Schooners and Kingfishers

Check out these beautiful shots, courtesy of the French Marine Nationale, showing the training schooners Etoile and Belle Poule buzzed by two civilian-owned Morane-Saulnier MS.733 Alcyons of the Morane Marine association, complete with vintage Aéronautique Navale markings.

The photoex took place on June 23.

Built in 1932 by the French Navy for training duties, Etoile and Belle Poule are some 123-feet oal and are designed to each accommodate 30 cadets in addition to their 20-man professional crew. Both of the schooners managed to escape the Fall of France in June 1940 and made for England, where they were later used by the FNFL, the Free French Navy, to train gunners, helmsmen, and commandos for the Liberation.

As such, they are the only ships in the fleet today that are granted the honor of flying the wartime FNFL flag.

As for the Alcyons, French for Kingfisher, they are not quite as old. First entering service in 1949, the French Navy used 40 MS.733s for navigation and basic flight training, keeping them in service into the 1970s. This makes them basically the French equivalent of the North American T-28 Trojan, although far less numerous.

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