Le ‘Lorraine’ at 80
The French Air Force this month is honoring the famed WWII Groupe de bombardement réservé n°1 (best known as “GB Lorraine”), the group they see as the first full-fledged strike unit of the Free French Forces, which was baptized 24 September 1941.
With pilots and crews scrouged from those who escaped the Fall of France in 1940, the unit’s nucleus of just two Martin 167A-3 Maryland bombers first flew to Egypt to continue fighting on 19 July 1940. Later being equipped and expanded with a handful of twin-engine Blenheim bombers, they carried out missions in Tchad, Eritrea, and Abyssinia against the Italians then, following the Syrian campaign, were established as GB Lorraine in Damascus.
Later upgrading to A-20 Havocs (Bostons) and finally to B-25 Mitchells, they conducted their last war mission on 2 May 1945, hitting targets in Germany.
Postwar, they operated Mosquitos, became a jet squadron by switching to Meteors in 1951, Vautours in 1961, Mirage F1Cs in 1974 then later Mirage 2000-5s, and currently, as Escadron de Chasse 3/30 Lorraine, Dassault Rafale Cs which they have flown since 2011.
The above video shows the specially painted 3/30 Lorraine Rafale at the BA 118 Mont-de-Marsan Air Base.
The specially painted 3/30 Lorraine Rafale along with a vintage Dassault Flamant. Capable of carrying bombs and rockets on underwing hardpoints, the Flamant could also tote 10 passengers around, making them very attractive for the French in places like Indochina and Algeria.