Châteaudun Air Base

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Châteaudun Air Base
French-roundel.svg
Base aérienne 279
Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) A-39
IATA: noneICAO: LFOC
Summary
Airport type Military
Owner Government of France
Operator Armée de l'air
Location Châteaudun, France
Elevation AMSL 433 ft / 132 m
Coordinates Lua error in Module:Coordinates at line 668: callParserFunction: function "#coordinates" was not found.
Map
LFOC is located in France
LFOC
LFOC
Location of Châteaudun Air Base
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10/28 7,552 2,302 Asphalt
05/23 Closed
Source:World Aero Data [1]

Châteaudun Air Base (French: Base aérienne 279 Châteaudun) (ICAO: LFOC) was a French Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air (ALA) base, until 1934 and 2014. The base was located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of Châteaudun; about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Paris. It is currently an airfield rattached to Orléans – Bricy Air Base.

The base is primarily used for aircraft storage and ferrying them to other squadrons of the Air Force. Entrepot de l'Armee de l'Air 601 was assigned to perform this mission. Each French Air Force squadron stores some of its planes for a while thereby artificially prolong the life of the fleet and better material management. The EAA also has the task of storing new aircraft to be used in time of war. To fulfill its mission, the EAA has the Group Maintenance, repair and storage of aircraft (GERS).

A SAN Jodel D.140 Mousquetaire training aircraft is assigned to the base for courier duties.

History

The facility was a French Air Force base built in 1934. It was used by the air force for the storage of aircraft as well as a supply and maintenance depot. At the beginning of World War II, the base had 643 aircraft, which gave it great importance. It became a priority target for the Luftwaffe during the Battle of France who bombed it heavily on 12 and May 19, 1940. On June 14, against the German advance, the airfield was abandoned.,[1] after the heroic sacrifice of flight lieutenant Marcel Beau.

German use during World War II

Seized by the Germans in June 1940 during the Battle of France, Châteaudun was used as a Luftwaffe military airfield during the occupation. Under occupation, the German army, owner, undertook infrastructure projects including the construction of dispersal areas called "daisies" and the track. Chateaudun also served as a starting point for air raids on England. Known units assigned (all from Luftlotte 3, Fliegerkorps IV):[1][2][3]

JG 21 and JG 54 fought in the Battle of Britain as fighter escort units; LG 1 was a training unit; KG 76 engaged in night bombardment operations over England, along with KG 40 and KG 100 to a limited extent due to fuel shortages; NJG2 was a night interceptor unit against RAF Bombers; KG 51 flew the jet ME 262A2a on day jet interceptor missions against American heavy bomber attacks.

Largely due to the presence of the Me-262, Châteaudun became a major target of USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauder medium bombers and P-47 Thunderbolts mostly with 500-pound General-Purpose bombs; unguided rockets and .50 caliber machine gun sweeps to attack the German jets on the ground. It was known that the Me-262 was relatively short-legged, with a relatively short flying radius, so the attacks were timed to have the maximum effect possible on the jets to keep the jet interceptors pinned down on the ground and be unable to attack the heavy bombers. Also the P-51 Mustang fighter-escort groups of Eighth Air Force would drop down on their return to England and attack the base with a fighter sweep and attack any target of opportunity to be found at the airfield.[4]

American use

Châteaudun was heavily attacked on several missions by United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force bombers in 1943 and 1944.[5] It was liberated by Allied ground forces about 20 August 1944 during the Northern France Campaign. Almost immediately, the USAAF IX Engineering Command 832d and 833d Engineer Aviation Battalions began clearing the airport of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft, and repairing operational facilities for use by American aircraft. Subsequently, Châteaudun became a USAAF Ninth Air Force combat airfield, designated as "A-39" about 26 August, only a week after its capture from German forces.[6]

Under American control, Châteaudun initially became the home of numerous combat groups. Initially, the 422d Night Fighter Squadron moved in and provided an air defense with P-61 Black Widows from 28 August to 16 September 1944. The Black Widows were replaced by the B-26 Marauders of the 387th Bombardment Group on 18 September, remaining until 30 October 1944. The last American combat unit to use the airfield was the 10th Reconnaissance Group, which flew a variety of photo-reconnaissance aircraft from the field during November 1944. With the combat units moving east with the front lines, Châteaudun became a transport airfield, with the 439th Troop Carrier Group flying C-47 Skytrains from the field from 4 November 1944 until 7 September 1945.[7]

Return to French Air Force

The Americans returned control of the field to the French Air Force in September 1945 and it returned to being a French military airfield.

In 1967, during the period of tension précéding the Six Day War, cinquante Dassault Mirage 5J ordered by Israel sont entreposés sur la base de Châteaudun. Le règlement de ce contentieux aura lieu en 1971, with the aircraft being bought by the Armée de l'Air. On 13 June 1990, the base was named Lieutenant-Beau, remembering Lieutenant Marcel Beau, a pilot at Air Base 134 Versailles, in 1935.

Today, the remains of World War II bomb craters are very evident in the grass areas of the airfield, as well as the abandoned 05/23 secondary runway in which the wartime patching with asphalt is still visible. From 2 July 2014 the installation was closed as an Air Force Base.[8]

From 2014 the base was linked to Air Force base Orléans-Bricy. Element Air Reattache 279 (EAR 279) retained notably the mission of stockage d'aéronefs, ainsi qu'une activité aérienne (the field being open two days a week). Un projet de centre de déconstruction d'aéronef est évoqué.

On 26 January 2015, the 2015 Los Llanos Air Base crash occurred. One of the nine French victims came from EAR 279.[9]

See also

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. 1.0 1.1 History of Châteaudun Air Base (in French)
  2. The Luftwaffe, 1933-45
  3. Identification codes of units of the Luftwaffe 1939 - 1945
  4. Derived from information in USAAF Film "Target For Today" (available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkGL7vuC2A4)
  5. USAFHRA document 00221368
  6. IX Engineering Command ETO Airfields General Construction Information
  7. Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  8. Dissolution de la BA 279 http://www.defense.gouv.fr/air/actus-air/la-base-aerienne-279-devient-un-ear and Diminuer les coûts, car les ressources diminuent http://www.opex360.com/2014/07/04/la-base-aerienne-279-de-chateaudun-transformee-en-element-air-rattache/
  9. "Accident aérien à Albacete : in memoriam". Armée de l’air (in français). 31 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>.

External links

External links