Linked to memory
of Colonel Papin and applied on the tail fin, the emblem of SPA
73 Escadrille, a turning stork familiary known as " Japanese
stork ". This unit originated on 19 April 1916 as N 73
because flying with Bébé Nieuport fighters. The stork was
choosen during 1917 when the '73' was integrated as a SPA to
Combat Group 12, the famous 'Groupe des Cigognes ( Storks Group )
being the equivalent of a Division. SPA 73
totalled 30 confirmed kills.
Its story continues as 7th escadrille of 1st RAC ( Fighter Aviation Regiment) on 1st January 1920, then from 1st January 1924 as 8th escadrille of 32nd RAO ( Observation Aviation Regiment ) and 3rd escadrille of the same RAO in 1931. With creation, on 1st October 1932 on the Dijon-Longvic airfield, of the 7th Fighter Wing Spa 73 became the first and unique escadrille of GC II/7, flying Wibault 72 aircraft. It was reinforced from 1st May 1933 by the 'Black Panthers' of SPA 78 Escadrille which found its origins during 1916 as N 78 with Bébé Nieuports and totalled 80 kills of which 40 received homologation and was disbanded on 31 March 1919 to be reactivated as 4th escadrille of 32nd RAO in 1928 and curiously separated from SPA 73 between October 1932 and June 1933.
After a National Funding Subscription the GC II/7, through SPA 78, received, on 14 July 1939, eight Morane MS-406 fighters receiving each a name of French Province and so SPA 78 'Black panther' became known as 'Escadrille France'. GC II/7 Squadron entered the war at Luxeuil, this airfield remaining the squadron home during several months, with 25 Morane 406s and 28 pilots and got its first kill on 22 november 1939. Until the German attack of 10 May 1940 the squadron got some 15 kills for just 2 pilots injured. From here the unit heavily fought with casualties and only got its Dewoitine 520 fighters at the end of May which were engaged against Luftwaffe until take-off for North Africa on 20 June 1940 with 1963 war flight hours, 64 kills and 35 aircraft lost during fights for the death of 5 pilots. Other sources give 44 confirmed kills and 44 probables...
Here I stop the story of GC II/7 (see picture 40 in API N°09 for further shortened story) and meet again Papin who, as a pilot of GC II/7's SPA 73, was credited with the kill of a Heinkel 111 on 2 June 1940, this at the controls of Dewoitine 520 N°244.
For the moment I am not able to tell what was the squadron and the date at which Colonel Papin lost his life during a mission on a Spitfire in Indochina...