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French fighter pilots 1939-1945.

Louis Delfino

by Christian-Jacques Ehrengardt
Philippe Listemann
translation : Michel  Léveillard

If we had to establish a list of the ten most outstanding figureheads of French aviation between 1939 - 1945, Louis Delfino would certainly rank very high.
His story began on October 15th 1912 in Nice, and his adventure truly started in September 1931 when he entered St Cyr. As a reconnaissance pilot at first, he was assigned to GC I/4 as the second in command shortly before the war. He then held the rank of captain.
On May 17th 1940, he was named commandant of GC II/9's 4th squadron.

After the armistice, he rejoined his old group in Dakar.
In August 1943, he became deputy commandant, but the coastal patrol missions did not satisfy his adventurous temperament, so he applied for transfer to the "Normandie Niemen".

He obtained his transfer on February 28th 1944.

He succeeded Pouyade as the head of the regiment on November 12.

A major in June 1944, he was promoted Wing Commander / Lieutenant colonel in April 1945.

On January 1st 1946, he was the leader of the 611th wing, composed of only one group:
the Normandie-Niemen.

On August 11, he became commandant of the 11th wing upon its return from Indochina.

As a colonel in 1951, he was named inspector of the fighter arm the following year. His tenure at this post will have an important influence on the regulation and use of the fighters. As commandant of defense zone 901 in 1954, he received his first stars in 1957. He then worked with the aerial territorial defense of which he took command in May 1961. Promoted to Air Marshal / Lieutenant-general in 1964, he became inspector general of the French Air Force.

He succumbed to a heart disease on June 11th 1968. He was only 56 years old, and his passing on would leave a big void in the French Air Force.


Flight lieutenant / Captain
GC I/4

11.05.40 (7) He 111 Halle [B]


25.25.40 (2) Bf 109 Moreuil [B]
26.05.40 (5) Hs 126 Péronne [80]
05.06.40 (2) He 111 Compiègne [60]
05.06.40 (7) Hs 126 Péronne [80]
06.06.40 (5) Hs 126 Soissons [02]
09.06.40 (5) Hs 126 Formerie [60]

Squadron leader / Major

GC I/4

12.08.42 (3) Wellington [ Dakar ]

GC 3

16.10.44 (1) Bf 109 Darkehmen [Eastern Pomerania ]
18.04.44 (1) Fw 190 Stallupönen [E.P.]
22.10.44 (3) Fw 190 Insterburg [E.P.]
26.10.44 (2) Bf 109 Gumbinnen [E.P.]
16.01.45 (1) Fw 190 Kussen [E.P.]
11.02.45 (2) Bf 109 Rositten [E.P.]
27.03.45 (2) Fw 190 Pillau [E.P.]


Louis Delfino, probably at Powanden (Eastern Pomerania) in February 1945.

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Delfino's personal Spitfire IX, displaying his famous marking of two entwined zeros when he was the commandant of the 1st fighter wing, in Friedrichshafen in 1946.

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