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Airfields in Belgium during WWII

Kleine Brogel RAF Air Base - B90

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Last update: 25/06/23

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airfields in Belgium


Kleine Brogel Air Base (ICAO: EBBL) is a Belgian Air Component military airfield located 0.8 nautical miles (1.5 km; 0.92 mi) east of Kleine-Brogel, in the municipality Peer, Belgium. It is home to the Belgian 10th Tactical Wing, operating F-16 Fighting Falcons, which are capable, among other capabilities, of delivering B61 nuclear bombs.

WWII: 1940-1944

The area was constituted in pine woods and farmland

WWII: Allied's use

As the Allies push back the German forces in 1944, their respective air forces have to keep up with the ground troops advancing since Normandy to provide the necessary air support. Dozens of new airfields are constructed as close to the front lines as possible. After the failed Operation Market Garden, the Allied Commanders decide to concentrate their efforts on trying to cross the river Rhine to the east. It is decided that the 12th and 30th British Corps will cross at Wesel. The American forces will cross at Remagen. To support Operation Plunder; the crossing at Wesel, a temporary airfield must be constructed close to the frontline.
December 1944, the 16th Airfield Construction Group, Royal Engineers (GB) starts the construction of a temporary airfield on a predetermined location outside the village of 'Petit-Broghel' (Kleine-Brogel). Its infrastructure should include a landing strip, taxi tracks and aircraft revetments, fully constructed with PSP (Pierced Steel Planking). This airfield is given the codename B90 (B for British, American airfields get the prefix A). The runway lies on exactly the same position as today’s but is half as long, about 1500 meters.
March 1, 1945 the 127th Wing (83rd Group, 2th TAF) touch down. Four Canadian squadrons: 403, 416, 421 and 443 SQN, equipped with Spitfire XVIE. The Wing Commander is the famous ace Johnnie Johnson. March 7, 1945, they are joined by the Canadian 39th Recce Wing with 2 squadrons Spitfire FR.XIV: 414 and 430 SQN and 1 squadron equipped with Spitfire PR.XI: 400 SQN. In total 7 squadrons with almost 200 Spitfires. Their most important achievement during their stay at Kleine-Brogel happens March 23, 24 and 25 1945 when they deliver air support to the troops as they cross the Rhine river at Wezel during Operation Plunder.
April 1945, the Spitfires leave Kleine-Brogel for Germany. The base stays in Canadian hands until October 1945.

Post War

The base has been subject to much political controversy, because of American nuclear weapons allegedly being stored in the facility by the United States Air Force (USAF), but never recognized officially by the Belgian government. Under the NATO nuclear sharing arrangement, these nuclear bombs would require an actual dual key system, which would imply the simultaneous authorizations of Belgium and the United States, before any action is taken. Should that be the case, Kleine Brogel Air Base would be the only location in Belgium with nuclear weapons. According to the press, Eastern European Member States of NATO resisted the withdrawal of the shared nuclear bombs in Europe, fearing that it would show a weakening of the American commitment to defend the European Union against Russian aggression.
None of the five NATO member states, whose air forces allegedly might share in its premises nuclear bombs with the USAF (these are Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey), have ever provided an official confirmation of its existence. However, former Italian President Francesco Cossiga declared that the Aeronautica Militare hosted or shared American nuclear bombs, just as other NATO member states do. In an interview he talked about French weapons. In the same way, on 10 June 2013, former Dutch Prime Minister Ruud Lubbers confirmed the existence of 22 shared nuclear bombs at Volkel Air Base.
Kleine Brogel Air Base is also the home of the United States Air Force's 701st Munitions Support Squadron which allegedly is the unit in charge of looking after the shared nuclear bombs.
AFN Benelux broadcast from Kleine Brogel Air Base in the 106.2 MHz in FM.


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