Mirage IVA’s transfer to the Yorkshire Air Museum

NYCO, official sponsor of the Mirage IVA’s transfer to the Yorkshire Air Museum

The transfer of the Mirage IVA 45/BR, which until now was located at Châteaudun on air base 279, to the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, United Kingdom, began on March 27th, 2017  by exceptional convoy. It is a unique transfer: it is indeed the first time that the French Government donates a nuclear bomber to a private museum of a foreign nation.

Guillaume Forestier, Director Aeronautics & Defence division, and Anna Patin, Communication officer, were on site for the start of the transfer. ©NYCO-2017

Transfer Details

After an eleven hour day loading the Mirage IV and all of the associated support equipment, the drivers were glad to be finally on the road. The following morning, they set off in a six vehicle convoy comprising of two standard trucks, two support escort vehicles and the two Convoi Exceptionnel loads carrying the aircraft. Heading across the French countryside, cutting across country using the French D Roads, the convoy made surprisingly rapid progress. The rear wheel steering system of the trucks made them surprisingly agile around the many small roundabouts and by lunchtime they had made good progress. Following an overnight wait, at Le Harve, the two trucks carrying the aircraft were loaded onto the Brittany Ferries sailing from Le Harve to Portsmouth. Having arrived in the UK late on Wednesday, just a few miles into the journey, the convoy was stopped for an inspection by UK Driving Standards Agency. A two-hour roadside battle with British bureaucracy followed. Eventually, in the early evening of 29th March, the Mirage finally arrived at the Museum. The media crews were on hand to record the event for evening news. The following morning at 7am, a volunteer team of our engineers from the Museum under the direction of Heritage engineer Gary Hancock swung into action to finally unload the Mirage with assistance of the enthusiastic French drivers and a huge crane from Central Crane Hire of Hull. By 9:30am, the aircraft was sitting on British soil in the grounds of the Museum and the drivers headed south for a long drive back to HQ at La Rochelle. At the Museum, its team began preparations for the process of re-assembling the Mirage IV for public display. On 2nd April, David Dron, one of the French volunteers arrived to begin the process of fitting together the Mirage and setting her onto those long undercarriage legs ready for public display at the Museum and an official handover ceremony very soon.

In order to make this transfer possible, the Yorkshire Air Museum looked for donations. French, English, but also Canadian and American companies have agreed to join this major project: Goltens (based in Dubai UAE); Techman Head (France); Albatrans (France) that is in charge of this exceptional transport; The Shepherd Trust (UK); Trivest Developments (Canada) and NYCO (France).

NYCO is very  pleased to be part of this event and to share our joy with all aviation enthusiasts.

The different stages of the transfer: on the road then the assembly phase in Elvington. Photo credits: © Yorkshire Air Museum 2017

 The Mirage IVA reassembled at the Yorkshire Air Museum – April 2017. Photo credits: © Yorkshire Air Museum 2017

On September 3rd, the Allied Air Forces Day, the Yorkshire Air Museum officially unveiled the Mirage IV A with a parade and commemoration service to follow.

The General Laurent Lesellier of the French Air Force,  Contre Amiral Patrick Chevallereau – Defence Attaché based in London, his spouse Madam Laurie Dundon Chevallereau,  Colonel Patrice Hugret, Air Attaché, based in London, Adj Lionel Cajat, Embassy in London, Bernard Masson, President of Ordre National du Mérite,  Madam Brigitte Williams President of the Association France Libre,  Major Olivier Reynard President of Souvenir Français, Commandant Sébastien Gasnier Military liaison Officer in York, Paul Bogaert President of Les Amicale des Groupes Lourds, Ms Jan Leeming Patron of Souvenir Français based in the UK.

There were also Brigadier Nigel Wood, Dep. Lord Lieut (representing H.M. La Riene), The High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and Lord Mayors, York, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Manchester.

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 They are talking about it:

Some interesting details

  • The Yorkshire Air Museum is one of Europe’s largest aviation museums and has a collection of world-renowned aircraft (Halifax Mk.III “Friday 13″, Mosquito, Spitfire, Hurricane, Messerchmitt, Harrier…). It is also the European Memorial of the Allied Air Forces.
  • Mirage IVA – Main features : The Mirage IVA was built by Dassault in 1964 for France. Its length is 23.5 meters and its width is 11.85 meters. It weighs 31 tons and was able to fly at a speed of Mach 2.2 (2,124 km/h). It is the first European military aircraft capable of flying over Mach 2 for a long period of time; it is still the only one in Western Europe.
  • The Mirage IVA 45/BR (Bravo Romeo) flew for the first time on May 6th, 1966, with crew Elie Buge (pilot 1923-1967, first non-commissioned officer to cross the sound barrier) and Jean Cuny. Delivered to the French Air Force on June 3rd, 1966, Bravo Romeo completed 6,309 hours of flying and 2,975 landings. It left active duty and made its last flight on September 11th, 1991 before joining the Châteaudun base. It was then exhibited at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris from March 1995 to January 2009 before returning to Châteaudun (see below pictures. From Paris to Châteaudun).
Download the press release