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Old 20th August 2008, 12:14
Posts: n/a
The causes of a defeat

Originally Posted by CJE View Post
To sum up:
We were the best and we lost to a mostly inferior Luftwaffe.
Things turn out weirdly sometimes...
- The Luftwaffe was not inferior. It was NUMERICALLY (not technically) vastly superior and this is an important factor already! At least in theory they could, for example, send up to 20 formations of 40 bombers each at the same time, or 40 formations of 20 bombers each (something like one Bombergruppe), in all directions and to all possible targets to puzzle and confuse the defenders and overwhelm the defence. In fact they often sent even smaller formations, like one single Bomberstaffel or even one section of three bombers. French fighters often reported how they (3 to 27 fighters) attacked German formations of 300 aircraft and more but this was not really often the case. German fighter pilots for their part reported that "in most cases the enemy had numerical superiority", or something of this kind.

Remember that by May and June 1940 the Do 17 and the He 111 H, both types being the by far most numerous German bombers, were clearly obsolescent (not the Ju 88) - too slow, feebly armed etc. - and that any Me 109 E-mark would have been by October.

In May and June 1940 the French did possess some of the very best aircraft in the world but, as I stressed many times (and many other authors too), unfortunately just a little too late. This really is nothing new! The excellent medium bomber LeO 451 (cannon-armed!), the excellent light bomber Breguet 691-693 (cannon-armed too) and the superlative fighter D.520 (of course it was cannon-armed) were actually engaged in significant numbers - several hundred each but of course not all at the same time in one single formation - as well as, a little later, the excellent American-made medium bombers Glenn-Martin 167F and Douglas DB-7. The flaw was only that their very high production came a little bit too late in spite of frenetic efforts to raise it as fast as possible (at last). If you understand German just look at Jochen Prien's (or P. Rodeike's, or G. Stemmer's, and Hans Ring's too) victory lists and you'll see that German fighters claimed hundreds of top-class French aircraft as well as Potez, Moranes, Curtisses and Blochs. Phoney W. Balthasar's I./JG 1 alone claimed no less than 15 (fifteen) LeO 451s in ONE SINGLE MISSION on June 6, 1940 including 3 by Balthasar, and all were confirmed (!) so I presume they did meet some in the sky. "Ghostriders in the skyyyyyy?" In any case these German super-fighters carried at least 500 rounds for each cannon...

Jacques Lecarme, LeO 451's test pilot and an excellent officer at war, has clearly explained in the review "Icare" what terrible tactics French HQ used to engage their precious LeOs in useless missions which brought almost nothing useful. These excellent medium-altitude medium bombers, devoid of any armour (or almost so?), were often sent on assault missions at tree-top level or below 3 000 m, where their engines (optimised for higher altitudes) didn't give a good power and they had virtually no chance of success with their unadapted bomb-sights, which were excellent at 4-6 000 m.

In the 2nd edition of Paul Martin's book, published by you, we can see, by the way, that such German victory figures are not possible. The real losses were heavy enough.

And yes, technically even better, formidable French aircraft were being produced already. By September nobody would have felt like laughing any more within the Luftwaffe, especially if French HQ had switched to reasonable, not idiotic, tactics.