Top French Ace, Marcel Albert
There are 750 limited edition prints in this series. Print Size 12×18″
All signatures by both the Aviator and the Artist are done in soft graphic pencil.
Limited Edition, Signed by the Ace. $65.00
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Poster Print $14.95
Poster prints are autographed by the artist only.
This story of Marcel Albert is by: Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
Marcel is in the center of this photo.
Marcel and his fellow aviators are unaware in this photo of the future a head of them. Little did they imagine that they would be fighting the German Luftwaffe from airfields in Russia flying Yak’s after the fall of France which was unheard of.
Great photo of a Dewoitine D-520.
Marcel shot down one German aircraft and assisted in the downing of others as the Blitzkrieg raced over the borders of France. The fighter he first fought the Germans in was the Dewoitine D.520. After the fall of France he escaped with many of his fellow pilots to England and flew against the Luftwaffe as the Free French Air Force. The group then moved to Russia and helped the Russians fight the Germans flying Russian fighter aircraft.
Marcel flew against the German Ace Horst Petzschler many times and they may have shot at one another in aerial combats. Marcel and his fellow Free French were not communist. They were true France Patriots fighting against the Germans only. Marcel was the top French Ace of WWII and met General Charles De Gaulle several times and received many awards from both Russia and France. De Gaulle gave Marcel a document in person that was personally signed by the General clearly stating that Marcel was the top French Ace of WWII.
Marcel Albert, the top French Ace of World War II. This painting has been autographed by Albert and is available for $5,000.00.
A Short Story of the Free French Air Force.
By: Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
Marcel Albert is on the left in the photo above.
After the fall of France Marcel Albert and other French aviators left France for either North Africa or England. Albert flew briefly for his country (France) flying an English Spitfire in the RAF. Marcel and other French pilots along with their ground crews joined together and formed the Free French Air Force.
Albert and the group went to Russia to help the Russians in their war against Germany on the eastern front. The group was known as the Normandie-Niemen. Marcel had already fought the German Luftwaffe when they invaded France in 1940. At first fifteen Free French pilots signed up. The leader was Joseph Pouliquen who was a commander of a unit in North Africa. Second in command was Captain Jean Tulasne who was stationed in Africa in Cairo. The first group numbered 62 including interpreters, technicians and a doctor.
Yak-3 model fighters.
Marcel remembers temperatures ranging from 30 to 40 degrees below zero! The group trained in the two seated version of the Yakovlev-7 and the Yak-1B fighter. Marcel and the other French pilots fell in love with the Yak-1B. The fighter was constructed with steel tubing and fabric covering, light metal alloys, and wood. The engine was powerful which gave the Yak speed, easily maneuverable, and well armed with small cannon and twin machine guns.
Marcel claims that the Yak-1B cruised faster than a Spitfire and had better climbing capabilities. This made the Yak superior to the Bf 109 in climbing rate. The Yak could also turn inside the FW 190 and the Bf 109 at low altitudes. The recollections of the French pilots that flew the Yak-1 was, “It was like flying a kite”. The French pilots were eager to engage Luftwaffe pilots in combat.
The French Squadron joined the Soviet 303rd Air Division at Polotniani-Zavod airfield, located southwest of Moscow. On March 26, Marcel, and fellow squadron mates, da la Poype, and Risso flew the first sortie when they were scrambled after a reconnaissance aircraft that was never contacted.
Yak-9 fighter on display.
On April 5 two pilots shared the shoot down of a FW-190 as they flew fighter cover for a raid of Petlyakov Pe-2 bombers. This was the first aerial victory for the group. The aviators were Albert Durand and Albert Prezisosi. Conditions from field to field worsened as the group moved with the advancing Russia Army as it gained ground back from the Germans. The movement was always further west.
The mechanics worked as much as fourteen hours every day. The extended time required to have aircraft flying in low temperature conditions was strenuous. For the pilot, the Yak was not equipped with all-weather instruments and the radio system was less reliable as the system the pilots had used in the past. As the unit moved in their push to the western border of the Soviet Union the conditions of the bases were nothing more than farm fields with makeshift buildings with no water, no electricity, no roads, nothing!
Marcel in Russia. The young dashing Free French fighter pilot.
By mid-summer 1943 the skies over western Russia was controlled by the Soviet Air Force including the Normandie-Niemen group. Losses in the regiment was thinning the ranks. New recruits from North Africa joined the group and blended into the routine. At this time the unit was trading their Yak-1s for the newer Yak-9 fighter. In July the French ground crews were replaced by Russians who were experienced with the Yak-9 aircraft.
As the unit moved forward chasing the Germans out of Russia the group had to move themselves. The pilot’s mechanic would sit in a hollow area behind the pilot in the fuselage. As the unit flew forward to a new field they carried everything the group needed. In the hop from field to field the entire squadron’s manpower moved in the aircraft. Some equipment would follow in trucks.
Marcel taxi’s his fighter out to take off.
Look at the German Crosses behind the canopy on the fuselage.
In 1944 the group transitioned to the Yak-3. They liked the aircraft and declared the Yak’s performance superior to the FW 190 and should be considered one of the best fighter aircraft of WWII. During this time period Marcel Albert was named an official “Hero of the Soviet Union”.
The war record of the Normandie-Niemen was an impressive 5,240 missions delivering a squadron total of 273 confirmed aerial victories, 37 probable, and 45 enemy aircraft described as “sorely damaged”. Marcel was the groups top ace with twenty two confirmed, one probable, and two other aerial victories flying in France at the beginning of the war.
The second top ace was Roland de la Poype with sixteen victories, two probable, and two damaged. Of the 96 French pilots that fought in Russia, 46 were killed in action. A high cost for victory. But a victory at long last.
Marcel receiving an award from General Charles De Gaulle.
Marcel has letters signed by De Gaulle celebrating Marcel Albert as being the highest scoring French Ace of WWII.
The official Soviet stamp honoring the Free French Squadron.
Marcel Albert’s Story
Written By: Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette
Marcel Albert was born in Paris in 1917. Marcel developed an interest in aviation and joined the military entering flight training at the Caudron Flight School at Anberieu, near Leon. He received his wings as a Sergeant in May 1938.
He was then sent to Istres for advanced flight training and combat tactics. His first post was the Centre Instruction Chasse at Chartres. Here he flew the French-built Bloch 152, the Morane-Saulnier 406, and the American-built Curtiss Hawk 75.
On September 1st 1939, Germany invaded Poland and tensions in Europe where high. Marcel was posted to Escadrille GC I/3 in February 1940. Here he flew the new Dewoitine 520, France’s newest fighter.
The Dewoitine D-520 fighter that Marcel fought the German Blitz in.
On May 10th the Germany invaded France. Marcel’s fist aerial victory came on May 14th, against a Dornier 17 bomber. Later that day he also shot down a Bf 109, however the kill was not confirmed. On May 20th just before the armistice with Germany, Marcel claimed another enemy aircraft, a Heinkel 111 bomber. Because of the confusion with the fall of the French Air Ministry, the Heinkel was not confirmed and listed as a probable.
Another great photo of a Dewoitine D-520 and the dashing young Marcel.
After the armistice, the Vichy French government sent Marcel’s squadron to North Africa. After a few missions, at Mersel Kebirs, Marcel and other pilots left for Gibraltar on October 14,1941 and joined General De Gaulle and the Free French in England. He and his fellow pilots had planned this defection for some time and they were ready when the opportunity came. For this action, the Vichy French condemned Marcel Albert to death for treason. It was believed that Marcel was the leader in the treasonous act.
The allies were afraid that the French Navy would be used against them in the Mediterranean. The RAF and Americans launched “Operation Torch”, attacking the French fleet and landing American troops in the North African Ports. Marcel almost found himself fighting against the Allies.
Marcel made his way to England and volunteered to fly for the RAF. Marcel was assigned to the 340 Squadron and flew 47 missions with the RAF.
In late 1942, Marcel and 13 other pilots with 50 mechanics left Scotland for Russia to form the Normandie Regiment. This was a squadron of free French pilots flying the Russian Yakovlev Yak-1B, the Yak-3, and Yak-9 fighters.
Marcel claimed his first victory on June 16th against a Focke Wulf 189. Most of Marcel’s missions against the Germans were in the support of the Russian ground troops. Strafing German infantry, anti-tank, anti-aircraft guns and supply convoys.
As the Russians forced the Germans back, Albert became an ace with his victories steadily climbing. On October 12, 1943, Marcel and his squadron were attacking German bombers, when Focke Wulf’s bounced them. In a head on attack Albert shot down the German ace Hans Phillips, which at the time had 216 aerial victories to his credit.
The greatest day their squadron experienced, was on October 16th, 1944. Together they claimed 29 German aircraft shot down with Marcel claiming three himself.
Marcel was a skilled pilot and aerial combatant. Only two enemy bullets ever hit his plane, which were from the rear gunner of a Junkers JU87 Stuka. While attacking the Junkers Ju87, Marcel came in close on the right side of the Stuka and looked over to see the rear gunner swing his gun around to fire at Marcel. It looked like a fire works display, with fireballs streaking across the distance between the two aircraft. Marcel’s plane was hit just under his foot and once in the gas tank. Fortunately, Marcel’s gas tanks were full and did not catch on fire. Marcel pulled ahead of the Stuka and came around again. This time giving himself more distance on the rear of the Stuka, Marcel fired striking the German in the tail sending the plane out of control to the earth. These were the only two enemy bullets that ever hit his plane.
On a mission against a German airbase at Lyda, Poland, Marcel was flying escort for Russian bombers striking the airstrip. His mission was to make sure that no aircraft took off to attack their bombers and to cover the bombers from any Russians that may already be airborne. They found the airfield filled with at least 200 enemy aircraft and no defensive air activity. The Germans had their aircraft lined up perfect for the aerial attack.
While flying around the field as the Russian bombers were dropping their bombs on the parked enemy aircraft, Marcel noticed several buses were rushing to the airfield. The buses contained the German pilots and ground crew. Marcel and his fellow fighter pilots descended on them and cut the buses to pieces.
The bombing mission was successful but there were many German aircraft left untouched. They were scheduled for another strikes that afternoon to finish off the German planes. Marcel knew that this was not wise. They had caught the enemy off guard once but may not be so lucky again.
As Marcel guessed, the Germans were waiting for them. Even though Marcel and the other fighter pilots fought to protect the bombers, they lost eight of their planes.
Life in the Russian Air Force had many drawbacks, especially as they quickly advanced as the Germans retreated. Many times, Marcel and his squadron were flying from airfields that were within miles of the front. Food and other supplies were also at a minimum because they were advancing sometimes quicker than the supplies lines could help them. For several months, Marcel and the others ate dog food.
Albert was promoted to Captain and was one of the few foreigners ever to receive the highest USSR award for valor, the Gold Star and the title “Hero of the Soviet Union”. The Yak 3 above, Number 6, was the plane that earned him most of his victories.
Marcel Albert flew for three different air forces during his combat career. The French, the English, and the Russians. Marcel ended the war with 23 confirmed aerial victories. Three Junkers Ju88’s, three Junkers Ju87 Stuka’s, one Dornier Do 17’s, one Heinkel He 111, one FW 189 observation plane, three Henschel Hs 129’s, two Bf 109’s, and ten FW 190’s. Marcel knows that there were many others that fell before his guns, but in combat, it is hard to confirm every encounter. He was also credited with damaging many German aircraft in aerial dog fighting, and destroying enemy aircraft on the ground. Marcel flew 262 combat missions becoming one of France’s greatest combat aviators.
The Normandie Regiment during its tour of battle lost 45 of its fighter pilots to the German aviators. The Germans however lost 273 aircraft to the French pilots, losing more aviators than the 273 because many of there loses were bombers carrying two to four crewmen.
The German radio transmissions were monitored by the Russians, which translated the conversations for the French pilots. The Germans were afraid of fighting with the Yak fighters. The Normandie Squadron was especially feared. Marcel’s number six was one aircraft that the Germans feared and keep a look out for. However, Marcel was not an aggressive hunter killer. He fought when he had to. He gave the Germans no opportunities. But Marcel had a lighter side. A quite man, he was a joker.
On one mission, flying only with his wingman, Marcel came upon a Focke Wulf 190. Coming in on the German’s blind side, Marcel pulled in quickly on the right wing flying along side with the German. The German looked to his right and saw Marcel, wingtip to wingtip. Marcel said that the German’s mouth flew open and his eyes were large as saucers.
Laughing, Marcel waved at the German pilot. After the shock wore off, the German pilot smiled and Marcel pulled his Yak straight up and away. His wingman was very up set telling Marcel “You had that one cornered!” But that did not bother Marcel, who had proved himself as a superb pilot and aerial combatant.
Marcel had the opportunity to fly the American P-51 and the P-47. In comparing these allied aircraft with the Yak, he clearly said that the Yak was a superior aircraft. When Marcel flew for the RAF flying the Spitfire, he was not impressed with the English aircraft at all.
In test flying the German Focke Wulf 190, he found the controls very stiff and hard to work. The Yak was a fast aircraft, built mostly out of wood and hollow metal tubing. Marcel said that some of the pilots that flew the later models of the Yak actually tore off wings during high speed maneuvering.
Sadly I was informed that Marcel Albert passed away yesterday August 25, 2010. I had wanted to go and meet with him and work on my book as well on another project but my hands were tied with the Wall Street financial crisis and I was broke. Sir Hamilton