[ Baden Soellingen ]

The CF-104 Era (continued)

October of 1970 saw a detachment of six CF-5 aircraft arrive for operational trials as a tactical fighter in the European theater.

The aircraft took part in practical trials in the primary role for which it was designed, close support for ground forces, as well as the secondary roles of armed reconnaissance, interdiction (attacking supply lines) and aerial combat. These were not the roles carried out by thcCF-104, which was employed in Germany as a photographic reconnaissance, nuclear strike and conventional attack aircraft.

Possible use of the CF-5 as a tactical fighter in Europe was one of several employment options considered for the aircraft by the Defence Department.

Aircrews from 433 Escadrille Tactique de Combat, CFB Bagotville, Que., and 434 Squadron, CFB Cold Lake flew the CF-5s overseas via Greenland, Iceland and Scotland to Baden-Soellingen, Germany. The team spent approximately one month in Germany. Lieutenant-Colonel R.H. Annis, Canadian Forces Headquarters oversaw the trials. The team included seven pilots, 22 groundcrew, and engineering officer and scientific representatives.

Another major event of October 1970 was the opening of a completely renovated Baden Groceteria. The main feature of the enlarged facility was a new prepackaged fresh meat department. For convenience, six new checkout counters were installed for quicker service and to create a pleasant shopping atmosphere.

A new $240,000, twelve classroom school was constructed in Baden during the fall of 1970. The school built chiefly of British Columbia fir plywood, used a prefabrication system developed in Canada. The building was prefabricated at a plant in Munich and transported to Baden where cranes lifted the walls and roof into position on a preset foundation. The new Baden Intermediate School was officially opened on Thursday, February 25th, by Colonel G.H.SelIar, Base Commander Europe. The school was Phase I of a building program which would see all of the children moved out of the general purpose huts into classrooms. Colonel Sellar announced at the opening ceremonies that Phase II had been approved and thc next school building would be ready for the1971 Fall term.

Canada's NATO-assigned Mechanized Battle Group, after serving 19 years in Northwest Germany, moved south, to new locations in Lahr and Baden-Soellingen in October 1970.Thc first unit to cross the starting line was the 1 st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel M.C. (Mike) Cainan. The "gunners" commenced loading their massive 2S-ton tracked M-109 Howitzers on railroad flatcars one minute after midnight, and some two hours later were rolling through the German countryside. A total of eleven trains, each with more than 20 flatcars, were required to transport the battle group's heavy tracked equipment such as tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers and bulldozers.

The wheeled vehicles of the Battle Group, numbering close to 500, moved in tightly controlled convoys, travelling by secondary roads and Autobahns. Each road convoy took approximately 36 hours to complete the 300-mile journey, including an overnight halt.

The decision to relocate 4 Canadian Mechanized Battle Group with 1 Canadian Air Group in the Lahr and Baden-Soellingen areas, was part of a planned re-organization and reduction of Canada's military commitment to NATO.

Climaxing months of renovations, installations and training, 1971 brought changes to CFNS. Base Baden's radio station officially inaugurated its new stereo facilities on 26 January 1971. Approximately 80 guests were on hand to admire the gleaming modern equipment set off dramatically by its freshly painted surroundings. A special live opening broadcast began at 8:00 p.m. with a speech by Colonel F.J. Kaufman, who officially declared the new radio station open. Lieutenant-Colonel J.E. Dardier then congratulated the volunteer staff on the quality of their work over the years and was followed by a series of on-the-spot interviews with CFNS announcers and other guests. At that time CFNS had a total of some 17,000 albums and single records of which only one third were in stereo.

In November 1971 the first "toned down" CF-104 returned from Scottish Aviation Ltd., in Prestwick Scotland. The new brown-green color was to soon take over not only the shiny silver of the fighters, but all Baden facilities.

The last day of 1971 was a significant day for the Canadian Armed Forces in general, and for 1 Canadian Air Group in particular. For nearly eight years, Canada had maintained CF-104 Starfighters in a nuclear strike role at Zweibrucken, Lahr, and Baden-Soellingen, Germany. As planned in the Government's White Paper of August 1971, the latter role was discontinued for the two remaining Strike/ Attack Squadrons, No. 421 (Red Indian) and No. 441 (Silver Fox). Instead, these squadrons would adopt a conventional attack role, and would soon be joined in this role by 439 (Tiger)Squadron, which was employed in the reconnaissance field.

When Canada originally entered the nuclear strike role, in early 1964, six squadrons, equipped with the supersonic CF- 104 aircraft, were entrusted with nuclear strike role under NATO. Nos. 421,422,427,430,434, and 444 were assigned this task, and proof of their ability became evident on each occasion that Canadians competed with their allies in the annual tactical weapons meet. Their many successes bear witness to the high esteem in which Canadians are held by all NATO airmen.

On December 5, 1972 Baden-Soellingen was graced with the arrival of five shiny "new" T-33 aircraft upon the completion of "Kiwi Hop Number 1". Led by a veteran of European service, Major Con Platz of CFB Cold Lake, the ten pilots and five aircraft had first met some two weeks earlier at Mountain View Airport just outside Trenton, Ontario. Three shakedown flights and many logistics problems later, the aircraft departed Trenton for Shearwater, Nova Scotia where the pilots were outfitted with immersions suits required for the over water flight.

The birds then flew via Gander, Newfoundland to Sondrestrom in Greenland. Here the USAF provided all services necessary to make the Atlantic crossing possible. Included was one service not available to Charles Lindberg, but ready and willing in our modern day, the Duckbutt. This airborne mothership was a USAF C-130 aircraft fitted out with every possible piece of navigation aid and survival equipment, including the "James Bond" water snatch facility. This airborne angel was available throughout the over-water stages of the flight even though this caused a delay in its positioning for the Apollo 17 launch.

From Sondrestrom our birds overflew the great Greenland ice cap with the destination of Kefiavik, Iceland. Foul Scottish weather held the intrepid travelers in unromantic Iceland, and it was two days before they could set out for the land of Haggis. A further two days later the final hop to Soellingen was attempted but unservicabilities, strong head-winds and ever present fog here split the aircraft between Prestwick and Lahr.

On 5 December 1972, the skies finally opened up and after a tour of Bavarian skies four of the birds settled on the runways at Soellingen. Total time en route: Seven days and 12.6 flying hours.

Kiwi Hop 2 was the delivery of 5 T-birds to the Turkish Airforce at Izmir, Turkey. Prior to the departure date, February 20, each aircraft was fitted with a newly overhauled engine, given one air test, and then stripped of all but the mandatory paint markings. Log books of airframe, engine and various pieces of equipment were gathered together and prepared for shipment, while the aircrew plotted out track, altitude and diplomatic clearance.

The flight plan called for an early departure from Baden with an overnight stay in Naples, and arrival at the Turkish Air Force Base Cigli at 1300 hours, February 21,1973. Several factors negated adherence to the timetable. The Met Section failed to provide take-off limits and the French civil air traffic controllers went on strike. Fortunately the sun broke through at noon and the French military radar's agreed to accept the Kiwis. But the problems were not yet solved, as Kiwi S aborted takeoff but arrived in Naples two hours after the first aircraft.

Kiwi Red, a section of five aircraft departed Napoli on February 21 and made a quiet flight at 33000 feet to Cigli. Quiet, as the ground agencies of Roma and Atihinai were incommu-nicado. Approaching Turkish airspace Kiwi S, Capt Kadanoffand Cpl Peters, reported having to go "almost supersonic" to catch up as the five birds descended in a visual approach for an arrowhead formation fly-past at Cigli airfield. Upon landing, BGen Lewis inspected the guard of honor prior to presenting the aircraft log books to the Canadian Ambassador, Mr. Hughes, who in turn made the presentation to BGen Horasan, the Cigli Base Commander.

Monday, 12 August 1974, the Baden groceteria was officially opened. A new meat department including a delicatessen, attractive displays, air conditioned comfort, wide aisles, and friendly staff all helped show that the groceteria was on a parallel with any modern grocery store in Canada. The first customer through the checkout was WO B.E. Knowles, who purchased one of the most common commodities of the European market...a bottle of good wine. Twenty-one cash vouchers were given away during the day on behalf of the Base Exchange, in addition to the many other in-store prizes and handouts sponsored by various food distributors. Bernie Kyte, announcer with CFNS Baden, covered the ceremonies, interviewing customers and presenting gift certificates totaling over 2,000 DM to the lucky persons selected at random.

Outside, in Cameron Gardens, a large crowd gathered to take advantage of the comfortable chairs and warm sun, while others stopped to enjoy a bratwurst and cold drink. Offering fresh vegetables and live trout in addition to many special bargains by the BX, Cameron Gardens was a popular place throughout the day. The Boy Scouts were on hand offering books, Delft Blue Plaques and Dutch wooden shoes for sale. As a special attraction, members of the square dancing club (Soellingen Swingers), put on a special demonstration of square dancing to the delight of the crowd. Foot weary parents appreciated the antics of the roving clown, Cpl Sauve, who passed out balloons and entertained the children while mom and dad took a moment to relax.

All in all, a grand day was enjoyed by everyone. But most important, the residents of the Baden community left happy. They now had a new groceteria, of which they could be very proud.

4 Wing of the RCAF Association formally came into existence in Baden on 1 April 1974. This was a most appropriate date since it marked the fiftieth anniversary of the RCAF. Over seventy aviation minded members representing all three arms of the service were in attendance at the first meeting.

On Monday, 20 January 1975, BGen C.G.E.Theriault, Commander 1 Canadian Air Group, officially opened the new 1 Canadian Air Group Operations Center at Baden. The Operations Center (GOC) which was manned 24 hours a day, was the operational command post of the Air Group and served as the vital communications link between 4 ATAF and the three CF-104 Squadrons.

The G.O.C., a hardened underground structure, had been under construction for two years. The Communications Branch were required to complete some 12,000 terminal connections.

On Friday, October 31 1975, the long awaited 4 Wing, Royal Canadian Air Force Association's F-86 Sabre was carefully mounted at the main gate. On Friday, 21 November 1975, Sabre No. 605 was officially presented to 1 Canadian Air Group. Visitors to Baden were to be treated to a nostalgic look into the Sabre era when they approach the main gate.

On Saturday, 7 February 1976, the Baden Youth Center (BYC) was officially opened. In a warm brief ceremony, LCol Yuill cut the yellow and green ribbon and then talked to the teens and parents on the important role that the B.Y.C. plays in the community.

The long awaited opening of the new Baden Exchange took place 22 April 1976, with the occasion marked by official pageantry and a variety of festivities which lasted four days. Over 75 guests including representatives from German firms and government agencies, military and civilian exchange personnel, attended the Grand Opening Ceremonies. The gala affair began with music and song presented by the Baden Community Singers led by Major J.W. Davies of the Salavation Army. MGen Duncan McAlpine, Commander CFE, and BGen D.W.J.Carr, Director General Canex, then officially closed the old exchange building. Led by pipers the official party crossed the street and amid much jubilation, cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the new building. As the doors of the exchange opened, the first patrons of the new exchange marched behind pipers through the dazzling merchandise displays.

A highlight of the four-day grand opening festival was the great many gifts and prizes given away by Canex. On opening day all departments in the store featured bargain prices and every lady walking through the main doors received a flower. Construction of the new store, measuring 80 meters by 24 meters, had begun in March 1975 and cost a total of Deutschmark 1.2 million.

The new Baden-Soellingen Service Station was opened on 18 November 1976. The ceremonies began with piper Ted Wright leading MGen Ramsey Withers, Commander CFE, and his party to the gas pumps where he waited to serve the first customers. Construction on the new Baden Service Station began in 1976. The facility, situated on the base access road, included six bays for automotive maintenance and repair, a gas pump island with 12 pumps, and an automatic car wash capable of handling 50 cars per hour. The whole project cost approximately Deutschmark 1,600,000.

On Sunday, 16 January 1977, the Black Forest Rod and Gun Club opened the new trout pond located at Soellingen. The day started with a bang as LCol W.A.D. Yuill fired the opening shot, signaling to 65 eager anglers that they could start probing the depths for a few of the 1600 rainbow trout stocked early in December. Fishing at the club was restricted to members of the Black Forest Rod and Gun Club who were in possession of a German fishing license and a club permit, and who had successfully completed a short course on fishing in Germany.

On 1 November 1979, Baden became a Base and received a new official CFB Baden-Soellingen crest. The design was approved by Mr. Buckingham, the Director of Ceremonial, after it had passed muster at CFE Headquarters and NDHQ. The final approval was granted by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II on 1 November 1979, the same day Baden became a Base. The new crest bears some similarity to the old 4 Wing crest. The black roundel with the navyW bars alludes to the Rhine River and the Black Forest. The quiver and arrows represent the base and the units located in this area. The motto, appropriately enough in the language of our host country, is one members come to associate most definitely with the alerts and maneuver of the NATO role, "Auf Wacht", on guard. "O Canada, we stand on guard for thee".


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