Eighty years in the past, on November 8, 1942, the Allies launched Operation Torch, the amphibious invasion of French North Africa and the primary main U.S. foray into World Conflict II’s European theater. An American plane provider, USS Ranger, and 4 escort carriers introduced 109 Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighters, 36 Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless dive bombers and 27 Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo bombers to help the Western Process Drive off Morocco. Going through the People had been Vichy French forces with 208 plane, 84 of which had been constructed within the U.S. and delivered to the French earlier than their 1940 capitulation to Germany. The Vichy air arsenal included Douglas DB-7 assault bombers, Martin 167 Maryland mild bombers and Curtiss H-75A fighters, export variations of P-36A Hawks.
The motion on the invasion’s first day marked the primary time in historical past that American-built airplanes squared off in opposition to one another in warfare. An early conflict noticed Wildcats of Ranger’s VF-41 squadron taking over French Hawks—a number of of which had been from Groupe de Chasse II/5, a direct descendant of the famend “Escadrille Lafayette” of principally American volunteer pilots who fought for France earlier than the U.S. formally entered World Conflict I. Either side took their lumps through the air battles, however the French drive was unable to mount any protection by November 10. At 10:00 pm that night time, Vichy headquarters in Casablanca ordered the French to stop hostilities. Those self same Vichy airmen had been quickly preventing for the Allies because the Free French within the renewed effort to liberate their nation.