Soesterberg (NL)

Already dating from 1911 there was a military airfield in the centre of The Netherlands, called Soesterberg Air Base, not far from the city of Utrecht. Due to budget cuts this base was closed once and for all at the end of 2008. Here’s an aerial view, looking from east to west at the longest surviving 3 kilometers long runway 09 – 27.

The base was used by the United States Air Force (USAF) for almost forty years, from 1954 until 1994, as is proven by this commemorative plaque.

The Americans arrived in 1954, flying the North American F86F ‘Sabre’ ( It was the primary air-to-air jet fighter used by the Americans in the Korean War. This picture was taken at the museum we visited at the beginning of January – see the pictures 8 through 17.

The ‘Sabre’ was replaced by the North American F100 Super Sabre ( in 1955/56. This, we think: frightening looking, jet fighter was the first one capable of transgressing Mach 1.0 in horizontal flight.

In 1959/60 the ‘Super Sabre’ left Soesterberg, to be replaced by the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger ( Not the most attractive one, we think, mainly because of its ugly vertical tail. Well, it’s all in the eyes of the beholder, as we all know. Again, a picture taken at the afore mentioned museum.

Here’s another favourite of ours, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II ( The Phantom replaced its predecessor in 1969/70. This aircraft was extensively used during the Vietnam war and could reach a speed of over Mach 2.2.

The last one now of the USAF's aircrafts at Soesterberg, being the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle ( It served at Soesterberg from 1978 until the Americans left the air base in 1994. As a sign of appreciation they donated an Eagle to the museum – visible on the last picture of this week's blog.

Nowadays the air base, no longer in use, accommodates the Nationaal Militair Museum. We’re sure there’s no need for a translation! This picture shows the museum still in the process of being built. The platform is the (future) main entrance. When looking at the first picture it’s obvious that the museum is situated next to the former second runway, the south/east – north/west one.

The museum building seen from the rear side, now finished and ‘furnished’. On the inside, left, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain (Dakota) ( is visible. The next picture shows the same aircraft when being inside the museum.

An overview of a part of the museum. It’s all new, airy and spectacular. We’ve limited ourselves only to aircraft. If you would have liked to know about tanks and the likes: sorry!

Memories… The Gloster Meteor ( is the first aircraft we remember from visiting Soesterberg Air Base. It must have been in the beginning of the fifties of last century, when the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Klu) (Royal Airforce) was the only user of the airbase, before the Americans arrived. We seem to remember that walking onto the runway was simply possible, because we could see the traces of landing jets just in front of us… Nowadays there are fences and walls everywhere – not only at military objects, by the way!

And there’s the Hawker Hunter (, successor to the Meteor. It could fly faster than Mach 1.0, but had to nose dive to achieve this. The last Dutch fighter unit at this airfield was inactivated in August 1968.

After the Hunter there was the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak ( This is the one that was serving in active duty when the male halve of the two of us was in the Air force in the early 1960’s. Perhaps you know that in The Netherlands there was compulsory military service in those days –almost 2 years. Compulsory enlistment is suspended, not abolished, in The Netherlands since 1997.

Although, comparatively speaking, a lot of the Lockheed F-104 Starfighters ( seemed to fall from the sky this aircraft is unforgettable for more than one reason. It’s shape, it’s sound, it’s… all of it was new, exciting, sensational. We’re sure we’ve seen the first one at a, yes!, Soesterberg Air show around 1957. It was a sensation in those days. The Starfighter was in use by the Koninklijke Luchtmacht between 1962 and 1984.

A spectacular display of a Starfighter flying upside down, followed by a Hawker Hunter as well as a Thunderstreak, the three aircrafts that were described with the pictures 14, 12 and 13.

From 1969 until 1991 the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter ( was employed also by the Koninklijke Luchtmacht. For some reason we think this aircraft does look too ‘friendly’ for an air force ‘tool’.

Last but not least the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon ( In use by the Koninklijke Luchtmacht from 1979. This aircraft does not need a lot of introduction, we think. So enjoy this video on YouTube: Highly recommended! Note the Eagle in the background. À bientôt.