Good English language references to the Indochina air war are relatively scarce. The following are books I have located and found to contain useful material, or works recommended to me by the readers of this site.

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Books in English

Books in French

Magazine Articles

Books in English

Street Without Joy by Bernard Fall

An excellent and readable account of all aspects of the war, including some detail on air operations.

Hell in a Very Small Place by Bernard Fall

A very comprehensive account of the fall of Dien Bien Phu.

Vietnam: the War in the Air by Rene Francillon

An excellent summary of air operations throughout the period 1945-75. Covers from before WWII until the fall of the South. Heavily illustrated, with a comprehensive appendix listing most aircraft types used. The chapter on French involvement includes sections on l'Armee de l'Air and l'Aeronavale, with some colour profiles, including a large 3-view painting of a Bearcat. This is the best illustrated English language reference I've found. The text is also quite useful, with details of operations and squadron deployments.

Vietnam Air War Debrief by Robert F. Dorr and Chris Bishop

Another volume in the style of Francillon's, this book from the publishers of World Airpower Journal and Wings of Fame is let down by very sloppy photo editing. The book covers the period from 1945-1975, though only 6 of the book's 250 pages are devoted to the Air War in French Indochina. Even in those 6 pages, the editors managed to reverse the image of a French Catalina. Throughout the book, photos of aircraft that are clearly not in Vietnam are displayed without comment or with inaccurate captions. Not recomended.

VNAF South Vietnamese Airforce 1945-1975 by Jim Mesko

Includes some material on the French, with a handful of generally poor quality photos and three colour profiles, of a Spitfire IX, a F6F-5 Hellcat, and a P-63C Kingcobra. Some text, not as many typos as most Squadron-Signal books.

Japanese Aircraft in Foreign Service by Jacek Jackiewicz and Seweryn Fleischer

A heavily illustrated compendium of Japanese Aircraft types in service in many nations. Includes 18 pages on aircraft in Armee de l'Air and Aeronavale service, including colour profiles (and some plan views) of Ki-30 Ann, Ki-21-IIb Sally, Ki-36 Ida, Ki-46-III Dinah, Ki-51 Sonia, Ki-54c Hickory, L2D2 Tabby, Manshu Ki-79a (not in French markings), Ki-43 Oscar, E13A1 Jake and A6M2-N Rufe. all illustrations are backed up by black and white photos of the subject. This volume does a nice job of bringing together a number of photos previously printed in French magazines that would be otherwise difficult to obtain. While I'd seen many of the photos before, the material on the Ki-54 was new to me.

Flying Dragons: The South Vietnamese Airforce by Robert Mikesh

A few photos, and information about how the VNAF adopted the French system of organisation for their fledgling air force. Useful colour notes for a/c inherited from the French (i.e. MS.501s).

Foreign Invaders by Dan Hagedorn and Leif Hellstrom

An excellent survey of the use of the Douglas Invader by a variety of foreign (i.e. non-US) operators. Includes coverage of French B-26Bs, Cs and RB-26Cs, many photos, and a table of serial numbers and dispositions.


Supermarine Spitfire Mk.XII-24, Supermarine Seafire Mk.I-47; Arco-Aircam Aviation Series No. 8

A colour profile and three photos of Seafire IIIs of Flotille 1F (misidentified as 22F on the photo captions) aboard Arromanches in '47-49.

deHavilland Mosquito in RAF-FAA-RAAF-SAAF-RNZAF-RCAF-USAAF French & Foreign Service; Aircam Aviation Series No. 28

Two black and white photos of FB.VIs of GC Corse, labelled as being in North Africa, including a close-up of the famous shark's mouth.

Grumman Goose; Naval Fighters Number Sixty-Three by Steve Ginter

Very detailed general reference on the Goose, with plenty of detail photos and diagrams. Two photos of French JRF-5s, and a copy of the markings diagram from the Sword kit!

Fairchild C-82 Packet and C-119 Flying Boxcar by Alwyn T. Lloyd

Comprehensive history of the flying boxcar and its predecessor. Five page chapter on French operations, with some photos and a list of serials.

SB2C Helldiver In Action by Robert Stern

Includes 2 black and white photos of SB2C-5 Helldivers from Flotille 3F, and a colour profile (mislabelled as an SB2C-5E).

A-26 Invader In Action by Jim Mesko

Includes 2 black and white photos of gun-nosed B-26Bs in Indochina. A colour profile of an Armee de l'Air Invader is included, but this is from Algerian in 1959.

F8F Bearcat In Action by Charles L. Scrivner

Includes a section on the Bearcat's service in Southeast Asia, with text and photos on the French use during the Indochina War. Colour profile of an F8F-1B from GC 1/22 Saintogne. Thanks to Rick Reinbott for the details.

Books in French

L'Aviation Militaire Francaise en Indochine 1946-1954 & L'Aviation Francaise en Indochine 1946-1954 by Jean-Claude Soumille

The holy grail of Indochina references, recommended to me by many people. Volume one, published by Association AIRDOC in 1995 covers only military types, while the second book, published in 1996, covers commercial aircraft impressed into service as well as military aircraft.

Laurent Jeannot provided me with a list of the profiles from volume I:

Bearcat, Corsair (AU-1), Catalina, Privateer, Mosquito, B-26, RB-26, Ki-54, NC.701 (Siebel 204), DHC Beaver, C-45 Expiditor, Nord 1000 (Bf 108), L-19, Republic RC-3 Seabee, Hiller H-23, S-51 Dragonfly, Piasecki HUP-2, A6M2-N Rufe, E13A1 Jake, Dauntless, Helldiver, Ki-53 Oscar, 2 Spitfire Mk.IX, P-63, 2 Hellcats, Loire 130, Sea Otter, JRF-5 Goose and 2 MS.500.

Nowfel Leulliot provided me with the following list of the colour profiles in the second volume:

4 P-63s, 1 Spitfire, 2 Bearcats, 1 Corsair, 3 Hellcats, 1 Dauntless, 2 AAC-1s (Ju-52), 1 C-119C, 1 Noratlas, 5 B-26s, 2 Privateers, 1 Catalina, 1 Westland S-51 Dragonfly, 1 Helldiver, 1 Grumman Goose, 1 DHC-2 Beaver, 1 Air France Constellation, 1 SO-30, 2 civilian and 2 military C-47s, 1 IGN (mapping agency) B-17, 3 (Vietnamese, Lao & Cambodian) MS-500, 1 Vietnamese MD-315 and Emperor Bao Dai's personal B-24 Liberator transport.

L'Armée de L'Air en Indochine, Volume 1: Transport et Bombardement by Alain Crosnier and Jean-Michel Guhl

A history of transport and bombing squadrons in Indochina, including photos and profiles, published by SUP AIR Publications in 1981. Nowfel Leulliot told me that 2 additional volumes were planned, covering Fighter/Recce and Liason/Army Cooperation/Helicopter squadrons, respectively, but the publisher unfortunately went bankrupt!

All photos include brief English captions. Aircraft covered the C-47, AAC.1, C-119, Noratlas and B-26. Coverage is broken down by squadron, with a nice mix of overall and detail photos.

Avions Hors Serie No. 6, Les Chasseurs Grumman de l'Armee de l'Air

The definitive reference on Hellcats and Bearcats in French Air Force service. Includes a table listing serial numbers, unit assignments and dispositions, along with several colour profiles, and an operational history of each unit that operated the types in Indochina.


L'Aventure Corsair by Rene Bail

Covers the F4U-7 and AU-1, including a record of the 25 AU-1s that fought in Indochina.

Les avions allemands aux couleurs francaise; Tome 2 by Philippe Ricco

Second of a two volume series covering German aircraft in French markings. Included in this volume are the Ju 52/AAC.1, Bf 108/Nord 1000/1/2 and Si 204/NC-701/2. Unfortunately many of the photos do not give a locations, although a handful are identified as being in Indochina.

Le Loire 130 by Lucien Morareau

An encyclopedic work (272 pages!) on this charming Gallic flying boat. Covers development through to retirement, with histories of each aircraft, many photographs, 16 pages of colour profiles, and a history of each unit that operated the Loire 130. A very expensive book, but all you'd ever want to know about the Loire 130 in a single work.

Les "Spitfire" francais by Claude-A Pierquet

A short monograph covering all variants operated by the French, and the units that flew them. Several pages on Indochina operations. Black and white photos and colour profiles are included.

Les «Seafire» dans l'Aeronautique Navale francaise by Jean Frelaut and Claude-A Pierquet

In the same series as the Spitfire book, this covers the Seafire variants. Similar content the Sptifire volume, with the addition of a set of scale drawings fro the Seafire III.

les Ailes de Gloire No 12 - Chance-Vought Corsair F4U-7 et AU-1 by Patrick Marchand and Junko Takamori

A detailed reference on both Corsair variants in French service covering service in Indochina, Suez and Algeria. Includes black and white period photos, colour photos of a restored aircraft, colour profiles, and detailed drawings. English captions are included. Highly recommended!

les Ailes de Gloire No 17 - Spitfire et Seafire a cocardes francaises by Patrick Marchand and Junko Takamori

An excellent book on all Spitfires and Seafires in French service, including black and white period photos, colour photos of museum aircraft, colour profiles, and detailed drawings. English captions are included. Highly recommended!


Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless & Curtiss SB2C-5 Helldiver; Bombardiers en pique de l’Aeronautique Navale by Alain Crosnier and Jean-Pierre Dubois

I am ashamed to admit that I have somehow managed to lose my copy of this book! From what I recall, it included many photos, along with colour profiles, squadron histories and serial listings.

Magazine Articles

Aviation Francaise Magazine No. 1

Excellent article on the P-63 Kingcobra in Indochina. Numerous black and white photos, and a page of colour profiles.

Aviation Francaise Magazine No. 4

Excellent article on the history of Escadrille 8.S in Indochina. Numerous black and white photos, covering Jakes, Loire 130, Sea Otter and Goose, as well as colour profiles of each type.

Le Fana de l'Aviation No. 474

Article on the L-19 (O-1) Birddog in French service from Indochina until the '80s. A handful of black & white and one colour photo of L-19s during their brief service in French hands in Indochina.

Le Fana de l'Aviation No. 450

Comprehensive article on the "Other Indochina War" - the Franco-Thai war of 1940-1. A mix of photos (unfortunately mostly of poor quality) and colour profiles of types operated by both sides.

Le Fana de l'Aviation No. 255

Article covering the birth of military aviation in Indochina. Details the early stages of the development of the VNAF, and the advisory role played by the French. Mostly photos and profiles of early VNAF types such as MS.500, Flamant, Bearcat, C-47 and Beech 18. Photos of French S-55 and psy-ops C-47 with both French and Vietnamese markings.

Le Fanatique de l'Aviation Nos. 107-109

Three part series on Invaders in Indochina. Black and white photos, one page of colour profiles.

Air Enthusiast No. 25

Another article on the Franco-Thai war of 1940-1. More poor-quality photos as well as some colour photos of restored aircraft in the Thai Air Force Museum.

Air Enthusiast No. 66

More on C-119 operations over Dien Bien Phu. Mostly black and white photos and one colour profile.

Aero Journal No. 30

Yet more on C-119 operations over Dien Bien Phu. Black and white photos and colour profiles of C-119s, C-47, and a Air Viet-Nam Bristol Freighter.

Aero Journal No. 29

An excellent article on French aviation in Indochina during the second world war, covering the Franco-Thai war, and the Vichy period. Photos of rare types, and colour profiles of both French and Thai aircraft. Thanks to Bill Coffman for details.

Aero Journal No. 19

A 4 page article on the L-19 Beaver in Indochina, including black and white photos, two colour profiles, and a table of serial numbers.

Aero Journal No. 16

A 2 page spread of colour profiles of aircraft in French Indochina, 1945-1954. Aircraft covered are a Spitfire, a Dauntless, a Seabee, two Hellcats, a Kingcobra, a Bearcat, a Helldiver, an Invader, a Beaver, a Corsair, and a Laotian MS.500

Aero Journal No. 14

A 3 page article including 2 black and white photos and a 2 view colour painting of an ex-Japanese, ex-RAF L2D3 Tabby. Article focuses on the crash of the aircraft in July 1946.

Aero Journal No. 7

A 4 page article including 6 black and white photos and a 3 view colour painting of a speaker-equipped C-47A used for psychological warfare, in a mix of French and Vietnamese markings.

Air International March 1993 (vol 44 n. 4)

An article on the history of the Cambodian air force. Short passage on its early history, although it is mainly '60's and later stuff.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 4, No. 3, June/July 1970

An article on French Invaders in Indochina 1951-1954, including black and white photos and profile drawings.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 4, No. 4, August/September 1970

An article on French Corsairs including black and white photos and profile drawings.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 5, No. 2, March/April 1971

An addendum to the previous article on French Invaders in Indochina 1951-1954, with additional black and white photos.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4, July/August/September 1971

An article on French Bearcats in Indochina, with black and white photos and profile drawings.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 7, No. 4, August/September 1973

An article on French Helldivers with black and white photos and profile drawings.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 7, No. 5/6, October/November/December 1973

An article on Privateers in Indochina with black and white photos and profile drawings.

Camouflage Air Journal, Vol. 8, No. 5/6, October/November/December 1974

An article on Catalinas in Indochina with black and white photos and profile drawings.


Air International June 1993 (vol 44 n. 6)

A 3-page article on "French Bearcats in Indochina 1951-54" by Jean-Christophe Manevy. 5 photos of planes being rearmed/taxiing. 2 colour profiles.


Air International November 1992 (vol 43 n. 3)

"Flying colours" page on the A-26 with one GB1/19 Gascogne B-26B-DL colour profile.


Airfan Nos. 9-12 (July-October 1979)

A four part series on the F8F Bearcat with colour profiles. French text, bilingual photo captions.


Airfan No. 8 (June 1979)

Dakotas in Indochina, with colour photos and profiles.


Avions August 1999

Part one of a series of articles on Japanese aircraft in French hands by Jean-Claude Soumile. Covers aircraft used by L'Aeronavale, focusing mainly on the Jake, with some coverage of the brief life of the Rufe. Lots of photos and a pair of colour profiles.


Scale Aircraft Modelling, Volume 12, No. 10 pp 468-471

An article on French Air Forces in Indochina 1945-1954, apparently still available as a back issue.


US Aircraft in the French/Indochina War, AAHS Journal Vol.4, No.1, 1st Quarter 1959

This short article describes American aircraft in service with the French, providing general colour scheme descriptions for each type. Black and white profiles are provided for a C-47B. P-63C, F6F-5, B-26C, B-26B, F8F-1 and SB2C-4(?), plus a few photos. Some details appear questionable, though the author is described as a person serving their country, whose name cannot be revealed...hmm.

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This page was created June 20, 2002.

This page was last updated March 24, 2011.