Validation date: 28 02 2013
Updated on: 23 01 2021
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52°02'24"N 004°22'06"E

Ypenburg station crest

Runway 05R/23L - 2137x45meter/xxxxfeet - Asphalt
Runway 05L/23R - 2441x45meter/xxxxfeet - Concrete

Runway 05/23 - 2410x45meter/xxxxfeet - Asphalt

Air Base Ypenburg (Dutch: Vliegveld Ypenburg or Vliegbasis Ypenburg - ICAO: EHYB) was an air field southeast of The Hague.
Ypenburg started as a civilian airfield for the The Hague Aeroclub in 1936. When initial construction had finished the airfield measured 900x830meters, about the same size as Amsterdam Schiphol during that era. In 1939 the airfield was commandeered by the Netherlands government because of the imminent war.

Possibly the earliest known photo of Ypenburg airfield. The sign simply says "Construction Airfield Ypenburg" (NIMH)

Map of prewar Ypenburg. Hoogte means "elevation", NAP means Normal Amsterdam Peil (engl: Mean Sea Level).

Bird's eye view of Ypenburg in the mid-late 1930s (NIMH)

Ypenburg in 1939, with the hangars and station building on the west side, and a location marker in the center (RNLAF Historic Section).

May 1940 map of the airfield, showing the ground defenses and their firing sectors at Ypenburg (map via Peter van Kaathoven).

Fokker D-21 fighters, including '215' and '216', with orange rudders and triangle nationality markings and with their engines covered, in front of a camouflaged station building in the spring of 1940 (NIMH)

On 10 May 1940 the Germans attacked the airfield, but they were repelled. In spite of this successful initial battle the Germans won the war, took control of the airfield and repaired the damage. Because of it's proximity to the coast the Gemans did not use the airfield however, as they feared Allied air raids.
In 1943, out of fear the airfields would be used for an invasion, the Germans ordered all airfields close to the coast to be sabotaged. By 1944 the airfield became a base for V-1 flying bombs. When the British received a tip as to where the bombs came from, they bombed the airfield.
In April and May of 1945 the base became a drop zone for Operation Manna, the RAF equivalent of the USAAF Operation Chowhound. Starting three days before their American allies, Lancaster bombers from the RAF 'bombed' the airfield with tons of food for the starving people of Holland.

Dutch citizens walk by a stranded Ju-52/3m that crash landed at the edge of Ypenburg during the battle for the Low Countries (collection Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie).

Ypenburg capitulated
Ypenburg after the battle with German forces in May 1940 (NIMH).

Ypenburg on an RAF reconnaisance photo taken in September 1944. A larger version of this photo can be found at NIMH

Businessman Frits Diepen bought the airfield after the war, and reopened it in 1947. In 1948 he started his own airline, Aero-Holland, based at Ypenburg. Because of accidents the company shut down the next year. He then started 'Frits Diepen Vliegtuigen N.V.', which specialised in trading and repairing aircraft. Additionally, Fokker opened a site at the airfield.
In the presence of General Eisenhouwer the first F-84E Thunderjet was handed over to the RNLAF in 1951 at Ypenburg. The 'Frits Diepen Vliegtuigen N.V.' company merged with Fokker in 1954, the same year Ypenburg hosted the ILSY (Internationale Luchtvaartshow Ypenburg, or International Air Show Ypenburg). In 1957 the commercial activities at the airport stopped, because of the closing in of the cities of Rijswijk and The Hague. The military had taken over the airfield two years prior and from 1957 they stationed a transport squadron and two light aviation squadrons at the base. A completely different role was that of host to many foreign and domestic dignitaries. Many Government and Royal Flights often took off from or landed at Ypenburg.

Prototype Fokker F.25 Promotor "PH-NBA" in front of the Fokker (previously Avio-Diepen) hangar at Ypenburg in 1949. Although the photo is dated by NIMH as 1949-1952, I am fairly certain it is between 1947 and 1949, as all Promotors had been flown to Soesterberg by September 1949, where they were scrapped in 1952 (NIMH)

A large crowd gathers for the 1954 ILSY airshow at Ypenburg (NIMH)

Streak BAF
A Belgian Air Force F-84F belly landed at Ypenburg in 1956 (collection Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie).

Judging from the size of the trees in the background, this photo of the new or second tower was taken not too long after Ypenburg was brought up to NATO standard in 1955. The tower was completed in 1958. (Een halve eeuw militaire luchtvaart (1963), via historisch Ypenburg)

Ypenburg Air Base photographed in 1959 (NIMH)

Fokker S11
Two postwar built Fokker S.9 (PH-NAR and PH-...) built for Frits Diepen Vliegtuigen N.V.  According to NIMH, the aircraft were built postwar for sightseeing flights (collection Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie).

A De Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth parked in front of the Aero-Holland hangar at Ypenburg (collection Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie).

On approach to Ypenburg 05R in augustus 1959 (NIMH)

With the runways, taxitracks and dispersals nearly completed, the completely rebuilt Ypenburg Air Base was photographed on 17 August 1959 (NIMH).

In 1962 the first TF-104G Starfighters landed at the air base. At the Fokker maintenance site at the base, the aircraft were reassembled after having been transported in from Lockheed in the USA.
In 1968 Ypenburg was deactivated as an active air base, severely limiting air traffic.

Ypenburg tower, ca. 1960 (NIMH)

Refueling Fokker S-14 Machtrainer "L-7" at Ypenburg in 1960 (NIMH). 

Ypenburg ca. 1960. Both the main runway an the parallel taxi track show the 'piano key' treshold markings that show on virtually all runways around the globe. Hard to distighuish in this resized photo, but in the original scan at NIMH there are aircraft, likely Fokker Friendships, visible on the dispersals (NIMH)

Period map with departure procedures for Ypenburg, ca. 1960. 

Fokker F27 PH-PBF of the Dutch Royal Family taxiing in front of the Ypenburg station building, sometime after 1960.(collection Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie).

Vice-president of the United States Lyndon B, Johnsson flew into Ypenburg Air Base in November 1963 (Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie).

In April 1966 a national newspaper reported the presence of a "Tupolev 1466 "Avrilskaja" at the air base, which could be seen from a nearby motorway. Everybody noticed the red star and letters CCCP, but nobody noticed the similarities with a F-84 Thunderstreak, or the type indicator 1466 'Avrilskaja' (1-4-66 April).That's right: it was April's Fools (NIMH)

All drafted servicemen that served at Ypenburg received this Crash-map. By reporting a letter-cipher combination, reporting of crashes was much simplified. Notice the use of 'coca' instead of the NATO-standard 'Charlie' ('Vliegveld Ypenburg, van sportvliegveld tot vliegbasis').

Who is this man?
In the late 1960s-early 1970s (probably the latter) this unknown dignitary flew into Ypenburg on a Philips Vliegdienst Falcon business jet (NIMH). Do you know who he might be?

Garuda Indonesia (ex-KLM) DC-8 'PH-DCB' and a guard of honour form the backdrop for the departure of KLM Noordzee Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N 'PH-NZC' with President Suharto of Indonesia and Queen Juliana of the Netherlands to the Royal Palace in September 1970 (NIMH). 

Aerial photo of Ypenburg station building and the Fokker Avio-Diepen site in 1972. Visible in the photo are a Fokker Machtrainer in front of the stationbuilding and a Fokker Friendship or Troopship in front of the Fokker hangars (NIMH).

Ypenburg Air Base in 1973. The highway to the right leads to Rotterdam, to the left to The Hague and to the upper left to Leiden and Amsterdam (NIMH)

German fighter ace and General Johannes Steinhof, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, accompanied by Commander RNLAF Lieutenant-general A.J.W. Wijting and minister of Defense H. Vredeling, inspects the guard at Ypenburg in 1974 (NIMH).

Ypenburg's second control tower in the 1970s. Because this tower became too humid in winters and too hot in summers, the tower received external cladding with vertical corrugated iron plates in 1978, painted in olive drab green (NIMH).

In March 1977, Polish prime minister Piotr Jaroszewicz visited the Netherlands via Ypenburg in this Tupolev-134 (NIMH).

In 1982 Ypenburg was put from 'sleeper' air base into 'reserve'. The final 4 F-104 Starfighters overflew the Ypenburg runway on their flight to their new home country Turkey two years later. The aircraft had been put in storage at the airfield pending their disposal, leaving a full squadon or so worth of unsellable Starfighters behind.

1986 held two celebrations: Fokker AvioDiepen's 40th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of the airfield itself. In 1990 Ypenburg shone one more time: it played a major role in the transport of thousands of troops and Equipment from Germany to Saudi-Arabia for Operation Desert Storm. The US transports were the last aircraft to use Ypenburg; the airport closed in December 1990.

During the Reforger'81 exercise WV ANG C-130B's (see the tail on the right) and Luftwaffe C-160D Transalls did many flights to Germany form Ypenburg for 3 or 4 days. Notice the Fokker F.28 Fellowship cockpit on the tower in the distance! (Pieter, a.k.a. 'AK01') on Scramble.nl)

A USAF - Military Airlift Command C-130 is climbing out on runway 23 during a 1980s Reforger exercise (Fotosectie YPB/Sectie Luchtmachthistorie, via HistorischYpenburg)

Pilatus PC-7 'L-03' and 'L-04' in front of the station building, ca. 1990 (NIMH)

In a very sober ceremony with matching weather the Air Force flag and the national flag were taken down for the last time in September 1991. A flight of 4 F-16s performed a low pass as a final farewell.
The air base remained under Air Force control until 1992, when it was transferred to the Treasury.

Colonel R.Singels (right) hands back the command of Air Base Ypenburg to RNLAF commander lieutenant-general W.C. Louwerse (NIMH).

Air Base Ypenburg on 7 August 1993 (ANP Foundation under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In 1997 the construction of the new The Hague residential area 'Ypenburg' began. Most of the former airfield infrastructure was removed to make room for a housing project where eventually 30,000 people would come to live. Between the runway and the parallel service road, a street and a canal were laid out, with the exact length of the old runway, aptly named 'Startbaan' (Dutch for 'Runway').
The buildings of the former military camp (including the control tower) are still where they used to be however. Most have been renovated, and now house the Defense Curriculum Institute (Dutch: Instituut Defensie Leergangen) On the other side of the project the former control tower remained standing.

The Ypenburg control tower in MUCH need of some TLC, ca. 2010

The iron 'skin' was removed from the tower during a renovation of the building in 2014. The tower now houses an art colective, the adjacent building is in use as a fast food restaurant. It was  photographed in August 2020 (photo: RonaldV)

Ypenburg station building from the street side in August 2020 (photo: RonaldV)