The Super Mystère Aircraft Collection

Photographer: Jean-Michel Lefebvre ©
: 29 June and early days of August 1972
: 135 and 6x6 B&W negatives
: 4th Fighter Wing
: Luxeuil-les-Bains
: France

: La Fayette, you are here ? Applied on a Mirage IIIE vertical fin, the 1972 version of what were the famous Escadrille La Fayette's Indian heads since WWI origins being then the emblem of the N 124 Escadrille and its Bébé Nieuport fighter, the firstly so called 'American Volunteers Escadrille'


The place I love in France, having been very closely linked to the Luxeuil BA 116 air base during the fifties. From a good half dozen of pilots of 11th Fighter Wing, this every week-end in a near aeroclub, I have learnt almost all about combat aircraft and their tactics, and one of them, who successively flew Thunderjet, Thunderstreaks and Super-Sabres as so as T-6s for ground attack in Algeria during his OPS carreer, was my glider instructor and also infused me a fantastic virus: how, in perfect safety conditions, navigate at top tree level and also perform, weaponless sure, ground straffing with an aircraft just able to dive at 150 kts and cruise level at 100 kts!!! It's also in this area of France I had the occasion, during an evening;to have a long and fascinating talk with the Skyblazers leader and go and see them, the following morning, install in their Sabres, beside F-84s of 11th FW, and do procedures to take-off and do once more their complete aerobatic program before heading to their Chaumont Semoutiers USAF Base. Leader, Captain Reynolds, was an authentic Red Skin who had fought over Korea. And to end with me, I spent, early 1963, four months of my 18 months military obligations in the BA 116 Medical Service and thus saw, during my medical guards, two landing crashes and loaded in my ambulance their just nervously hit pilots: one of a 4th FW Thunsersreak having lost control on a wet runway, the other in comparable circumstances of a 13th FW Mirage IIIC visitor from Colmar. I give under picture of the Luxeuil air base installations, the incredible story of seat ejection of this damaged Mirage happening inside one of the hangars !!!
But I keep silence about the samely incredible fun facts performed by 11th FW pilots, either when flying everywhere or during their free time in the 100 nautical miles around their base...this going from Martians, in complete silver painted pilot equipment, coming from their planete during a Saturday evening, to transvestite pilot giving life to a nice and big bear at noon in the most crowded part of a city... It was in the early and mid fifties, when fighters always were the kings in all the after war hearts...

JMJ Lefebvre