After an original idea by Paul Freeman.
First published 7 Nov 2010. This collection of airfields is © 2010 - 2014 RonaldV
fr

Toul-Rosières

16-12-2013

02-01-2014

139

48°46'48"N 005°58'48"E
 
Runway: 04/22 - 2400meters/7874feet - concrete
 
Air field Toul-Rosières (french: Aérodrome Toul-Rosières, or Base Aérienne 136 Toul-Rosières, also known as Toul Air Base, Toul-Rosières Air-Base, TRAB or ALG A-98 'Rosieres-en-Haye') was an airfield 10 miles northeast of the city of Toul, France.
The airfield was built in September 1944, only a few days after the Germans were forced from the area, by the United States Army Air Force IX Engineering Command 850th Engineer Aviation Battalion. A 5000' Pierced Steel Planking runway was laid down, in addition to taxiways, dispersed parking areas, and a support station and maintenance area. "Rosieres En Haye Airfield, or Advanced Landing Ground A-98 was declared operationally ready and turned over to Ninth Air Force on 21 November 1944.
The 354th Fighter Group, flying P-47 Thunderbolts arrived shortly afterwards and remained until April 1945. The Luftwaffe bombed the airfield several times during the winter nights of 1944/45.
During construction of ALG A-98, the 850th EAB encountered a difficult problem that has plagued this site to the present day.
Winter rains aggravated the severe drainage problem in the region and the entire base became a quagmire of slippery clay.
Six inches of stone were laid to support the pierced steel plank runway, but this proved insufficient to prevent mud rising through the PSP.
Finally the PSP had to be taken up and six additional inches of slag laid to keep the runway operational for the P-47s. .
The problem was so extreme that men from the 354th Fighter Group had to assist the aviation engineers to maintain an operational runway and taxiways during the Ardennes offensive.

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Map of ALG A-98 'Rosieres En Haye' in 1944 (US Army, via IXengineercommand.com).


The Americans turned the airfield back over to French authorities on 22 May 1945. In French control after the war, the base sat abandoned for several years. The Air Ministry leased the land out to farmers for agricultural use, sending in unexploded ordnance teams to remove the dangerous munitions.
 
In 1951 as a result of the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, Rosieres-en-Haye Airfield was provided to the United States Air Force by the French as part of their NATO commitment. Toul was chosen because the site was immediately available for construction, and because there was a long American history associated with the area going back to World War I. 
The new NATO airfield was planned to be developed in two steps. The first being a temporary bare base facility built in minimum time to support flying missions. The second stage being the completion of support facilities while the wing operated at the operational facilities. Initial surveys of the area showed that the World War II runway laid down in 1944 at Rosieres-En-Haye Airfield had seriously deteriorated and no remaining structures of the airfield remained. Construction of the base to bring it up to NATO standards started in February 1951 with the building of a railroad track and access roads. In November 1951, the old Pierced Steel Planking runway was torn up and a permanent base of aggregate for a jet runway was laid down.
Like most NATO airfields in France, the design of the new airfield was to space parked aircraft as far apart as possible. This was achieved by the construction of a circular system of hardstands (marguerites) that could be revetted later with earth for added protection. Typically a marguerite consisted of fifteen to eighteen hardstands around a large central hangar, each capable to hold one or two aircraft. This allowed the planes to be spaced approximately 150 feet (ca. 50m) apart. Each squadron was assigned to a separate hangar/hardstand complex.
In December 1951, the 7412th Support Squadron was established by the USAF at "Toul-Rosières Air Base" to coordinate construction issues and development of the new NATO facility.


The first tennant at the base, the 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, arrived at Toul on 27 January 1952 deploying to France from Lawson AFB, Georgia.
It was composed of three activated Air National Guard squadrons from Alabama, South Carolina and Ohio, the 112th, 157th and the 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons (Photo Jet), along with their support personnel.
The Wing's compliment of aircraft was 15 RB-26Cs (tail coded with yellow stripes) assigned to the 112 TRS, and 38 RF-80As, assigned to the 157 (red stripes) and 160 TRS (green stripes) and each squadron had a T-33A trainer assigned to it.
The mission of the 117 TRW was to provide tactical, visual, photographic and electronic reconnaissance by both day and night, as was required by the military forces within the European command, by daylight in case of the RF-80s.
Toul AB in 1952 was not ready for the Wing's arrival. At the time of the 117th's arrival, the base consisted of a sea of mud, and the new jet runway was breaking up and could not support safe flying.
The Wing commander of the 117th deemed it uninhabitable and its flying squadrons of the wing were dispersed to West Germany.
112 TRS and its B-26's to Wiesbaden AB, the 157 TRS deployed RF-80's and T-33A's to Furstenfeldbruck AB, and the 160th deployed the balance of the RF-80's to Neubiberg AB.
The non-flying Headquarters and Support organizations remained at Toul.
By July 1952 the facilities at Wiesbaden were becoming very crowded, and it was felt that the B-26's could fly from the primitive conditions at Toul.
The 112 TRS returned to Toul, however the jet-engined RF-80's remained in Germany until a new runway was constructed.
All of the aircraft and support equipment remained at Toul when the 117 TRW was deactivated in place and its mission was taken over by the newly-activated 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

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A U.S. Air Force Douglas RB-26C-40-DT Invader (s/n 44-35599) of the 183rd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Night Photo) 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, Mississippi Air National Guard, in a temporary nose "hangar" at Toul Air Base, France, January 1953
(United States Air Force, via Wikipedia)

 
On 10 July 1952, the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activated in place at Toul AB, absorbing the personnel and equipment of the deactivated 117 TRW. The 112 TRS was redesignated the 1 TRS, the 157 TRS became the 32 TRS, and the 160 TRS became the 38 TRS. The 32 and 38 TRS remained with their RF-80's at Furstenfeldbruck and Neubiberg respectively.
Although the 10 TRW absorbed the 117th's aircraft, the tail codings were changed. The RB-26's were repainted with black and white stipes, the 32nd with red and yellow stripes, and the 38th's had green and yellow stripes. The squadrons also retained the T-33A trainers assigned to them. On 9 May 1953 the 10 TRW was moved to Spangdahlem AB in Germany as part of a USAFE reorganization. After the Wing's departure the 7412th Support Squadron was established by the Air Force as a host unit. In addition, the U.S. Army Aviation Engineers were moved into Toul to address the runway and support structure issues which were unresolved during the tenure of the 117 and 10 TRW. For over 20 months construction proceeded by the Army along with French contractors with new Headquarters, barracks, hangars and support buildings.
 
In November 1953, the 465th Troop Carrier Wing, activated at Donaldson AFB South Carolina in February 1953 from former Air Force Reserve aircraft and equipment, arrived at Toul AB. The 465th consisted of three flying squadrons, the 780th, 781st and 782nd Troop Carrier Squadrons and was assigned to the Twelfth Air Force and attached to the 322d Air Division (Combat Cargo). Aircraft operated by the 465th were 56 C-119C "Flying Boxcar"s, along with several C-47 and L-20A support aircraft. Squadron markings of the C-119's were red for the 780 TCS, green for the 781 TCS and yellow for the 782 TCS. During April and May 1954 enough construction was completed at Toul AB to allow the deployed aircraft squadrons to use the rebuilt facilities.
At the time of the units assignment to Toul, construction was still underway of the main runway and support facilities, so the flying units were temporarily deployed to Germany. The 780th was assigned to Rhein-Main AB, the 781st to Wiesbaden AB and the 782d to Neubiberg. The mission of the 465th was to provide tactical airlift to USAFE, including deploying airborne forces and equipment by parachute. However, because of the few number of airborne units in Europe, its mission became airlift support of supplies and equipment throughout Europe and North Africa. Many missions were flown to Wheelus Air Base in Libya to support the weapons ranges established there. On 23 May 1955 the 465 TCW was relocated to Évreux-Fauville AB.
With the departure of the C-119s, the 7430th Air Base Squadron was activated to maintain Toul in a standby status. Budget cuts however, prevented any new USAF units from the United States to move to France, only minimal flight operations by the 7430th were flown by a C-47 and an L-20 for support missions.
 
Beginning in 1954 the 366th Fighter-Bomber Wing from Alexandria AFB Louisiana and the 312th Fighter-Bomber Wing from Clovis AFB New Mexico were deployed to Toul AB to test the idea of Dual Basing. Dual Basing was a concept where CONUS units were committed to NATO, but based in the United States to reduce costs. These units flew F-86H "Sabres", and rotated between Toul and the US until 1955.
A historical note is that Lt. Col. John B. England, who was commander of the 389th Fighter-Bomber Squadron from Alexandria AFB was killed when his F-86 crashed into the woods near Toul. His plane was the last F-86 to leave the base in transition to the F-100 Super Sabres, and as he was departing he suffered a flame out. Lt. Col. England tried to restart the crippled jet but he was to low, and when he ejected, he did not have enough altitude for his parachute to open properly. In his honor, Alexandria AFB was renamed England AFB, and it retained that name until its closure in 1993.

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A T-33 and several F-86 at TRAB in 1955 (Kemon01 at Flickr)

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Airmen of the 50th Field Maintence Squadron pose in front of one of their aircraft, North American F-86H-10-NH Sabre serial 53-1451 of the 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron - Toul Air Base France, Summer 1956
(United States Air Force Historical Research Agency - Maxwell AFB, Alabama, via Wikipedia).

On 17 July 1956 the 50th FBW from Hahn AB (Germany) arrived at Toul to become the first unit to use the completed facilities and be able to fully deploy its flying squadrons at the base. Its flying units, 10 (blue), 81 (yellow) and 417 FWS (red) had a total of 74 F-86H 'Sabre' fighters on strength, along with several C-47 and L-20A support aircraft and T-33A trainers. The primary mission of the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing was the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons against Warsaw Pact forces in the event of an invasion of Western Europe. Its secondary missions were tactical air defense and support for NATO ground forces. Life at the airbase is described on this website, describing the life of Richard and Helen Burton at the base from 1955.
During May 1957 the 50th saw the arrival of the first F-100D/F "Super Sabre", of which a total of 75 were received in both single (D), and two seat (F) models, 25 per squadron. A change in residence, however, loomed on the horizon for the 50 TFW. In 1959, disagreements arose within NATO concerning atomic storage and custody issues,  resulting in a decision to remove United States Air Force atomic-capable units from French soil. At the same time, 17TRS deployed it s RF-101C Voodoos to Toul from Shaw AFB in South Carolina. 
In April 1960, the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron moved from Laon-Couvron to TRAB for a period of 5 months to allow resurfacing of the Laon runway. During the detachement, two RF-101 Voodoos of the 18th TRS ( 56-0076 and 56-0077) crash during landing after night flying, killing Capt. Par H. Baker and lieutenant Jimmy P. Duren.
In October 1960 two Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons deploy to TRAB for Operation "Young-Gal". The 32TRS and 38TRS both operated RF-101 Voodoos. 
On 10 December 1960, the 50 TFW redeployed back to Hahn AB Germany. 
 

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F-100D Serial 56-3238 of the 50th Tactial Fighter Wing (Wing Commander's Aircraft), Toul Air Base France, 1958 (United States Air Force Historical Research Agency - Maxwell AFB, Alabama, via Wikipedia).

In 1959 the 10th TRW at RAF Alconbury (England) established Detachment #1at TRAB to support alert aircraft and the ECM reconnaissance mission as, due to its proximity to the Iron Curtain, time to target and time on station were greatly reduced by flying from TRAB instead of from the UK. The 10th TRW flew variants of the Douglas B-66 "Destroyer" in photo recon and ECM versions. Their aircraft were deployed from RAF Alconbury, RAF Bruntingthorpe and RAF Chelveston in the United Kingdom. The idea was that B-66's would stay at Toul between two and four weeks then rotate back to England. During that time the 42nd TRS, based at RAF Chelveston, also staged ECM reconnaissance missions from TRAB, typically flying a mission from RAF Chelveston and landing at TRAB, then one or two missions from TRAB, then a mission to return to RAF Chelveston.
32TRS remained at the base until March 1962, when they left for Laon-Couvron. In January 1963 a testunit set up at TRAB to test the use of the Kaman H-43B Huskie. 

In the summer of 1962 the 42nd TRS with 12 B-66B "Brown Cradle" offensive ECM aircraft and 11 RB-66C ECM Reconnaissance aircraft, transferred from RAF Chelveston to Toul-Rosieres. At the same time, the 19th TRS, flying RB-66B photo reconnaissance aircraft, also relocated from RAF Bruntingthorpe.

On 10 March 1964, a 19th TRS RB-66C was shot down over East Germany by Soviet MiG-19s from Zerbst air base, after it crossed over the border due to a compass malfunction. The crew ejected and were taken prisoner briefly before being released.
In October 1965 the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activated at Chambley AB and the 26th Tactical Recon naissance Wing was activated at Toul. The 42nd TRS and the 19th TRS were then assigned to the 25th TRW at Chambley, although many members of the squadrons continued to live at TRAB and commute to Chambley.

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RB-66 of the 42nd Tactical Reconnaissance squadron, 10th TRW. Mid 1960's (USAF, via Wikipedia).

 
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Undated aerial photo of Toul-Rosieres.
 
On 1 October 1961, as a result of the Berlin Crisis, the mobilized Missouri Air National Guard (ANG) 131st Tactical Fighter Wing deployed to Toul as the 7131st Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional). When activated, the 131 TFW consisted of the 110, 169 and 170 TFS, from Lambert Field, St. Louis MO, Peoria Municipal Airport, Peoria IL, and Capitol Airport, Springfield IL, respectively. These activated ANG squadrons flew the F-84F "Thunderstreak", but due to budget restraints, only one squadron of the 131 TFS was deployed, with the other two squadrons being assigned from other ANG wings. A total of 78 aircraft were deployed, 26 per squadron, with the final deployed aircraft arriving at Toul on 13 November. The 7131 TFW assumed regular commitments on a training basis with the U.S. 7th Army as well as maintaining a 24-hour alert status. The wing exchanged both Air and Ground Crews with the 730th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Skydstrup Air Station, Denmark during May 1962. As the Berlin situation subsided, all activated ANG units were ordered to be returned to the United States and released from active duty, the 7131st departed from Toul on 19 July 1962.
 
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F-84F of the 110th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 131st Tactical Fighter Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, Toul Air Base, France - Deployed as a result of the Berlin Crisis 1961/62 (USAF, via Wikipedia).
 
On 1 July 1965 a new Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was formed at Toul: the 26th TRW, designated to be equipped with the brand new RF-4C "Phantom". With the activation of the 26 TRW, the 7544th Support Group was deactivated. The squadrons initially assigned to the 25th were the 22 TRS, flying RB-66's acquired from the deployed Alconbury squadrons and the 32 TRS, flying RF-101C "Voodos", which were transferred from the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Laon-Couvron Air Base. The RF-4C's started arriving on 3 October 1965, phasing out the RB-66's and RF-101s.
The Huskies remained until October 1966, when they were sent back to RAF Lakenheath in the UK. At the same time, 38TRS left for Ramstein Air Base in Germany and 17TRS moved to RAF Upper Heyford.

On 1 January 1966, the 38 TRS arrived from the 66 TRW, giving the 25 TRW three squadrons. But on 7 March 1966, French President Charles de Gaulle announced that France would withdraw from NATO's integrated military structure and the United States were informed that they had to remove their military forces from France by 1 April 1967. As a result, the 26 TRW and two of its squadrons, the 38th and 32d, relocated to Ramstein AB, Germany on 5 October 1966. In November, the 22 TRS was reassigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, where it became a dual-based squadron, frequently deploying to Ramstein AB. On 5 October 1966 the 26 TRW was deactivated at Toul and in its place the 7544th Support Group was reactivated to facilitate the removal of American property and personnel from the base. On 1 April 1967 the American Flag was lowered for the last time at Toul, and the base returned to French control.



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RF-4C Serial 64-1060 of 22TRS/26TRW, Toul-Rosieres Air Base, France, first to arrive for 26TRW in 1965 (United States Air Force Historical Research Agency - Maxwell AFB, Alabama, via Wikipedia).
 
After the USAF withdrawal from France, the French Air Force took up residence at Toul with the arrival of the 11th Escadre (wing) from Bremgarten Air Base in Germany. The base was given designation Le Détachement Air DA 11/136. On 21 June 1967, the French Air Force officially took possession of the base, transferring 15 F-100 aircraft of the 02/011 Escadron (Squadron).
Escadrilles (EC) of the 11th Escadre at Toul-Rosières were:
EC 01/011 "Roussillon".
EC 02/011 "Vosges".
EC 03/011 "Corse".
EC 04/011 "Jura".
 
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F-100D 54-2122 (the second received by the French Air Force) with the colors of the 3/11 "Corse" (Corsica) is seen at Toul-Rosières Air Base France in June 1970. Coll. YF (French L'ARMÉE DE L'AIR, via Wikipedia).

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From front to rear: a Dassault Flamand, a T-33 and a rare (only 4 built) Br941S transport on the TRAB platform in 1972 (coll. M. de Boer, used with permission) 

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Groundcrew are watching a formation flight of 4 F-100 Super Sabres of EC 02/011 of the Armée de l'Air with four F-104G and a single TF-104G Starfighters of 312 Sqn of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht pass over Toul-Rosières during a squadron rotation in 1972 (coll. M. de Boer, used with permission)
 
The F-100's remained at Toul-Rosières until 3 November 1976 when the last from EC.02/011 were retired and returned to American control. Returned French F-100's were flown to Great Britain for storage and eventual scrapping. On 25 June 1977 the last F-100 based at TRAB left for the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace at Le Bourget, the type having performed 205,000 hours of flight in France.
During August 1974, EC.03/011 received the 11th Escadre's first SEPECAT Jaguar, with the other squadrons being equipped through November 1976. The Jaguar-equipped Escadrons were declared operational on 22 December 1977.
A new base entrance was realised and inaugurated in 1979. On 6 July 1987 Toul-Rosieres was closed to traffic to allow the entire runway lighting to be changed as well as having its emergency stopping barriers replaced. Late in August 1992 a Czechoslovak delegation went to the inspection BA.136 under the auspices of the CFE treaty. 
On 24 June 1994 the 11th Fighter Wing and the first squadron 01/011 Roussillon were disbanded as past of the post Cold War budget cuts. In September 1995 the airbase lost its ground based air defense squadron with 2 sections of Crotale SAMs. On 31 May 1996 02/011 'Vosges' was disbanded, and finally a year later the last squadron (03/011 'Corse') on 25 June 1997. On 1 September 1998, Toul-Rosières Air Base was phased down, stopped being an active airfield on 1 July 2000 and was eventually closed on August 31, 2004.
As of 18 July 2007 the airbase stopped being a host unit to any aviation units.
 
The dismantling of the airbase picked up to leave the base as it was when the airbase was originally built. The railway connection was dismantled, and pollution and the wrecks of two old Mirage III fighters were removed. A military ceremony marked the closing of BA.136 Toul-Rosieres and the base was placed in reserve status.
Aircraft from Toul-Rosières had been deployed to Africa, the Middle East (Gulf War) and Yugoslavia (Deny Flight/Deliberate Force) in support of French/NATO interests. The site remained attached to DA.90/133 of Nancy-Ochey as Détachement Air DA.90/136 being used as a munitions storage facility.
 
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Toul-Rosieres in 2004 (Google Earth).
 
Since its inactivation the airfield has been home to two mass events: a Techno festival on 1 May 2007 and an evangelical Event in 2008.
It hosted an army training facility until 2010. The Armée de l'Air and Arméé de Terre (french army) used the airfield for an exercise in January 2010. The exercise scenario was to seize an enemy airfield, secure it, and deploy operational and logistical elements. The airfield was captured for four days, and during that time it welcomed aircraft like C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall. 
An energy company invested 430 million Euros to build the largest photovoltaic plant in France at the base. From the autumn of 2011 400 hectares were covered with panels to produce a peak 143MW. Part of the site would be replanted and some facilities will be retained to house the history of this former NATO and French base, including the static display of military aircraft.
The airfield was finally closed as a military facility on 14 May 2011. Veterans of both the French and the American Air Force attended the ceremony. During the ceremony USAF Col. Lacy, representing the US ambassador to France, handed French General Guevel a "Congressional Certificate of Merit", dedicated to all the French and American personnel to have served at Toul-Rosieres.

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Toul_Rosières in 2010, before the photovoltaic fungus infected the airfield (sonicboom.aero)

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Construction of photovoltaic panels at Toul-Rosieres in August 2011 (France-Air-OTAN).

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Barely visible from the south are the runway and taxi tracks that are still at the former airfield. It will be in the 2030s before there is a chance the airfield can become an airfield again (Greenunivers). 


Construction and placement of the photocells began in the summer of 2011. By May 2012, installation of the photocells was complete. The concession for the use of the field is reported to be 22 years.



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