A HISTORIC aircraft is to be placed on the roof of a York theatre to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the French Air Force arriving in York – just in time for the Grand Depart.

On Saturday, June 28, the Hawker Hurricane aircraft from the collection of the Yorkshire Air Museum will be fixed on the York Theatre Royal roof.

The anniversary is one of York’s strongest links to France, and will also coincide with Armed Forces Day.

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In June 1944 the two newly re-formed French bomber squadrons became operational with RAF Bomber Command at RAF Elvington - now the Allied Air Forces Memorial and Yorkshire Air Museum - with 346 Guyenne and 347 Tunisie Squadrons starting combined operations on July 1, 1944, on missions bombing targets in their home country.

The aircraft were unique in Bomber Command, with Elvington being the only base to be operated wholly by another nationality. Some 2,300 French personnel were stationed at the base and 51 per cent of their aircrews lost their lives on bombing missions in just 18 months.

Ian Reed, director of the Yorkshire Air Museum, said: “As the 70th Anniversary coincides exactly with the build up to the Grand Départ of the Tour De France in York, the Hurricane will provide both an amazing talking point for the city’s celebration of this magnificent sporting event and provide a visual spectacle for the television camera’s following the peleton as it swoops past the Theatre Royal, with York Minster in the background.”