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 Service history of the NF-5 with the RNLAF

In 1966, the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force, or KLu) selected the F-5 Freedom Fighter to replace its fleet of aging F-84F Thunderstreaks. The Netherlands had originally hoped to co-produce over 200 F-5s under license in collaboration with Belgium, but Belgium chose the Mirage 5 as its F-84F replacement. The KLu was not exactly overjoyed about the choice of the F-5, and wanted several improvements to the basic design. It turned out that these improvements very closely matched those that were implemented by Canada in its CF-5. Consequently, on February 1, 1967, the Dutch government decided to acquire its F-5s from the Canadair production line rather than to build them at home.

In KLu service, the single-seater was to be designated NF-5A, with the two-seat version being designated NF-5B. Initially, the order was to include 90 single seaters and 15 two-seaters, but was later revised to include 75 NF-5As and 30 NF-5Bs.

Technically, the NF-5 was the most advanced Freedom Fighter to date. It differed from the CF-5 primarily in having manoeuvring leading-edge flaps incorporated into a stronger wing structure. When set for high-speed manoeuvring, the electrically-operated leading and trailing edge flaps are synchronized by a control box and are controlled by a thumb-operated switch on the starboard throttle lever. These manoeuvring flaps are claimed to give a 50-percent increase in the instantaneous turning rate. The NF-5A/B also had increased external fuel capacity, and the stronger wing enabled more ordnance to be carried. Provision was made for larger external fuel tanks and for the use of ejector bomb racks.

Many of the avionics systems fitted to the CF-5 (such as the UHF D/F, Sperry navigation system, ISIS sight and camera system) were deleted from the NF-5. The NF-5As had the standard Northrop non-computing gun sight, but replaced the Sperry gyro heading and reference system with a Bendix attitude and heading reference system. The NF-5 was equipped with a Canadian Marconi Type 668 Doppler navigation system and 703 navigation system with a roller map. It was equipped with an attitude heading and reference system, emergency UHF radio, and a radio altimeter.

Delivery to the Royal Netherlands Air Force

The first NF-5A built was rolled out by Canadair on 05-03-69 and first flew on 24-03-69, followed by the first NF-5B on 07-07-69 a further two NF-5s entered the flight test programme by May 1969. At the some moment 24 Dutch technicians were trained as technical instructors. The First NF-5A K-3001 and three NF-5B were officially handed-over to the Air Force on 08-10-69 at Montreal-Cartierville plant.

Helicopter Force

As the NF-5s had no in-flight refuelling equipment; several ways had to be taken into consideration to transfer new built aircrafts to the Netherlands: by ship, airlift or commercial contract ferrying by Skyways.
The Air Force decided to handle the transfer itself after having received confirmation of in-flight support by the USAF's 2nd Aircraft Delivery Group with its 2 Lockheed C-130 for radio relay and rescue. A project called "Hi-
flight" was set-up to ferry the aircrafts across the Atlantic in batches of 4 to 6 in each flight. Starting from Bagotville AB (Canada) they stopped on route at Goose Bay (Canada), where a Dutch technical team provided a couple of check fights, Sonderstrom (Greenland), Keflavik (Iceland) and Lossiemouth (UK) before arriving at in the Netherlands.

Particularly delicate was the leg between Goose Bay and Sonderstrom as the aircrafts had only a 30 minutes fuel reserve and it was most important to be sure about good weather on arrival as there was no alternate airport within range.

First ferry flight ("Hi-
flight"  Nr 1) took place with 4  NF-5B (K-4002/03/05/06), these landed at Twenthe AB on 19-11-69. A total of 20 flights, lasting between a minimum of 3 and maximum of 25 days, took place.

The last NF-5 (a NF-5A, serial number K-3075) was delivered to the Netherlands on March 10, 1972


In service

Operational history

The aircrafts were used during their Dutch career mainly in the fighter-bomber role (apart from training), flying low-level missions against troops and ground installations. The Vliehors range, on the  island Vlieland, was utilised for weapons training.

They were also used as day only interceptors (due to lack of radar), armed with AIM-9J, Sidewinder for a few months at the beginning of 1982, during an interim period between the phase-out of Lockheed F-104G and the operational introduction of the General Dynamics F-16.
Upgrades were done throughout the operational years; the canopy was strengthened to cope with the high number of bird strikes, avionics were added; ALE-40 chaff and flare dispensers were mounted on the rear fuselage as well as Radar Warning Receiver devices on the tail while some aircrafts had AIM-9J Sidewinder missile launching rails added to their wingtips, not standard on Canadair-built machines.

Reinforcement of the wings and the stabilisators were introduced to the aircrafts at the end of the 1980's to keep them flying till their final withdrawal. Aircrafts withdrawn from General Dynamics F-16 re-equipped Squadrons were initially attached to 316 Squadron. At a later stage, due to the high number available  a specially unit was formed formed: Vliegend Uit Dienst (VUD) at Gilze-Rijen AB, and later at Woendsrecht AB. the first definitive retirement was on 27-03-86, when NF-5A serial K-3057 was withdrawn from use and sent to the VUD.

The last official NF-5 flight was on 15-03-91 but due to bad weather three aircrafts, instead of 12 foreseen, flew out of Eindhoven to overfly all former NF-5 bases.
All NF-5 were officially withdrawn from operational service on 01-05-91 when 316 Squadron officially transitioned on the General Dynamics F-16, but some flights were still undertaken from Eindhoven for test purposes and conversion of Greek and Turkish pilots with former 316 Squadron aircrafts.

Show time



Testing and Show aircraft.

One NF-5A was used most off its service life as a test aircraft, NF-5A K-3001 delivered on 29-07-71. Was first used at Edwards Air force base for testing and after that delivered to the "Field Technical Training Unit" in charge of aircrafts technical evaluation. As this aircraft was to develop the flight manual for the Canadair fleet and evaluate all modification to the a separate unit was formed on 19-09-71, the "Testgroep Vliegtuigbeproevingen NF-5". The cannons were replaced by test and measuring equipment, special sensors were applied on the wings and fuselage. Several tests were performed, amongst which the in flight dropping of 275 gallon tanks, the introduction of Paveway laser bombs, cluster bombs, chaff flare dispenser and AIM-9J Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
When the unit was disbanded in 1984 all test equipment was removed from the K-3001 and it was re-delivered to the 313 Squadron4.

During its service life with the Royal Netherlands Air Force the NF-5A was used as a show aircraft.

This started with a NF-5A from 316 Squadron during 1975 till 1978 without any special markings. Followed by aircraft from different squadrons in different colour schemes. 316 Squadron was the first one to field a team in 1978 for the 65th anniversary of the Royal Netherlands AF under the name "Double Dutch". It consisted of 2 NF-5A (K-3031 and K-3048) plus a reserve (K-3066) marking the first international presence at Cambrai AB (France) on 04-06-78. The exhibitions of this team lasted till mid 1979. 315 Squadron from Twenthe followed for the year 1980 with the same aircrafts but with new colours, unfortunately one aircraft crashed and its pilot (Hans Könings) was killed. NF-5As K-3019 and K-3024 in a new scheme were utilised by 315 Squadron in 1981 and for most of 1982
314 Squadron from Eindhoven was in charge from 1983, but starting its performances on 21st October 1982 at it home-base with NF-5As K-3021 and K-3026, again in a new paint scheme; the Squadron performed the display also for the seasons 1983 to 1985 with the same aircrafts.

A pause followed till 1988 when, on the occasion of the 75th jubilee, a new edition of the the "Double Dutch" team was established by 314 Squadron at Eindhoven with NF-5As K-3012, K-3014 and K-3072. Several technical problems, bad weather and the crash of the "Frecce Tricolore" at Ramstein followed by a disbandment order by the government meant that almost no displays where given.

Squadrons equipped with the NF-5

313 Squadron


313 squadron

Officially created in 1953 at Volkel AB the squadron was re-established at Twenthe AB on 12-10-72, having formerly operated Lockeed T-33A and been disbanded on 01-01-59. It took over, from the 315th Squadron, the responsibility for the operational conversion of pilots returning from advanced training in the USA and Canada with Theatre Operational Conversions Courses (TOCC) followed by Advanced Operational Courses (AOC) to adjust to European operations (weather) and weapons usage.

Not being a frontline squadron was reflected in build-up of the squadron with seven NF-5A and 13 NF-5B were on charge in April 1982 reflecting the training commitment of the unit. During the TOCC pilots where made at home with flying in the European environment. During this 5 month course navigation and instrument flying where practiced as well ass bombing and firing skills. The pilots where then ready for the operational squadrons after they completed the AOC course. First given by 313 squadron but at a later date by the operational squadrons to relive 313 squadron.

The Squadron operated its last NF-5 flight on 01-07-88, when NF-5A K-3045 made a flight around the Netherlands air bases, adorned by special colours to remember Dutch victory in the 1988 European soccer championship. A special check my tail was done at Jever and Hopsten.

314 Squadron


314 Squadron

Created in 1952 at Eindhoven AB the squadron flew the F-84G. At the moment of the introduction of the NF-5 the squadron was part of the NATO Allied Mobile Force and operated Republic F-84F when the first  NF-5 arrived at its Eindhoven base in November 1969. The arrival of the NF-5 started the withdrawal off the Republic F-84F's witch was officially withdrawn on 21-12-70.

As NF-5 numbers increased with 314 Squadron and the need for a extra squadron the squadron was split in to two squadrons in May 1971 to form the 316 Squadron. Due to de split it took 314 squadron until 01-12-71 before it was declared fully operational.

As the only Dutch Squadron being part of the Allied Mobile Force 314 Squadron performed several Squadron exchanges and participated to many NATO exercises, particularly in Norway. Supported by a Fokker F-27 for the traditional winter exercise in Norway, they attacked troops during a simulated beach landing, together with other Norwegian, Canadian, RAF units.

The Squadron operated the NF-5s untill May 1990. First from Eindhoven and in 1988 it moved to Gilze-Rijen. From there on 09-05-90 NF-5As K-3052, K-3062 (in special red colours with the mascot "Humphrey") and 1 NF-5B overflew several Dutch bases on the last day of the NF-5 with 314 squadron.

315 Squadron


315 Squadron

Founded at Eindhoven AB in 1952 and equipped with Republic F-84F 315 squadron was the first unit to be transferred to the NF-5. Being responsibly for the OCC on the F-84 the unit took over the training at Twenthe AB from the initial crews of the Transitie Vliegopleiding (TVO). It had the responsibility to initially introduce the new aircraft, to convert pilots and, later, to be a fully operational attack unit. Sixteen of its own pilots had earlier received conversion training in Canada.

The Squadron's first NF-5 arrived at Twenthe AB in December 1969 .A total of 30 NF-5A and 15 NF-5B were initially on its strength, full operational status was reached on 01-12-71. The unit strength was reduced to 25 NF-5A and 6 NF-5B on 12-10-72, when the training task was officially handed over to the 313th Squadron and it operated in the tactical strike role only.

The unit began conversion to the General Dynamics F-16 in March 1986, when it had the honour to be the first NF-5 equipped unit to transition. In May 1986 it was deactivated and flew NF-5 until October 1986. It was reactivated on the F-16 in October 1987.

316 squadron


316 Squadron

Created in 1953 at Eindhoven AB flying the Republic F-84G. It served as a "maandvlieg" squadron, tasked with keeping former pilots "airworthy". After one year it was deactivated to be activated again for one and a half year in 1956. The initial NF-5A reached the Squadron already beginning of June 1970 but this was officially re-established at Gilze - Rijen AB only on 01-07-71, when the large 314 Squadron was split to form the new 316 Squadron. After the work-up was face was completed at Eindhoven AB the 22 NF-5A and 5 NF-5B of 316 squadron transferred to Gilze-Rijen AB on 27-04-72.

During the 1980 the squadron shared in the TOCC with 313 squadron resaving more NF-5B's from other squadrons. During 1986 the TOCC became the responsibility of 316 squadron as 313 squadron was transiting to the F-16. In 1988 the squadron moved to Eindhoven AB as Gilze-Rijen AB was being prepared for the arrival of the F-16.

The Squadron stood-down on 01-05-91, being the last Dutch Squadron on NF-5 to start transition to the General Dynamics F-16A . Before that, on 15-03-91, a flypast was organised on various air bases, starting from from Eindhoven to commemorate the withdrawal of the type with 12 NF-5s, but, due to poor visibility, only 3 NF-5B could participate.

End of the line

VUD Vliegend uit dienst


Vliegend Uit Dienst (VUD) (Phasing out in Flying Condition)

NF-5's withdrawn from use were handed over to the VUD unit at Gilze-Rijen AB; VUD badge was painted on some aircrafts. The engines were run every 45 days and a short test was flown every 90 days. This was stopped in late 1980 and the aircrafts were transferred to Woensdrecht AB for definitive storage.

During 1989 it became clear that a large proportion of the NF-5 fleet was going to be transferred to Turkey. A agreement was made that 60 aircraft would by transferred including spares an ground equipment free of charge. The first planes where delivered in June 1989. A similar deal was made with Greece. Pilots and technicians from booth country where trained at Eindhoven AB

Destiny of the remaining active aircrafts was set as follows: 54 NF-5A and 6 NF-5B to Turkey; 11 NF-5A (one for spares recovery only), 1 NF-5B to Greece; 1 NF-5A, 6 NF-5B to Venezuela.
Only a part (34) of the NF-5A handed-over to Turkey was destined for operational use; the rest was kept in the Netherlands and utilised for spares recovery only. Some others were kept as gate guardians at various Dutch air bases and for technical training while others went to Museum and where kept in storage before being scraped.


K-3001   NF-5A 3001 to Turkey as 3001      
K-3002   NF-5A 3002 315sq w/o 28jun73      
K-3003   NF-5A 3003 Gilze-Rijen as 'K-3066', at gate      
K-3004   NF-5A 3004 to Turkey as 3004      
K-3005   NF-5A 3005 to Greece as 3005      
K-3006   NF-5A 3006 313sq w/o 13sep78      
K-3007   NF-5A 3007 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3008   NF-5A 3008 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3009   NF-5A 3009 315sq w/o 01nov74      
K-3010   NF-5A 3010 316sq w/o 01oct80      
K-3011   NF-5A 3011 Soesterberg Stored      
K-3012   NF-5A 3012 to Greece as 3012      
K-3013   NF-5A 3013 to Turkey as 3013      
K-3014   NF-5A 3014 to Greece as 3014      
K-3015   NF-5A 3015 to Turkey as 3015      
K-3016   NF-5A 3016 to Turkey as 3016      
K-3017   NF-5A 3017 to Greece as 3017      
K-3018   NF-5A 3018 to Turkey as 3018      
K-3019   NF-5A 3019 to Turkey as 3019      
K-3020   NF-5A 3020 Hoofddorp Instr. Airframe      
K-3021   NF-5A 3021 to Turkey as 3021      
K-3022   NF-5A 3022 to Turkey as 3022      
K-3023   NF-5A 3023 to Turkey as 3023      
K-3024   NF-5A 3024 to Turkey as 3024      
K-3025   NF-5A 3025 to Turkey as 3025      
K-3026   NF-5A 3026 316sq w/o 16jun87      
K-3027   NF-5A 3027 to Turkey as 3027      
K-3028   NF-5A 3028 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3029   NF-5A 3029 Soesterberg Stored      
K-3030   NF-5A 3030 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3031   NF-5A 3031 to Greece as 3031      
K-3032   NF-5A 3032 to Turkey as 3032      
K-3033   NF-5A 3033 to Greece as 3033      
K-3034   NF-5A 3034 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3035   NF-5A 3035 to Turkey as 3035      
K-3036   NF-5A 3036 to Turkey as 3036      
K-3037   NF-5A 3037 315sq w/o 13may71      
K-3038   NF-5A 3038 315sq w/o 25apr83      
K-3039   NF-5A 3039 to Turkey as 3039      
K-3040   NF-5A 3040 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3041   NF-5A 3041 to Turkey as 3041      
K-3042   NF-5A 3042 to Turkey as 3042      
K-3043   NF-5A 3043 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3044   NF-5A 3044 Gilze Rijen dumped      
K-3045   NF-5A 3045 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3046   NF-5A 3046 to Turkey as 3046      
K-3047   NF-5A 3047 to Greece as 3047      
K-3048   NF-5A 3048 to Turkey as 3048      
K-3049   NF-5A 3049 to Turkey as 3049      
K-3050   NF-5A 3050 316sq w/o 20mar86      
K-3051   NF-5A 3051 to Turkey as 3051      
K-3052   NF-5A 3052 to Turkey as 3052      
K-3053   NF-5A 3053 313sq w/o 01jun81      
K-3054   NF-5A 3054 to Turkey as 3054      
K-3055   NF-5A 3055 to Turkey as 3055      
K-3056   NF-5A 3056 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3057   NF-5A 3057 to Venezuela as 6324      
K-3058   NF-5A 3058 to Turkey as 3058      
K-3059   NF-5A 3059 315sq w/o 22jul80      
K-3060   NF-5A 3060 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3061   NF-5A 3061 to Greece as 3061      
K-3062   NF-5A 3062 to Greece as 3062      
K-3063   NF-5A 3063 Kessel Stored      
K-3064   NF-5A 3064 314sq w/o 18jul72      
K-3065   NF-5A 3065 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3066   NF-5A 3066 to Turkey as 3066      
K-3067   NF-5A 3067 to Turkey as 3067      
K-3068   NF-5A 3068 Eindhoven Preserved      
K-3069   NF-5A 3069 to Greece as 3069      
K-3070   NF-5A 3070 to Turkey as 3070      
K-3071   NF-5A 3071 scrapped Scrapped      
K-3072   NF-5A 3072 to Turkey as 3072      
K-3073   NF-5A 3073 to Greece as 3073      
K-3074   NF-5A 3074 314sq w/o 02aug74      
K-3075   NF-5A 3075 314sq w/o 07jul77      
K-4001   NF-5B 4001 to Turkey as 4001      
K-4002   NF-5B 4002 to Venezuela as 1721      
K-4003   NF-5B 4003 to N3206Y To Civil      
K-4004   NF-5B 4004 314sq w/o 24apr75      
K-4005   NF-5B 4005 to Turkey as 4005      
K-4006   NF-5B 4006 to Venezuela as 6340      
K-4007   NF-5B 4007 to Turkey as 4007      
K-4008   NF-5B 4008 to Venezuela as 2111      
K-4009   NF-5B 4009 to Turkey as 4009      
K-4010   NF-5B 4010 to Venezuela as 6292      
K-4011   NF-5B 4011 Soesterberg Preserved      
K-4012   NF-5B 4012 Zwolle Instr. Airframe      
K-4013   NF-5B 4013 to Turkey as 4013      
K-4014   NF-5B 4014 to Turkey as 4014      
K-4015   NF-5B 4015 to Turkey as 4015      
K-4016   NF-5B 4016 to Turkey as 4016      
K-4017   NF-5B 4017 to Turkey as 4017      
K-4018   NF-5B 4018 to Venezuela as 1711      
K-4019   NF-5B 4019 to Turkey as 4019      
K-4020   NF-5B 4020 to Turkey as 4020      
K-4021   NF-5B 4021 to Turkey as 4021      
K-4022   NF-5B 4022 314sq w/o 22jun76      
K-4023   NF-5B 4023 316sq w/o 16jun87      
K-4024   NF-5B 4024 to Turkey as 4024      
K-4025   NF-5B 4025 to Turkey as 4025      
K-4026   NF-5B 4026 to Turkey as 4026      
K-4027   NF-5B 4027 to Greece as 4027      
K-4028   NF-5B 4028 Soesterberg Stored      
K-4029   NF-5B 4029 to Turkey as 4029      
K-4030   NF-5B 4030 to Venezuela as 6372      



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