French Kill Claim Requirements?

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elbmc1969

Senior Airman
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337
Feb 16, 2019
Anyone know what criteria Armee de l'Air used for "confirmed" kills? I'm looking at 1939-1940, but if it was different in WWI, that would be useful information.

Thanks!
 
From "French Aces of World War 2" by Barry Ketley, Osprey Publishing Limited, 1999

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During WWI the French had one of the strictest victory claiming rules, but that was not the case for the Armee de L'Air in WWII. A pilot was given credit for a victory by personally shooting down an enemy aircraft, helping with the shoot down, or by claiming a probable victory.

As a result, the brief Battle for France produced a plethora of aces. French pilots of WWII were a nomadic lot. Many pilots served not only with the Armee de L'Air, but when France capitulated to the Germans in 1940, many went on to serve with the Vichy Air Force, the RAF, the VVS and even with the Free French forces. Each of these air forces had their own aerial victory criteria, and as such pilots serving with more than one air force may become an ace through their accumulation of claims for each service they flew with.
 
From "French Aces of World War 2" by Barry Ketley, Osprey Publishing Limited, 1999
This makes me wonder how some sources count total kill claims by French pilots. There are a lot of silly claims of "1,000 kills," which is an obviously inflated number. If you add up individual victories, instead of unit victories, it's easy to get to that total. (I'm talking about 1940.)
 
Check out:

Air Aces Homepage

I was quoting a page about Aces, not making things up.
No one implied that you were making things up, only that Vincenzo saw a discrepancy between sources. For that matter, he may have been treating your information as more accurate than the snippet that fubar57 posted.
 
After debunking the 1000 victories myth, here the consensus would turn around +/- 650 confirmed kills between september 1939 / june 1940 plus around 250 / 270 probables, including the Czech / Polish serving with the Armée de l'Air.

The trouble with Air Aces Homepage is that for the Vichy era, there are aces whose victories marks would be at least partially roundels or stars instead of crosses or Regia Aeronautica roundels. This created troubles when the the FAFL merged with them after november 1942, and notably when the Normandy Niemen was beefed up with ex-Vichy reinforcements.
 
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After debunking the 1000 victories myth, here the consensus would turn around +/- 650 confirmed kills between september 1939 / june 1940 plus around 250 / 270 probables, including the Czech / Polish serving with the Armée de l'Air.
That sounds at least generally plausible. Was there a discussion here, or does the 650 come from some other source?
 
No one implied that you were making things up, only that Vincenzo saw a discrepancy between sources. For that matter, he may have been treating your information as more accurate than the snippet that fubar57 posted.

DIdn't mean to imply otherwise.

I supplied a link to where I found the text. :)
 
[QUOTE="Frog, post: 1802388, member: 79014"

The trouble with Air Aces Homepage is that for the Vichy era, there are aces whose victories marks would be at least partially roundels or stars instead of crosses or Regia Aeronautica roundels. This created troubles when the the FAFL merged with them after november 1942, and notably when the Normandy Niemen was beefed up with ex-Vichy reinforcements.
[/QUOTE]
Issues of ex Vichy forces marginalising ex Free French personnel are still a taboo subject at home. I do wonder how the Vichy kill reporting compared to their Commonwealth opponents. De Gaulle cynically appeased Vichy to maximise French forces as they could quickly deliver African troops in 1943. Especially North African infantry. The resentment still lingers. Much as the resentment of ex communist resistance against their persecution gives rise to tales of communist strong areas being more likely to have their conscripts sent to Algeria later.
 
From Philippe Garraud, L'ACTION DE L'ARMÉE DE L'AIR EN 1939-1940 : Facteurs structurels et conjoncturels d'une défaite

La « drôle de guerre » dans les airs
Dans le domaine aérien, cette expression n'est pas du tout justifiée. L'activité a été relativement soutenue, contrairement à l'inactivité qui a caractérisé le front terrestre. Et un bilan est relativement aisé à faire dans la mesure où les différentes sources sont très largement convergentes, le nombre des victoires « sûres » homologuées à l'aviation de chasse en 9 500 missions de chasse étant compris entre 72 et 82. C'est le premier chiffre qu'on retiendra, pour la perte de 93 appareils, selon l'estimation plus « serrée » et rigoureuse de C.-J. Ehrengardt et al., qui excluent en particulier les doubles comptes, c'est-à-dire l'attribution à plusieurs unités d'une même victoire obtenue en coopération. Ce mode de comptabilité spécifique, on y reviendra, ayant un effet inflationniste, tant sur le plan individuel que collectif : le total des scores individuels des pilotes d'une unité étant largement supérieur au nombre des victoires homologuées à l'unité ; et le total des scores des unités étant lui aussi (mais dans une moindre mesure, du fait que ce cas de figure est moins fréquent) supérieur au nombre des appareils ennemis présumés détruits.

"In the air domain, this expression is not at all justified. Activity was relatively sustained, unlike the inactivity that characterized the land front. And an assessment is relatively easy to make insofar as the different sources are very largely converging, the number of "sure" victories approved for fighter aircraft in 9,500 fighter missions being between 72 and 82. the first figure that will be retained, for the loss of 93 aircraft, according to the more "tight" and rigorous estimate of C.-J. Ehrengardt et al., which exclude in particular double counting, that is to say the attribution to several units of the same victory obtained in cooperation. We will come back to this specific method of accounting, having an inflationary effect, both individually and collectively: the total of the individual scores of the pilots of a unit being far greater than the number of victories approved for the unit; and the total scores of the units also being (but to a lesser extent, because this scenario is less frequent) greater than the number of enemy aircraft presumed destroyed."

Garraud further examines the claims during the May campaign.
 
Concerning the conditions for the homologation of a victory in 1940, here's from the excellent "Batailles dans le ciel de France, Mai-Juin 1940", Patrick Facon.

Leur homologation, définie par une instruction en date du 1er Janvier 1940, constitue cependant un processus sérieux et méticuleux, fondé sur des critères très précis. Pour qu'un avion soit crédité à un pilote, un mitrailleur ou une équipe de pièce antiaérienne par le commandant de telle ou telle zone d'opérations aériennes,les conditions suivantes doivent être remplies: "qu'il soit tombé en zone amie, intact ou brisé; qu'il ait été vu brûlant en vol, brisé en vol ou brisé au sol en zone ennemie, soit par deux observateurs terrestres, soit d'un ballon d'observation en ascension (...) soit par deux pilotes ou observateurs en vol dont un au moins n'a pas pris part au combat, soit par une photographie prise du sol ou d'une photographie aérienne du lieu indiqué par le rapport qui tend à provoquer l'homologation".

Since I'm a lazy person, I'll leave the translation to you or your favourite online translator :D

About the actual number of destroyed aircraft vs official reports, Patrick Facon further notes that the combined claims of the Belgian, Brittish, Dutch and French air forces for the 1938-49 campaigns would amount to at least 2,299.

On the French side, various air force generals (Vuillemin, Mendigal, Bergeret, d'Harcourt) mentioned 850 to ~1,000 victories, which is coherent with the number of "kills" credited, but of course not with the true losses of the Luftwaffe.

On the German side, the Luftwaffe claimed 1,540 allied aircraft destroyed in combat, 1,900 on the ground and 960 by the flak.

So pretty much every one overestimated their performance...

Based on the losses of the German air force, Facon concludes that the combined score of the RAF and Armée de l'Air can be estimated to 870 German aircraft destroyed in combat.
 
Thanks, that's very good information. Seems that there's a lot of confusion in the secondary sources about the requirements.
 

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