The French Cruiser ‘Emile Bertin’ Escaped Halifax With a Belly Full of Gold
In June 1940, the 581-foot-long French light cruiser Émile Bertin sat docked in Halifax, when back in Europe, French officers gathered in the late Ferdinand Foch’s railway car at Compiègne to sign the humiliating armistice with Nazi Germany — sealing continental France’s subordination to German hegemony for a following... Read more
A U.S. Air Force C-141 Almost Got Itself Shot Down Over Chad
During France’s intervention in the Chad-Libya war in 1987, the French restricted air traffic over Chad. No aerial traffic was allowed in an area that extended from the 16th parallel to the outskirts of the capital N’Djamena. Civilian pilots didn’t always respect these air-traffic measures, especially as civil flights... Read more
The Ghost Plane of Faya-Largeau
After years of conflict, on Sept. 10, 1987, Chad and Libya agreed to a ceasefire the next day at noon. However, Libyan air patrols continued. Indeed, Muammar Gaddafi seemed to believe any military action short of an actual attack was acceptable. Not coincidentally, in October the United States handed... Read more
In 1986, French Troops in Chad Faced Mysterious Attackers
On its arrival in Chad as part of Operation Épervier, France’s intervention in the Chad-Libya war, the French military set up a radar center in the town of Moussoro, north of the capital N’Djamena starting in mid-February 1986. The radar would become the apparent target of a mysterious raiding... Read more
French Fighters Spent 1986 and ’87 Chasing Libyans Over Chad
In mid-February 1986, French forces launched Operation Épervier — France’s intervention in the Libya-Chad war. The French air force deployed to Chad’s capital N’Djamena around a dozen Jaguar A fighter-bombers and up to six Mirage F.1C interceptors from various units along with a few Mirage F.1CR tactical reconnaissance fighters. The... Read more
France’s Monstrous Char B1 Tank Ate German Panzers for Breakfast
At five o’clock in the morning on May 16, 1940 a company of the 8th Panzer Regiment lay in an ambush position along a rubble-strewn street of the French town of Stonne. The day before, the unfortunate village had changed hands several times as French troops attempted to stem... Read more
French Mirage 2000s Came to the Rescue of Green Berets in Niger
Around noon on Oct. 4, 2017, a team of 12 U.S. Army Special Forces operators and 30 soldiers from the Nigerien Security and Intelligence Battalion were departing the village of Tongo Tongo, near the Nigerien-Malian border, when they were ambushed by roughly 50 insurgents from an “ISIS-affiliated group” riding... Read more
France Says ‘Oui’ to Armed Reaper Drones
On Sept. 6, 2017, French Defense Minister Florence Parly announced that France’s MQ-9 Reaper drones — used for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes only — would be armed. The soon-to-be lethal drones will give France “endurance, discretion, surveillance, and a strike capability at the right place and the right time,”... Read more
France’s FAMAS Rifle Is Simple and Compact
In 1967 the French army requested a new infantry weapon to replace both the MAS 49/56 rifle and MAT-49 submachine gun. Three years later, the French military standardized on the new 5.56-by-45-millimeter cartridge. With requirement and cartridge in hand, Paul Tellie, Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Étienne — MAS — began... Read more
The French Army Has a Passion for Rifle Grenades
More than four years ago, French troops dropped into Mali to fight back Islamic militants. While in combat, the French soldiers with their bullpup FAMAS rifles lobbed rifle grenades — a relatively rare weapon in the 21st century and distinguished from modern grenade launchers by being launched from a rifle’s... Read more

Robert Beckhusen

Managing Editor

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