05 November 2016

Brussels II: 18-20 October 2016

On the margins of a quick in-and-out visit, MoMI's second visit to Brussels in 2016 provided an opportunity to visit the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.  From the Marriott Courtyard Brussels on Avenue des Olympiades, a quick walk to the Evere train station, a short train ride to Schuman station, and another quick walk to the Parc du Cinquantenaire (Fiftieth Anniversary Park) in the heart of downtown Brussels was all it took to get to this grand military history museum.  Enjoy the following photographic tour.

The clean, quiet corridor on the sixth floor of the recently renovated Marriott Courtyard Brussels.
The door to Room 605, home for the next two nights.
Keycard and keycard envelope for Room 605, Marriott Courtyard Brussels.
The Hoshizaki ice machine in an alcove off the elevator lobby on the sixth floor.
A clean, comfortable, modern room with two twin beds.
Unlike the cramped rooms of many European hotels, the Marriott Courtyard Brussels features spacious, American-style accommodations.
A laundry order form found in the closet in Room 605.
Bedside notepad.
A flat-panel television with a variety of English language and other channels, along with a coffee/tea service.
Marriott features Lipton Yellow Label teabags in its in-room coffee/tea service.

The view out of the window of Room 605.
The bar section of the Zinc Bar & Brasserie in the hotel atrium.
The main dining area of the Zinc Bar & Brasserie in the hotel.  In the mornings, this section serves as the breakfast room, with guests treated to a wide range of delicious options, including bacon, eggs (over-easy and scrambled), sausages, hashbrowns, grilled tomato, sauteed mushrooms, porridge and cereals, cheese, cold meats and smoked fish, fruit, pancakes and a self-serve waffle bar, freshly-squeezed orange juice, and breads and pastries. 
A Standard Class ticket aboard Belgian Rail for transport within Brussels Zone (Evere Station to Schuman Station), 18 October 2016.
Belgian Rail ticket receipt.
Autumn in Parc du Cinquantenaire, Brussels, Belgium, 18 October 2016.
A few devoted joggers enjoy a pleasant run along the tree-lined pathways of the Parc du Cinquantenaire, despite the breezy, chilly weather.
The 30-hectare Parc du Cinquantenaire was formed from a military exercise area in 1880 to host the 1880 National Exhibition to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Belgian independence.  The park was further developed for the 1888 Grand International Show of the Sciences and Industry, with the construction of additional exhibition buildings. Until 1935, the park served as a venue for various fairs, exhibitions, and festivals, after which the government reserved it for leisure purposes.   
The Arcade du Cinquantenaire was constructed in 1905 and is topped by a bronze sculpture of a woman representing Brabant, raising the national flag and riding on a chariot pulled by four horses.
A closeup view of the Arcade du Cinquantenaire.  In addition to the sculpture on the top of the arch, other sculptures on the sidewalls depict personifications of the other Belgian provinces: East Flanders, West Flanders, Antwerp, Liege, Hainaut, Limburg, Namur, and Luxembourg. 
The North Bordiau Wing, named after its architect, Gédéon Bordiau.
The main entrance to the Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.
The front side of an adult admission ticket to the Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.
The reverse side of an adult admission ticket to the Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.

Below: An English language guide map provided to visitors at the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels. 

The Historic Gallery features artefacts from Belgian military history and paintings of the country's greatest military leaders. 
The long, curved Historic Gallery features old cannons, marble busts of Belgian military heroes, and glass cabinets containing a wide array of uniforms, helmet, and weapons arranged chronologically from the 19th and 20th centuries.
A 19th century field artillery gun with ammunition carriage.
A display depicting a Congolese native warrior and various spears.
A depiction of an infantryman of the Garde Civique loading his Comblain carbine, circa 1890.  This 'Civil Guard' was under the control of the Belgian Minister of the Interior in peacetime and the Belgian Minister of War in wartime.  The Garde Civique grew out of citizen squads formed to protect property during the Belgian Revolution of 1830.  Upon the proclamation of Belgian independence on 4 October 1830, these citizen groups were formed into the Garde Civique.  The organisation's role was to maintain law and order during peacetime and to support the Belgian Army during wartime, and up to 1914 were often called out during strikes and demonstrations.  Although every adult male who could pay for a uniform were required to join the Garde Civique, because the force trained only a few Sundays a year, its members were largely ineffective and disparaged as an 'opera army'.  The Garde Civique was disbanded permanently in October 1914.   
A memorial to Belgian soldiers, surrounded by national flags.
A look down the long, curving Historic Gallery, stuffed with display cabinets and artefacts.
A Daimler Dingo scout car used by Belgian forces during the Second World War.
The uniform of a major of the Italian Army, on display in the Second World War gallery of the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.  This section of the gallery holds uniforms from all the European combatant nations.
A diorama addressing the mobilisation of Belgian men early in the Second World War.
A model of a Belgian trawler used as a patrol craft.
A Supermarine Spitfire hangs from the ceiling of the museum, over top of a display on Belgian Air Force pilots who joined the Royal Air Force after fleeing German-occupied Belgium during the Second World War.
A display on the Belgian Congo and the Second World War, showing a Bren carrier and Belgian soldiers.  After the Belgian government fled the German invasion of 1940 and sought refuge in Britain, the Governor General of the Belgian Congo committed the colony to the British side, mobilising thousands of soldiers and native porters who fought Italian forces in Africa.  The Belgian Congo also sold large quantities of resources (e.g. gold, copper, chrome, and uranium) to the Allied side during the war.  
A display on German paratroopers (Fallschirmjäger). 
A mockup of the bridge of a corvette.  During the Second World War, Belgian Navy sailors who escaped to Britain were enrolled in the Belgian Section of the Royal Navy, manning two corvettes (Buttercup and Godetia), as well as minesweeping and patrol vessels. 
A display on wartime Belgian Navy uniforms.
A depiction of a German anti-aircraft unit in action.
The Technical Gallery contains hundreds of muskets and rifles arranged in chronological order, showing the evolution of small arms over time. 
An elaborate display of rifles, oil paintings, and horseshoes.
In a large room housing uniforms of First World War combatant nations, one of many glass cases houses examples of Australian and New Zealand military uniforms.
A Belgian armoured car in the First World War vehicles gallery.
A model of the Italian motor torpedo boat MAS 97, launched in 1917-18.
A display showing Canadian Army uniforms of the First World War, including uniforms and headgear from, amongst others, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders, the Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, the Gordon Highlanders, and the Middlesex Regiment.
The colourful uniforms of French soldiers of the First World War.
A First World War tank on display.
A Fokker triplane of the German Air Force hangs from the cavernous ceiling in the First World War vehicles gallery.
A collection of First World War artillery pieces.
A glass cabinet filled with a diverse array of Allied and German rifles, machine guns, and pistols of the First World War.
The Air and Space collection is housed in a vast, cavernous hall.  
The Air and Space gallery includes everything from 19th century balloons and canvas-covered First World War fighters to a recently-retired Belgian Air Force F-16 fighter.
A former East German Russian Mil Mi-24 'Hind' helicopter gunship.
A Dassault M.D.450 Ouragan, the first French-designed jet-propelled combat aircraft to enter production.  The Ouragan served in the air forces of France, Israel, India, and El Salvador.
Raytheon SAM-A-18/M3/MIM-23 Hawk surface-to-air missiles mounted on a M192 triple missile towed launcher.  The Hawk missile was the first mobile, medium-range guided anti-aircraft missile operated by the U.S. Army, entering service in 1962 and only being retired in the late 1990s.  The Hawk missile system was used by a number of NATO nations, and was license-built in Europe and Japan.  A typical Hawk battery crew consisted of two officers and 49 enlisted men.  The 5.08 metre long Hawk missile weighed 584 kilograms, had a range of 25 kilometres, a ceiling of 13,700 metres, and a speed of 800 metres per second (Mach 2.4+).  
A retired Lockheed F-104G Starfighter of the Belgian Air Force.  The Belgian Air Force operated 112 F-104Gs from 1963 until their replacement by the General Dynamics F-16 in 1979.  The all-weather F-104 had a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and a range of 1,200 kilometres.  
Another view of the Belgian Air Force F-104G.  A total of 1,122 F-104G variants were manufactured as multi-role fighter-bombers by Lockheed, Canadair, and a consortium of European aerospace firms.  the 'G' model featured strengthened fuselage and wing structure, increased internal fuel capacity, an enlarged vertical fin, strengthened landing gear with larger tires, and revised flaps for improved combat maneuvering, as well as upgraded avionics.
A Bristol 171 Sycamore HC14 helicopter, the first British helicopter produced in significant quantities, beginning in 1948.  The Belgian Air Force operated three Sycamores at their base at Kamina in the Belgian Congo between 1954 and 1960.
A Sikorsky S-58, one of seven such aircraft originally operated by Belgian national airline SABENA for short-distance commercial flights but later transferred to the Belgian Air Force for maritime search and rescue operations.
Another view of the Sikorsky S-58.  The S-58s (plus five HSS 1 military versions of the S-58) were operated by the Belgian Air Force until being replaced by the Westland Sea King helicopter in 1976.  
A Mk48 Westland WS-61 Sea King, a license-built version of the Sikorsky S-61.  The Belgian Air Force purchased five Sea Kings in 1976 for search and rescue missions. 
Another view of the Westland Sea King.  The Belgian Air Force replaced the Sea King with new NH90 helicopters beginning in 2013.
An RF-4C Phantom unarmed photo-reconnaissance aircraft.  Based on its tail and fuselage markings, this aircraft belonged to the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, based at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina.
A French-manufactured Dassault Mirage 5 supersonic attack aircraft, with a range of 1,200 kilometres, a maximum speed of Mach 2.3, and a maximum altitude of 18,000 metres.  The Belgian Air Force operated 106 Mirage 5s between 1970 and 1993, serving in training and tactical reconnaissance roles.  Beginning in 1991, 18 Belgian Air Force Mirage 5s were deployed to Turkey to contribute to Allied deterrence missions over the Persian Gulf.
A Belgian Air Force F-84F Thunderstreak.  Though criticised by pilots for insufficient power at takeoff (especially with a full load and in hot conditions), the Thunderstreak was solid and stable, and appreciated in the ground attack role.  A total of 197 Thunderstreaks were operated by the Belgian Air Force between 1954 and 1972.   
A British-designed Hawker Hunter interceptor, built under license by a Belgian-Dutch consortium with U.S. offshore financing.  The Belgian Air Force received 112 Hunter F.4 variants between 1956 and 1957.  Though these F.4s served only briefly (until 1958), the Belgian Air Force ordered 112 of the improved F.6 variant, with delivery in 1957-58. Of these 112 F.6s, 29 were built by Belgian aviation firm SABCA from kits manufactured in the Netherlands and another 59 by Avions Fairey.  The Belgian Air Force flew the Hunter only between 1956 and 1964, with many of the surviving aircraft being sold back to Hawker Aircraft for reconstruction and resale to India, Iraq, Kuwait, Chile, and Lebanon., where they enjoyed much longer 'second careers'.  
An ex-Portuguese Air Force F-86F Sabre fighter, one of 65 F-86s operated by Portugal between 1958 and 1980.  Designed by North American Aviation, 2,239 of the 'F' variant of the F-86 were built, featuring an uprated engine and larger wings which permitted improved high-speed agility and higher landing speed. 
Another view of the ex-Portuguese Air Force F-86F.  Portugal's aircraft were built in the U.S., with some coming from the United States Air Force's 531st Fighter Bomber Squadron, and 15 being ex-Royal Norwegian Air Force aircraft.  Two squadrons of F-86s were based at Monte Real, while several aircraft were based in Portuguese Guinea from 1961.  
A Gloster Meteor Mk VIII of the Belgian Air Force.  As the first Allied jet aircraft, the Meteor first flew in March 1943 and 3,800 Meteors would eventually be built.  The Belgian Air Force operated 335 Meteors between 1949 and 1958, as interceptors, reconnaissance aircraft, training aircraft, and night fighters.  The Meteor had a top speed of 950 kilometres per hour, a maximum altitude of 13,410 metres, and with a range of 1,140 kilometres. 
A Supermarine Spitfire fighter in Belgian Air Force markings.  After the capitulation of Belgium to Germany on 28 May 1940, Belgian pilots who escaped to Britain were formed into the Belgian Section of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
The cockpit of a Boeing 707 Intercontinental.  
The cockpit crew consists of three, pilot, co-pilot, and flight engineer, with a fourth seat behind the pilot on the left.
Several rows of Cabin and First Class seating in the restored forward fuselage of the 707 Intercontinental on display in the Air and Space gallery.
The restored nose and forward fuselage section of OO-SJA, a Boeing 707.  This aircraft was operated by Sobelair when, on Sunday, 29 March 1981, it was damaged beyond repair after an emergency landing following an engine fire shortly after takeoff from Brussels-Zaventem Airport.    
One of the aircraft's four Pratt and Whitney JT4A-11 turbojet engines.
A view of the rear portion of the JT4A-11 turbojet.
A display of china, flatware, and menus from Belgium's defunct national airline, SABENA.
A Sud Aviation Caravelle airliner mounted on pillars towers over the collection of fighter aircraft in the Air and Space gallery.
A recently-retired Belgian Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon.  After the F-16's selection by the United States, the United States Air Force formed a partnership with Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark to develop the aircraft and share in the production and sub-contracting work on the F-16.  Belgium was the largest initial buyer of the four original NATO partners, as well as a primary producer of the aircraft as part of the partnership.  The Belgian Air Force acquired 116 F-16s between 1979 and 1985, followed by an order for 44 aircraft of the F-16A/B Block 15 Operational Capability Upgrade variant, completed by 1991.    
A Junkers Ju 52 tri-motor aircraft.  The Ju 52 was operated by Belgium's national airline, SABENA.

A Percival Pembroke twin-engine light transport plane, designed by the Percival Aircraft Company and introduced in 1953.  The Belgian Air Force operated 12 Percivals between 1954 and 1976 for photographic missions in support of the Geographic Institute, navigational training, and light transport.  The Percival carried a crew of three and was capable of accommodating eight passengers.
A display of Belgian Army paratroop uniforms.
A Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar.  The C-119 first flew in November 1947, and over 1,100 C-119s were built before production ceased in 1955.  The C-119 was designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanised equipment, as well as to drop troops and cargo by parachute out of the large clamshell doors at the rear of the fuselage. 
An elevated view of the Belgian Air Force C-119 Flying Boxcar.  The Belgian Air Force operated 40 new C-119s and six surplus United States Air Force C-119s between 1952 and 1973. 
A Bristol Fairchild Bolingbrooke maritime patrol aircraft, a derivative of the Bristol Blenheim Mk IV light bomber.
An AgustaWestland A109 Hirundo.  Twenty of these lightweight, twin-engine multipurpose helicopters entered Belgian Air Force service in 1992.  The A109 can be fitted with up to eight BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) missiles.
A view of the north end of the Air and Space gallery.

The mezzanine gallery contains a display on the history of ballooning, including baskets and airship control gondolas dating back to the 19th century.
The Sud Aviation SE 210 Caravelle, the world's first short/medium range jet airliner, which first flew in May 1955.  The Caravelle carried a crew of three and accommodated 80 passengers, with a range of 1,700 kilometres and a maximum speed of 805 kilometres per hour.   
The Caravelle on display in the Air and Space gallery is OO-SRA, originally delivered to Belgian national airline SABENA in 1961.  

A French-built Nieuport 23 biplane fighter, dating from 1916.  The museum's aircraft is the last authentic example in the world. 
The Avro Canada CF-100 Canuck all-weather interceptor/fighter.  The Belgian Air Force operated 53 of the Mk V variant of the CF-100 from 1957 to 1964.  The Royal Canadian Air Force and Belgian Air Force were the only air forces to operate the CF-100, which was introduced in 1952 and finally retired from service only in 1981.    
A British-built Sopwith F1 Camel fighter from 1917.  The Belgian Air Force operated 40 Sopwith Camels from the end of 1917.  The aircraft has been restored in the colours of the 3rd Tactical Wing at Bierset. 
A French-designed Morane-Saulnier MS.230 elementary trainer, used by the Belgian Air Force for aerial observation.  The Belgian Air Force operated 23 MS.230s from 1932. 
A German-designed Fieseler Fi 156 Storch observation and liaison aircraft.  The Storch first flew in May 1936 and was used by the German Luftwaffe, the French Air Force, and the French Army; the French retired the Storch in 1970.   
A Douglas DC-3 Dakota transport aircraft, part of a display on Belgium's airborne forces.  The Belgian Air Force operated 41 DC-3s between 1947 and 1976.
A Sud Aviation Alouette II light helicopter.  The Belgian Army operated 95 Alouette IIs until their replacement by the AgustaWestland A109 in 1992.
A model of the Belgian Navy Weilingen-class frigate BNS Westdiep (F911), located in the Navy section of the Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History.  The Westdiep was commissioned on 20 January 1978, decommissioned on 5 October 2007, and sold to Bulgaria in February 2008. 
A model of the Belgian Navy supply ship BNS Zinnia, commissioned on 5 September 1967, decommissioned in 2002, and scrapped in 2007. 
A wire-guided, electrically-powered mine-hunting vehicle equipped with cameras.  The vehicle is also capable of dropping a 130kg explosive charge next to identified mines, with detonation commanded by the command ship.
A French-designed ECAN L5 Mod 4 torpedo, the most important anti-submarine weapon carried by the E71 frigates of the Belgian Navy.  Introduced into service in 1976, the 533mm diameter torpedo travels at 35 knots and is equipped with an active/passive guidance system. 
A 20mm Oerlikon anti-aircraft gun.
A model of the MSC-class coastal minesweeper BNS Diest (M910).
A model of the MSO-class minesweeper BNS Artevelde (M907), formerly of the United States Navy and acquired by Belgium in 1955.  The Artevelde was decommissioned in 1985.
A display on the Belgian Navy Auxiliary vessel Kamina (A957), the former German U-boat tender Herman von Wissmann. The Kamina was decommissioned in 1967.
A model of the fisheries protection vessel Artevelde, under construction in May 1940 and captured by German forces during the invasion.  Towed to the Netherlands, the vessel was renamed K4 Lorelei, it commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 25 April 1943 and served as an escort for German minesweepers.  Captured by the Royal Navy at the German port of Cuxhaven at the end of the war, it was handed over to the Belgian Navy in June 1945 and employed as a depot ship for minesweepers until 1950.  Between 1950 and 1954, Artevelde served as a naval school at Bruges.
A display cabinet filled with navigational instruments used by the Belgian Navy.
A display of ropes and knots.
A model of the First Class cruiser d'Entrecasteaux, completed on 12 June 1896.  The d'Entrecasteaux saw action in the Far East, the Suez Canal, and Abyssinia during the First World War.  Stationed in Belgium between 1922 and February 1927, the ship was returned to France, it was later sold to Poland.  Surviving the German bombardment of the Polish port of Gdynia in September 1939, d'Entrecasteaux was used by the Germans as a floating storehouse until 1942, and scrapped after the end of the Second World War.    
A model of an Ostend barque, the kind of 19th century transport ship used to ship grain from Australia and fertilisers from South America to Europe, around Cape Horn.
Front side of a Brussels public transport ticket.
Reverse side of a Brussels public transport ticket.
A Brussels Airlines courtesy counter, showing the status of the dozens of flights operated out of Brussels Airport by Belgium's national carrier.
Looking down the corridor of the international terminal at Brussels Airport, 20 October 2016.
A Croatia Airlines Q400 turboprop is pushed back from the terminal, while a Brussels Airlines A319-100 (registration OO-SSQ) taxis in the background.
Passengers exit onto the tarmac from a Flybe Q400 turboprop at Brussels Airport. Flybe, based in Exeter, UK, is Europe's largest independent regional airline.
Air Canada A330-300 (registration C-GFAH) arrives at Brussels Airport at 12:39pm, 20 October 2016.  Although originally scheduled to depart Brussels at 10:25 that morning, an alleged bird strike on the aircraft while in transit from Canada led to a delay, with the return flight to Montreal only departing at 1:45pm.  C-GFAH first flew on 30 August 1999 and was delivered to Air Canada on 15 October 1999.  Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 turbofan engines, the aircraft is configured to carry 37 passengers in Business Class and 228 in Economy Class.
Air Canada branded cocktail napkins, sugar packet, and swizzle stick, acquired aboard flight AC833, Brussels to Montreal, 20 October 2016.

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