques P & Van Den Rul, Marcel A. Sous nos ailes. G. Everling - Arlon (1977)
  • Pieters, Walter M. Above Flanders' Fields: A Complete Record of the Belgian Fighter Pilots and Their Units During the Great War, 1914-1918. Grub Street, 1998. ISBN 1-898697-83-3, ISBN 978-1-898697-83-1
  • Air Action 19. Guhl & Associés, 1990. ISSN 0992-065X.

Endnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Pieters p. 14, 23–24
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 http://www.theaerodrome.com/services/belgium/1ere.php Retrieved on 30 August 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Pieters, pp. 23–24
  4. Pieters, pp. 9–10, 15, 17
  5. Sous nos Ailes p.98
  6. Air Action p.11
  7. Sous nos Ailes p.99
  8. Blasons Familiers p.35

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