Musee de l'aviation de chasse a Montelimar

About two hours drive from where I spent the summer vacation with my family is a small aviation museum carrying the grand name of Musee de l’aviation de chasse europeenne (Museum of european fighter aviation). It’s located at the municipal airport in five hangars, three of which house exhibits and the other two are used for restoration projects.
There are also several outside exhibits suffering from the harsh climate. I did not initially take a lot of pictures, but did start to think of you guys when I spotted something that made me think of @Hangar200. That’s when I started taking pictures. Sadly I was too tired and hungry to revisit hangar #2 to picture the exhibits there. I’m very sorry @Victork2, as you would have loved the main attraction there. So you will have to make do with my words to ‘see’ those.

Hangar nr1 has the reception area and three machines that belonged to the Swiss airforce, as well as a F-8 crusader nose that seemed to have been at least partially mocked up, as the gun barrel ports were ocluded by the intake maw. The real thing had a slightly narrower maw, allowing the guns to fire forward, and not spray outward :wink:

Back when recon was done by manly men in their awesome planes, and photo interpreting was a dark art performed by real wizzards.

Bang bang you dead. DEFA cannons will ruin anybodies’ day. That pack still serves in the Mirage 2k and rafale IIRC.

The Mirage F-1’s Cyrano radar. It hardly had any look-down capability and looks like it has a MTBF of about fifteen minutes with all the soldered bits and wires and stuff. I don’t see how that could be quickly or easily fixed and also stay operational in something going fast at low level.

This is the wing root of an Etendard, the predecessor to the infamous Super Etendard. The thing I found very notable is the simple low tech solution they came up with to sling the thing off the ship.

This is the nose cone of the above plane. It contains a small ranging radar and the electronics to do primitive CCIP.

This is me and a Mirage F-1C. I’d love to see that thing in our sim. This was taken after spending at least two hours in the sweltering heat of the museum.

This might be the solution to @Hangar200’s problems in landing the Viggen: a two-holer viggen! The museum houses it inside because it can’t stand the harsh climate outside. Well, neither can the mirages looking at their state.

A bright orange Durandal. I fondly remember that weapon from the Falcon games (3 and 4) blasting runways with it to sweep the skies of MiGs.

I took a whole bunch of pics of this baby, the Durandal’s little cousin the BAP-100. The F-1 carried those in sticks on the centerline, and they would make a great addition to the sim. Razbam oughta scan this thing for use with the Mirage 2K.

While the Dakota up front looked pristine, almost good enough to fly (as far as external inspection could tell), the bits of Mirage in the back are far more representative of the outside exhibits.

The sun was absolutely murderous and I had not applied sunblock. Hence hardly any photos of the outside exhibits.

There were four Mirages, a IIIC, the IIIa, a -5 and a -2000C. The IIIa was pretty interesting as it was the very first version built in series. Inside the hall pictured above they even had a part of the centre fuselage of the very first Mirage prototype.

There were also a Jaguar sitting outside, with a big anti radiation missile next to it, and a decrepit Thunderchief.

The main piece however is a gorgeous Caravelle airliner. It has a built-in airstair under its tail and is open to visitors. Inside is an exhibition of interesting things from its heyday as well as the cockpit and period seating. It has beautiful triangular windows offering a great view.

This poor old Meteor was used by the Centre d’essays de vol (flight test center) to fiddle with missile guidance bits. It looks very odd, doesn’t it?

This pack could be bolted under the tail of most marks of Mirage III. It’s a big squarish tank containing a very agressive oxidant and a rocket motor. It burned regular jet fuel for a short boost in power.

This thing is pretty interesting. It’s the center body and wing of the Mirage G prototype. For a short bit in the 60’s and 70’s variable geometry was all the rage. The French were early in trying it, but found it heavy and expensive. The machine worked fine but was too expensive. It’s research data take was later used for things like the -111, tonka and Tomcat.

Sadly, this is the only pic I took in hall #2. It contained this old Flogger as well as a Mongol (two seater MiG-21), a Mirage 2K, a Jaguar, a Breguet Alize (hideous carrier-based antisubmarine plane, look it up), a Crusader that looked awesome in its blue paintjob and the main attraction, a complete Mirage IV.

That thing is an absolute monster. When Gen. De Gaule wanted France to have her own way to drop a nuke on Moscow, Dassault upscaled the Mirage III, put two engines in it and a bunch of bomber avionics such as a radar and optical aiming aparatus. The museum allows one to walk under it, making for a breathtaking exhibit. The nuke was carried semi-recessed under the belly of the plane. I will forever beat myself over the head for not photographing it (or at least until I return to Montelimar).


Thanks for taking us on the tour! It looks like a very interesting museum with some unusual aircraft. :sunglasses:

Outstanding pics! Thanks for sharing.

Fantastic! What a great place mate. That’s my sort of muesuem. A great variety of aircraft in varying states of repair. So much history to see, your very lucky and thanks for thinking of us!

That caravelle sounds tasty!

You would have loved that Mirage IV strategic bomber. What a monster. All polished aluminum and early 60s high tech. Big ol’ fuelling probe stickin out in front.

One of the text placques told an awesome story of a recce flight they did sometime in the 70s over Chad. The flew from France over Egypt to Chad and back, bypassing Lybia which was a rather unfriendly bit of sky at the time. They did it all with rickety INS, dead reckoning, some star nav and a whole lot of gumption.

Plugging that thing into a C-135’s hose must have been an ordeal, but on that flight they did it like 8 times!

Look at the size of that thing! (pic taken from google, but this is the very machine I’m talking about)


I think the Black Buck raids on Port Stanley take the biscuit ;). . Not that I’m biased or anything, being ex-RAF and all… :sunglasses:


Right, those were of course more impressive, just as the Vulcan was more aircraft than the Mirage IV. Still, the black buck raids are pretty well known. Little did I know that France had their own black buck story.


Very true, and I hadn’t heard of that mission before. You would have thought that it would have been more well known.


Love this post.Thanks for sharing


That is one beast I’m not too familiar with! I’ll be reading up this weekend. I really love the intakes on French designs. Curvy is cooler!

I will see what l can find in my literature about that mission as it definitely rings a bell with me. Great work mate :blush:

1 Like

Thanks for the tour! :sunglasses:


1 Like

My wife wants to visit France, now I just need to find something “cultural” she can do while I spend all day here!

That won’t be difficult, even the cafe’s and bars ooze culture over there. It pains me to say it as a Brit, but I love France.

1 Like

Does loving French toast count?


Close enough my friend…close enough… :smile:

1 Like