A long history of prototypes

Faced with the success of the jet fighter during the Korean war and its generalization on flight lines and carrier decks, France initiated a important series of prototypes like the SNCASO Trident, the SFECMAS Gerfaut II, the GAMD Mirage I ant the SNCASE Durandal, mainly to catch up with the USSR, Great Britain and the UK.Faced with the success of the jet fighter during the Korean war and its generalization on flight lines and carrier decks, France initiated a important series of prototypes like the SNCASO Trident, the SFECMAS Gerfaut II, the GAMD MirageI ant the SNCASE Durandal, mainly to catch up with the USSR, Great Britain and the UK.
Eventually in December 1953 it started an important program for a fighter capable of defending the French mainland. Two planes were in competition: the Breguet Br.1100 and the Dassault Mystère XXII. Both featured two Turboméca Gabizo engines with a 1 100kg thrust (1 500kg in afterburner).
Meanwhile Nato, upon a request from General Lauris Norstad, commander in chief of the alliance, issued a bid to various European airplane manufacturers in April 1954 for a versatile light fighter (the LWTSF program: Light Weight Tactical Strike Fighter).
When the European air forces launch the programs, they have in mind a possible aggression from the USSR or Warsaw Pact nations on one or several Nato countries. The aircraft has to able to rapidly defend Nato airbases, which would likely be the main targets of the first Soviet nuclear strike. Furthermore, this plane would then have to be able to operate from damaged airfields and attack the USSR or its allies.
Dassault-Aviation's answer to the bid will be a series of prototypes, which will eventually lead to the Étendard IVM/P as we know it today.

The first draft: the Étendard II (Mystère XXII)
The Dassault Mystère XXII was renamed, just before its first flight on July 23rd 1956 at Melun-Villaroche, flown by Paul Bourdier.This planes featured a fuselage inspired by that of the MD-550 (Mystère-Delta or Mirage I) and a 45°swept wing similar to the one on the Super-Mystère B2. It was the first batch of a two plane order in November 1954.

Dassault Etendard II. (Dassault Aviation)

The plane was to be fitted with two SNECMA R-105 engines, but this prototype was issued two Turboméca Gabizo engines instead. According to instructions from the Armée de l'Air, it carried two 30mm canons on an internal frame easy to remove for maintenance, and a Matra rocket launcher in a weapons bay.

The plane is supposed to exceed Mach 1 in a dive and to reach 10 000m in less than 6 minutes.
After forty + test flights, it became obvious that the weakness of these engines rendered the tests useless and irrelevant. Indeed Mach 1 was never reached, not even in a dive, and the planes took 12 minutes to reach 10,000m. The program was halted and the construction of the second prototype was abandoned in November 1956.
Briefly interested with the naval version of the Mystère XXII (Mystère XXII"M"), the French Navy almost ordered in July 1956 a third prototype, a naval version of the Étendard II.
As for Breguet, the company built a naval version of its prototype, the Br.1100 "M" which flew in November 1957 but was abandoned following the success of the Étendard IV.

07/ 23/ 1956
23/ 07/ 1956
2 Turboméca Gabizo
2 Turboméca Gabizo
2 x 1 100 kg
2 x 2 425 lb
8. 74 m
28. 67 ft
12. 89 m
42. 29 ft
24. 20 m²
260. 48 ft²
4 200 kg
9 259 lb
5 650 kg
12 456 lb
Mach 0, 99
Mach 0, 99

The winner: the Étendard IV (Mystère XXIV)
On July 24th 1956 at Bordeaux-Mérignac, the day following the Étendard II's first flight, a second plane designated Étendard IV took the air with Georges Brian in the cockpit. Upon first glance it looks like an Étendard II, but was in fact 15% larger, and was fitted with a single SNECMA Atar 101E engine with an 8-stage compressor and a single stage reactor (3 500kg of thrust).
Only one prototype was ordered. This plane turned out to have brilliant performances; it beat a Mystère IV (main interceptor in the French Air Force) in aerial combat; and looked like a good contestant for the Nato LWSTSF competition. The competition indeed required the adoption of an English Bristol Orpheus 12 engine, which was inferior to the Atar, even lacking afterburner !
Yet, since the plane is 100% French, its chances for the Nato competition were slim; thus Dassault developed a special Étendard with the Orpheus engine: the Étendard VI.
07/ 24/ 1956
24/ 07/ 1956
Snecma Atar 101E
Snecma Atar 101E
7 716 lb
3 500 kg
29. 65 ft
9. 04 m
43. 96 ft
13. 40 m
275. 5 ft²
25. 60 m²
17 306 lb
7 850 kg
Mach 1. 25
Mach 1. 25

The Étendard VI (Mystère XXVI) and the LWTSF Nato competition
This plane was the Saint-Cloud based company's answer to the competition, which could have brought up to 1 000 orders for several European countries.

Dassault Etendard VI, NATO competitor loser. (Dassault Aviation)

During the summer of 1954 in Paris, the LWTSF consulting committee presided over by Von Karman chose three projects: the Fiat G.91, the Breguet Br.1001 Taon and the GAMD Étendard VI, all three being fitted with the Bristol Orpheus 3, 2 200kg engine and armed with two 30mm canons and four 12.7 machine guns.
The selections tests were held at the Bretigny-en-Orge Centre d'Essais en Vol (CEV / Flight Test Center) from September 16th to October 4th 1957 and were to choose the two finalists.

The Étendard VI was eliminated. The Italian G.91 was eventually chosen in the beginning of 1958. But both Étendard VI prototypes continued to fly at the CEV for the development and testing of various sub-systems of the Étendard IVM/P.

03/ 15/ 1957
15/ 03/ 1957
Bristol Orpheus 3
Bristol Orpheus 3
4 850 lb
2 200 kg
27. 23 ft
8. 30 m
35. 59 ft
10. 85 m
247 ft²
23 m²
11 464 lb
5 200 kg
Mach 0. 96
Mach 0. 96

The different Étendard IV versions

Étendard IVM: the ground attack plane
Since the concept of light, twin engined planes did not go through, the French Navy decided to return to the initial Dassault 1954 solution: a Mystère XXIV (Étendard IV) derivative offered by the Armée de l'Air, a carrier based plane.
A naval version had already been considered, and provisions had been made to navalize the plane (folding wings, arrestor hook, gear and fuselage strengthening, radar and navigation avionics).
To go a step further from the tactical aircraft, the Aeronautical Technical Service asked Dassault on January 14th 1955 to study the possibility of navalizing the plane as a multirole attack and low altitude fighter.

Etendard IVP prototype in the foreground and Etendard IVM prototype in the background. (Dassault Aviation)

Its missions are the following :
-the long range (360km-340NM) attack of naval targets
-CAS and Interdiction based at sea
-defense of the fleet

On December 19th 1956, official services announced the order for the study, the manufacturing and the testing of a prototype Étendard IVM carrier plane. It is an attack and medium/low interception aircraft fitted with a SNECMA Atar 8 4 500kg engine, based on the then in construction Clemenceau and Foch aircraft carriers.
Five pre-production aircraft were ordered in May 1957. The Étendard IVM is the first carrier fighter built by Dassault. Thus the company stumbled upon many problems concerning navalization (low speed behaviour, catapulting/deck landing).

The small size of the French carriers created brought its own limits (50m catapults, 150m angled deck, 60m to stop); modifications were the following :

-Improvement of the plane's aerodynamics according to "area ruling" (the coke bottle/wasp waist) and an increase of the wing area to compensate for the increase of the total weight.
-Lift increase systems
-Reinforcement of the airframe for catapulting (3 to 5.5g) and deck landing (3g)
-Enlargement of the nose to fit the Aïda 2 radar.

The Aéronautique Navale also demanded that the Étendard IVM be able to refuel in-flight by another Étendard. This was an innovation in France. The solution adopted was an under fuselage tank (Douglas buddy-buddy type) which could unreel a long hose ended with a basket in which a retractable probe on the receiving plane would insert itself. The first tests convinced the Armée de l'Air to adopt the system itself.

Etendard IVP cockpit. (DR)
Etendard IVM cockpit. (DR)

Etendard IVM01 prototype on the raised catapult of RAE Bedford in December 1958. (Dassault-Aviation)

The first Étendard IVM01 took the air on May 21st 1958 at Melun-Villaroche, flown by Jean-Marie Saget.
Fitting a fin under the chin of the plane, which would also house ECM antennas, solved problems that had appeared during spin trials in a wind tunnel. The first land based catapulting and deck-landing trials were held at Bedford's Royal Aircraft Establishment in the UK, in November and December 1958. Others took place in 1960.

Catapult launches
Carrier-type landings
1st Campaign
November 14th 1958
December 18th 1958
Jean-Pierre Murgue
2nd Campaign
March 2nd 1960
March 28th 1960
Jean-Pierre Murgue
Jean-Marie Saget
3rd Campaign
March 23rd 1960
April 11th 1960
Pierre Galland
Jean-Marie Saget
22 without charges
15 with charges and sheathing
4th Campaign
July 6th 1960
July 21st 1960
M03 et MO6
Jacques Jesberger
Jean-Marie Saget
5th Campaign
November 8th 1960
November 21st 1960
Jacques Jesberger
Jean-Marie Saget

An Etendard IV being catapulted during CV Clemenceau aviation trials. (MN)

The Étendard IV M02 took the air on December 21st 1958 with Paul Boudier in the cockpit. It received the same avionics as production aircraft, as well as their weapons system, in-flight refuelling system and folding wings.

Etendard IVM02 on trial on CV Clemenceau in September 1960. (Marine Nationale)

The Étendard IV M03 (with a IVB fuselage-it won't be produced), fitted with a Rolls-Royce Avon Mk.51 engine made its first flight at Melun-Villaroche on December 2nd 1959. It was equipped with a blown wing, which increased lift. Étendard IV M04 was the first plane fitted with the anti-roll fin under the chin. It blew up on the ground in an accident at Istres in August 1959. Trials at sea took place off Cap de la Chèvre near Brest. M02 performed the first deck landing aboard the Clemenceau on September 19th 1960, flown by Jean-Pierre Murgue.

Catapult launches/ carrier landings
September 19th 1960
September 24th 1960
Jean-Pierre Murgue
Jacques Jesberger
Pierre Galland
Jean-Marie Saget
December 5th 1960
December 13 1960
Jean-Pierre Murgue
Jacques Jesberger
Pierre Galland
January 19th 1961
January 20th 1961
Jean-Pierre Murgue
Break trials

First serial Étendard IVMs (here No3 and 4) belonging to the 15.F squadron, on the deck of CV Clemenceau (R98) between October 17th and 20th 1962. (SP Clemenceau)

The first production aircraft flew on July 16th 1961 at Mérignac with Jean-Marie Saget. Yet the Étendard IVM's final production modifications turned out to be troublesome.
This task was given to Jacques Estèbe, program coordinator, assisted by Xavier d'Irbarne.
The complicated weapons system, including a Swedish bombing calculator (SAAB AX 26), had not been planned for from the beginning, and required several structural modifications on the planes. Its radar is the Aïda 2 for pinpointing and range finding of ground and aerial targets.

Étendard IVP: the recce plane
Ordered in September 1959, prototype n°07, in the IVP photoreconnaissance version, made its first flight on November 19th 1960 in the hands of Jean-Marie Saget.

Étendard IVPM: the plane with "two lives"
Since the French Navy only ordered 21 photo recce Étendard IVPs, it became obvious some fifteen years later that a solution was needed to compensate attritions. Eleven planes were indeed lost between October 1964 and June 1977 (flight 59. S lost two planes in less than a year!). Furthermore, none of the 71 Super Etendards being delivered were supposed to replace the IVP in the recce mission.

The decision was taken to reactivate squadron 11.F with the new plane, and retrofit some Étendard IVM airframes to the IVP standard. This task was given to the Cuers Aviation Workshop (Atelier Aviation de Cuers), a part of the Naval Ordnance and Construction Department, already in charge of the Étendard overhauls. Work started on December 12th 1977, a few minutes after Étendard IVM n°63 landed on the NAS Cuers-Pierrefeu runway. Eight and a half months later, on August 31st 1978 at 14:00, Étendard n°63 now Étendard IVPM n°163 took off the Cuers runway for its first test flight.

Etendard IVM No63 being transformed into Etendard IVPM No163 at the AAC Cuers in early 1978. (DCAN)

Three more Étendard IVMs were transformed this way between 1978 and late 1979: n°62, 66 and 53 became Étendard IVPMs n°162, 166 and 153. All but one had by then been transferred to squadron 16.F to complement its flight line. This work was only performed on airframes suitable with the Douglas buddy-buddy system, i.e. airframes numbered over 50. The necessary overhaul required 60 days more time in the workshops than a regular class 4 overhaul.

Comparison Etendard IVP/ Etendard IVPM. (SupAir)

1. outer wing elements of an original Étendard IVP with the BW warning receiver.
2. outer wing elements of an Étendard IVPM without the BW warning receiver.

To give an idea of the work required to transform a IVM into a IVPM, you have to strip and cut many parts of the airframe, add 500+ parts of sheet metal, replace 6 000m of cables and 220 sockets. Then you have to fit the new nose and all subsequent switches and controls in the cockpit. Eventually the Étendard IVPM looked exactly like a production IVP, except for the outer wing elements that lacked the BW warning receiver on the IVPM.
Beyond that, only the hull number above 121 gave away the IVPM.

In service in the Aéronautique Navale from 1962 to 2000

Étendard squadrons/ flights color code (painted on the additional tanks)

no color

Flottille 11.F
Flottille 15.F
Flottille 16.F
Flottille 17.F
Escadrille 59.S

The first Étendard squadron : 15.F (1962-1969)
Squadron 15.F was deactivated with its Chance-Vought F4U-7 Corsairs on February 1st 1962. It was reactivated on June 1st 1962 with its new GAMD Étendard IVMs, at NAS Hyères on the Riviera.

The squadron was part of most tests on the Étendard IV performed at the CEPA in Saint-Raphaël, while CC Murgue was CO (June 1962-December 1963). The "tritons" went aboard the new carrier Foch, then still in its test phase, but also aboard the Clemenceau to adapt the plane to the carrier. The squadron became the Étendard Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) for the different other Étendard IVM squadrons: 11.F and 17.F.

Etendard IVP No118 of 15.F squadron embarked on CV Foch in 1966 during the first nuclear test campaign in French Polynesia. (SupAir)

The squadron had already performed this mission with the Corsair some ten years before. Approximately 125 pilots earned their navy wings with squadron 15.F until October 1st 1965, when flight 59.S took over the mission at Hyères.

The Etendard IVM No31 of 15.F squadron touches and goes on the deck of CV Foch during the aviation trials of the ship. (Coll.A.Crosnier)

Squadron 15.F was chosen to participate with the Foch to the Alpha mission in the Pacific (first French nuclear tests in Polynesia). A detachment of Étendard IVPs from 16.F squadron joined along from march to December 1966 when the carrier returned to Hyères, after some 1 800 flight hours and 1 300 traps. In July 1967 the "tritons" moved to the new base in Brittany, NAS Landivisiau. Until late 1968, the squadron continued its training and its operational missions, with carrier deployments and live firing campaigns at Cazaux in Gironde.

On January 10th 1969, after a final fly-by over Brittany, squadron 15.F was officially closed down. It totalled 18 100 flight hours (500 at night) and 3 200 traps on Étendard IVMs and Ps.

The "Kimono" from squadron 11.F (1963-1978)
The squadron was shut down with its SNCASE Aquilons on April 18th 1962, only to be reactivated with eleven Etendards IVMs at
NAS Hyères on April 1st 1963 under the command of LV de la Forcade. Its main missions were defence of the fleet and attack, until March 1966 when Vought F-8E took over the interception role with squadrons 12.F and 14.F.
In June 1963, the squadron started a testing campaign for the AIM-9B Sidewinder, using CT-20 and CT-10 targets. On June 16th, all planes were part of a fly-by closing the 25th Le Bourget Airshow. By April 23rd, the squadron had flown 1 000 hours on the Etendard.
After a first carqual (carrier qualification) campaign on the Foch, unfortunately interrupted by the first lethal accident on an 11.F Etendard on September 23rd, the squadron participated to bilateral manoeuvres with the US VIth Fleet in the Mediterranean.
In April 1964 an "AS-20" and then a "Sidewinder" campaign are held under the command of LV Thireaut. On July 14th the squadron was part of the aerial parade over the Champs-Elysées. In March 1966, 10 000 hours had been flown. In March 1967 the Etendard IVMs went aboard the Foch headed for the Pacific. On May 2nd the squadron moved to its new base at NAS Landivisiau.

October 1968 saw the first AS-30 air-to-ground weapons fired, as well as the first practice night traps. On January 9th 1969, squadron 11.F celebrated its 20 000 flight hours on Etendard, and in May the first real night traps are performed on the Foch.
In May 1970 exercise "Datex 70" offered an opportunity for squadron 11.F to defy the Air Force. On October 25th 1971 the new CO, LV Meysonnat celebrated the squadron's 30 000 hours. The 50 000 hours tally is reached in August 1977 at Djibouti.
Finally in August 1978 the squadron, then commanded by CC Desjeux, received its first Super-Etendards.

Etendard IVM No66 11.F squadron shot over the South of France in July 1975. This aircraft was eventually transformed into Etendard IVPM N°166 few years later. (D.Frairot via M.Cristescu)

Squadron 16.F: the "Pirates" flying Etendard IVPs then PM (1964-2000)
This squadron was shut down with its SNCASE Aquilons at NAS Hyères on April 1st 1964, but only to be reactivates a month later on Etendard IVP. Formerly an all-weather fighter squadron, it became a photo recce squadron, the French Navy's first and last!

The Etendard IVP were handed over at the Dassault assembly line at Bordeaux-Mérignac, and flew towards their temporary "nest" at Istres-Le Tubé. The Cranes (the squadron's insignia) were based there because the NAS Hyères airfield was overcrowded. They eventually moved to Hyères in September 1964 when squadron 14.F was deactivated. There it was rapidly declared operational on Etendard IVP, and made no less than five cruises on the Clemenceau in 1965. Several planes and pilots were detached to squadron 15.F in 1966 as part of the Alpha Force patrolling the Pacific Ocean. In January 1967 the 16.F reached its full strength of twelve planes, but in October it once again lost five planes, detached to squadron 17.F.

LV Jacques de Villars at controls of Etendard IVP No108, banked on the portside after a shot made on the MS-760 No85 piloted by LV Nicolas de Fautereau-Vassel. (JM Guhl)

In exchange it received four Etendard IVMs and became a composite recce-attack squadron. The following year it experimented the first night photo runs with illuminating flares. In January 1969 the budget made for ten planes and fourteen pilots.
In April 1969 the squadron followed the other attack units to the new base, NAS Landivisiau. The next summer the squadron gave up night photography and finished the Etendard IVP's mission execution guide. In 1970 the squadron worked on its side photography ability, which allows detailed sideways shots of warships. It also worked on long-range photo shots. In 1972 the Lepus illuminating bomblet appeared to replace the flares, too dangerous. In July the planes received electro-magnetic chaffs for the first time. In December the squadron beat its traps record by performing 494 carrier landings in a single year. The following year saw the introduction of color photography.

The Etendard IVP No111 intercepting a Soviet Tupolev Tu-142 Bear-D. (SP 16.F)

In 1974 the Thiokol flares were tested, and six cruises were made on the Clemenceau and one on the Foch. In autumn, after attending the Sardane, Datex and Sterne exercises, the squadron went aboard the Clemenceau for a cruise in the Indian Ocean, until March 1975. During this cruise it shot the first western photographs of the soviet Kiev STOVL carrier and its Yak-36 Forger-A air wing. From April 5th to June 21st 1976, the Pirates were aboard Clemenceau for the Saphir II mission in the Aden Gulf, but returned to France in December on the Foch, having made 500 traps.

After squadron 11.F traded in its Etendard IVMs for brand new Super-Etendards in 1978, squadron 16.F took over several of the "Kimono"s missions and was given two Etendard IVMs which were quickly replaced by two IVPMs. In 1980, the squadron made five cruises on the two carriers. In 1982 squadron 16.F, under the command of CC Oudot de Dainville, embarked for seven cruises aboard the Foch. In late-September / early-October, a detachment went on the Foch to support the French ground troops in Lebanon (mission Olifant). December saw the Clemenceau in manoeuvres with Senegal.
In 1983 several detachments went aboard the Foch and the Clemenceau for missions Olifant XIII, XVII, XVIII and XIX off the Lebanese coast. Twenty-nine sorties are flown for thirteen combat missions. A plane from 16.F was hit by a SAM as it was over flying anti-governmental troops, but managed to return to the ship.
Another plane from the squadron went on a photo run to obtain a bomb damage assessment (BDA) after a Super-Etendard raid on Baalbeck, in retaliation for the terrorist bombing of the French "Drakkar" barracks in Beyruth.
On January 24th, three Etendard IVPs went aboard the Clemenceau for mission Olifant XX (March 14th-May 4th). On July 25th 1987, two IVPs were once again on the Clemenceau for Operation Prométhée in the Persian Gulf.
From January 28th to March 15th 1993, the squadron was part of the first Balbuzard mission over Yugoslavia with three Etendards IVP from the Clemenceau. The carrier returned to the area on March 29th. On May 17th 1993 an Etendard IVP made the first Aéronautique Navale flight for a Deny Flight / Crécerelle mission.
The Foch left for the Adriatic between July and August 1993. The Clemenceau took over the missions and made its third cruise in the Adriatic from September 2nd to October 15th with four Etendard IVPs.

On April 15th Etendard IVPM n°115 was hit by a SAM during a photo run over Gorazde. The pilot, CC Clary (16.F's CO) managed to return to the ship despite the plane being very badly damaged.

By September 18th, some 64 tactical recce sorties had been flown for the Sharp Guard missions. The "Pirates" went aboard the Foch in mid February and mid March.
From March 24th to May 3rd 1994, the Clemenceau replaced its sister ship for the fourth Balbuzard mission. On April 15th Etendard IVPM n°115 was hit by a SAM during a photo run over Gorazde. The pilot, CC Clary (16.F's CO) managed to return to the ship despite the plane being very badly damaged.

A back view of the Etendard IVPM No115 which is strongly damaged by a SAM, but CC Clary managed to land on the deck of CV Clemenceau. (MN)

Squadron 16.F transferred to the Foch, which had replaced the Clemenceau on the scene between May and July. From July 4 to 29, the Clemenceau left for the Adriatic for its fifth cruise, with 16.F's four Etendard IVPM in the air wing. Fifty recce missions were flown during this mission. From December 17th 1995 to February 8th 1996, squadron 16.F went aboard the Clemenceau for a cruise on the Adriatic and mission Salamandre. From March 16th to 27th, no less than thirty-eight recce sorties were made during mission Salamandre II (March 13 to 29). From November 25th to December 9th, twenty-six recce sorties were made during Salamandre III, once again from the deck of the Clemenceau. The last Etendard IVPM combat mission was during Opération Trident (Kosovo) between January and June 1999, aboard the Foch.

Deck personnel inspecting the nozzle of the aircraft damaged by a SAM over Yugoslavia, a bite later after its miraculous landing on CV Clemenceau. (MN)

The four detached Etendard IVPMs flew fifty-eight recce sorties. On June 27th 2000, Etendard IVPM n°115 flown by CC Philippe Goetz made the last launch from the Foch, during the carrier's last cruise. On July 27th 2000, squadron 16.F, the fleet's sole photo recce squadron, the last unit to fly the Etendard, was officially shut down at NAS Landivisiau.
Four Super-Etendards from squadrons 11.F and 17.F fitted with recce pods will take over the photo recce missions for the Carrier Air Wing.

On June 27th 2000, the Étendard IVPM No115 flown by CC Philippe Goetz carries out its ultimate catapulting from CV Foch during the last sortie of the ship. (A.Paringaux)

Étendard IVPM missions over Kosovo
January - June 1999



Étendard IVPM 107

21 films

Étendard IVPM 109

17 films

Étendard IVPM 115

24 films

Étendard IVPM 118


Squadron 17.F (1964-1980)
The squadron was shut down with its Chance-Vought F4U-7 Corsairs on April 1st 1962,but was reactivated under the command of LV Hamel de Monchenault on January 6th 1964 at NAS Hyères. The first flight of an Etendard IVM (n°34) by squadron 17.F was made on January 10th. Just like squadron 16.F, 17.F was briefly based at NAS Istres in its early days. It was then transferred to
NAS Nîmes-Garrons

and Cazaux (air force base BA120). No sooner than October were pilots performing their first carcals on the Foch. The following year, the squadron was flying its first Sidewinder live firing campaign (15 AIM-9B out of 20 hit their targets). By February 1967, the squadron had flown 10 000 hours on the Etendard. In March, several planes were detached at the Bou Sfer airfield in Algeria.

In March 1968, the squadron went aboard Clemenceau headed for the Pacific (second nuclear test campaign in Polynesia). For this mission (protection of the test grounds, aerial interceptions, weather updates, photo surveillance of nuclear clouds and of the test sites), it received six Etendard IVMs and four Etendard IVPs. In October it came home with the Clemenceau.
In February 1969, budget plans call for the squadron to field twelve Etendards IVMs for attack missions.

Two Etendard IVPs of 17.F squadron on CV Clemenceau in South Pacific in 1968. (SP Clemenceau)

Friday, June 13th 1980, aboard CV Foch, the Etendard IVMs belonging to 17.F squadron were on their last deployment. (JM Guhl)

In November, the squadron experimented its first night deck landings. In April it went aboard the Clemenceau two months, for a mission in the North Sea. In 1971, squadron 17.F became truly operational. In 1974 the squadron made the Aéronautique Navale's 20 000th Etendard trap, aboard the Foch. In autumn eleven Etendards were sent on the Clemenceau headed for Djibouti (mission Saphir I). In April 1977 the squadron went aboard the Clemenceau for operation Saphir II until June 21st.

Sixteen years after it received its first Etendard, the squadron had logged no les than 54 700 hours and 10 875 traps on Etendard IVM and P. On June 27th 1980, the Etendard IVM made its last flight and on September 5th 1980 the first Super Etendards were delivered.

Flight 59.S: the one and only (1965-1991)

The Etendard operational transformation unit (OTU) was squadron 15.F until 1965, when the mission was taken over by flight 59.S, also called Carrier Fighter Combat School, based at NAS Hyères. In addition to the Etendard IVMs, the unit also fielded some spare IVPs from 16.F squadron. But with the loss of two IVPs in less than a year, the type was assigned to squadron 16.F only, to save as many IVPs as possible.

Etendard IVM No29 belonging to 59.S flight based in NAS Hyères in March 1982. (SupAir)

The Etendard IVP-07 (allocated to 59.S), prototype of the 21-Etendard IVP batch parked on the tarmac of NAS Hyères. (JM Guhl)

Flight 59.S was equipped with the CM-175 Zéphyr which trained pilots (fresh out of Fighter School at Tours) in navigation, night and all weather flying and carrier operations. Later in their training, the young "penguins" were trained in Dassault-Aviation's single seater until totally operational on the type, and their assignment to an attack or air defence squadron. When the first Br-1050 Alizés (9) arrived to the flight in 1972, the number of Etendards assigned to it went down from 11 to 6. Faced with the gradual phasing out of the Alizé, in 1984 the flight line eventually counted 10 planes.

In 1991 the 10 Etendard IVMs were replaced by 6 Super-Etendards, made available by the deactivation of squadron 14.F (July 1st 1991).

sources - acknowledgements :
Jean-Pierre Dubois
"Avion Marins" Luc Berger - Dassault Aviation - 1998.
"Dassault Etendard IV & Super-Etendard" Alain Crosnier & Jean-Michel Guhl - SupAir publications - 1984.
"Avions Marcel Dassault Breguet Aviation - from Ouragan to Super-Mirage 4000, 30 years of combat aircraft" 1979.
"Dassault, les programmes 1945-1995, 50 ans d'aventure aéronautique" Claude Carlier et Luc Berger - Editions du Chêne - 1996.



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