Dijon Air Base
|Dijon Air Base|
|IATA: DIJ – ICAO: LFSD|
|Owner||Government of France|
|Operator||Armée de l'air|
|Serves||Dijon, Bourgogne, France|
|Elevation AMSL||726 ft / 221 m|
|Source: French AIP and airport website|
Dijon Air Base (French: Base aérienne 102 Dijon, IATA: DIJ, ICAO: LFSD) is a Front-line French Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air (ALA) NATO air base. The base is located approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) east-southeast of Longvic; about 165 miles (266 km) southeast of Paris
Dijon Air Base is one of the oldest of the Armée de l'Air, being established in 1914, having origins beginning in September 1910 as a civil airdrome. it has been active for over 95 years through both 20th Century World Wars, the Cold War, and numerous crisis.
Operating as a joint civilian base, it is also a commercial airport, the airline Eastern Airways began to operate at the airport in August 2010.
During World War II the airport was attacked by the Luftwaffe on several occasions (10, 14 May) during the Battle of France. It was seized by the German Army on 25 May. Initially during the Occupation of France, it was used as a Prisoner of War camp for French and Allied personnel during August and September 1940 who surrendered during the German Blitzkrieg, being named "Front Stalag 155". While a POW camp, prisoners were used to clear the wreckage of destroyed aircraft and tear down destroyed buildings. German engineers moved in during the winter of 1940/1941 and expanded the main runway from 800 to 1400m in length, in addition to constructing many new buildings to replace the destroyed French facilities.
The first operational Luftwaffe unit to take up residence at Dijon was IV/KG 55 "Greiff", in February 1941, consisting of three squadrons (Staffel) numbers 10, 11 and 12, equipped with 12 Heinkel 111 bombers each. The unit will also include a number of Gotha 145 and Junkers 52s. This unit took part in many bombing missions over England. In March 1943, II/NJG4 arrived, a night fighter unit, equipped with three squadrons of Messerschmitt Bf 110s; Dornier 217 N-1s (RADAR equipped), and Ju 88 Ns
Also in 1943, I/Luftlandgeschwader 2. arrived at Dijon from the Crimea in the Eastern Front, equipped with Heinkel 111Z reconnaissance aircraft, as well as Gotha 242 gliders. The unit only stayed at Dijon briefly, being moved to Istres for use in the Italian Campaign.
While under Luftwaffe control, Dijon Air Base was attacked by the United States Army Air Forces Eighth Air Force heavy B-17 Flying Fortress groups on several occasions in 1944 (28 March, 25 April and August 14). Tactical air units of Twelfth Air Force, moving up from Southern France as part of Operation Dragoon attacked the base with B-26 Marauder medium bombers and P-47 Thunderbolt attacks, dropping 500 pound General Purpose (GP) bombs on the airfield, hangars, maintenance shops and other support buildings, causing great damage to the Luftwaffe aircraft as well as destroying much of the support station.
With the Allied ground forces advancing into the Dijon area, the Germans evacuated the base on 10 September 1944. Prior to their retreat, German engineers attempted to destroy what little remained after the bombing attacks, blowing up the control tower; shelters; bunkers; ammunition and gasoline; water towers; tanks; electrical transformers and barracks.
On 12 September the first American units arrived at the base. The base was almost totally destroyed, and rehabilitation into an operational combat airfield was begun almost immediately by the USAAF IX Engineering Command 847th Engineer Aviation Battalion, which specialized in repair of captured airfields. Work began clearing the base of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft and repairing operational facilities for use by American aircraft. A metal Pierced Steel Planking patch was laid down over the bomb damaged runway to allow aircraft operations, as well as repairing with what could be repaired quickly, and moved in what equipment was necessary to conduct combat operations. Their work paid off as Dijon Air Base was declared operationally ready on 25 September, about two weeks after their arrival. It was designated as Advanced Landing Ground "Y-9" as an American airfield.
- 415th Night Fighter Squadron, (Twelfth Air Force), September– November 1944, Bristol Beaufighter
- 320th Bombardment Group, 11 November 1944 – 1 April 1945 B-26 Marauder, B-25 Mitchell (12th AF)
- 17th Bombardment Group, 20 November 1944 – June 1945, B-26 Marauder (12th AF)
It was also the Headquarters of the 42d Bombardment Group between November 1944 and July 1945. Each of the bomb groups had three or four combat squadrons of aircraft assigned to the airfield. From Dijon, attacks on German ground forces, bridges, airfields still in Luftwaffe hands, railroads and any target of opportunity of the German forces were targets of the bombers as the ground forces moved north and east into Luxembourg and past the Siegfried Line into Germany.
In addition to the American units, The Free French Air Force operated B-26 Marauders from Dijon beginning on 11 October 1944. Dijon was returned to the French Air Ministry by the Americans on 1 July 1945.
The war had left the airbase that genuine ruins littered with rubble, debris, scrap metal and charred remains of airplanes. A number of aircraft remains and unexploded German munitions had been hastily bulldozed into bomb craters, all of which needed to be removed. The station area and the hangars and aircraft mechanical shops were devastated, also with huge quantities of unexploded munitions still littering the ground. The American combat engineers had carried out considerable repair work on the runway, and constructed temporary structures for repair and maintenance of aircraft, however the personnel lived in tents as repair of the barracks was not considered a priority for aircraft operations.
However after much reconstruction, Dijon was returned to operational service for the French Air Force. A new jet-capable runway was built and in 1949, the 2d Fighter Wing based de Havilland Vampire jets at the base. In 1953 Dassault Mystère IVA's arrived; in 1956, Dassault Mirage III and Mirage IIIE in 1961.
In 1984, the Dassault Mirage 2000C arrived, upgraded in 1999 by the 2000-5F., contributing to a modern, front-line NATO facility. Reorganization of the French air force has pushed the Dijon base into a secondary role in the 21st century.
Squadrons and aircraft
- Staff Command force protection and security of the Air Force (CFPSA).
- 2 fighter squadrons (1/2 Cigogne; 2/2 Côte d'Or) equipped with the Mirage 2000-5 (air defense)
Airlines and destinations
|Eastern Airways||Bordeaux, Toulouse|
- PDF). AIP from French Service d'information aéronautique, effective 6 Mar 2014. (
- Aéroport Dijon Bourgogne at CCI Dijon - official site
- Histoire de la Base Aérienne de Dijon
- IX Engineering Command ETO Airfields General Construction Information
- Johnson, David C. (1988), U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO), D-Day to V-E Day; Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1983. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Accident history for DIJ at Aviation Safety Network
- French Senate Document, LIST AIR BASES, AND THEIR MAIN ACTIVITIES
- Histoire de la Base Aérienne de Dijon History of Air Base Dijon (French)