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Aces of Aviation

Dewoitine D 520 of Pierre Le Gloan

Dewoitine D 520 of Pierre Le Gloan

Dewoitine D 520 from the 5th Flight, Fighter Group III/6 of the Air Army, piloted by Adjudant Pierre Le Gloan in Algeria, in 1941.

Wingspan: 10.20 meters.

Length: 8.76 meters.

Height: 2.57 meters.

Engine[s]: Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 of 930 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 527 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 11000 meters.

Range: 990 kilometers.

Armament: One Hispano 20-millimeter cannon; four MAC 1934 7.5-millimeter machine guns.

When the Germans began the offensive against France and Netherlands, the 10th May 1940, only thirty-six Dewoitine D 520 had been delivered to the French Air Army. With a maximum speed of 527 kilometers/hour, it was the best fighter aircraft built by France during the Second World War, roughly comparable to the Hawker Hurricane, albeit burdened by a chronical lack of armament.

Among the group of units which had to receive the D 520 during the German invasion was the Fighter Group III/6, based in Luc-en-Provence, for the defense of Marseille against the attacks from the Italian Regia Aeronautica. One of the pilots of the unit was Sergeant Major Pierre Le Gloan, who had already achieved four confirmed victories and a probable one while piloting the obsolete Morane Saulnier MS 406. The 13th June, already flying on a D 520, he managed to shoot down two Fiat BR 20 bombers.

The 15th June, just one week after the FG III/6 had received the first D 520, the aircraft of this unit were landing in Luc, following a patrol over Marseille, when the airdrome was attacked by Fiat CR 42 fighters and BR 20 bombers. Commander Paul Stehlin immediately ordered that those pilots who had not yet landed engaged the Italian raiders. Le Gloan, who was in command of the 5th Flight of the FG III/6, and Captain Assolant faced a formation of twelve CR 42, destroying one Italian fighter each on the first pass. Then Le Gloan downed a second aircraft before being called to lend cover to the airfield, which was being riddled by another formation of CR 42. He left two of these out of action and, before depleting his ammunition, destroyed a BR 20, whose crew parachuted and was invited to dinning in the officer's dining room before being sent to the prisoner's camp. Le Gloan was immediately promoted to the rank of Sub-lieutenant after landing.

With a record of eleven confirmed victories, Pierre Le Gloan was probably the fifth pilot of highest mark when the armistice between France and Germany was signed, and thus one of those pilots who was sent to North Africa, along with about 165 aircraft D 520. He remained in the 5th Flight of the FG III/6 based in Maison Blanche, in the Algerian capital, during the first five months of 1941, where he piloted the D 520 number 277 depicted in the illustration.

In June of that year Le Gloan accompanied the FG III/6 to Syria, to reinforce the MS 406 of the FG I/7, and took part in the large campaign organized when the forces of Vichy resisted the Allied offensive in that country. To the FG III/6 was attributed the destruction of nineteen aircraft belonging to the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm, of which Le Gloan allegedly downed eleven, raising his record to twenty-two. However, the D 520 number 277, in that time no longer flown by him, was one of the aircraft destroyed by the Allies during that campaign. In turn, Le Gloan died on an accident when flying a Bell P-39 Airacobra the 11th September 1943.