Toul-Rosières Air Base

Toul-Rosières Air Base

is a reserve French Air Force base. It is located in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département of France, 10 miles northeast of the city of Toul.

Toul Air Base was used by American fighter and bomber aircraft during both World War I and World War II. During the Cold War, Toul-Rosières Air Base was a front-line NATO base for both the French Air Force and the United States Air Force.


World War I

During World War I, the French Air Force constructed an aerodrome at Toul-Rosieres, given its proximity to the Western Front. In April 1918 it was turned over to the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) and it served as the home for several groups and squadrons of the U.S. Army Air Service.

On 9 April 1918, the 94th Aero Squadron was assigned to Toul. The 94th was soon joined by the 27th, 95th, and 147th Aero Squadrons to form the 1st Pursuit Group, while the 1st Aero Squadron was joined by the 12th and 88th to form the 1st Corps Observation Group.

The Americans at Toul flew reconnaissance sorties, protected observation aircraft, attacked enemy observation balloons, strafed enemy troops, flew counter-air patrols, and bombed towns, bridges, and railroad stations behind the enemy's lines.

Aircraft from Toul participated in the Lorraine, St Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns, attacking behind the lines while pursuit ships concentrated mainly on large-scale counter-air patrols.

The Americans at Toul demobilized and left France in December 1918.

World War II

During World War II, the United States Army Air Forces 9th Air Force designated Toul as Station 98, or "Rosy" for Rosières-en-Haye. After the US Third Army cleared the area of German forces, the 890th Engineer Aviation Battalion constructed a Pierced Steel Planking (PSP) 1,500 meter runway over the soft soil to support fighter operations.

Toul was declared operational on 3 December, 1944. The USAAF based P-51 Mustangs and P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft at Toul with the 358th, 50th and 27th Fighter Groups taking part in the offensives on Metz and the Moselle.

In May 1945, "Rosy", as the base was referred to by the Americans stationed there, was deactivated and the USAAF returned Toul Air Base to the French.

United States Air Force use

In 1951 as a result of the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union, Toul-Rosieres was provided to the United States Air Force by the French as part of their NATO commitment. Toul was chosen because the site was immediately available for construction, and because there was a long American history associated with the area going back to World War I.

Toul Air Base was planned to be developed in two steps. The first being a temporary bare base facility built in minimum time to support flying missions. The second stage being the completion of support facilities while the wing operated at the operational facilities.

Initial surveys of the area showed that the World War II runway laid down in 1944 had seriously deteriorated and no remaining structures of the airfield remained. Construction of the base to bring it up to NATO standards started in February 1951 with the building of a railroad spur and access roads. In November 1951, the old Pierced Steel Planking runway was torn up and a permanent base of aggregate for a jet runway was laid down.

The design of the airfield was to space parked aircraft as far apart as possible by the construction of a circular marguerite system of hardstands that could be revetted later with earth for added protection. Typically the margueriete consisted of fifteen to eighteen hardstands around a large central hangar. Each hardstand held one or two aircraft, and allowed the planes to be spaced approximately 150 feet (50 m) apart. Each squadron was assigned to a separate hangar/hardstand complex. This construction can be seen clearly in the satellite image link at the bottom of this article.

In December 1951, the 7412th Support Squadron was established by the USAF at Toul to coordinate the construction issues and development of the base.

117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

thumb|right|Lockheed RF-80C-11-LOShooting Star Serial 45-8391 in the foreground, along with other RF-80s of the of the 160th Tactical Recon Squadron, 1952. (Photo taken at Neubibreg AB, West Germany)The 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing arrived at Toul on 27 January 1952, deploying to France from Lawson AFB, Georgia. The 117 TRW was composed of three activated Air National Guard squadrons from Alabama, South Carolina and Ohio, the 112th, 157th and the 160th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons (Photo Jet) along with support personnel.

The Wing's compliment of aircraft was 15 RB-26Cs assigned to the 112 TRS, and 38 RF-80As, assigned to the 157 and 160 TRS's. The RB-26's were tail coded with yellow stripes, the 157th's RF-80's with red stripes, and the 160th's RF-80's with green stripes. In addition, each squadron had a T-33A trainer assigned to it.

The mission of the 117 TRW was to provide tactical, visual, photographic and electronic reconnaissance by both day and night, as was required by the military forces within the European command. The RF-80's were responsible for the daylight operations.

Toul AB in 1952 was not ready for the Wing's arrival. At the time of the 117th's arrival, the base consisted of a sea of mud, and the new jet runway was breaking up and could not support safe flying. The Wing commander of the 117th deemed it uninhabitable and its flying squadrons of the wing were dispersed to West Germany. The 112 TRS was transferred its B-26's to Wiesbaden AB, the 157 TRS deployed RF-80's and T-33A's to Furstenfeldbruck AB, and the 160th deployed the balance of the RF-80's to Neubiberg AB. The non-flying Headquarters and Support organizations remained at Toul.

In June 1952, the 117th was involved in Exercise 'June Primer'. This exercise took place in an area bordered by a line drawn from Cherbourg to Geneva in the east and in the west by this Swiss, Austrian and Russian occupation zone borders.

The two RF-80 squadrons of the 117th had to complete a number of varying missions, including vertical photography of prospective paratroop air drop zones, oblique photos of the Rhine and Danube river bridges, vertical photography of the airfields of Jever, Fassburg, Celle, Sundorf and Gutersloh and various visual missions on behalf of the seventh army, including artillery adjustment for the 816th field artillery. The 157 TRS had had wire recorders fitted to five of its RF-80's prior to June Primer and these greatly facilitated the latter missions.

By July 1952 the facilities at Wiesbaden were becoming very crowded, and it was felt that the B-26's could fly from the primitive conditions at Toul. The 112 TRS returned to Toul, however the jet-engined RF-80's remained in Germany until a new runway was constructed.

On 9 July 1952 the activated Air National Guard 117 TRW was released from active duty. All of the aircraft and support equipment remained at Toul. The 117 TRW was deactivated in place and its mission was taken over by the newly-activated 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

On 10 July 1952, the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activated in place at Toul AB, absorbing the personnel and equipment of the deactivated 117 TRW. The 112 TRS was redesignated the 1 TRS, the 157 TRS became the 32 TRS, and the 160 TRS became the 38 TRS. The 32 and 38 TRS remained with their RF-80's at Furstenfeldbruck and Neubiberg respectively.

The 10 TRW absorbed the 117th's aircraft, however the tail coding was changed. The RB-26's were repainted with black and white stipes, the 32d' with red and yellow stripes, and the 38th's had green and yellow stripes. The squadrons also retained their T-33A trainers assigned to them.

The mission of the 10 TRW was also inherited from the 117th, however weather conditions in Germany serverly restricted the operations of the RF-80. The aircraft in Germany were frequently deployed to Morocco during the winter of 1952-53 where the photo conditions were excellent.

On 9 May 1953 the 10 TRW was moved to Spangdahlem AB in Germany as part of a USAFE reorganization. After the Wing's departure, the 7412th Support Squadron was established by the Air Force as a host unit. In addition, the U.S. Army Aviation Engineers were moved into Toul to address the runway and support structure issues which were unresolved during the tenure of the 117 and 10 TRW. For over 20 months construction proceeded by the Army along with French contractors with new Headquarters, barracks, hangars and support buildings.

465th Troop Carrier Wing

In November 1953, 465th Troop Carrier Wing arrived at Toul AB. The 465th was activated at Donaldson AFB South Carolina in February 1953 from former Air Force Reserve aircraft and equipment. The 465th consisted three flying squadrons, the 780th, 781st and 782d Troop Carrier Squadrons. The 465th was assigned to the Twelfth Air Force and attached to the 322d Air Division (Combat Cargo).

Aircraft operated by the 465th were 56 C-119C "Flying Boxcar"s, along with several C-47 and L-20A support aircraft. Squadron markings of the C-119's were red for the 780 TCS, green for the 781 TCS and yellow for the 782 TCS.

During April and May 1954 enough construction was completed at Toul AB to allow the deployed aircraft squadrons to use the rebuilt facilities. At the time of the units assignment to Toul, construction was still underway of the main runway and support facilities, so the flying units were temporarily deployed to Germany. The 780th was assigned to Rhein-Main AB, the 781st to Wiesbaden AB and the 782d to Neubiberg.

The mission of the 465th was to provide tactical airlift to USAFE. This included deploying airborne forces and equipment by parachute, however because of the few number of airborne units in Europe, its mission became airlift support of supplies and equipment throughout Europe and North Africa. Many missions were flown to Wheelus Air Base in Libya to support the weapons ranges established there.

On 23 May 1955 the 465 TCW was relocated to Evreux-Fauville AB.

With the departure of the C-119s, the 7430th Air Base Squadron was activated to maintain Toul in a standby status. Budget cuts however, prevented any new USAF units from the United States to move to France. Minimal flight operations by the 7430th were flown by a C-47 and an L-20 for support missions.


Beginning in 1954 the 366th Fighter-Bomber Wing from Alexandria AFB Louisiana and the 312th Fighter-Bomber Wing from Clovis AFB New Mexico were deployed to Toul AB to test the idea of Dual Basing. Dual Basing was a concept where CONUS units were committed to NATO, but based in the United States to reduce costs. These units flew F-86H "Sabres", and rotated between Toul and the US until 1955.

A historical note is that Lt. Col. John B. England, who was commander of the 389th Fighter-Bomber Squadron from Alexandria AFB was killed when his F-86 crashed into the woods near Toul. In his honor, Alexandria AFB was renamed England AFB, and retained that name until its closure in 1993.

50th Fighter-Bomber/Tactical Fighter Wing

On 17 July 1956, the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing from Hahn AB Germany, arrived at Toul AB. The 50 FBW was the first unit to be able to utilize the completed facilities at Toul, and be able to fully deploy its flight squadrons on the base. Flying units of the 50th FBW were the 10th, 81st and 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadrons, flying a total of 74 F-86H "Sabres".

In addition to the F-86's, several C-47 and L-20A support aircraft were operated, along with T-33A trainers. Squadron markings of the F-86's were blue for the 10th, yellow for the 81st and red for the 417th.

The primary mission of the 50th Figher-Bomber Wing was the delivery of tactical nuclear weapons against Warsaw Pact forces in the event of an invasion of Western Europe. Its secondary missions were tactical air defense and support for NATO ground forces.

During May 1957 the 50th saw the arrival of the first F-100D/F "Super Sabre". A total of 75 F-100's were received in both single (D), and two seat (F) models, 25 per squadron.

A change in residence, however, loomed on the horizon for the 50 TFW. In 1959 disagreements arose concerning atomic storage and custody issues within NATO, resulted in a decision to remove United States Air Force atomic-capable units from French soil. On 10 December 1960, the 50 TFW redeployed back to Hahn AB Germany, where it remained until Hahn's closure in 1991.

With the 50 TFW's departure, Seventeenth Air Force activated the 7514th Support Group to maintain Toul in a standby mode. Besides Toul, the 7514th performed this activity at Chambley, Chaumont, Etain and Phalsbourg Air Bases with minimal support facilities.

On 1 January 1960 the 7514th Support Group was renamed the 7544th Support Group, being manned by about 1,000 Airmen and 350 French nationals.

7544th Support Group

With the departure of the 50 TFW, the 7544th Support Group became the host unit at Toul.

Det #1, 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

In 1959 the 10th TRW at RAF Alconbury, established Detachment #1, 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at TRAB to support alert aircraft and the ECM reconnaissance mission as, due to its proximity to the Iron Curtain, time to target and time on station were greatly reduced by flying from TRAB instead of from the UK,

The 10th TRW flew variants of the Douglas B-66 "Destroyer" in photo recon and ECM versions. The aircraft were deployed from RAF Alconbury, RAF Bruntingthorpe and RAF Chelveston in the United Kingdom. The B-66's would stay at Toul between two and four weeks then rotate back to England. During that time the 42nd TRS, based at RAF Chelveston, also staged ECM reconnaissance missions from TRAB, typically flying a mission from RAF Chelveston and landing at TRAB, then one or two missions from TRAB, then a mission to return to RAF Chelveston.

In the summer of 1962 the 42nd TRS with 12 B-66B "Brown Cradle" offensive ECM aircraft, and 11 RB-66C ECM Reconnaissance aircraft, transferred from RAF Chelveston to Toul-Rosieres. At the same time, the 19th TRS, flying RB-66B photo reconnaissance aircraft, also relocated from RAF Bruntingthorpe.

On 10 March 1964, a 19th TRS RB-66C was shot down over East Germany after it crossed over the border due to a compass malfunction. The crew ejected and were taken prisoner briefly before being released.

In October 1965 the 25th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activeated at Chambley AB and the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activated at Toul. The 42nd TRS and the 19th TRS were then assigned to the 25th TRW at Chambley, although many members of the squadron continued to live at TRAB and commute to Chambley.

1961 Berlin Crisis

On 1 October 1961, as a result of the Berlin Crisis, the mobilized Missouri Air National Guard (ANG) 131st Tactical Fighter Wing deployed to Toul as the 7131st Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional). When activated, the 131 TFW consisted of the 110, 169 and 170 TFS, from Lambert Field, St. Louis MO, Peoria Municipal Airport, Peoria IL, and Capitol Airport, Springfield IL, respectively.

These activated ANG squadrons flew the F-84F "Thunderstreak". Due to budget restraints, only one squadron of the 131 TFS was deployed, with the other two squadrons being assigned from other ANG wings. A total of 78 aircraft were deployed, 26 per squadron. The final deployed aircraft arrived at Toul on 13 November.

The 7131 TFW assumed regular commitments on a training basis with the U.S. 7th Army as well as maintaining a 24-hour alert status. The wing exchanged both Air and Ground Crews with the 730th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Skydstrup Air Station, Denmark during May 1962.

As the Berlin situation subsided, all activated ANG units were ordered to be returned to the United States and released from active duty. The 7131st departed from Toul on on 19 July 1962.

26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

On 1 July 1965 the 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was formed at Toul. The 26th TRW was designated to be equipped with the new RF-4C "Phantom". With the activation of the 26 TRW, the 7544th Support Group was deactivated.

The squadrons initially assigned to the 25th were the 22 TRS, flying RB-66's acquired from the deployed Alconbury squadrons and the 32 TRS, flying RF-101C "Voodos", which were transferred from the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Laon Air Base.

The RF-4C's started arriving on 3 October 1965, phasing out the RB-66's and RF-101s. Then on 1 January 1966, the 38 TRS arrived from the 66 TRW, giving the 25 TRW three squadrons.

On 7 March 1966, French President Charles De Gaulle announced that France would withdraw from NATO's integrated military military structure. The United States was informed that it must remove its military forces from France by 1 April 1967.

As a result, the 26 TRW and two of its squadrons, the 38th and 32d, relocated to Ramstein AB, Germany on 5 October 1966. In November, the 22 TRS was reassigned to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. where it became a dual-based squadron, deploying frequently to Ramstein.

The 32 TFS was transferred, without personnel or equpment to RAF Alconbury. Its B-66 aircraft were sent to Takhli Air Base, Thailand.

In 1973, the 26 TRW would relocate to Zweibrucken AB, Germany where it remained until deactivated with Zweibrucken's closure in April 1991. The RF-4C's were relegated to storage and disposition at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center.

On 5 October 1966 the 26 TRW was deactivated at Toul. In its place, the 7544th Support Group was reactivated to facilitate the removal of American property and personnel from the base. On 1 April 1967 the American Flag was lowered for the last time at Toul, and the base returned to French control.

Current uses

After the USAF withdrawal from France, the French Air Force took up residence at Toul with the arrival of the 11th Escadre (wing) from Bremgarten Air Base in Germany.

The base was given designation Le Détachement Air DA 11/136. On 21 June 1967, the French Air Force officially took possession of the base, transferring 15 F-100 aircraft of the 02/11 Escadron (Squadron).

Escadron (EC) of the 11th Escadre at Toul-Rosières were:
* EC 01/011 "Roussillon"
* EC 02/011 "Vosges"
* EC 03/011 "Corse"
* EC 04/011 "Jura"

The F-100's remained at Toul-Rosières until 3 November 1976 when the last from EC.02/011 were retired and returned to American control. Returned French F-100's were eventually flown to Great Britain for storage and eventual scrapping.

During August 1974, EC.03/011 received the 11th Escadre's first SEPECAT Jaguar, with the other squadrons being equipped through November 1976. The Jaguar-equipped Escadrons were declared operational on 22 December 1977. Aircraft from Toul were deployed to Africa, the Middle East and Yugoslavia in support of French/NATO interests.

On 1 September 1998, Toul-Rosières Air Base was phased down, and was eventually closed on August 31, 2004. A military ceremony marked the closing of BA.136 Toul-Rosieres and the base was placed in reserve status. The site is now attached to DA.90/133 of Nancy-Ochey as Détachement Air DA.90/136 being used as a munitions storage facility.

Emblems Of USAFE Units That Served At Toul-Rosières Air Base



131st Tactical Fighter Wing


World War I

United States Army Air Forces
World War II

ee also

* United States Air Force In France
* United States Air Forces in Europe


* McAuliffe, Jerome J: "U.S. Air Force in France 1950-1967" (2005), Chapter 16, Toul-Rosieres Air Base.
* Ravenstein, Charles A., "Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977", Office of Air Force History, 1984
* Endicott, Judy G., "USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995". Office of Air Force History
* Mueller, Robert, "Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982", Office of Air Force History, 1989
* [ USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present]
* Loubette, Fabrice (2008). "Les forces aériennes de l'OTAN en Lorraine, 1952-1967". Metz, France : Serpenoise, Part II, Chapter 7, Toul-Rosières Air Base. ISBN 978-2-87692-763-6.

External links

* [ Airport Diagram for LFSL]
* [ Great Circle Mapper: LFSL - Toul, France (Rosieres AFB)]
* [ 117/10 TRW B-26C 44-35617 At Hill AFB Museum, Utah]
* [ 110 FIS F-84F 51-1640 At Hill AFB Museum, Utah]
* [ 1st Pursuit Group]
* [ 27th Fighter Group]
* [ 50th Fighter Group]
* [ 358th Figher Group]
* [ 10th Air Base Wing, USAFA]
* [ 465th Troop Carrier Wing]
* [ 50th Tactical Fighter Wing]
* [ 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing]
* [ 131st Fighter Wing]
* [ 26th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing]
* [ TRAB-136 "les gardiens de la mémoire" (in French)]
* [ Toul-Rosieres Air Base Brats personal website]

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