French Naval Air Force (Aéronavale)

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French Naval Air Force (Aéronavale)

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 31 dec 2009, 16:40

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From the very beginning of military aviation, the French navy considered using aircraft to further carry the missions it was assigned. In World War I, it used a number of planes for coastal patrol and convoy escorts. Pilot training initially took place at a naval base as well as the French army’s Istres airfield. Soon, however, a new naval air base was set up at Berre. Most machines were hydroplanes from the Georges Lévy factory, which were soon replaced by the float-modified Farman 60 “Goliath” and various other types.

In the interwar years, the navy’s air arm also played a role in enforcing French control over its colonies, for example, by setting up bases in Indochina.

By the mid-1930s, the navy used several squadrons of torpedo-bomber hydroplanes, among them the Levasseur PL 15 and Latécoère 290. These were then replaced by the Latécoère 298, a torpedo-bomber, which first flew in 1936, entered the service in 1939, and remained active until 1950. In the meantime, the navy placed into service the Commandant Teste, a hydroplane carrier, which launched machines from special catapults and collected them through an access hangar near the ship’s waterline.

In World War II, the navy also used the Béarn as an aircraft carrier. After 1945, the navy reorganized its aeronautical section, dividing it into squadrons for maintenance and training and flotillas for combat. Under this system, neither was automatically linked to an aircraft carrier, as had been the case with the Béarn and Commandant Teste carrier groups.
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