The Thunderflash was the very successful reconnaissance version of the Thunderstreak; within NATO it a.o. saw service with the the Belgian Air Force (BAF).
By the end of the Sixties most Thunderflashes had left active service (exception was the Hellenic AF, some of whose RF-84F’s were still operational in the early 1980s). The majority was scrapped; the Belgians did so at Koksijde, where most of their remaining Thunderflashes were kept in open storage for a while, but some are being preserved as monuments or in museums.
The Belgian Air Force used the Thunderflash from 1953 till 1971. They served with nr. 42 recce squadron. In Belgium the RF-84F succeeded the camera-equipped F-84G Thunderjets. The squadron (then called nr. 1 Verkenningssmaldeel) was initially based at Wahn (Germany), but moved to Brustem, to Beauvechain and finally to Bierset; in 1971, when partially equipped with the Mirage 5BR, it joined nr. 2 Wing at Florennes and completed conversion.
Belgian Thunderflashes wore a silver aluminium coat at first, with squadron code 8H- painted on the nose-section (and a FR- number on the tail). The aircraft received a camo-paint a few years later; more years later the H8- code was changed for a large number (corresponding with the FR- )replaced the H8- code, and in 1968 they received their final colour scheme:Vietnam-style green/brown with small FR- registration. In total the BAF received 34 Thunderflashes: an initial batch of 25, starting 8 June 1955, these were augmented by five more in 1963, and eventually by 4 ex-Luftwaffe examples in 1965.
At the end of their service-life the surviving aircraft were ferried toKoksijde to be sold/scrapped (scrapped!). A few aircraft still survive today, the most famous of these being the FR-28 which belongs to the air force & army museum in Brussels.
Leave a Reply