Manufactured in the aéronaval workshops around the fortress of Touon, the Mistral Aérofrégate was the workhorse of the Imperial French airforce bomber formations. Although nearing obsolescence as a strategic bomber by the start of the war of the South German Ocean, through constant modification and improvement the Aérofrégate found new life as a close support tactical bomber, carrying out this role equally well over land and sea.
This particular craft was part of an expeditionary force sent by France to support its allies in the East-Vietnamese Colonial Airforce. Crewed by veteran campaigners pilot Lieutenant Robert Delacroix and gunner Corporal Eugène "Bingo" Saint-Cloud, it flew scores of sorties principally against German carrier submersibles and Äquatorian airfields on the island chains across the South German Ocean.
About this creation
Gunner Corporal Eugène "Bingo" Saint-Cloud and Pilot Lieutenant Robert Delacroix in front of their Mistral Aérofrégate Mk VIc.
One of the many modifications made to the Aérofrégate during the war was to improve engine cooling in the tropical heat by simply removing large parts of the engine cowling.
A view of Lieutenant Delacroix at the controls, clearly showing the five heavy machineguns which were a trademark of the Aérofrégate from the Mk Vb onwards. These were added, replacing an internal bomb bay, when the Aérofrégate was converted from strategic to tactical bomber role.
The cockpit with the canopy removed, demonstrating the extremely cramped conditions which were an unfortunate hallmark of French Aircraft design at this point in history.
As well as its seven heavy machine guns (five forward facing, two in the powered turret) The Mk VIc could carry a large assortment of ordnance. Here it is armed with eight rockets, two general-purpose High Explosive bombs, one Abeille cluster bomb (black and yellow) and one Perce-oreille ground-penetrating "bunker buster" (grey and red).