Châteaudun Air Base (French: Base aérienne 279 Châteaudun) (ICAO: LFOC) is a French Air Force (French: Armée de l'Air (ALA) base. The base is located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of Châteaudun; about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Paris.
The base is primarily used for aircraft storage and ferrying them to other squadrons of the Air Force. EAA 601 is assigned to perform this mission. Each French Air Force squadron stores some of its planes for a while thereby artificially prolong the life of the fleet and better material management. The EAA also has the task of storing new aircraft to be used in time of war. To fulfill its mission, the EAA has the Group Maintenance, repair and storage of aircraft (GERS).
A Jodel D140 Mousquetaire training aircraft is assigned to the base for courier duties.
The facility was a French Air Force base built in 1934. It was used by the air force for the storage of aircraft as well as a supply and maintenance depot. At the beginning of World War II, the base had 643 aircraft, which gave it great importance. It became a priority target for the Luftwaffe during the Battle of France who bombed it heavily on 12 and May 19, 1940. On June 14, against the German advance, the airfield was abandoned.
German use during World War II
Seized by the Germans in June 1940 during the Battle of France, Châteaudun was used as a Luftwaffe military airfield during the occupation. Under occupation, the German army, owner, undertook infrastructure projects including the construction of zones of loosening called "daisies" and the track. Chateaudun also served as a starting point for air raids on England. Known units assigned (all from Luftlotte 3, Fliegerkorps IV):
JG 21 and JG 54 fought in the Battle of Britain as fighter escort units; LG 1 was a training unit; KG 76 engaged in night bombardment operations over England, along with KG 40 and KG 100 to a limited extent due to fuel shortages; NJG2 was a night interceptor unit against RAF Bombers; KG 51 flew the jet ME 262A2a on day jet interceptor missions against American heavy bomber attacks.
Largely due to the presence of the Me-262, Châteaudun became a major target of USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauder medium bombers and P-47 Thunderbolts mostly with 500-pound General-Purpose bombs; unguided rockets and .50 caliber machine gun sweeps to attack the German jets on the ground. It was known that the Me-262 was relatively short-legged, with a relatively short flying radius, so the attacks were timed to have the maximum effect possible on the jets to keep the jet interceptors pinned down on the ground and be unable to attack the heavy bombers. Also the P-51 Mustang fighter-escort groups of Eighth Air Force would drop down on their return back to England and attack the base with a fighter sweep and attack any target of opportunity to be found at the airfield.
Châteaudun was heavily attacked on several several missions by United States Army Air Force Eighth Air Force bombers in 1943 and 1944. It was liberated by Allied ground forces about 20 August 1944 during the Northern France Campaign. Almost immediately, the USAAF IX Engineering Command 832d and 833d Engineer Aviation Battalions began clearing the airport of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe aircraft, and repairing operational facilities for use by American aircraft. Subsequently, Châteaudun became a USAAF Ninth Air Force combat airfield, designated as "A-39" about 26 August, only a week after its capture from German forces.
Under American control, Châteaudun initially became the home of numerous combat groups. Initially, the 422d Night Fighter Squadron moved in and provided an air defense with P-61 Black Widows from 28 August to 16 September 1944. The Black Widows were replaced by the B-26 Marauders of the 387th Bombardment Group on 18 September, remaining until 30 October 1944. The last American combat unit to use the airfield was the 10th Reconnaissance Group, which flew a variety of photo-reconnaissance aircraft from the field during November 1944. With the combat units moving east with the front lines, Châteaudun became a transport airfield, with the 439th Troop Carrier Group flying C-47 Skytrains from the field from 4 November 1944 until 7 September 1945.
The Americans returned control of the field to the French Air Force in September 1945 and it returned to being a French military airfield. Today, the remains of World War II bomb craters are very evident in the grass areas of the airfield, as well as the abandoned 05/23 secondary runway in which the wartime patching with asphalt is still visible.
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