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Thread: French air force in the 1950's

  1. #1
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    French air force in the 1950's

    Hello everyone,
    Was wondering if anyone knows what active operations the french had during the 1950s?? I have never really looked into France and her conflicts before but thought I might start to swat up a bit. I understand they were busy losing Algeria and had some interest in Vietnam but pictures of them in action are limited like there victories . Just seems to me this is a forgotten era of aviation and wondered if there is a reason?? . If anyone knows any good books (in English please as I am a Lincolnshire boy born and bred) and please upload your pictures of the french winning in combat :diablo: that would be fantastic.

  2. #2
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    Perhaps not the best way to encourage francophiles to assist you?

  3. #3
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    Fair point, I did not think it was THAT rude and might stir up the old "I think you will find....", It was meant to be light hearted, although as I have seen on this forum before things can quickly get out of hand so I will quit the humour now and I am by no means anti French and thought that was clear by the fact I was bothering to study there history and aviation a bit

  4. #4
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    .........not in the least bit rude but, as I said, maybe not the best way to encourage people to do something, rather than deciding to do nothing, to point you in the right direction. Anyhow, over the weekend I'll see what I can come up with and either post the information here or send you a PM.
    Last edited by avion ancien; 28th September 2012 at 12:43. Reason: adding the missing d!

  5. #5
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    Extending the French theme.
    Any info where and when all the French Halifax were scrapped. Perhaps something remains there. France is a big country.

    Cees

  6. #6
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    I'd hazard a guess that if you ask at http://www.aerostories.org/~aeroforu...hist/index.php, you'll find someone who knows!

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    Thanks very much and I see your point.

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    Don't forget the Anglo/ French invasion of Suez in 1956, which as a military operation was successful but ultimately futile as America won the willy waving contest.

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    I'm afraid, dh82jon, that there seems to be very little by way of English language publications concerning the involvement of the Armée de l'Air, Aéronavale or ALAT in the various military conflicts in which France was involved during the 1950s. I have not been able to trace a single English language book dealing with this specifically. There are, however, a few books which deal with these conflicts generally and take a pan-service perspective on them. If you would like details of them, please let me know.

    Primarily the conflicts - with a significant aerial element - in which France was involved in the 1950s were the Indochina War and the Algerian War. However the former started in the 1940s and the latter lasted into the 1960s. You can do a lot worse than make a start with the wikipedia entries on these two conflicts (q.v.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Indochina_War and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerian_War) and then follow the hyperlinks that are to be found there.

    I doubt that it will surprise you to learn that there is a great deal published in French concerning both of these conflicts generally and the aerial aspects of those specifically. If, despite your caveat, you are really interested in pursuing a study of the aerial aspects of these conflicts, I fear that you will have little choice but to look to the French language texts. Thus you might wish to seek out:

    Jean Claude Soumille - 'L'aviation militaire française en Indochine 1946-1954' (volumes 1 & 2)
    Alain Crosnier & Jean Michel Guhl - 'L'armée de l'air en Indochine' (volume 1: Transport et bombardement 1945-1954)
    Général Michel Fleurence - 'Rotors dans le ciel d’Indochine - L’épopée des hélicoptères de l’armée de l’Air en Extrême-Orient (1950-1997)' (volumes 1,2 & 3)

    as well as an article in the magazine 'Le trait d'union' (no 162, 1995) by Vital Ferry entitled 'Les ailes du dragons' (volume 1: 'Dix ans d'aviation civile en Indochine (1946-1955)').

    I suspect that these are only some of the publications that touch upon the specific aspects of these topics that interest you, dh82jon, and if there are any native French members of this forum, probably they can provide you with a more specific and detailed reading list. But hopefully, the little that I know and can contribute will provide you with a start!

  10. #10
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    It's a shame that we don't see more French publications translated into English. As someone who worked in the aviation book market for several years and saw a lot of aviation books in my time, those produced by French publishers were some of the nicest books produced. Interesting subject matter, great photo reproduction and well produced books. I was always certain that English versions would have meant wider sales, particularly in the UK and US markets.

    Regards;
    Steve

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    AA, ironically I saw your first two references at a flea market in Lille last weekend for about 5 Euros each. I had a quick look (my interest is UK civil) and they weren't too heavy for my schoolboy French.

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    Big sigh...........

    Why do I never come across such books at those prices? I always seem to end up paying top dollar! But then, I do live rather a long way from what is the largest brocante/vide greniers in France (and probably all Europe, for that matter).

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    Thank you guys for all the replies and think I would be happy to get a few french books as it would be fun in an odd way to decode them into Lincolnshire, I had also forgotten about the suez crisis and that is of current interested. I had look on Wikki and have exhausted it but also I find the classic book in paper form more interesting for some reason! Cheers for your efforts chaps

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    Pierre Clostermann wrote 'Leo25 airborne',not as good a read as The big show and it is not strictly an autobio.
    He flew Broussards in Algeria and this book is based on that.
    But there are some interesting pictures in there.
    Published by Catto and windus.

    There was also an autobio written by an ex RAF air gunner (I think)...he joined the french foreign legion postwar,I am away from home and cannot remember title...

    rgds baz

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dh82jon View Post
    Hello everyone,
    Was wondering if anyone knows what active operations the french had during the 1950s??
    .....
    I understand they were busy losing Algeria and had some interest in Vietnam but pictures of them in action are limited.
    The French had more than "some" interest in Vietnam... or should we say "French Indochina"?

    FIC was a major French colonial possession, and there was considerable fighting between native and French forces up until the peace treaty in July 1954 (and some after that in the southern French-held part as well).

    Among other aircraft used by the French were the F6F Hellcat, various marks of F4U Corsair, SB2C Helldivers, and TBF Avengers... including operations involving the ex-British carrier Colossus (Arromanches, transferred 1946) and the ex-US light carriers Belleau Wood (Bois de Belleau) and Langley (La Fayette).


    French service as Bois Belleau

    She remained in reserve until transferred to the French Navy under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act on 5 September 1953. In French service she sailed under the name Bois Belleau (R97) (literal translation of "Belleau Wood").

    In April 1954, the carrier departed from the Toulon French Naval Base, Toulon towards French Indochina in order to replace the Arromanches (R95). She arrived around 20 May in Halong Bay. Although the critical Battle of Dien Bien Phu was over, her US-built fighters and bombers were immediately used by the French forces, as the war was not over. After peace with the Viet Minh, the Geneva Conference was signed on 21 July 1954. The Bois Belleau sailed for France, where she then joined the Algerian War.

    Bois Belleau was returned to the United States in September 1960, stricken from the Navy List on 1 October 1960, and scrapped.
    Langley was taken out of "mothballs" early in 1951, refurbished and transferred to France under the Mutual Defense Assistance Program. Based in Toulon, La Fayette carried out many missions in the Far East until June 1953. During this action, her airgroup included F6F Hellcats and SB2C Helldivers. Modernized in 1953-1954, she served in the Mediterranean and on the African coasts. In early 1956 she returned to Indo-China (which had been partitioned after the cease fire) equipped with F4U Corsairs and TBF Avengers. She was involved in the Suez Crisis air and landing operations along with Arromanches (R95) and British carriers beginning in October 1956. In March 1960, La Fayette participated in the rescue operations in the Moroccan city of Agadir, damaged by an earthquake. It then took part in the repatriation of the first refugees from Algeria. After more than a decade of French Navy service, she was returned to the United States in March 1963 and was sold for scrap a year later.

    In French service, La Fayette sailed nearly 350,000 nautical miles, her planes having carried out 19,805 landings. The La Fayette was awarded the Military Cross for its first missions in Indo-China. The name of La Fayette is now carried by the frigate La Fayette (F710).
    The French aircraft carrier La Fayette (R96) arriving in France on 11 September 1951, with her air group on deck. The air group consisted of 16 Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat, 4 F6F-5N night fighters, and 12 Grumman TBM-3E Avenger. The carrier had just been transferred from the U.S. Navy to France.
    Last edited by Bager1968; 29th September 2012 at 02:41.

  16. #16
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    Some books have been bought off a well known website about suez and will now start looking for the french titles, Cheers guys.

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    I am prompted by Avion Ancien's jibe about Google translation of the French text earlier, and by RAFRochford's (Steve's) regret that more French aviation works have not been translated into English. I agree with both. As one of my hobbies is translating from French to English, maybe one of you publishers out there might be interested in pursuing the subject. Let me know!
    Laurence

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