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Lafayette Escadrille - Post WWI
The history of the Lafayette Escadrille did not end when the squadron was incorporated into the American Air Service. Recognizing the contribution of the American volunteers who flew for the French cause, the Service Aeronautique designated one of its own squadrons to carry on the tradition.

In 1920, the title Lafayette Escadrille was assigned to 7th Squadron of the 35th Aero Regiment, and its planes carried the Sioux head insignia.

In 1933, the Sioux Squadron was joined with the other elite group, Cigognes (the Storks) to form the Groupe de Chasse 2/5, the Escadron Lafayette. This unit served at various bases throughout France during the 1930’s and was stationed at Toul-Croix-de-Metz when the Second World War broke out in September 1939.

A Dewoitine 501 of the Sioux Squadron at Remis in 1937.

A Curtiss 75 “Hawk” at Toul-Croix-de-Metz in 1939. Note the Sioux insignia.

On 20 September, Sergent Pilote Legrand flying his Curtiss “Hawk” downed a Messerschmitt BF 109 for Escadron Lafayette’s first victory.

With the outbreak of the War, an effort was mounted by some Americans along with Colonel Thenault, the Escadrille’s first commander, and Dr. E. Gros to create another American volunteer unit. However, the fall of France cut short their efforts.

The Lafayette unit was re-formed in North Africa where it flew with the Free French Air Force. The Curtiss “Hawks” were replaced with far superior P-40F “Warhawks.” Over the course of the War, the Groupe 2/5 flew in the North African, Italian, French and German sectors. In April 1944, the P-47D became the unit’s aircraft which it flew until 1949.

In January 1945, the Group 2/5 completed a cycle when it returned to the Luxeuil Air Base, the field from which the first Lafayette Escadrille had flown in 1916.

A Republic P-47D “Thunderbolt” returning from its base in Ambérigeu in late 1944.

A Spitfire MKIX prepared for takeoff. The Spitfire was flown by the 2/4 in Indochina (Vietnam) in 1947 and 1948.

During the War, Escadron Lafayette flew 8,531 sorties, 1,452 missions and were credited with 103 victories. On bombing missions, they dropped nearly sixteen thousand tons of bombs.

In July 1947, the Groupe 2/5 was reconstituted as the Groupe de Chasse 2/4 Lafayette. In the following years, the unit saw combat action in Indochina flying Spitfires, and later in Algeria, flying North Amer-ican T-6G’s, a variant of the venerable Texan.

In 1949, the Escadron Lafayette entered the jet age with the adoption of the DeHavilland DH100 “Vampire.” Five years later, the Sioux Squadron began flying the republic F-84F “Thunderjet” which it flew until 1966 when it was replaced by the Dassault-Breguet “Mirage IIIE.”

A DeHavilland DH 100 “Vampire” was the Escadron’s first jet fighter. It entered the service in November 1949.

A “Mirage 2000N” refueling in flight from a C-135.

In July 1989, the “Mirage” 2000N began service with the Groupe 2/4. Since September 1991, the unit has been a part of the French Strategic Air Command and was designated a Tactical Nuclear Strike Unit.

In September 1991, a third Escadrille was added to the Lafayette Group, the SPA 160, les Diables Rouge, the Red Devils.

Since then, the three squadrons of the Escadron Lafayette, the Sioux, the Storks, and the Red Devils have served on various missions with United Nations and North American Treaty Organization’s forces.

Nieuport - Delage ND 29 - The standard French fighter following the World War through to 1928. Powered by an 8-cylinder Hispano - Suiza engine, the ND 29 had a top speed of 132 mph. It was armed with two machine guns.

Dewoitine D-501 - An elegant low wing, all-metal design, the D-501 served as a front line fighter in the Armee de l’Air from 1935 through to the Second World War. Powered by a 12-cylinder Hispano - Suiza V-engine, the D-501 has a top speed of 223 mph. It carried four wing mounted machine guns.

Dewoitine 520 - Originally designed in 1938, the D. 520 did not reach combat groups until 1940. A superior aircraft, it had the potential to be as great as the Spitfire or Messerschmitt 109. After the defeat of France, it was flown by the Free French squadrons. It was powered by a Hispano - Suiza V-12 engine and had a top speed of 329 mph.

Curtiss P-40F - Powered by a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine built by Packard, the P-40F was a major improvement over earlier P-40’s. It had a top speed of 364 mph and was armed with six 50 caliber machine guns. It was flown by Lafayette Escadrille from various bases in North Africa.

Republic F-84F - The F-84F Thunderjet served with the Squadron from May 1954 to 1966. During that time, it flew out of bases in Germany and from Luxeuil, the Escadrille’s first base.

Dassault-Breguet Mirage 2000N - The French entry into the “state-of-the-art” realm of military jets. Assigned to the Lafayette unit in July 1989, it serves as a nuclear strike aircraft.