Three RAF fighter bases near the Dutch border

Just across the Dutch border, in the nineteen seventies, the Royal Air Force had three airbases: Brüggen, Laarbruch and Wildenrath. These bases were used by a lot of squadrons and various aircraft.

Laarbruch hosted no. 2 Squadron, flying Phantoms, and no. 15 and 16 Squadron which flew with the famous Blackburn Buccanneer.

At Brüggen three Phantom squadrons were stationed: no. 14, 17 and 31. During the mid seventies, the Phantoms were replaced by the Jaguar, and no. 20 Squadron joint the base.

Wildenrath saw quite a few changes too. No. 3, 4 and 20 Squadrons flew with Harriers untill 1977, then no. 19 and 92 Squadron came with Phantoms. Both units transferred from RAF Gütersloh, where they flew with Lightnings. But due to the longer starting up procedure that a Phantom needs to scramble for a Russian invader, the Phantoms were moved further west to compensate for the increased time. The Wildenrath Harriers from no. 3 and 4 Squadron went to Gütersloh. No. 20 Squadron received Jaguars and went to Brüggen. No. 60 Squadron flew from Wildenrath with Pembrokes.

On an average day a lot of flying activity took place at these air bases. Also UK-based aircraft were frequent visitors. Hunters from RAF Valley and Wittering came over to Laarbruch often. Canberra’s from RAF Cottismore and Wyton visited Wildenrath regularly. And, to supply the bases with home-made stews, baked beans, spare parts, and more, a lot of transport aircraft went to RAF Germany bases as well.