Escadron de Chasse 01-002 "Cigognes"

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EC 1/2 squadron emblem

Fighter Squadron 01-002 "Storks" (French language: Escadron de Chasse 01.002 "Cigognes") or EC 1/2 is a French Air Force fighter squadron currently stationed at Air Base 116 Luxeuil-Saint Sauveur (ICAO: LFSX).[1] It inherits the traditions of three notable World War I units: SPA 3 of the famous ace Georges Guynemer, SPA 103 of René Fonck, and SPA 12.[2]

History[edit]

A Nieuport 11 with the stork emblem at the Auto & Technic Museum, Sinsheim

Before and during World War I[edit]

Following a decision taken by the French Army General Council,[3] in June 1912, the first flights of the French air arm were formed. One of these was established at the army camp of Avord, in Cher. Its designation, B.L. 3, arose from the aircraft type with which it was equipped, the Blériot XI. Once established, the flight moved eastward, towards Alsace. The sight of this 'migration' led to comparison with the storks which are harbingers spring in Alsace. So the name 'Cigogne' came to be associated in people's minds with B.L. 3.[4] Alsace had been part of France until 1871 but in 1912 was part of Germany. The association therefore touched French pride.

It was not until 1916, under the pressure of the Great War in which aircraft numbers grew rapidly, that the association between the emblem and the unit became official. So that aircrews should be able to recognise other members of their own flight, in order to regroup after dispersal during fighting, the command of the Somme Combat Group, of which flight.3 was then a part, ordered that clear symbols be painted on aircraft. By this time, the flights had been grouped into squadrons. The squadron's commanding officer, Commandant Felix Brocard, chose to make reference to the Alsatian storks by using a white stork with lowered wings as the emblem on the Nieuports of no. 3 flight. He then ordered the other flights of the squadron to choose emblems using storks in other postures.[4] The modern emblem of the squadron bears three storks at three points in the wing-beat cycle. They represent respectively Flight 3 (wings low), Flight 103 (wings high) and Flight 12 (wings spread).[5]

See also Escadrille 3, Escadrille 103, Escadrille 12

World War II[edit]

Having distinguished itself during the Battle of France in 1940, the squadron was disbanded in August. However, it was re-formed in July 1941 and equipped with Dewoitine D.520s. In 1942, it was sent to North Africa where it took its opportunity, with other units, to join the Free French Forces and was shipped to Ayr, in Scotland. There it was designated as No. 329 Squadron RAF. On 6 June 1944, it took part in the D Day Landing and from 19 August, was again based in France, at Sommervieu, Normandy, under Captain Ozanne. At this period, it specialized in ground attack but aerial combat was still part of the job and in December 1944, the squadron was faced with its first Jet-propelled opposition. In July 1945, fifteen aircraft of the squadron took part in the victory fly-past, celebrating an honourable end to the Second World War.[6]

Post World War II[edit]

One MD 450 Ouragan of 1/2 fighter squadron Storks.

In November 1945, the squadron, EC 1/2 Cigognes was re-established as a unit of the French Air Force. In June 1946 it left for French Indochina where it flew the Supermarine Spitfire, with the SPA 3 flight stationed at Saigon and SPA 103 at Hanoi. On its return to Metropolitan France in 1948, it was reequipped with Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.

Mirage 2000 of the Storks Squadron: escadron Cigognes

In 1949, EC 1/2 Cigognes moved to its present base at Dijon-Longvic, at the same time reequipping with De Havilland Vampire jets, followed by the Dassault MD 450 Ouragan, then Dassault Mystère IVAs. It was in this aircraft that the squadron was engaged during the Suez Crisis in 1956. Notably, it became the first unit of the French Air Force to deploy an indigenous Mach-2 fighter, the new Mirage IIIC, on 7 July 1961.[7] In 1968 these were replaced by Mirage IIIE.

In 1984, EC 1/2 Cigognes moved on to the Mirage 2000C. In September 1994, it received a third flight: the SPA 12. At the end of the 1990s, the squadron moved to Mirage 2000-5F.

The squadron has played a role in NATO's response to the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine, providing a pair of Mirage 2000-5F (along with a pair of Mirage 2000C fighters from EC 2/5) which arrived at Poland's 22nd Air Base on 2 June 2014.[8]

Constituent flights[edit]

  • SPA 3 Cigognes, known as Guynemer's
  • SPA 12 Cigognes (since 1994)
  • SPA 103 Cigognes, known as Fonck's

Bases[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Squadron's page on Air Force website
  2. ^ Air Force site.
  3. ^ Law of 29 March 1912. "Military aeronautics is charged with the study, the acquisition or the construction and the putting into a working state, of aerial navigation devices useable by the Army, such as balloons, aeroplanes and kites." This was not strictly, the founding of the French Air Force but it was an effective step in that direction. Accessed 2009-08-30. Archived 2009-09-03.
  4. ^ a b Squadron site
  5. ^ The three emblems may be seen separately at the foot of the squadron’s page in the Air Force site. While the squadron's emblem has all three birds in black and white, the individual emblem of No. 12 Flight is in black and silver. Accessed 2009-08-30. Archived 2009-09-03.
  6. ^ Air Force site. For a fuller coverage of this period, see No. 329 Squadron RAF.
  7. ^ Pierre-Alain Antoine (Sep 2011). "Memories of a Mirage driver". Aircraft: 87. ISSN 2041-2150. 
  8. ^ "France Replaces Rafales with Mirages on Polish Det". Air Forces Monthly: 11. August 2014. 
  9. ^ Over the Front: A Complete Record of the Fighter Aces and Units of the United States and French Air Services, 1914-1918. p. 89–90; 103–104. 

External links[edit]