Battle of France dedicated thread

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by delcyros, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Why not discuss the Battle of France in 1940?
    What do we actually know about the battle of France, which airplanes were avaiable at both sides and how were those units tactically utilized? The Spitfire made her combat debut over France and the Hurricane, albeit heavily pressed did her best to stop the Luftwaffe in combination with french and belgic airforces. Why did they failed?
    The Luftwaffe lost over 1386 planes, 410 french fighter pilots were KIA, the RAF lost 67 Spitfires and 386 Hurricanes but what about the detailed loss breakdowns and how do they match with kill claims?
     
  2. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    Does anybody have detailed breakdown of the French air force strenght? Meaning how many Dewos, Hawks, or Breguets(sp?) they had at the start of the campaign in France? Things like that.

    On the related site, no opportunity is to be missed to make a little advertisement for my site, hehe !

    French tactical trials pitting the Dewo vs. the 109E, one of the big mysteries of the war, which one is better? Answer in the link, only for you, only now ! :lol: :lol:

    Kurfürst - CEAM : Rapport sur l'avion Messerschmidt 109
     
  3. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I didnt know the Luft lost that many aircraft... I'd like to know what percentage was ground fire.
     
  4. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The initial condition for the battle of France may have been in favour of the allies:
    -a large terretory to cover for the Luftwaffe fighter force (some playces beyond range initally)
    -more modern fighter and AAA opposition than in Poland
    -the allies had half a year undisturbed time to deploy their forces (ground air) in France
    -numerical advantage of the combined french, belgic, netherlandic and british air forces.
    French airforces strength breakdown for august, 16th, 1939:
    total number of planes: 7.450
    premilitary training planes: 800
    fighter / bomber trainer/trasnports: 2.691
    regular military planes: 3.959
    -755 in depots or in repair
    -262 in colonies out of France

    -military forces in France at sept. 20th, 1939: 1.610 modern planes operational and deployed
    -military forces in France at may, 10th, 1940: 1.558 modern planes operational (260 bombers (Amiot 354 and Lióre et Oliver 451), 580 recon (Potez 63, Mureaux 115) in 8 units, 718 fighters (MS 405/06, Curtiss Hawk 75, Bl 151/2, Dewotine 520) grouped in 23 units with 6 squadrons each and a total of 23 planes)) -the mass of the bomber forces were still obsolete types, not included here but the fighter and recon (fighter bomber) types had already transited into a more modern state since august 16th, 1939.

    -moment of surprise questionable against France (state of war since sept. ´39, Armeé de l´Air mobilized since august 16th, 1939)
    -heavy utilization of the air transportation forces once the ground attack runs
    -even heavier utilization of the bomber forces in order to make the ground attack run through the dug in defenses
    -AAA units were planned to support ground operations, not to be used primarely as AA installations
    -there was a single wave of preemptive measures against airfields for the attack day (20 minutes before assoult) in order to allow greater support for ground forces thereafter while minimizing the loss of surprise. If this air attack fails partially, things will turn out badly for the aggressors.
    The preemptive attack on airfields covered these places:
    Netherlands: Texel, de Kooy, Schiphol, Soesterburg, Valkenburg, Ypenburg, Wallhafen, Bergen, Gilze-Rijen
    Belgium: Antwerpen, Ghent, Brussles, Tirlemont, Bierset, Nivelles, Gosseliers and Wevelgem
    France: Thionville, Metz, Nancy, S. Dizier, Mourmelon, Reims, Sézanne, Romilly, Amiens, Rouen and Le Brouget.

    The french fighter forces flew from may 10th to may 16th a total of 2000 combat sorties and claimed 273 Luftwaffe planes shot down.


    One of the more interesting side aspects is a proposal of the french to destroy russian oilfields in the event of a war with Germany (as it was correctly seen that they were dependent on this oil). The plan (RIP) proposed the utilization of 9 bomber squadrons, which should in within 10-45 days attack a total of 122 russian oil fields (67 at Baku, 43 at Grosny and 12 at Bitumi). A comparable plan was initiated by the UK (MA 6) and was scheduled for late june/ early jule 1940.
     
  5. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Rommel.

    He was a big factor.

    But I also didn't realize that many German planes were lost.

    Thats the spirit!
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I think I am right in saying that the one single day, when the Germans lost the most aircraft in the entire war, happened during the Battle for France.

    Please don't ask me when, its something a read a long time ago and could easily be wrong.
     
  7. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Since it has been mentioned here several times, I have found a breakdown of Luftwaffe losses for the whole campaign, total (in breackages: send to repairs):

    close recon: 124 (66)
    long range recon: 87 (47)
    sea planes: 37 (6)
    Bf-109: 250 (126)
    Bf-110: 121 (50)
    Ju-87: 123 (43)
    Hs-123: 5 (14)
    Ju-52 and othe transportation planes: 140 (74)
    Fi-167 and other couriers: 33 (32)
    Ju-88, Do-17, Do-15, He-111: 477 (214)
    other planes: 4 (2)

    Note that these losses were due to all causes, including non combat related causes: exceeding their nominal service lifetime, landing accidents, ground accidents, starting accidents, mid air collision, engine or mechanical malfunction, fuel exhoustion, navigational and other pilot errors. It does also include combat related losses, just like: aerial combat, AAA, destroyed by ground / air attack, written off due to damage after landing.

    It appears that about 1401 Luftwaffe planes were lost in the 42 days campaign due to all reasons, out of which probably no less than ~800 and no more than ~1000 Luftwaffe planes were lost to combat related causes - which is in general agreement with the number of aviators KIA (1272, including non pilot aircrews) and MIA (580, including non pilot aircrews). It appears that 672 planes were returned to Germany for repairs (probably only little less than this figure as in several documented cases a plane was returned twice). The big winner of the battle of France is the Bf-110, which had the lowest loss rate per combat sortie and the best kill-loss rate of the campaign. The low loss rate of the Ju-87 is surprising, compared with the heavy utilization of this plane in the campaign. The heavy loss rate of Ju-52 air transportation forces is relative to operations in the Netherlands. The dutch airforce consisted of 144 combat aircraft, which flew 332 combat sorties, achieveing several kills and loosing 110 of it´s combat planes in within few days (the belgic air forces flew even fewer, just 77 combat sorties and lost 83 of their 179 planes due to air combat and bombings). The help of the RAF bomber and fighter command was less effective than hoped for in this region. Plans of the Luftwaffe, carried out against Ypenburg, Ockenburg, and Valkenburg to seize these important fields ended in fiasco. They were captured with substantial losses of transport planes and paratroopers only to be retaken by two dutch reserve infantery divisions. This operation cost 125 Ju-52 destroyed ( a further 47 beeing damaged), representing the largest loss part of the operation.

    The RAF lost in France 944 planes in the field (all causes), out of which 67 were Spitfires and 386 were Hurricanes.

    I have no idea how the loss breakdowns for the allied side is - anyone has something?
     
  8. trackend

    trackend Active Member

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    The Curtiss (P-36) 75 Hawk although out of date still possessed attributes that enabled the French air force who had roughly 300 to take on the 109 "I would be happy to get into a turning scenario at low level with a BF109E" Steve Grey Fighter Collection Pilot
    The claimed kills for the French flown Hawk was over 200 and 70+ probables
     

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  9. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Good info and thank you for it.
    I have one question and that is the number of Spitfires lost. Its always been my belief that apart from a handful of PR machines, they didn't operate over France until the fighting around Dunkirk. Can you tell me if this is right?
     
  10. Hop

    Hop Member

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    Williamson Murray in strategy for defeat gives German losses on operations as:

    Type - enemy action - other causes

    Close Recce - 67 - 5
    LR Recce - 68 - 18
    SE Fighters - 169 - 66
    TE Fighters - 90 - 16
    Bombers - 438 - 53
    Dive Bombers - 89 - 24
    Transport - 188 - 18
    Coastal - 20 - 16
    Totals - 1,129 - 216

    Those are just on operations. Another 83 aircraft were destroyed not on operations.

    According to Murray it's 1,129 lost to enemy action, and I suspect some of those attributed to "other causes" on operations were also lost to enemy action.

    Denis Richards in the official history of the RAF gives Luftwaffe losses of 1,284 aircraft to enemy action.

    According to Richards RAF losses were 959 aircraft in total, of which 477 were fighters. He breaks losses down by command, but not by type:

    "Every operational command at home and in France suffered heavily: the A.A.S.F. lost 229, the Component 279, Fighter Command 219, Bomber Command 166, Coastal Command 66."

    Their highest single losses in the BoF were on the 10th May, when they lost, according to Brian Cull in 12 Days in May:

    56 He111
    22 Do17Z
    16 Ju88
    10 Ju87
    13 Bf109
    2 Bf110
    3 Do17P
    2 Do215
    3 Hs126
    4 He59
    22 Fi156
    155 Ju 52

    I think the French Air Force was more impressive on paper than in practice. Cull notes that of their 28 Fighter groups:

    16 had the obsolete Ms406, of which 8 were re-equipping with the Dewotine D520
    4 had Hawk 75s
    8 had Bloch 151 and 152s

    Because many were stationed overseas or in the south, only 11 groups were actually available to face the Germans.

    Murray sums up the difficulties of the French AF:

    "The French air force, unfortunately, was
    in great disarray as it was transitioning to a newer generation of aircraft (as had the
    Luftwaffe in 1937-38 and the RAF in 1938-39 with similar results) . The French
    were, in fact, having considerable difficulty in equipping squadrons with new
    aircraft as well as maintaining operational ready rates. In early 1940, some French
    squadrons ran in-commission rates of barely 40 percent, and the pressure of
    operations only compounded their difficulties"
     
  11. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The Spitfire´s to operate over the continent were mainly phot recon high altitude planes (the first beeing lost to a Bf-109 goes back to oct. 1939). But there also were several evaluation fighterplanes to be stationed in France as appearently three of them fell into german hands more or less intactly which showed no photo equipment. I have been unable to find out details of the units in question but continue to search, Glider.

    hop, thank You for sharing W. Murray´s and Richards breakdowns!

    My breakdown is directly derived from the quartely Luftwaffe reports of the Generalluftzeugmeister. It does not seperate combat from non combat related causes.

    From french sources it is pretty clear that at no time more than 262 planes were stationed out of France, the main body of the french airforce was stationed in France and indeed participated in actions. A problem was logistical support. There were more than 2000 reserve planes stored in french depots (various types) but spare parts were hardly avaiable.
    The french aerial industry indeed did a hell of a job to increase their modern wwarplanes output. They produced a total of 4.360 modern planes to may 1940, which is surprisingly more than the Luftwaffe fielded for Case Yellow (3272). France did fail to deploy these planes to combat service, whoever knows why. Preperations going back to 1938 when french firms were given large volume contracts in order to spread mass production capabilities. The often blamed french parlament even set contracts to the US , ordering DB-7, Mohawks and Pratt Whitney engines in masses. By may 1940, the output had reached 619 combat aircraft per month produced in France and 170 additional produced in the US on french orders. Therefore, France not only was outproducing Germany with modern combat planes in this period (622 per month) but was the number 1 producer in the world. Add Britain increased output (392 combat planes per month), and France Britain were outproducing Germany 2 to 1. This raises a number of important question. The numerical superiority, referred to by many authors is cast in doubt with french records. Loosing a defensive air war over own terretory is a serious issue, requiring an explenation beyond "the luftwaffe was superior". I suspect political and leadership issues.

    A good site for the french order of the battle at may 10th is:

    Armée de l'Air Order of Battle, 10th May 1940

    The allied deployed strength on the north eastern front at may 10th included (only modern planes counted):
    fighters: 780 - the fighters used on the northeastern front were exclusively produced in thepreceeding 18 months. The most effective of these fighters were the Curtiss Hawk. It could hold itselfe against Bf-109 and Bf-110 in combat (loss to kill ratio: 1 to 7.9) but couldn´t deny the Luftwaffe bombers french airspace, nor could it provide effective escorts for french bombers against the faster Luftwaffe fighters.
    bombers: 276 - again only modern types deployed and ready.
    recon: 554.

    ...and at june, 5th, 1940:

    Armée de l'Air, June 1940

    After a period of fighting, the Luftwaffe was nearing exhoustion. It had lost a serious number of it´s planes with a large number of pilots MIA (captured on enemy terretory). By june 5th, both forces were at parity, fielding approx. 2.400 modern combat planes each. But while the Luftwaffe was running short on aviators and planes, had to operate from captured or improvised airfields, the french airforces enjoied to have conducted less intensive operations previously, therefore having a number of aviators and LOT´s of planes in stock, were falling back on their logistical bases and could use it´s depots to great effect, bringing brand new aircrafts out every day. Britain was a powerful ally in the North, providing cover for Dunkirk and for the first time regained local aerial superiority over the beaches. It was this time, when France COULD HAVE CONTESTED THE LUFTWAFFE but instead France ordered on june, 17th to redraw massive forces to northen Africa. The units flown to North Africa were those regular air force squadrons with the most modern and effective aircraft-all of the squadrons equipped with the Curtiss 75A (10), Dewoitine 520 (10), Amiot 354 ( 8 ), Bloch 174 (18 ), Farman 222 (4), Douglas DB-7 ( 8 ), and Martin 167 (10), plus most of those with the Lioré et Olivier 451 (12 of 18 ).

    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    Obviously the kill claims does not match loss lists very well (altough acceptable). At the end of hostilities, the allied kill claims concsist of:
    dutch: ???
    belgic CR 42: 5 (claimed)
    other belgic: ???
    polish in C714 fighters: 17 (claimed) - 5 pilots KIA
    other polish: ???
    czech: ???
    Spitfire: ???
    Hurricane: 299 claimed
    MS 406: 269 confirmed, ca. 80 probable -
    Hawk 75: 220 confirmed, 81 probable - 33 pilots KIA
    D 520: 114 confirmed, 39 probable (claimed 175) - 44 pilots KIA
    Bloch 150/51/52: 83 confirmed, ca. 50 probable (claimed 156) -59 pilots KIA
    other french forces: ??? -a total of 404 fighter pilots KIA
    AAA: ???
    --------------------------------------------------------
    losses belgic fighter forces: ?
    losses dutch fighter forces: ?
    losses polish fighter forces: ?
    losses czech fighter forces: ?
    losses french fighter forces: 508
    losses french air forces total: 892
    losses UK fighter forces operating from continental europe: 227
    losses UK fighter forces operating from southeastern england: 219
    losses british fighter forces total: 446
    losses british air forces total: 1029
    losses german fighters: 371
    losses german airforces total: 1401 (this figure varies. It goes up to 1469 and low to 1129 in Murrays book)

    Major L. F. Ellis, The War in France and Flanders (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1953), pp. 98, 309, 312, 372-73; Robert Jackson, Air War over France (London: Ian Allen, 1974), pp. 76-78, 136-37; Fridenson and Lecuir, pp. 184-85, 189, 198; Chapman, pp. 160-61, 225, 290; Gunsburg, pp. 111-12, 268; Shirer, pp. 700, 766, 767, 783; General Maurice Gamelin, Servir (Paris: Plon, 1946), vol. 1, p. 282; William Green, Warplanes of the Second World War, vol. 2, Fighters (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1961), p. 61.





    regards,
    delc
     
  12. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Sidestep:

    During the battle of France 18 dutch Koolhoven FK.58 were used by exiled Polish pilots as interceptors to defend Salon-de-Provence near Marseille (mostly against italien intruders). An interesting plane, like a Fokker but with retractable gears. Note the (removable) gunpods!

    Source:
    Koolhoven Aeroplanes Foundation
     

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  13. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Strength of the belgic airforces at may 10th, 1940:

    15 Gladiator MK I,
    11 Hurricane MK I,
    18 Fairy Battle,
    92 Fairy Fox,
    29 Renard R 31,
    24 Fiat CR 42,
    3 Moraine 236,
    3 Stampe SV 5

    Unlike the smaller dutch airforces, the belgic airforces were mostly inactive or underutitlizing it´s strength.
     
  14. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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  15. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Double post......duuuuuuh.....

    Put something useful:
    Guaderian
    [​IMG]

    and Rommel
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    I like those old the armed forces movies.

    Thanks for the figures of that day for the Luftwaffe. They lost a LOT.
     
  17. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    THE FRENCH "SPITFIRE"

    I have always been impressed by the elegance of later french airplanes. How they moved from ugly 20´s style planes overnight to beauties like the D520 or this one, the Arsenal VG 33.

    It was designed from scratch in 1938/39 and promising estimates immediately put an order by the french airforce of 220 planes only to be raised to 1000 later that year. Despite having a comparably small 860 hp engine, the first prototype VG 33 clocked a top speed of 558 Km/h (347 mp/h) at 4.500m. Armed with a single 20mm gun and four 7,5mm LMG and equipped with the novelty of a bubble blown canopy, the plane must have been considered innovative. Only two planes eventually saw action against the Luftwaffe in the Groupe de Chasse I/55, stationed at Bordeaux during the closing weeks of the Battle of France. Approximately 160 further VG 33 were awaiting completition (lacking engines) and some 130 additional were at different stages of construction at the end of hostilities.
    Other prototypes included the VG 39 with a 1280 hp engine, achieving 655 Km/h early in 1940 despite an increased armement of 1 20mm and 6 7.5mm LMG.

    source: Arsenal VG-33 - Wikipedia
     

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  18. mkloby

    mkloby Active Member

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    I agree with you.
     
  19. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    where is the double post?
     
  20. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    Excellent idea for a thread. I've mostly got information on the ground war from a German perspective (Panzer Leader - Heinz Guderian, Panzer Battles - Maj. Gen. von Mellenthin), but I've also got 2 Group history and it's safe to say they had an extremely rough time during the Battle of France.
     
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