By Jean Huon
Less than two years after closing, the new Captain Georges Guynemer Museum at the Dijon Air Base opened its doors last spring. It is located in a new building where many exhibits showing the history of the French Air Force are displayed.
Dijon Air Base was created in 1914 with four escadrilles and it was there also that Captain Guynemer, the French ace of World War I, received the flag of the new French Air Service on the 13th of May 1916.
Between the wars the Air Base housed several observation, reconnaissance and fighter wings. After the collapse of 1940, it became a night fighter base for the Luftwaffe.
In October of 1944, heavily damaged by Allied bombs, it received the American 17th and 320th Bomb Groups equipped with Martin B-26 B and C Marauder bombers (100 aircraft each).
After 1949 it became one of the pivots of the French Air Defence Command with the 2nd Fighter Wing successively equipped with Vampire, Ouragan, Mystère IVA, Mirage IIIC, Mirage IIIE and Mirage 2000 aircraft.
There are three exhibition halls in the museum. In the first one, the history of the Air Base is shown through hundreds of pictures and many artifacts: aircraft models, uniforms, aero engines, flags, Norden bomb sights, ammunition, squadron badges, etc. The second hall is devoted to aircraft armament with various representative weapons:
- Several Lewis machine guns (including one sample manufactured by Darne), Colt Model 1914, Parabellum, MAC 34 (wing), MAC 34 (turret) with its mount, MAC 34 Mod 39 (wing), a scarce cal. 7.5mm Browning FN M1938, MG 17, MG 81Z, MG 131, AN-M2 and AN-M3 (cal. .50),
- 20mm and 30mm guns: 20mm Hispano Suiza HS 404, 20mm HS 804 (20mm Mk V), MG 151-20, 20mm M-39A3, GIAT 30-554 and several prototypes (Mauser MG 213C, CEAM 30mm 3CG, 30mm 3CGF),
- Sidewinder AIM-9B, Matra 530, Magic I and Super 530D missiles,
- A glass cabinet with representative aircraft ammunition.
In addition to all this, the is a removable ventral pack from the Mirage IIIC equipped with two 30-552 guns, several mannequins with pilot's flight gear of various periods and an instructional simulator of a Mirage III E cockpit.
In the third hall is the main item of the collection: a life sized model of the Mirage 2000 entirely built in Plexiglas with all its equipment (700 items). Built by Dassault Aviation in 1984 it was then presented at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget. Since then this transparent aircraft model was used as an educational tool for the training of the Mirage 2000 mechanics. Thus one can observe all the components of a modern jet fighter. Two jet engines and two ejection seats complete this hall.
Entrance is free but by appointment only. Since it is located inside a military airfield, clearance must be obtained beforehand. Permission to enter the airbase can be obtained by writing at least eight days prior to the visit to:
Bureau des Relations Publiques,
Base Aérienne 102
21093 DIJON CEDEX 9 FRANCE
00 (33) 3 80 69 51 56
Visits are scheduled every Wednesday afternoon and by exception on other days. They are conducted by a group of the museum under the authority of its curator Colonel (H) Claude Jacquinet.
Dijon is between Paris and Lyon. Access is possible by road on highways A31, A38 or A39 or by railway TGV (1h30 from Paris). Dijon is also the capital of Burgundy an area noted for is gastronomy and its high-class wines.
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