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Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 - 82/X881
 

Even before the Hawk entered production, the French Air Force entered negotiations with Curtiss for delivery of 300 aircraft. The negotiating weren't very succesfull because the costs were double that of the French Morane-Saulnier MS406 and Bloch MB150. The pressure of continuing German rearmament and the problems with the MB150 finally forced France to purchase 100 aircraft.

The first Hawk 75A-1 entered service in March 1939. On September 1939, Hawks from Groupe de Chasse II/4 were credited with shooting down two Luftwaffe Bf-109Es, the first Allied air victory of World War II on the Western front. During 1939/1940, French pilots claimed 230 confirmed and 80 probable victories against 29 Hawk 75s lost in aerial combat. Of the 11 French aces of the early part of the war, seven flew Hawk 75s. The leading ace of the time was Lieutenant Edmond Marin la Meslée with 15 confirmed and five probable victories while flying the Hawk 75.

The Hawk 75 of the Fighter Collection was shipped to the French Air Force in April 1939 and assigned to Group de Chasse II/5 at Reims. She was based at Toul during the battle of France and then made her way to Oran, Algeria in Vichy North-Africa. While under the Vichy government, Hawks clashed with British aircraft over Mers el-Kébir and Dakar. During Operation Torch in North Africa, French Hawk 75s fought against U.S. Navy F4F Wildcats, losing 15 aircraft to 7 US planes shot down.

After the War she was  assigned to L'Ecole de l'aviation de chasse 4 at Cazaux in western France until she was struck of charge and being stored in 1949. She was  bought by Michel Pont and been in storage until the Fighter Collection moved it to Duxford in the United Kingdom and registered her as G-CCVH in the 1980s. She was restored to airworthy condition in Chino, USA where she made her first flight in October 2004. 

She made her first public appearance in the UK in 2005 and is painted in the original colours she wore in the battle of France with serial 82 coded X881 of  3 Escadrille "Lafayette" of Groupe de Chasse II/5 based at Toul during the battle of France. The green band on the fuselage, going behind the Indian (the badge of 3 Escadrille), shows that is was the Hawk 75 of the Commanding Officer of 3 Escadrille.

 

Curtiss Hawk 75A-1
G-CCVH - 82/X881

Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 - G-CCVH - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 - G-CCVH - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom   Curtiss Hawk 75A-1 - G-CCVH - Fighter Collection, The - United Kingdom  
 
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