2/61 "Franche Comté"
With the abreviation as of “WG 2/62” the "Franche-Comté" was established as first Transport-Group in May 1946. It inherited the traditions of the Bomber Group 2/52 - precisely the "SAL 19" (Salmson) and the "BR 104"(Breguet) while it was installed in Blida, Algeria.
Since the beginning of 1948 the 2/62 was designated to be operational on several spots allover Indochina. At this time the Squadron turned over onto Junkers Toucan aircrafts - also knwon as the famous "JULIE", a post-war version of the German three-engined Junkers Ju 52.
The crews of the "Franche-Comté" were involved in numerous combat missions and flew a lot supplies, even performed close air support sorties.
In November 1951, the Toucans were replaced by C-47 Dakota, such as used while the participation in the Battle of Dien Bien Phu.
The Indochinese stay was over in November 1955 after armistice agreements had ended the conflict.
Consequently "Franche-Comté" then moved from Tonkin to Orleans, where it was integrated into the 61st transport wing - as of “4/61”.
Less than a year later, in October 1956, "Franche-Comté" received its first Noratlas plane - right out of the production lines. Two months later on December 1st the squadron changed again to become “ET 2/61” (escadron de transport). The arrival of Noratlas aircrafts allowed crews of "Franche-Comté" to browse all the skies of the world – e.g. from Japan to India, allover Greenland in the context of polar expeditions as well as to several opportunities in Northern Africa.
The Transall C-160 made its appearance at ET 2/61 in July 1969 - replacing the Noratlas. With this new aircraft more powerful and comfortable world-wide missions further increased: Peru, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Central Africa, etc… - with numerous participations in humanitarian missions and to detachments based overseas. No wonder, that in 1977 Transall crews accomplished their first 50.000 flying hours.
A new change took effect on 7th December 1987 with the delivery of the first C-130 Hercules. Therewith "Franche-Comté" took over even bigger cargo operations, while the Transalls were diminished step by step. Heart of the squadron is since 5th October 1988 the version C130 H30, which is a stretched version of the C-130 standard. This plane is faster, bigger and has a far better range capacity than earlier Hercules versions; it also can take up about 20% more cargo than the Transall C-160.
Text: SIRPA (translated)
Pictures: Armee de l`air