French pilots endured fighting both with and against the Allies during World War 2. Possessing obsolescent aircraft at the outbreak of the war, the Armï¿½e de l'Air was decimated in the wake of the Blitzkrieg; however, a number of fighter units still achieved creditable scores flying Curtiss Hawks, Morane MS.406s and Dewoitine D.520s. Following the capitulation of France at the end of June 1940, many aces continued to fly with the now Vichy French Squadrons that were stationed in North Africa, and a number of these pilots subsequently saw action against their former Allies there. Numerous French pilots also escaped to Britain, and a handful achieved notable sucess with the RAF flying Hurricanes, Spitfires and Tempests. In Russia, the formation of the French-manned 'Normandie-Niemen' regiment in 1943 also saw near on 40 pilots achieve ace status flying Yak fighters on the Eastern Front.
Barry Ketley runs his own aviation publishing company which specialises in the more esoteric aspects of military aviation. He has been a student of the Armï¿½e de l'Air's wartime exploits since the 1960s.