Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Fighter Boys...

Discussion in 'Air Warfare' started by Hoosier phpbb3, Jun 28, 2007.

  1. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bloomington, Indiana USA
    via TanksinWW2
    by Patrick Bishop.
    The Battle of Britain 1940.
    ----------
    I'm about half-way through this book, and so far, it's been a very interesting read.
    When the Germans invaded France, the RAF sent Hurricane Squadrons to help fight the Luftwaffe. However, one observation I read really bothered me.
    It was a scenario later in the campaign where RAF pilots were flying sortie after sortie... while their French counterparts made no effort whatsoever to even take their planes into the air... in defense of their own country.
    I have the impression the French thought that Britain should have made a stronger commitment to the defense of France... while their own air-crews sat on their butts watching the air-battles from the ground.

    Tim
     
  2. Castelot

    Castelot New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The eldest daugther of Church
    via TanksinWW2
    In 6 weeks of figthing the french air force lost 800-900 planes and downed some 700-800 german planes while sitting on their butts.... :eek:
     
  3. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bloomington, Indiana USA
    via TanksinWW2
    Castelot:
    The Battle of France is admittedly not one of my strongest subjects. Your figures for the number of German planes destroyed seems inflated. From what source do you find these figures?


    From the book in question:

    "The main deterrent to the Luftwaffe in the West was supposed to be the Armee de l'Air. On paper it seemed equipped to put up a robust defense, with an available strength on the eve of battle of 1,145 combat aircraft. the vast majority of these, 518 of them, were single-engined fighters, supplemented by 67 twin-engined fighters. The bomber force consisted of only 140 machines, and nearly half of these were obsolete.
    Despite the obvious imbalance of the force, France should, in theory at least, have been able to inflict significant damage on the invading German bomber-fleets, applying a brake to the momentum that was the essential element of the Blitzkrieg. But the French fighter strength was illusory. Only 36 of their machines, the Dewoitines, which could reach 334 mph had the speed to compete on anything like equal terms with the Me 109s. Most of the fighters were Moranes, which were underarmed and had a slugglish top speed of just over 300mph. The French early-warning system was primitive. Britain had let France in on the radar secret before the war, but little had been done to develop it, and on 10 May there were only six mobile sets in place, supplied by London.
    The main work of locating the direction of the raid and ascertaining numbers was done by a corps of observers who called in their sightings over the public phone system. Then there were the pilots. The men of the Armee de l'Air were brave enough, and worked hard at their aviator elan. But many RAF pilots felt that something more than the spirit they showed in the mess and the night-club was required in the air. There was little attempt to coordinate the two forces or share tactical thinking or intelligence. Once the war began, each air force effectively fought on it's own."
    ---pages 148-149 "Fighter Boys"

    Tim
     
  4. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    Messages:
    11,708
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Luton, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    Well there is a problem right there - 518 is actually less than half of 1145! :grin:
     
  5. Castelot

    Castelot New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2003
    Messages:
    1,413
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The eldest daugther of Church
    via TanksinWW2
    Admittedly, the numbers I previously posted were given from memory and are (after verification) not entirely correct.
    It actually is very difficult to determine how many planes the Armée de l'Air shot down.
    The following numbers are from a magazine about the 1940 aerial campaign and are based on official german and french sources.

    In six weeks of figthing, from may 10th to june 22nd, the Luftwaffe lost a total of 1390 planes.
    250 of these losses were due to accidents.
    200 were caused by the dutch airforce and air defence, the majority(170) of these losses being low flying Ju 52 which suffered incredibly high losses during the airborne operations over the Netherlands.
    The belgian airforce is credited 6-10 victories.
    French ground units are credited some 150 Luftwaffe planes.Other allied ground units only claimed very limited numbers.

    It can thus reasonably be assumed that the Armée de l'Air + RAF together shot down between 700 and 800 german planes.
    French pilots claimed a total of 894 aerial victories of which 477 were confirmed.(verified)
    So it is most probably not exagerated to say that the Armée de l'Air shot down between 500 and 600 Luftwaffe planes.
    To these numbers one has to add the 44 italian planes shot down by french figthers.

    I don't think 550-600 aerial victories(around 100 a week), on often obsolete planes, can by any definition be described as being achieved by an airforce sitting on it's butt.
    During the battle of Britain, under much more favourable circumstances(Radar alert, german figthers with very limited range once over Britain....)the RAF did not inflict much heavier losses per week.(Tough I am not entirely sure about the numbers)
     
  6. bosworth gannaway

    bosworth gannaway New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    via TanksinWW2
    RAF's contribution to the Battle of France.

    Please be in no doubt that the French were disatisfied with the British contribution to the War right up to the total collapse of their country. Of course, a lot of this was blame shifting and sought to take away the bitterness of total defet, but whether or not they had any/many valids grounds for this is a horse of a different colour. Having said that, it must be remembered that the British government and service chiefs never saw the defeat of France as the end of the war. As we know, the squadrons that returned provided the core of the Battle of Britain air force, as did the military formations that were recovered from France, and since they were either Regular or Territorial battalions, they, too, provided the key foundation for Britain to rebuild it's Army upon. In the case of the French Air Force, much of it was destroyed on the ground very early in the campaign. It was a shame that France was defeated ( it did, I believe, have the largest Army in the World at the time ), but at least enough of Britain's forces ( and thousands of the French, too ! ), were saved, thereby given the UK the means to be able to continue fighting until America finally entered the 3 years later.
    BG
     
  7. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    Re: RAF's contribution to the Battle of France.

    The US entered the war in December 1941, much less than 3 years after the battle for France. Even considering the point at which US forces became active over Europe that was only 2 years IIRC.
     
  8. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bloomington, Indiana USA
    via TanksinWW2
    From "Fighter Boys" pages 178-179

    "The newcomers [RAF] had formed a low opinion of the French. Pilots attitudes towards their allies differed, depending on when they joined the battle. Many veterans of the phoney war had enjoyed the company of their spirited fellow officers in the neighboring escadrilles, even if they had not found them particularly supportive, or even visible during the crucial phase of the Battle of France. No.1 Squadron had a much-loved Frenchman attached to it as interpreter, Jean "Moses" Demozay, who was to escape to Britain in an abandoned Bristol Bombay troop carrier and fight bravely and effectively for the RAF and the Free French for the rest of the war. The reinforcement flights and squadrons rarely saw the French. The few recorded encounters were not happy ones. Flight Lt. Fred Rosier of 229 squadron put down at an airfield near Lille, after being nearly shot down in a battle, 'to find the French were there, with brand new American aeroplanes, fighters, and the they were not flying. They were quite friendly, but I was livid... they were not participating in the battle at all.
    The French the replacement pilots saw appeared demoralized and apathetic. Peter Dawbarn and the 17 Squadron pilots had come across French fighter pilots on previous trips to Dinard, which they used as a base for patrolling, 'but they never took off as far as I know. We kept taking off, they didn't.
    Most of the Hurricanes that went to France never came back. Of the 452 fighters sent out, only 66 returned when the main force withdrew."

    Tim
     
  9. bosworth gannaway

    bosworth gannaway New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2007
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0
    via TanksinWW2
    It is hard not to feel some sympathy for the French given that they had already twice been invaded by the Germans in the previous century and were also flying outclassed aircraft. Moreover, their country was in political turmoil with as many people likely to welcome the Germans as those who wished to reject them. Plus, anyone who was aware of just quickly the Germans conquered other countries such as Poland etc. would have naturally thought themselves to be easy meat. That the British semingly did not, owes as much to our having the English Channel as a splendid obstacle, as it does to our having a military and air force who were, at the very least, fit for the purpose ( well, almost ! )
    BG
     
  10. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2005
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Bloomington, Indiana USA
    via TanksinWW2
    I expect the fact that the RAF and French Air Forces fought independently--rather than coordinating their forces--contributed to the poor opinions of each other.
    Britain lost quite a few experienced pilots and Hurricanes in the course of the Battle of France... but had the foresight to keep all Spitfire squadrons home in England. This no doubt helped ensure their ability to defend England and kept the Germans unaware of how good the Spitfire really was.

    Tim
     
  11. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2004
    Messages:
    3,392
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Kent, UK
    via TanksinWW2
    Yes and no, towards the end of the Battle for France as the BEF retreated to Dunkirk Spitfires did see action against the Luftwaffe over French skies, however at Dowding's insistance they remained based at UK (Primarily Kentish) aerodromes. As an interesting aside, what happened there (Which was curiously ignored by the Luftwaffe, possibly due to overconfidence?) to a certain degree mirrored Luftwaffe experiences in the Battle of Britain, the UK based fighters had a very limited amount of linger time over France and their effectiveness suffered accordingly.
     
  12. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    4,356
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    High Point, North Carolina, USA
    via TanksinWW2
    Despite the heavy losses, Churchill did want to send more Hurricanes to France even as that country was on the verge of collapse, but Dowding put his foot down and said no, just as he said no to sending any Spitfires. Had it not been for Dowding's firm grip on the realities of the situation, Fighter Command might well have been completely gutted in France, with dire consequences for Britain.
     

Share This Page