The Curtiss P-40
in Armee de l'Air Service

P-40Fs of GC II/5 Groupe Lafayette

The following five photos were taken during a ceremony which officially transferred these
former 33rd FG P-40s to the Free French in North Africa. I admit to some confusion as to
the exact date and location, and until I can sit down and figure out the particulars I will
simply say that I believe these photos were taken in either very late 1942 or very early 1943.

Of note in the first photo are the aircraft in the hangar, which include a Curtiss Hawk 75
and at least two Dewoitine D.520s, still wearing Vichy stripes. Also, although some accounts
describe this ceremony as having involved thirteen P-40s, only twelve are visible here.

Another point of interest is that at least four short-tailed Hawks were in this lineup,
numbers 6,8,9 and 11. The latter three can be identified in this photo, while number 6 is
just visible in the far background. Number 6 is also in the background of the next photo
but is not readily identifiable. It is, however, clearly visible in the last photo.

FSA/OWI collection, Library of Congress - Larger Image

Here we see Major-General James Doolittle and Major-General Carl Spaatz escorting
French Major-General Bergeret as he inspects the aircraft.

One of the short-tailed Hawks, number 6, is just visible in the background.

FSA/OWI collection, Library of Congress - Larger Image

These next two photos show one of the short-tailed Hawks, number 8. The USAAF serial number
for this P-40F is possibly 41-14319. Of note is the overpainting of USAAF markings, especially
the US flag; the star field is still just visible forward of the indian head emblem, as are
some of the upper stripes which can be seen intermingling with the feathers in the head-dress.

Here is the accompanying caption for the following photo:

Lieutenant Hal C. Tunnell of Knoxville, Tennessee, left, introducing the
Reverend R. P. Bougerol, Chaplain of the Lafayette Escadrille, to Lieutenant
J. J. Ketcher of Fresno, California, full-blooded Cherokee Indian. The Indian
head and Escadrille insignia are seen on the fuselage of the P-40.

FSA/OWI collection, Library of Congress - Larger Image

A closer look at the indian head emblem...

And a color shot of the same scene...

From: 'P-40 Warhawk in World War II Color' by Jeff Ethell - Larger Image

This last photo shows USAAF pilots 'officially' handing over the P-40s to their French counterparts.
Number 6, one of the four short-tailed Hawks, is the third aircraft from the camera in this photo.

From: 'P-40 Warhawk in World War II Color' by Jeff Ethell - Larger Image

This next photo shows General Henri Giraud next to a P-40 of GC II/5 during March of 1943.

The news tag from the reverse of the photo reads:

Planes of Lafayette Escadrille Back Giraud

General Henri Giraud, French High Commissioner in North Africa, stands before a
plane as he visited the French Lafayette Escadrille, at an Allied airfield in
the area. The flying unit, composed of many French aviators who fought the Germans
at the beginning of the war, were chafing at the bit. Some American P-40 fighter
planes were found and the famed unit was put back into the fight alongside
their American and British comrades.

Associated Press Photo

Project 914 Archives - Larger Image

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