The Dassault Mirage IV was the French answer to the escalating Cold War era and the threat of nuclear attack from the Soviet Block. Very much like the British V Bomber force, the Mirage IV was part of a three way nuclear deterrent based around manned aircraft, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and submarine based weapons.
France was motivated to create her own independent nuclear deterrent following the Suez Crisis of 1956 and was designed to operate independent of NATO if needed. The Mirage IVA was manufactured entirely by the French aerospace industry, with the only concession to independence being the purchase of Boeing KC135 tankers for in-flight refuelling.
The Mirage IVA was built by Dassault in 1964 for France. Its length is 23.5 meters and its width is 11.85 meters. It weighs 31 tons and was able to fly at a speed of Mach 2.2 (2,124 km/h). It is the first European military aircraft capable of flying over Mach 2 for a long period of time; it is still the only one built in Western Europe capable of these speeds.
More than sixty Mirage IV aircraft were built and subsequently served as conventional strike and reconnaissance aircraft during conflicts including the Gulf War and Afghanistan. The last Mirage IV was retired in 2005.
Elvington and the Yorkshire Air Museum’s long standing connection with the French Air Force dates back to WW2. It was the culmination of this relationship and the Museum’s commitment to remembering the sacrifice of the 2300 French Air Force personnel who served at RAF Elvington which resulted in the unique presentation of the Mirage IV to the Museum by the Government of France. To date this is the only Mirage IV aircraft ever to be bequeathed to an independent museum and the only one outside France.
The Yorkshire Air Museum is one of Europe’s largest aviation museums and has a collection of world-renowned aircraft (Halifax Mk.III “Friday 13″, Mosquito, Spitfire, Hurricane, Messerchmitt, Harrier…). It is also the European Memorial of the Allied Air Forces.
Our Mirage IVA 45/BR (Bravo Romeo) flew for the first time on May 6th, 1966, with crew Elie Buge (pilot 1923-1967, first non-commissioned officer to cross the sound barrier) and Jean Cuny. Delivered to the French Air Force on June 3rd, 1966, Bravo Romeo completed 6,309 hours of flying and 2,975 landings. It left active duty and made its last flight on September 11th, 1991 before joining the Châteaudun base. It was then exhibited at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie in Paris from March 1995 to January 2009 before returning to Châteaudun