A special paint to honor the Hercules
After almost 50 years of loyal service, the Belgian Air Force will say goodbye to the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft by the end of 2021. To honor the 20th Squadron of the 15th Air Transport Wing and its fleet of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft for their many years of dedication and tenacity, the C-130 Hercules CH-01 was given a unique and special paint. With this special paint, the Belgian Air Force wants to honor the 50 years of inexhaustible dedication of the flight crews, maintenance staff and support staff. The design of this special painting was made by from Kristof Moens. In the design the head of a Sioux Indian is clearly noticeable as this is the official emblem of the 15th Wing. In addition, the word 'tenacity' is also very clearly visible in the design as this is the official motto of the 15th Air Transport Wing of the Belgian Air Force. On Monday, March 15th 2021, the 15th Air Transport Wing organized a special press event at the Melsbroek Air Base for the specialized aviation press. During this event about twenty photographers had the opportunity to photograph the CH-01 up close, after which the aircraft took off for a new mission.
The Belgian Air Force ordered twelve Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft in 1970 to replace the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar who had been in service since 1952. The first C-130 Hercules for the Belgian Air Force was delivered in 1972 and became part of the 15th Air Transport Wing at Melsbroek Air Base (EBMB). Within the 15th Air Transport Wing the C-130’s are part of the 20th Squadron. During the first years of their operation, the C-130’s of the Belgian Air Force wore a ‘Vietnam’ camouflage scheme which was later replaced by an overall grey color scheme. All twelve C-130’s of the Belgian Air Force were numbered CH-01 to CH-12. Over the years, all C-130 aircraft of the Belgian Air Force received various updates and modifications, whereby the aircraft were provided with updated wings, a digital cockpit and a self-protection system. These updates and modifications increased their lifespan until 2021. Thanks to the four powerful Rolls Royce/Allison engines, these C-130’s can perform Short Take Off & Landing (STOL) maneuvers in areas with little or poorly prepared terrain. This is why the C-130’s of the Belgian Air Force were often used in challenging conditions during military exercises, humanitarian missions or non-combat evacuation operations (NEO). In December 2001 it was decided that the European Airbus A400M Atlas would replace the C-130 aircraft of the Belgian Air Force. After the first A400M with Belgian registration rolled out of its hangar in Seville, Spain and passed some crucial tests, the Airbus A400M ‘CT01’ arrived at the Melsbroek Air Base in Belgium on October 9th, 2020.
Text & photos: Kris Christiaens
Location: Melsbroek Air Base, Belgium
More info: Belgian Air Force