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This squadron was a fighter squadron of the French Air Force. It served on the Eastern Front (World War II) of the European Theatre of World War II with the 1st Air Army. The regiment is notable for being one of only two air combat units from an Allied western European country to participate on the Eastern Front during World War II. For a short time members of the Nos. 81 and 134 RAF squadrons were stationed in during 1941 that conducted convoy air cover and later pilot conversion training for Red Army Air Force pilots training on Hawker Hurricane aircraft, shooting down 15 German aircraft for the loss of one Hurricane. The unit originated in mid-1943 during World War II. Initially the "groupe" comprised a group of French fighter-pilots sent to aid Soviet Union|Soviet forces on the Eastern Front (World War II)|Eastern Front at the suggestion of Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces, who felt it important that French servicemen serve on all fronts in the war. The unit was the GC3 ("Groupe de Chasse 3" or 3rd Fighter Group) in the Free French Air Force, first commanded by Jean Tulasne (the 's' is silent). It fought in three campaigns on behalf of the Soviet Union between March 22, 1943, and May 9, 1945, during which time it destroyed 273 enemy aircraft and received many orders, citations and decorations from both France and the Soviet Union, including the French "Légion d’Honneur" and the Soviet Order of the Red Banner. Joseph Stalin awarded the unit the name Neman River|Niemen for its participation in the Battle of the Neman River (1944). the unit, known as squadron 2/30, flies Dassault Mirage F1 CT planes. Operational history . Jean Tulasne led the then-Normandie fighter group on the Eastern Front (World War II)|Eastern Front until his death in action on July 17, 1943 Six months after the Germans Operation the USSR in June 1941, talks aimed at closer co-operation between Free France and the Soviet Union resulted in setting up a special squadron with an initial core of twelve fighter pilots for service on the Russo-German front. De Gaulle officially promulgated the "Groupe de Chasse" GC 3 "Normandie" on September 1, 1942, with "Commandant" Pouliquen in command. Mechanics, pilots and hardware travelled by rail and air via Tehran (Iran) to Baku ( the capital of Azerbaijan). They completed a period of training on the Yakovlev Yak-7 by end-January 1943, when "Commandant" Jean Tulasne took command of the "groupe", which finally headed for the front on March 22, 1943. The first campaign of GC 3, equipped with the Yakovlev Yak-1 fighter-plane, lasted until October 5, and encompassed the area of Russia between and From an initial aerial victory over an Focke-Wulf Fw 190 on April 5, the tally rose dramatically and the squadron became the focus of much Soviet propaganda, so much so that Wilhelm Keitel decreed that any French pilot captured would be executed. Tragedy struck the squadron with the much-decorated Tulasne reported after combat on July 17, requiring "Commandant" Pouyade to take command. In spite of the loss, GC 3 started to receive many Soviet unit citations and decorations as well as French awards. On October 11, de Gaulle accorded the "groupe" the title of "Ordre de la de la Libération". By the time GC 3 relocated to Tula, Russia|Tula on November 6, 1943, only six pilots remained from the original "groupe", which had accumulated 72 aerial victories since joining the fighting. 1944 witnessed the expansion of the "groupe" to become a "régiment", with a fourth "escadrille" joining its ranks. After completing training on the more advanced Yakovlev Yak-9D fighter-planes at Tula, Russia|Tula, the new regiment rejoined the front line for its second campaign. This lasted until November 27, and took in the area between Doubrovka (in Russia) and (in East Prussia, Germany). During this campaign Joseph Stalin ordered the regiment to style itself in recognition of its participation in the battles to liberate the river of that name. On October 16, the first day of a new offensive against East Prussia, the easternmost part of Germany, the regiment’s pilots destroyed 29 enemy aircraft without loss. By the following month, the regiment found itself based in German territory. By the end of the year, Pouyade had been released from his command of the regiment and he, along with other veteran pilots, returned to France. January 14, 1945, saw the regiment start its third campaign (from Dopenen to concentrating in the East Prussian part of the German "Reich", until the formal announcement of victory in the east on May 9, the day after Victory in Europe Day|V-E Day in western Europe. By the end of the war, the regiment had shot down 273 enemy aircraft and had received many citations and decorations. The USSR expressed its gratitude to the regiment by offering 37 of the unit’s Yakovlev Yak-3|Yak-3 fighters to France.