Slipping the Bonds
by George Paterson
I recently made a number of images of Belgian F-84F's, and I presented one here in June, wearing the colours of 23.Squadron based at Kleine Brogel airbase in the Flemish part of Belgium. There were three F-84F squadrons there in the 1960's, and another three squadrons at Florennes, in the southern French-speaking part of the country.
I have some acquaintance with the aircraft and markings of one of these squadrons, because I made a number of pictures of Hanriot HD.1 aircraft of 1.Squadron in the last few years, four of which I showed here between 2014 and 2016. These were made from models of the Hanriots of Willie Coppens and Jan Olieslager. At that time (1917/18), 1.Squadron aircraft had an emblem that consisted of a thistle encircled by the legend “Nemo me impune Lacessit”, which was (and still is) the armorial motto of the Scottish Crown. I've been unable to find an explanation why a Belgian fighter squadron should use this as its own emblem, but it's obvious that I, as a native Scot, would feel some affinity with such an outfit.
When I was collecting material for my archive of Belgian F-84F's, I was pleased to find that 1.Squadron was still using the same emblem, fifty years on from Coppens' time. More recently, one of their F-16's wore the emblem on its fin to mark the unit's 85th birthday.
The Initial Image
This model is of a 1.Squadron aircraft, as can be seen from the black noseband. There are two other identifiers on the aircraft, the Squadron crest just behind the red warning triangle for the ejector seat, and the red foxes head immediately aft of the nose band. This last marking is a mystery to me; none of the photos in my archive have it; I'm guessing it's a personal marking.
The model is well detailed, and the photograph is sharply focussed, with only slight softening of definition near the nose and the tip of the starboard wing. I don't know what kit was used, but the panel lines are a bit on the coarse side, so I think it may be a 1:72 or 1:48 scale model. The main drawback, though, is the perspective – the picture can only be used as a close-up primary airframe, and a dramatic one at that!
My intention was to portray this plane in flight along with one of my Hanriot pictures.
Treatment of the Image
I added the small missing bit of the port wingtip, and reconstructed the canopy in its closed position. Apart from some very minor details I did nothing more to the image.
I then chose one of the many Hanriot images from my past work, and resized it to be roughly a quarter the size of the primary. Both airframes were pasted onto the background image in their normal flight attitudes. I know that many pictures of two aircraft where there is a big disparity in performance show the slower machine going flat out, and the faster one struggling to avoid a stall, and at a huge angle of incidence. I didn't want one of those slightly comical images, so I'm showing a situation where the F-84 is about to overtake the Hanriot – I considered using a gizmo in Photoshop that would render the F-84 with a degree of speed blur, but decided that my final picture is eccentric enough without that!
In the past I've made several pictures showing different generations of aircraft in the air together; my most recent was of a Sabre and a Hunter of 66.Squadron RAF in formation off the Humber estuary. My image then was intended to illustrate the transition between the two types that was recorded by a photograph of the event taken in April 1956.
This composite image of the F-84F and the Hanriot doesn't correspond to any real event, but simply illustrates the continuity of 1.Squadron's identity over a long period of time.