Pierre Le Gloan

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Pierre Le Gloan (January 6, 1913 – September 11, 1943), French pilot (flying ace) of World War II.

He was born in Kergrist-Moëlou, Brittany, France in which a street bears his name. At the age of eighteen he joined the French Air Force. At the outbreak of the war he served in the GC III/6 fighter squadron, flying the Morane-Saulnier MS.406 from Chartres, as part of the air defence of Paris and the lower Seine. With his wingman he shot down his first German, a Do 17P reconnaissance bomber on 23 November 1939. A second Dornier fell to him on 2 March 1940, and during the Battle of France he accounted for two Heinkel He.111s.

Dewoitine D.520 fighter.

On 1 June 1940 his squadron was moved towards southern France to Le Luc airfield and re-armed with the new Dewoitine D.520 fighters. Following Italy declaration of war on France and the Italian air force commencing bombing raids, Le Gloan shot down two Fiat BR.20 bombers on 13 June. On 15 June Le Gloan with another pilot attacked twelve Italian Fiat CR.42 fighters. Le Gloan shot down three of them while Cpt. Assolent shot down another. While returning to the airfield Le Gloan shot down another CR.42 and a BR.20 bomber. For this outstanding achievement of destroying 5 aircraft in one flight he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant.

Due to the military situation of France on 20 June GC III/6 was withdrawn to Algiers in Algeria. After the armistice between France and Germany, and the subsequent British attacks on the French navy, French forces in North Africa, including Le Gloan's unit, became subordinated to the Vichy government.

In May 1941 GC III/6 was moved to the French colony of Syria. In June Allied forces, including some Free French units, attacked Syria and Lebanon. On 8 June 1941, Le Gloan shot down his first RAF fighter (a Hawker Hurricane). By 5 July he had claimed 5 Hurricanes and a Gloster Gladiator. Later the weakened GC III/6 was withdrawn back to Algiers.

During the Allied invasion of North Africa in November 1942 (Operation Torch), French fighter squadrons based in Algiers, unlike those in Oran or Casablanca, did not oppose the Allied landings. Soon all French forces in North Africa had sided with the Allies. In May 1943 Le Gloan's unit, then renamed GC 3/6 Roussillon, was re-armed with new P-39 Airacobra fighters. In August Le Gloan took the command of 3rd escadrille (flight) of the squadron. The unit's primary task at the time were offshore patrols.

On 11 September 1943, Pierre Le Gloan flew on patrol with another pilot. Over the sea smoke started to come out of Le Gloan's engine. He returned towards the shore but the engine stopped. He attempted a forced landing on the shore but, probably forgetting that his Airacobra still had an underbelly fuel tank attached (which were not used on earlier French fighters), the fuel in his plane exploded while trying to land, killing him instantly.

During his complicated combat career Pierre Le Gloan shot down 18 aircraft (4 German, 7 Italian and 7 British), which gave him the 4th position among the leading French flying aces of the war.