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Thread: French Barracudas

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    Default French Barracudas

    Gents
    I have learned much to my surprise, that France acquired a few Barracudas post-war. I know it is not RAF, but at least they were land based for the period. Does anyone have anything on them? A Google search provides nothing, and Barracuda was not the thing, I would have been particularly interested to invest in any books.
    TIA

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    Hello Franek,

    there was a good article on French Barraccudas in the french magazine "Le Fanatique de l'Aviation" some years go .
    I believe they tested the kite for special operations, as the Lysander was used during the war ...

    Alain.

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    Default Barracuda

    Hello Pavel

    I seen you have try Google, I did also but I typed "Fairey Barracuda"

    Wikipedia site gives you information and also some bibliographies

    Best regards

    René

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    Hello,

    Indeed, there were a few articles in French aviation magazines about the Barracuda in the Armée de l'Air. They were used for "special duties".

    From memory, the unit was known as E.L.A. "Vaucluse" (Escadrille de Liaison et ...?), and was based in Beaumont-le-Roger. Only a handful of Barracudas were bought, and serviceability problems (spare parts) reduced their service career. "Vaucluse" remained a "Special Duty" flight until a few years ago, and I think it's now disbanded. In the later years, they were flying DHC-6s, white with blue cheat lines, making them look like civilian machines.

    The Barracuda were used for missions on the other side of the "Iron Curtain". So there may be a connection with Poland.

    Joss

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    Hello
    The unit was ELA 1/56 Vaucluse indeed, but there is no Polish connection as far as I know.
    I have wondered why they choose the type, which had not the best reputation. Did they intend to land it in field?
    Much to my surprise, I was unable to find any information on the serials, period of service, not to mention any photos. I only know of one fatal accident. If anyone can help to narrow down possible issues of Le Fana, or best, provide a scan of the article, it would be most appreciated.
    ELA 1/56 used a variety of interesting planes, so if there are any articles on their operations in late 1940s/early 1950s, any information is appreciated as well.
    TIA

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    Hello Franek,

    As often with SD units (probably even more in France...), no a lot of details have surfaced. I don't remember if the last article I read about it was in "Le Fana" or "Air Fan" or else. It may have been a loaned copy of "Le Fana". From memory, it had a few pictures, a couple of serial number were quoted and there was also mentions of accidents. The type was withdrawn from service in the early 50es.

    I suspect that the choice of the Barracuda may have something to do with short landing capabilities, as had the Lysander, especially to pick-up agents, while it's always possible to parachute them. Also the longer range of the Barracuda may have been taken into consideration. And at last, probably the availability of the aircraft in the immediate post-war years.

    I've tried to find the magazines and numbers through the "aéro-index" search engine but failed to get a hit... It would help to narrow down the search for the titles and issues.

    Joss

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    Hi
    I would say that there is not a lot about post-war operations, the wartime ones, being pretty well covered (that not means there is nothing to uncover). Even so, the US operations are very nicely researched, and a lot has been written over the years. I would say there are only few gaps left. It is much worse with other countries, like France, Great Britain, but also Italy, Norway, Sweden or Turkey. The gradual process of uncovering communistic archives suggests, that at least some of the stories will finally be told.
    As far as I know the main aircraft used for drops by ELA 1/56 was C-47, a very good choice. I do not know if Goelands, Martinets and Toucans were used operationally. Possibly Barracudas were intended to replace Pingouins, but it is my wild guess. Certainly the range and STOL capabilities (I have not found what were take off and landing runs) favoured the aircraft, but I am not sure if it could have been safely operated from unprepared fields. Norsemans and Beavers were preferred by other operators.
    I presume, that at least serials of the aircraft delivered from the UK should be known. I do not even have any source for those.

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    Hello,

    The Fairey Barracuda in the Armée de l'Air was studied in "Le Fana de l'Aviation" n° 336 november 1997 issue, which I unfortunately don't have.

    "1/56 Vaucluse" was studied in the same magazine, issues 413-414. I only have the latter, which cover the period when the unit used the Barracuda.

    Obviously not a lot of details : The unit didn't use them a lot. It was the sole French unit to use them anyway. 10 aircraft were purchased in 1948, both because of their short take-off and landing capacities, and because of their availability. They had been withdrawn from use in 1954, because of lack of spares.

    Vaucluse had 2 Junkers Ju-52s, 2 UC-78s and 3 MS500 in the beginning when they settled at Persan-Beaumont. In September 1946 they received 3 Caudron C-445M. In 1947 they used 2 Martin 187 Baltimore for a while.

    The choice of the Barracuda was made by Commandant Jean Delocque-Fourcaud, who became the unit C.O. on 4th December 1947. Pilots and groundcrews were converted on type at Carlisle in late 1947, and the first 4 aircraft were ferried in France proabably in late March 1948. A fifth was delivered in May, then the last 5 in June. The lack of spares forced the ground crews to keep only 3 airworthy, picking up parts from the others. Very soon, the inadequate range of the Barracuda appeared : they couldn't operate on the Eastern countries as intended, but their qualities were noted for the pick-up training. Junkers Ju-52s were used for these missions.

    One mission is mentioned with a Barracuda : early 1949, Delocque-Fournaud tried to pick-up Cardinal Mindszenty, in Hungary. He made a technical stop in Lahr, then Innsbruck, and right when he was about to land, he noticed machine guns posted around, so didn't land and came back.

    8 of the Barracudas were withdrawn from use by Vaucluse in 1952, the last two being kept airwhorthy until 1954, with great difficulties.

    Contrary to what I said in a previous post, the unit is still extant in our Armée de l'Air.

    Joss

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    Hi
    Thanks for the information on Le Fana. Could you make me scans of #414 article? It will make one less to find.
    The history is very interesting, but I must note that at least one Barracuda crashed, killing the pilot. I wonder what spares caused withdrawal of the aircraft. I understand that the engine and the equipment were pretty standard, so I guess the problem must have been with airframe parts. Perhaps they suffered from rough landing conditions? Is it explained?
    Browsing through the net I have found more precious informations. There is not too many, but still more than on the British operations. Interesting there is no description of captured French agents, though.
    Thanks again!

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    Hello Franek,

    Will do next week, I'm off to Paris and "Aéro-Puces" in the Musée de l'air for the week-end. Who knows, I may find the missing copies there...

    Don't expect too much from the article in Fana 414 anyway.

    Joss

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