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Old 20th February 2005, 10:56
Posts: n/a

From 1936 on...

Oh, sorry! Actually I guess many "1940"-books cover the period before WW II, often starting 1933 or at least 1935. Obviously this is true of Danel and Cuny's "L'aviation de chasse française 1918-1940" (Docavia, published by Editions (Publishing Cy) Larivière). Most books of this category (Lela Presse too) start with the "prehistory" before 1939 but mostly this part is short. In Serge Joanne's "Le Bloch MB 152" this period is covered too but not in great detail, the subject being a certain aircraft family.

I can't be very specific any more because many of my books are in cardboard boxes already.

There are other Docavia-books I forgot to mention : Emile Dewoitine (a biography) and, if I remember correctly, "Les avions Dewoitine" as well as "Les avions Farman". Most of the Docavias are out of print but can be found 2nd-hand and they are in certain libraries like SHAA's.

There is a book covering exactly what you're looking for but I didn't even think of mentioning it because I find it so terrible : "L'Armée de l'Air dans la tourmente", by Patrick Facon. This fellow holds the highest ranks and honours in official history : he is SHAA's official historian I think, he gives lectures at the French Army and Air Force (Salon) academies and of course he holds the highest university diploma in history. The only snag is that this book contains an enormous quantity of nonsense, horrible errors and also plagiarism. An important and very typical statement on the 1940 French Campaign was fetched directly from my own pages in the book "Invisibles vainqueurs", by Paul Martin (and myself for about 50 %) I published 1991. This passage was re-written but all the same it is like a photocopy of one of my strongly worded remarks, approximately : "Contrary to the widespread legend the Armée de l'Air was certainly not wiped out in a single Luftwaffe blow at dawn on 10 May 1940, quite on the contrary : taking the enormous resources engaged by the LW the results (approx. 70-90 first-line French combat aircraft destroyed) were very mediocre and disappointing, and the LW suffered heavy losses (not only in the Netherlands but also) at the hands of the French fighters (and AA). It is time now to realise and say this at last."

Those who are familiar with my "strongly worded" statements probably know that you can recognise them even if re-written.

At the end of this book there is an appendix on 1940 aircraft (German, British, French...) with many shocking errors, like much too low a top speed for the He 111, wrong armament in several cases, "1 000 kg" of bombs for the Stuka (Ju-87 B2) instead of 500 kg (and officially, according to RLM, it was 250!).

This book has over 300 pages (302, 314 or some) but only about 91 are devoted to the subject given on the (soft) cover : air war, fighting. All the "rest" deals with the "prehistory", starting 1918 and even, I think, 1903 or 1910 but I'm not sure. Of course I KNOW any historical event has its origins and roots in the past but "you have to draw the line somewhere" - and not all too far from your subject. So this book certainly covers the period you're interested in but I never read this part about French internal politics, successive governments, worker strikes, ministries, generals, Air Force successive forms of organisation etc. If its historical quality is as poor as the last 91 pages it'll be very difficult to extract the actual facts and any wisdom from it but you can try. It's not expensive. Publisher is "Economica".

Nevertheless I think you could find all you need at SHAA, which is in Vincennes (same thing as if it were in Paris) : all books, unpublished documents (archive, theses etc.) and SHAA's own publications et reports. But beware : some of these were contributed by Patrick Facon!
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