In March 1942, the French national liberation movement La France Combattante (Fighting France) suggested to the Soviet authorities that a group of French pilots and aviation mechanics take part in warfare against Germany.
On November 25, 1942, a Soviet-French agreement was signed on forming a French aviation squadron in the U.S.S.R. The squadron was formed on December 4 in Ivanovo near Moscow. The squadron was given the name Normandie in line with the personnel’s wishes.
The squadron’s personnel consisted of 72 French volunteers (14 pilots and 58 air mechanics) and 17 Soviet air mechanics. The squadron was equipped with Yak-1, Yak-9 and Yak-3 fighters. On March 22, 1943, the squadron headed to the front after training.
The squadron adopted the Province of Normandy’s coat of arms – a red square with two golden lions. Later it expanded in size and became the Normandie-Niemen regiment made up of three squadrons. They bore the names of three Normandian cities: Rouen, Le Havre and Cherbourg.
During the warfare on the Soviet-German front during WWII, the regiment’s pilots made 5,240 combat sorties, held some 900 air combats and secured 273 confirmed victories.