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Old 18th October 2019, 18:24
rof120 rof120 is offline
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Reply to Laurent

Sorry gentlemen, I was horribly busy in the last few days – there was a lot of stuff which couldn’t be posponed (no I’m not speaking of any dames). Some of you asked some interesting questions or made some interesting remarks.

For once I’ll answer the last reaction (by Laurent Rizzotti, today at 00.48 o’clock) first because it’ll probably be simpler and quicker. Attackers and normal posters don’t worry or wail, I’ll come back to you. I am still VERY short of time, I’m doing my best in spite of poor health at the moment (such things will happen). For the moment I can only confirm that what I have written here starting on October 2 is correct ”mutatis mutandis”, with possible necessary adjustments and corrections: I am not infallible but 40 years of research and above all of OWN THINKING (a rare commodity) give me a little knowledge of this subject – more than to many a quick-tempered patriot could think.

I’d like to remind you that my first words when opening this thread on October 2nd (16 days ago) were:

”The scores of French fighter pilots (not the aces only) are a difficult field of research."

I forgot to add « very complex », which is a pity. Some reactions clearly show that a few persons don’t understand or refuse to because the truth doesn’t satisfy their natonal pride nor match what they have been believing for all their life since they were very young boys wearing shorts, which they possibly still do. They refuse to accept anything « new » (new to them) and prefer to insult anybody who dares question their cherished beliefs. More on this, with hard evidence, some other time.

Alledgedly only the German and British air forces of 1940 and their aircrew deserve respect and admiration, the French being totally unimportant, very weak with poor aircraft, why not cowards refusing to fight, and don’t even deserve being mentioned (see for example, among many others, the book « Twelve Days in May », by Brian Cull – I have got my copy on my desk right now so I can make a few interesting quotations (later). I am a « moron » etc. I’m certainly very dumb for I don’t see what justifies calling me names.
Well, now let’s get back to the subject, which will be a relief.

Laurent : « Do you have cases where a French pilot not having fired was credited with a victory ? »

- Not at the moment but I think there were quite a few, possibly dozens or even hundreds of instances. Possibly to be found in both special issues of « avions » with the title « Les as français (de?) 1939-1940 ». They give many details. This is why I heroically searched my boxes still containing a lot of WW II-books etc., but without finding these two issues. Stand by, I’ll find them some time, I promise (I’m a very brave man fighting amongst all those boxes). All collective victories are given with the number and names of all pilots involved but I can’t remember whether the main description of the aces’ victories contains the piece of information you mentioned. Certainly other TOCH-members own copies of avions’ « The French aces » and can tell you. I’ll unearth mine some day, I promise too (soon I hope).

But let me give you an interesting example. IIRC (if I recall correctly) I read this story in colonel Camille Plubeau’s very interesting small book « Diables rouges, petits poucets » - the insignia of both escadrilles of his unit, GC II/4 (30 Curtiss H-75 fighters), which contains his memories from 1939-40 with numerous air battles etc. Plubeau, then an adjudant-chef and a sous-lieutenant, was officially French ace N° 2 with 14 « certain » victories although he was wounded on June 9, I think while shooting down one more Me 109 (his 6th s/d alone) and wasn’t able to score any more. Now the story (Plubeau or not) :

A French fighter formation from GC II/4 – probably 9 Curtisses but possibly only 3 or 6 - flew to the battle area (not on the reverse course…) looking for trouble. They were jumped by some Me 109s but didn’t notice. After landing one of the excellent Czech pilots named Vrana (with reservations – IIRC) was missing and Plubeau, or some other pilot, was irritated because he was late. After a while Vrana landed and related what had happened : « Moi blessé jambe… » (Me wounded leg).

To make it short, being the only pilot who noticed the German attack, he counter-attacked the 109s and there was a rather dangerous fight, Vrana alone against at least four 109s, possibly twelve or more. He managed to escape eventually but his fighter had probably received some bullets too. All alone he had prevented a deadly enemy attack which probably would have cost his comrades several casualties, possibly 1-3 pilots killed.

IIRC he didn’t win any victory this time but he had really protected the other pilots. I feel this is just as good as 1-2 actual victories (none was awarded to him this time) and his situation was very similar to the situation of pilots flying top cover while the other members of the formation were dealing with German bombers or even fighters being the preys of a French surprise attack (this happened quite a few times – and conversely).

In the case of top cover those pilots earned some form of praise too because they had been protecting their comrades’ tails and lives while they (often) were winning several victories. In my modest opinion they deserved to be credited with one victory even if they never had opened fire (and, needless to say, all of them were very keen to fire at enemy aircraft, the hated « avions boches » (Hun aircraft, or Nazi AC, as they said in England). If they sometimes didn’t have any opportunity to fire obviously this happened much to their chagrin. In the Battle of Britain too very often some pilots flew top cover. No victories were credited to them if they hadn't actually won them but they probably received some medals if they had earned them, which often was the case.

To be continued

Quote Laurent. "Do you have cases where a French pilot not having fired was credited with a victory. From my readings, victories were given after analysis of the combat reports and given individually to each pilot. But the total number of enemy aircraft claimed was inferior to the sum of individual claims, each aircraft being only counted once, so overclaiming was not increased by this system. Still overclaiming existed in French Air Force too, of course.

Sharing victories between all pilots of a formation, whatever happened in the battle, was something done in Japanese and Italian airforces at least in a part of the war.

IMHO there is no good system or fair system. Shooting down a B-17 with a Bf 109 was probably far more difficult that shooting down a Bf 109 with a Mustang, but still it is one victory in both case."

Last edited by rof120; 19th October 2019 at 18:21.
Old 18th October 2019, 22:19
rof120 rof120 is offline
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2nd reply to Laurent

Reply N° 2 to Laurent Rizzotti

Laurent : (…) « From my readings, victories were given after analysis of the combat reports and given individually to each pilot. »

- Correct. Almost all French pilots abstained from filing unrealistic claims for they knew these claims would be scrutinized. There are only a few exceptions.

« But the total number of enemy aircraft claimed was inferior to the sum of individual claims, each aircraft being only counted once, so overclaiming was not increased by this system. »

- Yes, this is correct too even though many misguided « experts » suddenly yell(ed) that the French victory system inflated the grand total ridiculously : officially 735 certain victories as compared to the actual… actual what ? 3 ? 8 ? Perhaps 106 or 237 ? THIS is ridiculous. As I already remarked, if this particular piece of criticism were accurate the grand total wouldn’t be 735 to 1,003 (depending on sources, Gisclon’s 1,003 not being credible) but 3,000 to 4,000, and everybody is able to make this calculation : adding all 1939-40 scores of all fighter pilots of the Armée de l’Air (about 200 among approximately 1,000 were Czechs or Poles, about 160 or more of these 1,000 were killed in but 5 weeks and about 140 or more were wounded for a total of casualties of approx. 300 – BUT IN 5 weeks only (the remaining 11 days were almost idle, not quite).

Laurent : Still overclaiming existed in French Air Force too, of course.

- Yes, of course. Nobody (or so I think) disputes this. But I am adament that French overclaiming was far lower than in other nations‘ air forces. I explained the reasons for this already. Let us take the exactly opposed example: 1939-40 RAF. Their fighter pilots – most of them extremely young and very enthusiastic about shooting down the Huns, very combat-eager – were perfectly aware that victory claims were not screened, not scrutinized and not officially confirmed, and not credited to any pilots. So they felt free to claim whatever victories they believed they had won. There is no doubt that some of them overclaimed deliberately (like Balthasar and Wick, Luftwaffe’s worst phoneys).

Numerous victories, actual or fake, inevitably brought you fame, medals and promotions, including from NCO (sergeant etc.) to officer (P/O, F/O, even Flight Lt or Sqn Leader), not to mention the dames. This was not unattractive. I feel nobody can blame these very young fellows who (most of them) were not able to control their extreme excitement in air battles, their enthusiasm and their firm, sincere belief that they had scored and s/d some Huns. As I already mentioned British expert John Foreman found out a British overclaim-rate of 5 for 1940, which concurs exactly with my own assessment of 5. This can hardly be purely coincidental. On September 15th, 1940, the famous „Battle of Britain Day“ which is celebrated every year since, RAF fighter pilots‘ claims were quite moderate and reasonable: only 185 for a real bag of 56 (overclaim rate: 3.30). Some French fool(s) even raised this to 228 victories in their „historical“ books (I can’t remember if these fool(s) were named Pierre Miquel (he was terrible) or Professeur Henri Michel, whose very poor History of WW II (all of it) was considered The Holy Bible in France and sold very well there.

Laurent: „Sharing victories between all pilots of a formation, whatever happened in the battle, was something done in Japanese and Italian airforces at least in a part of the war.“

- I didn’t know at all. But: sharing (1/6 of a victory each for 6 pilots, or 1/2 for 2 of the six, or 1/3 for 3 of the six?). Or one full victory credited to all 6 pilots if there were 6?

Laurent: IMHO there is no good system or fair system.

- Oh, I wouldn’t say that. The French system was very good I think even if it did happen (?) that even some pilots who didn’t really deserve it were credited with some victories (but it did not create any unfair disadvantage to the others). After all they, too, were risking their very lives as soon as they sat in their aircraft, risking to burn alive in the flames of their petrol, and sometimes simply on the ground (bombs, strafing...). Being credited with one to four victories too many was not a terrible overcompensation. « Addding all individual scores to get an inflated grand total » is ridiculous libelling on the part of anti-French fanatics and very naïve amateurs who are prepared to believe any nonsense spread by so-called « experts ».

Just think for one second: how can it be possible that about 800 highly-trained, highly-skilled French professional fighter pilots (including those from Aéronavale, the French Navy fliers, and from various, miscellaneous units : ELDs, DAT etc.) won only 245 or even 355 victories in 46 days, as a French moron posing as an expert and also as a tough jungle-fighter claimed some years ago ? This is simply not possible and I stick to my figure of over 800 (more on this in my next post, tomorrow Saturday October 19th). In « Telve days in May » about 100 Hurricane pilots (they received reinforcements but their losses were so high that I presume that their number was not raised), during the same first phase of this campaign, claimed 499 victories plus 123 probables, let us say 500 victoties plus 122 probables for it’s clearer. This error of 1 to 500, or 0.002 %, is nothing as compared to overclaiming rates of 400 % ! Their claims were lowered by Brian Cull (HE was not lynched) in his book « Twelve Days in May » with a remarkably cautious formulation : « It seems that at least (at least!) 299 of these (German AC losses) fell to the guns of the Hurricanes.“

Incredible but TRUE : during these same 12 days in May (May 10-21) French fighters claimed, believe it or not, 299 « certain » victories too, which must be considered an absolute minimum (my evaluation : approx. 420). So 100 green Hurricane pilots claimed as many victories as at least 800 experienced French pilots. All rigt, let us assume that only 600 French pilots actually took part in the main fighting, the others being stationed far away (but this is not quite true for entire Groupes de chasse of 26-34 fighters each were sent, for example, from the Paris area (for which they were earmarked) into the battle of Sedan (May 13-16 or so). But okay, let us say only 600. So during the same period of fighting which was very fierce for all of them, every Hurrricane pilot claimed 5 victories (at least 3 actual ones according to Brian Cull) whereas approximately 600 French pilots claimed 1/2 each. Each RAF pilot was AT LEAST 6 times better than a French fighter pilot. There is no need to comment on this typically English wild overclaiming. According to the German fighter pilots the French die-hards were much better (80 % according to JG 2 pilots) than the RAF green pilots (they were brave but green) but according to English sources RAF pilots were AT LEAST 6 times better than the French. A more precise calculation could give a result even worse, like 7 times better. I need not comment on this.

Laurent : Shooting down a B-17 with a Bf 109 was probably far more difficult that shooting down a Bf 109 with a Mustang, (…)

- Oh yes, you’re perfectly right.

… but still it is one victory in both case."

- Not quite. The Luftwaffe or RLM credited one victory for each AC but « Viermots » (four-engined bombers) were clearly mentioned to stress their importance, today like « He won 115 victories including 17 Viermots ». They were considered tough enemy AC, difficult to down (not least because of their escorts). German fighter pilots were credited with more points for « Viermots ». The number of victories was the real number but these points made it easier to get medals including the Knight’s Cross, and promotions to a higher rank. Four victories for one s/d B-17 or B-24 is Allied nonsense spread after the war by bilious, envious people like JE Johnson (the Western top-scorer ?). One B-17 or B-24 s/d was ONE German victory not four.

To be continued the day after tomorrow, Sunday, October 20th. Be patient. I’ll answer Stig on those strange 162 Me 109s claimed as « certain » by French fighter pilots ; add the « probables » and quite a few shot down by other French aircraft (hundreds of these were cannon-armed…) and by AA too. ”It’s not that simple”.

Brian Cull credits ”his” famous Hurricanes with 38 Me 109s (Twelve Days in May, top of page 308). At the same rate French fighters would have s/d 38 x 6 = 228 Me 109s. For 700 Fr. fighters : 38 x 7 = 266, almost double what they did claim as "certain". Who has unrealistic claims ?

Be good in the meantime all of you and don’t burn any French flags for it can’t change anything and is not gentlemanlike.

More details here:

Last edited by rof120; 20th October 2019 at 15:21.
Old 20th October 2019, 19:49
rof120 rof120 is offline
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Reply # 1 to Stig - French fighter scores, mainly 1939-1940

Reply # 1 to Stig

Stig : « With total Lw losses of 1129 aircraft due to enemy action May-June 1940, there might be scope for your suggested over 800 total victories, though not leaving an awful lot to the British, Dutch and Belgians.

However, your number of 162 Me 109's would seem a bit to close to the 169 reported lost to enemy action. I would expect RAF fighters to have accounted for more than 7 Me 109's and maybe the smaller airforces claimed some as well? »

Rof120 - These figures cannot be considered correct. More on this farther below. I know 1,129 is the figure in W. Murray’s table III in his book « LUFTWAFFE – Strategy for defeat 1933-45 » but it is misleading.

At least you are able to think independently, which is a relief. Clearly you are using Murray’s book. This is an excellent book, most interesting. Murray is a genuine historian and he knows what he’s doing and what he’s talking about. This does not make him infallible but yes, he’s very good. Regrettably (in my eyes) his text is all too schematic (some sort of abstract for a very active and very complex period of over 12 years) and, to put it simply, too short. Dealing with the whole history of the Luftwaffe (!) 1933-45 he couldn’t be as
« verbose » (sic) as I am but his book would be even better if much bigger. I’d like much longer developments by him, which no doubt would be fascinating. Possibly he relies on his readers, in order to know more, for reading the numerous documents or books, or part of them, he mentions in his « Notes » (sources, bibliography) at the end of each chapter but for many reasons like profession, lack of time, poor health etc., very few of us, if any, are able to do so.

An important remark: Murray’s philosophy when writing his book is clear and he explained it but it seems that most readers including people who should be considered serious professionals did’nt understand at all and they drew, or draw, wrong results and conclusions. In many tables Murray gives the Luftwaffe „strength“ on a certain day, like on 4 May, 1940 (table III – « German losses on operations – May-June 1940 »), then the losses to various causes and, at the end, the percentage of losses as compared to the initial « strength». This percentage is clearly lower than the actual loss percentage for ENGAGED aircraft, which is the only percentage acceptable for assessing the results of an air battle or of a whole aerial campaign or war. Loss percentages are always computed on the basis of the forces (including infantry or tanks) which took part in the fighting. Rear units, reserves etc. play no part in this. It is very sad to see so-called « historians » like, for example, the French Patrick Facon, bristling for diplomas and prestigious titles, not being aware of this basic fact and using Williamson’s correct percentage figures in a perfectly erroneous way, which, of course, makes their publications of doubtful value to say tthe least. And this they are.

For example the LW had 1,758 (twin-engined) bombers on May 4 and lost 521 of them (destroyed) to all causes, which is 30 % of the initial total strength. But I understand the LW engaged 1,120 bombers in operations (see book « l’aviation de chasse française 1918-1940 », by Raymond Danel (NOT « Daniel ») and Jean Cuny), the others being needed in flying schools, test centres etc. or undergoing maintenance or repairs. So the actual loss rate of engaged bombers was 46.5 % not 30 % (more than one half more than 30 %). « Great historian » (the late) Patrick Facon was the official historian of the historical department of the Armée de l'Air at Vincennes. He not only wrote a lot of nonsense, drew a graph of German losses which is virtually useless because the gigantic German losses on May 10 (about 360 if I recall correctly, IIRC) are shown using the same scale as for much lower, « ordinary » losses during the whole French campaign (I guess up to approx. 100 a day or far less, like 10-30). Those about 360 include no less than 188 « Transport » AC (almost only Ju 52s) and 20 « Coastal » (mostly He 115s I presume, and other floatplanes) plus 18 and 16 (!) « not due to enemy action ».

As we all know the Ju 52s were butchered by the wonderful Dutch army with AAA and field artillery, even by Dutch infantry, likewise the „coastal“ AC. The „damaged“ transport AC amount to a grand total of 27, of which only 8 were damaged on operatons (this means in battle!) but 14 „not due to enemy action“. This is not credible and I don’t believe it. Only 8 Ju 52 damaged in this hell’s cauldron ? No. According to this table III on May 10 the LW lost 188 Ju 52s mainly to Dutch guns plus 18 « not due to enemy action » : I can hardly believe this last detail. 18 Ju 52s lost but not to enemy action is hardly possible. Okay there were some accidents and some Ju 52s made landings everywhere in the Netherlands: on beaches, highways, meadows among cows etc. But why did the German pilots land there ? Because of ENEMY ACTION by the Dutch army, who prevented them to land on various airfields according to plan. So the Allies, mainly the Dutch by a wide margin, destroyed at least 188 + 18 = 206 Ju 52s. Dutch fighters shot down a number of German AC but I have no details at the moment (no time to analyze P. Cornwell’s book TBOFTN, which gives very numerous details including, in most cases, the cause of loss). A number of Ju 52s etc. certainly were s/d by various Allied fighters including one by French naval pilot Philippe de Scitivaux de Greische, known as Scitivaux, who was wounded in one arm by return fire, later a Free French fighter pilot with the RAF, flying (1940) a twin-engined fighter Potez 631 (cannon-armed). Damaged German aircraft (Allied AC too) were a real loss for they were not available for a rather long time.

Likewise for single-engined fighters, which means Me 109s: „Initial strength” on May 4 was 1,369 with 169 destroyed by the enemy and 66 more „not due to enemy action“, which I absolutely don’t believe. We all know that 109s were prone to accidents, mainly because of their narrow landing gear, but 28 % of the destroyed 109s being destroyed without enemy action can’t be true. 66 is also 39 % of 169 (destroyed by the enemy). 1940 almost all German fighter pilots had been well trained under peace conditions (at leisure). Many had no or only a little combat experience but they were fully qualified as fighter pilots, not to mention the veterans from Spain and a few dozen aces from Poland and the Phoney War (in which French fighter pilots claimed 39 „certain“ Me 109s plus a number of probables so there had been some fighting already, a good training opportunity for those who survived).

On May 10 the Luftwaffe engaged 1,048 Me 109s not 1,369, of which some were not involved in combat because they were needed to protect some important factories, shipyards, the German North coast, the Ruhr, Berlin etc. (same thing in France and certainly in the UK).

Murray’s percentage of losses (calculated on the basis of the whole « strength on 4.5. ») is 19 % destroyed Me 109s to all causes, which is correct, plus 150 damaged, resulting in a total of 30 % destroyed or damaged. This, too, is correct in theory but not as far as actual combat is concerned, for 257 destroyed is 24.5 % (one fourth) of the engaged number. For the totsal of destroyed and damaged Me 109s Murray’s percentage is 407 or 30 % but the actual loss percentage for engaged 109s is almost 38.8 %, well over one third. I say « almost » because I still have to check which Jagdgeschwader or Gruppen were stationed in the rear, protecting the German coast, the Ruhr, Berlin etc. The actual loss percentage including damaged 109s could reach about 45 %.

I am not claiming that W. Murray is wrong, not at all. I repeat that the whole book’s philosophy is based on total numbers of German aircraft („Strength“, as he put it) for his reasoning is on German aircraft numbers on various dates (till 1945), aircraft production and losses. In all countries the total number of aircraft including first-line types was, and still is, clearly higher than the number of existing AC in combat units (1940 these were JGs, KGs etc.).

In many German texts I noticed that heavily damaged AC often were considered ”damaged” whereas in France the same damage meant „destroyed“ or „back to the repair organization“ and lost for the combat unit, but in most cases the combat units received replacement aircraft from the reserve pools or directly from the factories (especially Dewoitine 520s, which in June 1940 were being produced at an amazing rate).

On top of this in German documents damaged or destroyed aircraft were often counted as victims of accidents although in fact they were the victims of enemy gunfire. In numerous cases a German AC (same thing, of course, for the Allies) was more or less heavily damaged by enemy gunfire of all kinds including AA and AAA and, above all, French fighters. Often, too, the pilots were more or less badly wounded. In both cases the damage and the wounds often led to a crash during the return flight or landing, killing the crew in many cases. Even French author Paul Martin made this error a number of times (I didn’t count but probably in numerous instances), stating that French aircraft X was destroyed in a flying or landing accident because of battle damage. In his final statistics (pages 381-389) these particular combat losses appear as the result of accidents, which in my eyes is wrong and changes the loss statistics.

In particular in German documents they had a distinct tendency to belittle their losses in this way. If we believe that 169 Me 109s were lost in combat („due to enemy action“) and 66 more in accidents („not due to enemy action“), which is 39 % of 169, we must believe that many German fighter pilots were very poor pilots unable to master their aircraft, which does not match their usual reputation. Such German pilots did exist (even more so within the RAF) but not in such proportions. I know about the narrow landing gear of the 109. I’d accept approximately 20 such losses at most (this is a pure evaluation). This leaves us with 169 + 46 = 215 Me 109s lost because of enemy action. Stig, don’t you think this looks better ?

About W. Murray’s excellent book please note something very important : in his « Note » (source) # 34 he mentions the German tables TRANSLATED into American etc. Oh my God, O my Gawd! So Murray didn’t use the original German loss tables etc. but their American translation. You can believe me : good translations, which means CORRECT (accurate) translations, are very rare. For example American films and TV programs on the Pacific War often mention « carriers ». Everybody except so-called « translators » knows what this means. So almost always they translate « carriers » with the French word « transporteur“ (haulier, from haulage, in other words „cargo ship“ or „transport ship“). Adolf Galland’s famous book was incredibly massacred in 1954 by a famous French publisher (Robert Laffont). The hinged canopy roof becomes an « ejection seat » (in June 1941), Galland’s parachute becomes « my second parachute », Munich's famous airport of Riem is called « Riehm » twice and becomes a suburb of Salzburg (Austria) at a distance of 100 km (60 miles), etc. I could go on like this for several decades but no thanks. Every good (accurate and well-written) translation should be awarded a Nobel prize for literature. They are very few anyway.

It’s too bad but we can’t rely blindly on Williamson Murray’s text and data for he made massive use of translations from German. His general philosophy remains very interesting.

We can’t rely blindly on German sources for victories either. Among others, Balthasar and Wick clearly were incredible (literally) overclaimers, claiming several times 3, 4 or 5 victories in one single sortie or at least in one single day, already in May-June against the French. According to the victory list in J. Prien’s volume 3 (JFV purple series), on June 5 Wick claimed 4 Bloch 152s (shot down with which ammunition reserves ?) plus a LeO 45 (5 victories in one day, all « B », bestätigt or confirmed by RLM) but according to French author Paul Martin, a French expert on French LOSSES, who had no idea of Wick’s claims, only two (2) Bloch 152s were lost on this day, and not in the same region, so that no German pilot could possibly have shot down more than one on this day. One of the ways of finding heavy overclaimers is to look at multiple victories won in one single day : several times 3 or more within 1-3 months is highly suspicious. Conversely, two very great aces of 1940 and also later were Mölders and Galland. Their scores and their honesty are hardly disputed (see i.a. Donald Caldwell’s books on JG 26). It did happen that they claimed more than one victory in one sortie but not often, or up to 3 (never more I think) in one day (mostly in more than one sortie). The difference between Mölders-Galland and Wick-Balthasar is obvious. German authors, and others too (British and French patriots, sometimes chauvinists) would serve History (even) better if they started looking at victories with greater accuracy and readiness to criticism.

More widely many real accidents occurred but a large part of these – in all air forces including British and French – were the result of enemy pressure. Often combat aircraft of all kinds took off in a hurry, after an alert was given, without enough time for the ground crews do do all the checks they would have done if they had had sufficient time. Because of this or because of ordinary technical problems even without enemy pressure (even in peace time in fact) comparatively numerous accidents happened, often during take-off (with maximum engine power applied) or shortly therafter, aircraft leaving the runway sideways, crashing into some trees etc., often with heavy casualties. I find that in war-time stories engine-failure is reported rather often, in any case as far as the Armée de l'Air is concerned, and I have no doubt that other air forces had similar problems. During this period aero-engines were by far not as reliable as they are today and possibly became 1943 or 1944 (in particular the « Merlin » equipping « Mustang » fighters, which seems to have been quite reliable during missions lasting for 6-7 hours or more). This is no reason to accept the German habit of hiding combat losses under the title „Accidents ».

The question of all exact causes of aircraft losses is terribly complex. Naïve, oversimplistic, often fanatic people have no idea and often they don’t even want to know. To them a German fighter pilot having won 127 victories was a better fighter pilot than those who had won only 126 or possibly 123, 124, or 125. To them 127 is better than 126, period.

I fear it will never be possible to get perfectly exact figures for losses and victories (I'd be very glad if it were possible). There are too many known or unknown factors which influence the results. Scores being known with possible or probable errors of at least plus or minus 5 victories, it is useless and quite naïve to look at all scores with a magnifying glass or even with microscopes and to calculate scores with two or three digits after the decimal dot or comma, like for example 18,657. Either 18 or 19 and both these figures are quite uncertain too already.

I think the best way to come closer to reality and to make FAIR comparisons is to look at all losses, for example German losses, whatever caused them including all accidents and bad weather.

- To be cont’d but not today, sorry -

Last edited by rof120; 27th October 2019 at 15:48.
Old 24th October 2019, 19:08
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French and RAF fighter scores 1940

Hello again.

Sorry to be silent but I almost died of suffocation in a fierce and massive paperwork attack.

Yesterday – in spite of everything – I worked for 2 hours on a reply to Keith but I was interrupted for 1 hour by a telephone call and when I completed my message and clicked on « Save » it just disappeared « for security reasons » because of the long pause. I understand these reasons perfectly but why erase my text even for me ? I could have copied it (internally in my own PC) and then have posted it.

Message authors beware: writing offline, then copying your text here and posting it is always safer. No online writing – too risky!

I thought I rememberd some source stating that the Luftwaffe had lost 500 Me 109s (in fact 535, which is a precise figure) in May-June 1940 (French Campaign). The source is the German weekly ”Der Spiegel” (The Mirror) 1967, see below. Unfortunately I can’t remember or retrieve the French source but no doubt the information is of German origin :

Der Spiegel – 1 471 pertes allemandes
(1,471 German losses)

d’après des informations données par le magazine Der Spiegel en 1967, Jean Gisclon affirme que la Luftwaffe a perdu 1 471 appareils, dont 535 Messerchmitt 109, 195 Messerchmitt 110, 412 bombardiers (Heinkel III, Junker 87 « Stuka », etc…) et 329 avions de reconnaissance et de transport.

These are exact figures ending with 5, 2,9, not evaluations like « about 230 » or « approximately 470 ».

The Spiegel-figures do not contain damaged AC for the grand total is about the same as Murray’s for DESTROYED AC (1,428) and Len Deighton’s (1,469). Peter Cornwell’s figure in TBOFTN is 1,460 (careful : his grand total on page 529 is 1,814 but this includes losses sustained from September, 1939 through May 9).

For Me 109s Murray’s figure for « destroyed » (all causes) is 257, almost exactly half the Spiegel-figure (1/2 535 is 267.5). What can explain this huge difference ? Firstly Spiegel-people are German or at least they understand German perfectly contrary to Murray, who used American translations (among huge quantities of such translations at the time, certainly at least tens of thousands of pages) in good faith, not knowing how terrible almost all translations are if not checked very closely. On the contrary the Spiegel-figure for bombers including Ju 87s is 412 as compared to Murray’s 521 + 122 (Stukas) = 643! Possibly after looking better LW personel discovered that a few hundred bombers were not really destroyed but damaged.

I can only speculate on explanations. Possibly 22 years after WW II the German archive had been properly refurbished and organized at BA-MA, giving different totals. We know that some German losses were registered in Luftwaffe documents first after weeks, months or even more than one year, when the clerks etc. were sure and positive that they knew what had happened. „Some“ but how many I don’t know. I think I remember that the German documents were held in the USA, possibly in the UK too, and given back to Germany long afterwards so the so-called, unqualified, amateur-„translators”. had a field day and even some field decades.

535 destroyed Me 109s from May 10 through June 24 1940 may look enormous and not credible but there is no doubt it is of German origin, which makes it much more credible. I find it perfectly credible for Me 109s were very intensively involved in the fighting: they carried out bomber and Stuka escorts with numerous attacks by Allied fighters, ”free hunting” (fighter sweeps), ground attacks on Allied airfields, infantry, roads etc. Grman fighter pilots very often flew 2 to 4 sorties a day (weather permitting). This very intense activity automatically resulted in very heavy losses, no matter how good the 109 and her pilots were. The Armée de l’Air for its part performed very numerous ”missions de destruction », which meant looking for trouble in the battle area, aiming especially at the destruction of German bombers, Stukas and recce AC. Inevitably this resulted in numerous fighter vs fighter air battles. AAA and AA should not be forgotten (AA including tens of thousands of Army or Air Force machine-guns – the French army had 125,000 machine-guns, I assume without the very common French version of a Bren gun (not a copy of it), the FM 24/29 (FM is fusil-mitrailleur, a light infantry machine-gun; each infantry squad had got at least one FM 24/29, which means really a lot for all French armies).

Werner Waiss’ excellent history of KG 27, volume I, is extremely interesting. It not only shows that German bombers ran a terrible gauntlet against FRENCH FIGHTERS (British fighters too) but against AAA too when they flew over deep French territory, where (apart from the very dangerous battle aea) they often lost some bombers to AAA and to ”local” French fighters too, which were stationed there precisely to this end.

I’ll give you two interesting examples: in the remarkable issues of the French review « Icare » published by the main French trade union of airline pilots (SNPL) we can find hundreds of fascinating war stories. Once a certain French fighter airfield was machine-gunned by some Me 109s. A number of machine-guns were stationed at various spots of this airfield. A leutnant „courageously“ stood up straight, giving the order to fire. The machine-guns all fired at the 109, which ploughed into the ground. Apart from this most French airfields had an Armée de l'Air-defence which could not be neglected, including machine-guns, several excellent 25 mm Hotchkiss anti-aircrft cannon, posibly some 40 mm Bofors AA guns (with reservations – I have to check on this). Many a 109 was shot down when strafing Allied airfields.

World-famous aviation artist Paul Lengellé told me another story : he was a member of general de Lattre de Tassigny’s (one of the few excellent generals) division – of course on the ground – and a Me 109 flew over them. British 40 mm Bofors AA guns opened fire and the 109’s wings folded over with obvious results.

To make it short : Me 109s very often met deadly adversaries in the sky and on the ground. I find 535 losses perfectly credible, which gives a lot of room for AA, British, Dutch, Belgian and l'Armée de l'Air victories.

Two interesting figures mentioned by Williamson Murray : 257 Me 109s were destroyed in May-June 1940 (table III) and 518 in July through September, see table IX (the actual period of the Battle of Britain, October being added mainly because of a BoB clasp (some sort of decoration)…). In July-August-September, starrting officially on July 10, the BoB lasted for 83 days as compared to the French Campaign of 46 days. Interestingly French fighters didn’t claime one single Me 109 or 110 after June 9 (14 « certain » Me 109s shot down) but they did claim 59 other « certain » AC after this date even though the best fighters (about 200 D.520s and 150 Curtiss H-75s, an estimation) had been sent to North Africa. In France etc. the German army made an advance which ended at the Atlantic coast; this made it possible for the Luftwaffe to get back hundreds of heavily damaged aircraft which otherwise would have been lost (like for example in England). So clearly these raw figures favour the RAF, no matter how brave their pilots were (and they were very brave indeed).

Figures published by W. Murray : Total German losses in the French Campaign were 1,428 (about 1,470 according to 2 other sources) and 1,636 in the BoB, which lasted for twice the « French » time. Twice 1,428 would be 2,856. So the German loss rate was much higher over France than over England. Guess why?

To Keith about the alledgedly poor quality of French fighters except the D.520 : in Germany they use to say something like « Halbgebildete sind das Schlimmste » : half-educated people are the worst. You seem to know a lot on airpower and air war but alas you are far from knowing enough, which is fully understandable for someone who is not a professional historian of 1940 or 1940-45! Yes the French fighters Morane 406, Bloch 152 and Curtiss H-75 were far from being as good as the Me 109 BUT this does NOT mean that they were useless. This is much too simple – simplistic – thinking. That a D.520 was 100 % good (true) but a Morane 0 % is NOT TRUE. Morane fighters alone destroyed several hundred Hun aircraft, Curtiss fighters too (they had the best total results). Think of it. Don’t be oversimplistic, please. More on this some other time for there is a life after TOCH. In the meantime please think of this: the Hurricane, too, was clearly inferior to the Me 109 in top speed (difference at least 40 km/h) and climb rate, and it was sluggish in acceleration (not so the French fighters). Was it worthless in battle because of that?

- To be continued -
Old 24th October 2019, 22:00
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Re: French fighter scores, mainly 1939-1940

Please spare me......................
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Old 25th October 2019, 11:20
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Re: French fighter scores, mainly 1939-1940


Yves, in the English-speaking world at least, and this is a point Lionel Persyn makes well in his huge Curtiss H-75 tome (Lela Presse), the H-75, Ms 406, Bloch and, yes, the D.520, ( "..c'est la barbe , ces avions inexpérimentés.."), are inextricably associated with defeat as opposed to the Hurricane, the machine of victory....(..and a long and successful career after France in many theaters).

You over-estimated the Bloch 'score' a little as well..(it appears you've edited your 'several hundreds..'.)..59 Bloch pilots were KIA for +/- 155 German machines shot down (Drix gives the Blochs 188 vics including 50+ Bf 109s). The average squadron pilot apparently regarded the Bloch favourably enough as outlined by André Deniau (GC II / 6):

"..Nous savions que le Bloch 152 était surclassé par le Bf 109 (…) :..we knew that the Me 109 outclassed the Bloch -with its overall superior performance, higher top speed, superior rate of climb and maneuverability the enemy enjoyed a considerable advantage. Our adversary could take the initiative, joining or breaking off combat at will. However in the Bloch the pilot enjoyed good visibility, the airframe was strong and sturdy and the armament relatively powerful.."
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Old 25th October 2019, 12:15
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Do as you like

Originally Posted by Steve Smith View Post
Please spare me......................
Steve you're funny. You are a free man aren't you? I'm glad you are.

In this case just read what you like, don't read the rest. You don't like it? Don't read it.

(BTW, I am very far from reading everything myself, y'now, but I leave'em alone with sarcastic remarks.)
Old 25th October 2019, 13:13
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Well, yes, more or less

Originally Posted by FalkeEins View Post

Yves, in the English-speaking world at least, and this is a point Lionel Persyn makes well in his huge Curtiss H-75 tome (Lela Presse), the H-75, Ms 406, Bloch and, yes, the D.520, ( "..c'est la barbe , ces avions inexpérimentés.."), are inextricably associated with defeat as opposed to the Hurricane, the machine of victory....(..and a long and successful career after France in many theaters).

You over-estimated the Bloch 'score' a little as well..(it appears you've edited your 'several hundreds..'.)..59 Bloch pilots were KIA for +/- 155 German machines shot down (Drix gives the Blochs 188 vics including 50+ Bf 109s). The average squadron pilot apparently regarded the Bloch favourably enough as outlined by André Deniau (GC II / 6):

"..Nous savions que le Bloch 152 était surclassé par le Bf 109 (…) :..we knew that the Me 109 outclassed the Bloch -with its overall superior performance, higher top speed, superior rate of climb and maneuverability the enemy enjoyed a considerable advantage. Our adversary could take the initiative, joining or breaking off combat at will. However in the Bloch the pilot enjoyed good visibility, the airframe was strong and sturdy and the armament relatively powerful.."
- I think nobody considers the Hurricane a superlative fighter. It was not a poor one either, far from it. It was a sound design and, during the Battle of Britain, about 2/3 of Fighter Command were equipped with Hurricanes (about 60-66 %), 1/3 with Spitfires, not taking "Defiants" and "Blenheim" fighters into account for they hardly played any part. Recently I heard in a "historical" TV program that Hurricanes won 80 % of all British fighter victories in the Battle of Britain. We can't rely on TV programs for History but 80 % could be true. Douglas Bader wrote: "I always considered the Hurricane the better gun-platform." (Book "Fight for the Sky", by Sir Douglas Bader, 1973.)

Your remarks are true but now (nowadays) I am not dealing with people's feelings all over the world, be it 1940, 1942, 1945 or later including today. I am dealing with facts, real events and real losses and victories (German, British and French). If you believe British publications, or at least almost 100 % of them, the French Air Force played virtually no part at all 1940, it was "wiped out" by the Luftwaffe on May 10, 1940 (this is nonsense of a rare intensity and quality), and only the glorious RAF fought the Nazi Huns and "saved civilisation" (and the whole world). The RAF was glorious, yes, RAF aircrew (not only the fighter boys) were brave and glorious but the French, too, played a significant part in the 1940 fighting. The French Army was thoroughly defeated roughly in 3 days not 15 or 46 but the French AF never was. It fought until the very last day and was stronger, and much better equipped, at the end of June than at the beginning of May.

Please think of this: the Luftwaffe lost almost exactly the same number of aircraft in the French Campaign (46 days, of which only 38 days saw a significant air activity, the rest of 8 days being almost idle, not quite) and in the actual Battle of Britain (10 July-30 September - 83 days). So over mainly France the Germans lost aircraft at more than twice the rate achieved in the Battle of Britain. (c) - (copyright) The only really important difference between both campaigns, or battles, is the presence or the absence of the French air force. (c), the end) I am not forgetting the significant contribution of Dutch forces, who not only destroyed about 180 Ju 52s (a few were destroyed by Allied forces, mainly British fighters including Blenheims and possibly Defiants): they destroyed also quite a number of other German aircraft including quite a few Ju 88s (see TBOFTN by Peter Cornwell) shot down by Dutch AAA and by Dutch fighters. Too bad their government panicked after the Rotterdam bombing (the Germans claim, ever since, that this was an error and a misunderstanding caused by poor or non-existing radio links) and surrendered after only 5 days, for otherwise they would have given the Luftwaffe a few more headaches. The Dutch were bl… good.

Without the Dutch contribution of approximately 200 the Luftwaffe lost about 1,270 AC over France etc. in roughly 38 days and 1,430 more in 83 days over Britain. For a same duration of 30 days this is 1,003 over France and Benelux countries as compared to 517 over England so German losses per month (on average) were roughly twice as high over France etc. than over England. The RAF contributed to this result but the main factor was the Armée de l'Air, which is simply normal, by the way, for the French were fighting over their own country and, according to a British-French agreement on airpower, had got about 800 single-engined fighters in first-line units (groupes de chasse) as compared to the RAF's 600, of which about 100 were deployed in France (I already gave explanations on this and on reinforcements).

I am not criticizing or denigrating the RAF in any way, which would be wrong (not true) and stupid. I am only establishing some facts. It would be all too easy to counterattack today's RAF armchair heroes (including many Frenchmen) like this:

"France engaged 800 fighters for 46 days, England engaged 100 fighters for 12 days (see book Twelve Days in May by Brian Cull). The French contribution was 800 x 46 = 36,800, the British contribution was 100 x 12 = 1,200 so the French fighter contribution was 36,800 : 1,200 = 30.7 times bigger. Even if ("IF") allowing 170 German losses to AA, as a whole the French shot down 1,065 German aircraft, the RAF got 135 (by the way, my real estimation is about 200...).

Obviously the above paragraph is nonsense and oversimplistic… just like virtually all British (and other) explanations of this kind. I know the above reasoning has many flaws and contains errors. I just feel it is useful to remind certain people of a few facts, of reality. The French did not fight the Luftwaffe alone, neither did the RAF, very far from it. Jingoistic nonsense can't change historical facts.

Here are the figures published by two excellent French historians in their book "l'aviation de chasse française 1918-1940" (French fighters), by Raymond Danel and Jean Cuny, page 182. This book is absolutely remarkable and (together with some others) a must for anybody who likes to be informed on this matter. I think these particular figures were establishd by Raymond Danel (not "Daniel", as Engl.-speaking people always write):

On May 10, 1940 French combat units (deployed in such a way that they were able to take part in the fighting but a few were not in the battle area yet) had the following numbers of fighters, not including reserve AC etc.:

Morane 406*: 412 - Curtiss H 75: 126 - Bloch 151**: 47 - Bloch 152: 150 - Dewoitine 520: 57 - Potez 630 (twin-engined, twin-fin, cannon-armed): 18 - Potez 631 (same remarks): 102 - Grand total 912 fighters,
Rof120 is adding the following: 912, of which 792 (almost 800) were single-engined fighters. These numbers were rising every day thanks to rising production in factories, in particular for Bloch 152s and D.520s.

GC I/3 joined the fighting on 13 May with 34 D.520s, GC II/3 on 15 May with 34 too, G C I/6 on 17 May with 26 Morane 406s, GC II/9 on 19 May with 26 Bloch 152s (a reinforcement by exactly 100 modern fighters even though MS 406s were obsolescent but not worthless. I assume these 100 fighters are included in the above total of 912. Morane 406s (1,085 were produced, of which about 60 were exported to various countries) were 52 % of the 792 French single-engined fighters. This percentage sank very rapidly because headquarters wanted to phase out the type as quickly as possible. It was replaced mainly with Bloch 152s (generally new AC, not worn-out like many 406s), D.520s (one groupe de chasse - GC II/7 - around June 1st and two more around mid-June) and Curtiss H-75s (one GC - GC III/2) about June 1. On June 24 (end of this campaign) only 5 GCs equipped with Morane 406s were left so that 5 other GCs had been reequipped with other fighter types: 1 with D.520s, 1 with Curtiss H-75s, 3 with Bloch 152s. One month later - if only the Army generals had held their positions - most French fighter units would have been equipped with the superlative D.520. The Bloch 152 was being replaced by the much-improved Bloch 155 (this had just started).

* The French naval aviation received about 30 MS 406s, not counted here. ** The Bloch 151 was considered "not combat worthy" but some units of the Armée de l'Air and of the Naval Aviaton received a few dozen until the much better Bloch 152 could be delivered.

On May 10 the total existing numbers, not only in first-line units (without Naval Aviation), were: Morane 406: 950 - Curtiss H-75: 181 - Bloch 151: 114 - Bloch 152: 360 - D.520: 79 - Potez 630: 84 - Potez 631: 174 plus a few odd types. Grand total: 2,002. The Numbers of Bloch 152s and Dewoitine 520s were rising very rapidly, literally every day.
Large Numbers (especially Morane 406s) were being used in flying schools etc., others in research centers or undergoing repairs, etc.

The top performance of a fighter is not everything. They did not fight at their top speed all the time. The Me 109 E was clearly better than all other designs except Spitfire and D.520 (I understand the D.520 was better in actual combat). The 109's superiority did not make Morane 406s, Bloch 152s and Curtiss H-75s useless and worthless, not combat-worthy. Believing this is nonsense (again). These three "inferior" types shot down hundreds and hundreds of German aircraft including dozens and dozens of Me 109s and 110s. They were all better than the 109 on particular points: manoeuverability, armament, turn radius etc., even pilot protection. Most people don't understand basic physics and they don't care. This is a serious fault. In particular, all French-made fighters and bombers were cannon-armed, giving them in all cases a far better firepower than the 109's. A 109 had two 20 mm cannon but their MG FF was a very poor weapon whereas the French HS 404 was a superlative 20 mm cannon, so much so that the proud RAF adopted it and used it very intensively from 1941 on (under the name of "Hispano") and the RAF was so satisfied with this French cannon that this continued well after WW II. The USA (Air Force and Navy) used that same French cannon too, with slight modifications and, of course, a purely American type designation making it unidentifiable (as if HS 404 wouldn't suffice). Just like the RAF during the BoB the French air force endeavoured to use their fighters with lesser performance, as far as possible, only against bombers and recce AC, Curtisses and D.520s flying top cover. All French fighter types won numerous victories (not least because of the good pilots, too), the penalty for types with lower performance being higher losses in air battles.

The Bloch 152's armament - two light machine-guns and two superlative HS 404 cannon - was not only "relatively" powerful even if a 152-pilot said so, but very powerful for the time (1940) and according to Len Deighton these cannon devastated the AC they hit (a few Spitfires were armed with 2 such cannon during the BoB but alas with terrible teething trouble because the RAF didn't mount properly into the wings at first. According to some private information I got German fighter pilots avoided combat with a Bloch 152 if possible, in particular if the numbers were one to one. They probably had received orders to this end, probably something like "Do not risk to lose your fighter and possibly your life just for the fun of having a dogfight with a Frenchie ("Franzmann") armed with such a deadly cannon, or two". They certainly feared French pilot proficiency but also, to a large extent, the 152's terrible cannon.

Last edited by rof120; 29th October 2019 at 13:19.
Old 25th October 2019, 13:54
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Re: Well, yes, more or less

Originally Posted by rof120 View Post

Please think of this: the Luftwaffe lost almost exactly the same number of aircraft in the French Campaign (46 days, of which only 38 days saw a significant air activity, the rest of 8 days being almost idele, not quite) and in the actual Battle of Britain (10 July-30 September - 83 days). So over mainly France the Germans lost combat aircraft at more than twice the rate in the Battle of Britain. are not comparing like with many "idle" days were there during the BoB, due to weather, distances, high altitude, no clearly defined front lines....see page 39 of JfV Teil 4/I Einsatz am Kanal..

.." ein Jagdflieger...(flog) im Durchschnitt etwa 50 Feindflüge ..wobei er etwa 20 mal Feindberührung hatte.."

ie, during this period the German fighter pilot flew on average around 50 combat sorties and (only !) encountered the enemy on around 20 occasions..
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Old 25th October 2019, 15:15
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Idle days?

Oh no, it is not like this. I know there were some, or even many, idle days both in the BoB and in the French Campaign. How many times - I can't remember - have I read about operations in May-June 1940 that bad weather made flying impossible: possibly fog, low clouds, airfields (no concrete runways 1940...) soaked with water, making take-off and landing impossible, aircraft which sank in mud… This is true of both campaigns/battles. With the help of meteorological and air force archive in France and in England we could find out on how many days, in both cases, combat aircraft were not able to fly. I guess it would be about even for the season and the weather were approximately the same, with dry, even hot periods too.
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