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On 20 June 1945, the Normandie-Niemen landed triumphantly at le Bourget airport in front of several hundreds of thousands of people. Everybody wanted to see these French pilots who had fought for three years on the Eastern Front alongside the Soviet air force. And fought well: 273 confirmed kills and 36 probables in 5 240 missions. But at what price! Out of the 96 pilots engaged between the spring of 1943 to the spring of 1945, 42 never returned? Created in the fall of 1942 by General de Gaulle to represent Free France on the Eastern Front, the Normandie-Niemen fighter group was the most titled French air force unit of all time and the one
which paid the heaviest tribute during World War II. For such exceptional results, there was an exceptio- nal reward: a unique feat in History, the Normandie-Niemen was allowed to return to France with its Rus- sian-made Yak-3s which had worked marvels against the German fighters flown by particularly tenacious and experienced pilots.
For the 70th anniversary of the triumphal return of the Normandie-Niemen, and in partnership with the Mémorial Normandie-Niemen set up in the Musée de l’air et de l’Espace at le Bourget, Editions Heimdal are publishing a book telling the story of this epic in a lively fashion with about 200 illustrations, period photos of objects and clothes belonging to the pilots as well as maps, plans and aircraft profiles.