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Old 25th October 2019, 19:23
rof120 rof120 is offline
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Idle days - British fihters' deployment resulted in more fighting

1. Sorry I forgot the other causes of "idle days". These were relatively numerous. I think all idle days, whatever the causes, were more or less even in France and later in the BoB, taking the duration into account. The more so for often, after an idle period like 2-3 days or more, they had had time and resources to repair damaged AC and receive replacement ones after losses, so that they could compensate for the idle days with corresponding missions, at least partially.

2. I am fully aware that Hurricane-airfields in France were more directly in the battle area and in the path of numerous German attacks, which gave them more opportunities of seeing their airfields attacked, of taking off under attack, of winning victories and suffering losses. In a nutshell, in the "British" area (so chosen because it was closer to England, which was more convenient for receiving supplies, new aircraft, personel etc.) the air war was probably more intensive with corresponding more victories than if based somewhere else, and also more losses, for there is no doubt that the average German fighter pilot was far better in training and in flying and combat experience than the average RAF pilot (often green), not to mention the terrible official tactics and formations (tight vic of three etc.) for which RAF pilots were not responsible but the RAF was.
Old 25th October 2019, 20:20
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My error on Morane 406s

Sorry again: I should have looked better at the fabulous book I mentioned, "l'aviation de chasse française 1918-1940", by Danel and Cuny.

On page 187 we can read that in France proper (excluding North Africa etc.) there were 12 groupes de chasse equipped with the obsolescent Morane 406 (a few of them certainly in the rear area, possibly 2-3 fighter training nuits) and that Air HQ made great efforts to reequip as many Morane units as possible with better fighter types. I think first-line engaged Morane units were 10 not 9 on May 10, 1940, but I have to check again.

Page 190: when the cease-fire came into force (June 25) only 4 groupes de chasse equipped with Morane 406s were left IN FRANCE. Two others had received Bloch 152s, one had received Curtiss H-75s and five had received Dewoitine 520s. I had forgotten that GC III/6 (based in SE France, facing Italy) and GC III/3 had received D.520s too.

Page 189: "As a whole, from May 10 through June 22, 210 Dewoitine 520s were delivered to (combat) first-line units as well as 26 to the Naval Aviatiion and 41 to units in the rear area." The total of these is 277 but deliveries continued to the last possible minute, mostly for ferry flights to North Africa (mainly Algeria, and also Morocco). Of course many brand-new D.520s were sent to first-line nuits as replacement aircraft for those lost or heavily damaged in combat.

About 170 D.520s were left in France and 165 in N. Africa (together 330) as well as 45 Curtiss H-75s in France and 145 in N. Africa (together 190) and 453 + 2oo Morane 406s plus various modern types (Potez 631 etc.).

403 D.520s had been delivered to the Armée de l'Air but many "half-educated" Frenchmen keep claiming everywhere that "only 30 D.520s took part in the fighting", which is simply ridiculous. The first unit equipped with D.520s (a perfect match to Me 109s as well as to Spitfires) was GC I/3 , which, as I already mentioned, was engaged on May 13, but 3 more GCs with D.520s were equipped and engaged between May 15 and the first days of June as well as GC III/6 (facing Italy) towards the 2nd half of June. On June 13 and 15 GC III/6 shot down 7 Italian bombers and fighters. Even if we don't take this unit into account 4 GCs were fully equipped with D.520s (official complement 34 fighters each, which is 136 superlative fighters taking part in the fighting). Possibly 36 AC each, this depends on sources. I don't think that RAF Fighter Command 11 Group (Sout-East England, the main battle area of the BoB) deployed more Spitfires, or many more, than those 136 D.520s one month earlier.

Last edited by rof120; 27th October 2019 at 16:36.
Old 27th October 2019, 21:43
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RAF victories?

Alert, alert! Take cover! Horrible rof 120 is on the rampage again.

Quote Keith : « …a very verbose justification of French claims to the detriment of the RAF and others. »

This was not really nice but never mind, everyone who dares tell a truth contradicting the long-established legends will be laughed at, made ridiculous, possibly executed by the established Doctors of the University. Remember Galileo Galilei, Copernicus and many others. After a (long) while their ridiculous errors are proven correct and even become the official truth. The catholic church apologized, not long ago, after several centuries, for the wrong treatment of Galileo Galilei : he was right after all. Oh no I am not comparing myself with such geniuses (not with Einstein either, which is too bad – sniff, wail). Let’s have a look at this:

1. „Verbose“. My explanations are relatively long, yes. It depends on what you consider « long ». My writing « long » explanations has four reasons :

A. I respect anybody who is brave enough, or kind enough, to read what I have written. I feel I can’t do otherwise than explaining, and if possible proving, what I am stating including, and especially, when contradicting the usual clichés, propagated mostly by uneducated people acting only like parrots who don’t even know what they are talking about. Oh yes my posts could be much shorter if I were as pretentious as many people and contended with stating whatever I like: ”I am perfectly right, period”. This is simple indeed – too simple if you respect your readers and quite generally people. Apart from this it has been fashionable for a few decades to say that this and thar (texts) "is too long". It makes pretentious people (who are hardly able to write a long text giving some sense and which is interesting to read) feel terribly clever, intelligent, superior. Sneezing is easier than working or thinking (thinking right). My posts in this thread are a result (among several possible results) of about 50 years of reading all possible books and articles (including here at TOCH) and, most important, of OWN THINKING and correcting myself. About 12 years ago I wrote to Larry Hockey: "I History own thinking is the most important commodity." Those who don't perform any own thinking act hardly better than parrots and they repeat the old stupid clichés and legends (like, for example, "the 1940 French air force did not achieve anything and destroyed only 3 enemy aircraft"), and repeat and repeat and repeat...

B. Of course I know most of the legends and aggressive libelling in this field and I have to prove these wrong. Doing otherwise is hardly possible. Here are a few examples : several British book-authors wrote that, during the French Campaign, French airmen were not interested in the least when the Germans were bombing the nearby city (often they mention Arras in N. France) but kept « drinking their vermouth (sic) in fashionable bars » instead of rushing into their fighters and chasing the enemy bombers. I won’t even comment on such ludicrous nonsense but give a sensational piece of information : it is perfecly possible that French airmen did not take off with fighters etc. A large part of airmen – at least in France – were NOT fighter pilots but various members of bomber or other units, often having come back from some mission in which they lost a large part of their unit comrades. Not even all aircrew flying in bombers were (bomber) pilots. Most of them had other duties onboard, like the navigator, the gunners etc. What a sensation to discover this 79 years after these events! Perhaps I am a genius after all, a verbose genius.

Examples : (Extracts from Paul Martin’s book « Invisibles vainqueurs », 1991) On May 11, 1940, 18 low-level light bombers Breguet 693 (2 men onboard, 1 cannon and 2-4 machine-guns, bombs 400 kg) were ordered to make a low-level attack on German columns on the roads in Belgium. Of these 18 AC 10 were destroyed with 4 aircrew killed, 6 wounded, 2 parachuted, and 10 (wounded or not) were taken prisoners by the Huns. Aircraft loss rate : 10 from 18, which is 55.56 % - in one single mission. In some cases RAF light bombers („Battle“) fared hardly better or even worse.

After such a mission the surviving aircrew had every right to drink whatever they wished including in fashionable bars and, being bomber aircrews, there was no way for them to attack German bombers.

On May 16 French bomber units lost 12 various aircraft with 9 killed, 10 wounded and 4 parachuted. I feel the survivors had every right to drink whatever they drank including "vermouth“ (sic).

On May 31 French bomber units lost 16 AC and 29 aircrew killed, 10 wounded and 11 parachuted. I feel… (see above).

And on it went until the end. Of course British armchair „historians“ are unable to imagine that bomber crews could sit in bars and have a drink after hours of flight and heavy losses. RAF Bomber Command was very different: after their missions BC aircrew, including gunners, radio-operators, navigators etc., jumped immediately into fighter cockpits and fought the German aggressors.

Other "historians“, or possibly the same experts, wrote (in books…) that French fighter pilots were taking cover in their concrete shelters whereas the nearby city, or their own airfield, was being bombed by the Huns. I strongly doubt that any French airfield was equipped with concrete shelters. Approximately 160 of these fighter pilots (from an initial number of roughly 800) were killed in action but in roughly 5 weeks only (38 days), which is a loss rate of 20 % killed or 16 % in just one month, not counting the badly wounded ones. After only 6 months of this none would have been left (alive).

C. As I wrote in my very first post of this thread French fighter scores of 1940 « are a difficult field of research ». Maybe you are beginning to understand at last that this statement was perfectly true. Certainly a big book, or several ones, could be written on this question alone. No wonder my posts are comparatively long for I want the readers to know why I claim this or that – not like Adolf Hitler ("I am right, period!") and all his innumerable impersonators in the years 1933-2100 and beyond.

D. Something else: I am really very short of time, you have no idea. Editing all my posts very strictly in order to reduce their length significantly would take a lot of time. It is always very time-consuming to reduce the length of a text without losing the actual contents and meaning.

Keith : « …it seems certain that the RAF claims were a substantial part of Luftwaffe losses in the Battle of France. »

- « It seems » and « certain » is a contradiction. You had plenty of time to correct it. Substantial ? It depends on what you mean with "substantial". Nobody disputes that RAF fighters did destroy scores of enemy AC but I do dispute "with the last ounce of energy", as diplomat Brian Cull put it in TDIM, that the number of their victims (shot down only, not counting the damaged ones) was significantly over 200 including "Nine Days Around Dunkerque" (evacuation operation Dynamo). Taking the very adverse circumstances and combat conditions this is a rather flattering result. Claiming 500 or even 700 or 900 RAF victories is quite simply ridiculous. They had neither the time nor the numbers to achieve this.

In a preceding post I made a very rough estimation (TOO rough) : almost 1,500 German losses (not including damaged AC) : 200 E/A to the Dutch, 200 to the RAF, 200 to all AA and AAA. 3 times 200 is purely coincidental.

I alresady explained why I feel that Williamson Murray’s table III, on which you rely, is partially wrong : « 169 Me 109s destroyed by enemy action » / plus « 66 without enemy action ». I consider this impossible. Now let’s try to make a tighter assessment in order to give a few victories on Me 109s back to the RAF. I claim that the number of 109s lost due to enemy action was not 169 but AT LEAST 235 with a maximum of 20 (not 66) "not due to enemy action" and this could turn out to be only 10 not 20. If we accept at least 162 certain victories for French fighters this leaves at least 73 Me 109s destroyed by the RAF, the Dutch, the Belgians and AA. This evaluation is still quite rough because, for example, 200 E/A destroyed by the Dutch could be exaggerated by myself. It could be 180 for part of the German AC lost were the victims of non-Dutch enemies : RAF, the French etc. « Possible » Me 109s rise to about 93 now. Last but not least, the real performance of AA and AAA is very difficult to assess. On top of this most aviation enthusiasts credit AA with victories only grudgingly because, of course, this lowers the number of victories won by their beloved fighters. I was like this myself but I have came round : we must accept that AA destroyed quite a few E/A too. But how many ? I wanted not to be mean and said, ”OK, let’s say roughly 200”. There is no evidence for this. It could be 150 as well (but not lower, I consider this hardly possible in front of often excellent British, Belgian and French AA – Dutch AA was taken into account already). As I already explained in a preceding post the Germans had, and still have, the bad habit of camouflaging combat losses as so-called "accidents“… caused by enemy gunfire or by Allied pressure. Now, if you still believe the unbelievable, i.e. that RAF fighters shot down MORE German AC than French fighters did, please explain why and give some solid evidence for this. I wish you good luck! Please note : the real Battle of France started on June 5 with the German attack called "Fall Rot" (Red Case, or Red Operation). The war from May 10 through June 24, including the Battle of France (June 5-24), was the FRENCH CAMPAIGN. I did not coin this phrase myself, it’s much older than that and I find it all right. Churchill mentioned "the Battle of France“, etc. but he had no idea and he had some other concerns at the time.

Keith: „…French pilots fought well but their fighters were very poor and were barely able to compete with even the poorest of the Luftwaffe designs.“

Sorry Keith but this statement proves that you have hardly any serious information. This quotation sounds exactly like all the innumerable English books I know, which never can stress strongly enough how weak, feeble, powerless France was, especially in the air, and how wonderful the Britishers were. This is a ridiculous old dusty English cliché. It has no connection to reality. The actual, terrible French weakness was the incredible incompetence, stupidity and sluggishness of the French Army top brass: Marshal Pétain (still influential) and the generals named Gamelin, Georges, Huntziger and more . They had SEVERAL opportunities to stop the Germans and even to inflict a devastating defeat on them but no, they were so dumb that they almost never did the right thing, often the obvious thing. Possibly, too, they did not want the Armée de l’Air to win the battle for them (Ardennes-breakthrough), which would have damaged their immense pride for they led "the best army in the world" (sic).

The British were hardly better. Without the water of the best antitank obstacle in the world*, the Pas de Calais and the French Channel West of Calais and Boulogne, they would have been licked exactly like the French - no, not exactly lik the French but much, much worse for they had hardly any army at all and even less tanks (France had more than 3,000 good tanks), artillery etc., and the German army would have occupied Kent, London, Wales, Scotland, Belfast, Derry and the Orkney Islands.

* Except of course the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans which protected America even better against the German and Japanese hordes.

Keith: „…their fighters were very poor and were barely able to compete with even the poorest of the Luftwaffe designs“

- This is, almost verbatim, what Stephen Bungay wrote in his book "The most dangerous enemy“, namely this:

„of course (or: obviously) French aircraft designs were not of the same quality“ (sic) but... (but French aircraft did contribute to the weakening of the Luftwaffe).

This is the typical, incredible, jingoistic statement which has been being poured from England over the whole world for almost 80 years. Here is the truth as I discovered it at last:

1940 England had ONE excellent aircraft: the Supermarine « Spitfire », and this in relatively small numbers (150-200 IIRC).

1940 France had at least HALF A DOZEN excellent aircraft designs, most of them being massively produced already : Breguet 693 (cannon-armed light assault bomber), Bloch 155 (a much-improved 152), Bloch 174-75 (a French "Mosquito" so to speak but years ahead of the British De Havilland "Mosquito"), LeO 45 (hundreds ot these were produced, all cannon-armed…), Amiot 351-354, Dewoitine 520, Arsenal VG-33 and more (the list is long). A part of these were produced only in small quantities because the German ARMY invaded France but with the same antitank sea as England France would have had the time to produce all of these designs in large numbers (hundreds of AC each). Superlative aero-engines were coming soon but it was a little too late, the Huns were there (not so in England behind the sea).

"...barely able to compete with even the poorest of the Luftwaffe designs" - this is pure wishful thinking. I need not answer such nonsense.

I often insist on the excellent French cannon HS 404, the H meaning Hispano, the S Suiza (adopted by the RAF too as main fighter armament, as « Hispano » cannon). This is not uninteresting for waging war, even in the air, means using weapons. Very often he who has superior weapons wins the war. From 1941 on RAF fighters would have had very bleak prospects witout the superlative French cannon which allowed them AT LAST to destroy German AC with relative ease.

Please dear reader don’t repeat all the propaganda and jingoistic stuff printed in one-sided English books which systematically glorify the RAF and denigrate everything south of the French channel. This is not History, it is libelling with the aim of making "us wonderful Britons" look much better than anybody else.

More details and numerous aircraft or Galland photographs here:

- To be cont’d -

Last edited by rof120; 28th October 2019 at 16:18.
Old 28th October 2019, 19:27
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"Offensive thing"?

Originally Posted by keith A View Post

Cut and numbers added by me, rof120:

1. By the way "so, as my brother used to put it, they had pretensions ”like a drunk woman”.

2. is about the most offensive thing I have ever seen on this forum. I am surprised that no-one else commented on this but maybe it's because your posts are so so very long.

3. Your brother, and you are morons if you think this is an appropriate argument. I am astonished the moderators failed to notice this. I HOPE this is an oversight on their part.

4. You, however neeed to grow your brother twelve?

1. You must be out of your mind. This was just a harmless little joke (and, needless to say, not insulting to any women).

2. Obviously you didn't read all genuinely (and disgustingly) offensive posts… which never were erased.

3. Thank you for the morons. Nobody considers "this" an appropriate argument. My brother-the-moron was trained at the French officers' academy of "Saint-Cyr" (admission after a hard competitive examination) and he became a captain with the French paratroopers at their main base of Pau. I was a reserve-officer with the Armée de l'Air and a combat aircrew (after a tough competitive examination at academic level including mathematics, languages and geography - every sixteenth (16th) candidate was accepted but all had the necessary education level) but 17 years after WW II (not drinking "my vermouth" whereas enemies bombed the nearby city, and not hiding in any concrete shelter either).

4. I'll do my best to grow up even though I'm older than 70. I never give up this hope.

My brother the paratrooper officer died in my own arms at the age of 42 (a purely civilian death, not in some war - too bad isn't it).

More on victories (on page 2), air tactics, Adolf Galland, numerous aircraft photographs of many kinds etc. here:

Last edited by rof120; 3rd November 2019 at 18:13.
Old 17th November 2019, 20:19
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Fighter losses in combat and in ACCIDENTS

I fear I’ll be « verbose » again because discussing this matter seriously in 2 lines is not possible but don’t worry (if at all) for it’s nearly the last time ; for explanations see

In one of the preceding posts we had a discussion on the credibility of 162 « certain » victories won by French fighters on Me 109s during the French Campaign (May 10-June 24, 1940). Williamson Murray, an excellent American historian, gives the figures of 169 lost in combat in May-June (including May 1-9) and 66 more lost in accidents (see W.M.’s book « Luftwaffe – Strategy for Defeat 1933-1945 », table III (numerical strength and various losses, etc.). Someone observed that 162 out of 169 Me 109s for French fighters leaves only 7 to other enemies, which of course is too few. I remarked that 169 combat losses is NOT CREDIBLE even though Murray is a very good man and very interesting but I feel he is much more active in theory, high above the clouds, than in concrete, low-level facts like daily losses in combat etc.

66 Me 109s lost in accidents would be 39 % of the combat losses, which hardly anybody can believe, I think. What’s more, Me 109s were involved in an extremely hard, very fierce air war in which their technical superiority (Me 109 Es only were used, no Bs, Cs or Ds any more in the battle area) made it possible for German fighter pilots to win very numerous victories (not as much as some people, in particular Germans and a few Frenchmen, claim, i.a in all too long victory tables, but very numerous indeed). This superiority was the result of a good design too (as a whole) but almost exclusively of a very powerful, excellent engine made by Daimler-Benz (DB 601), which featured fuel injection in the cylinders, a very significant improvement (this was in the pipe in France too with Hispano-Suiza engines which would have been used from about August on – not at all in the UK).

According to at least one German source which can be taken seriously albeit not believed blindly ("Der Spiegel") not 169 Me 109s or 235 (including accidents) were lost but 535 (without raising the total number of German losses including bombers etc.), which I deem much more credible and explains a lot of things. Perhaps it’s not exactly 535 but this doesn’t matter much for the reasoning right here.

As I remarked already in this same thread « superior » does not mean ”invincible”, not at all. Yes the 109s fought a lot and won a large number of real victories (many on helpless enemies like British bombers including the poor Fairey "Battles" and ”Blenheim IVs”, Gloster ”Gladiator” biplanes (belonging to Norwegian, Belgian and British air forces), various Allied recce and close recce AC and more, and many other German victories on various Allied fighters : Morane 406s, Hurricanes, Spitfires (in the 9 days of the Dunkerque operation only), Bloch 152s, Curtiss H-75s, even about 48 superlative Dewoitine 520s and miscellaneous types. Nobody can imagine that even a superior fighter could fight (mainly) two strong air forces – French and British – without sustaining heavy losses in combat, not to mention those destroyed (certainly several dozen) by return fire from Allied bombers and recce AC.

Yes the engine performance of Me 109s made them clearly better than all Allied fighters except Dewoitine 520s (which were used in non-negligible numbers, about 100 on average) and Spitfires, which in May-June 1940 were hardly engaged in higher numbers than the D.520s. Even during the Battle of Britain (roughly 2 months later) Spitfires were only about 1/3 of roughly 600 RAF fighters in spite of a strongly rising production in aircraft factories. I made the following remark already : yes most French AND BRITISH fighters including Hurricanes, Gladiators, Blenheim Is and Defiants, were clearly inferior as compared to the Me 109 but this does not mean « useless », « worthless » or « helpless ». Quite on the contrary : they shot down hundreds and hundreds and hundreds more of German aircraft of all kinds including several hundred Me 109s (and Allied AA made a contribution too). Dutch fighters, too, fought with great distinction just like Dutch AAA and Army units and they did shoot down quite a few « Huns ».

How many 109s exactly were destroyed in combat, that is a question, but according to myself certainly many more than W. Murray’s 169, a doubtful figure found in German documents translated into American… 1,016 engaged 109s faced roughly 1,000 Allied fighters of acceptable quality even though most of them clearly were not as good as 109s. Of these 1,016 Me 109s a number had to be held back in Germany to protect the coasts and vital areas like Hamburg, Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Berlin, the Ruhr region and more. How many were held back ? I can’t remember but we can find this figure in J. Prien’s volume 3 (JFV, purple series), in which the bases of all German fighter units are given (my copy is still in a box). I guess about 150 of these Me 109 Es were held back in the rear area. This leaves about 870 for the main battle area. Same thing for the Allied fighters, which had to protect some vital areas in the rear too.

Most people dealing with aircraft losses, or all of them, give the percentage of losses in accidents on the basis of total losses (combat + accidents) of which accidents are a part so let us do this here too.

For French fighter losses in combat and in accidents my only source at the moment is the book « Invisibles vainqueurs » (1991), by Paul Martin and publisher-historian Yves Michelet (Martin contributed, among other things, all statistics in this book) :

Fighter type / Lost in combat
including to Flak, excluding
losses on the ground (bombs…)

MS 406 123
MB 152 72
Curtiss H-75 55

Lost in accidents: 3 MS 406s, 7 MB 152s, 1 Curtiss H-75 1

So according to W. Murray (table III) Me 109 losses on operations were 235 including 66 in accidents (28 % of 235).

According to Paul Martin French fighter losses for the three mentioned types were 250 in combat plus 11 in accidents (11 is about 4.2 % of 261).

If the 109s really had such a high loss rate in accidents these fighters were terrible, or their pilots were. I believe none of these two explanations is correct. Conversely I don’t believe Martin’s accident figures, which I feel are much too low. Surely there were more accidents than that on the French side. I suspect that a large part of the French accidents was not registered : no documents availabe, O my God! How terrible not to have good documents on this. But I think yes, such documents exist in the French archive.

Provisionally I have no other possibility than making an evaluation, an educated guess. For Me 109s I guess about 10 % of all losses were accidents (air battles were very intensive and as a whole combat losses were high), which with Murray’s figures is 23 or 24. Let us say 24, which leaves 211 for combat losses including to Allied AA and rear-gunners, together about 20 % at most, which is approximately 11, leaving about 200 to Allied fighters (95 %). Obviously all these figures are rough evaluations. I hope I’ll be able to refine them in the future but even as they are today they give a much more realistic picture of the whole. 200 Me 109s lost to Allied fighters is much more like it (not to mention about 508, which is 95 % of « Der Spiegel’s » total figure of 535 ; 90 % of 535 would be 482). According to me approximately 500 Me 109s shot down by Allied fighters could be too high a figure but it is much closer to reality than 200 or even than 95 % of Murray’s 169, which is 161! A more realistic assessment would be near 450, taking AA and rear-gunners into account.

This particular research is not finished but I am quite confident that it will be possible to come very close to reality, possibly in the next weeks or months. Take care.

Last edited by rof120; 19th November 2019 at 13:55.
Old 19th November 2019, 15:15
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Messerschmitt 109 losses, 1940

I think I made it clear enough that the Me 109's superiority (except against Spitfires and Dewoitine 520s) did not make it invulnerable to gunfire of all kinds. According to "Der Spiegel" (Germany) no less than 535 Me 109s were lost (destroyed) to all causes during the French Campaign alone (May 10-June 24, 1940), including accidents and losses to AA, rear-gunners of Allied bombers and recce AC and of course all Allied fighters including Dutch and British ones, and mainly the 912 deployed French fighters (as of May 10).

It is possible that "535" is not quite accurate but in any case, with all my knowledge of this matter, I find it perfectly possible.

Certainly some people don't believe it or… refuse to believe it. All right, look at another well-known GERMAN SOURCE: "Die Jagdfliegerverbände der deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945", volume 3, by Jochen Prien et al (The Fighter Units of the German Air Force 1934-1945), purple series, often mentioned as JFV (here volume 3). The story is set out for every Jagdgruppe of 40 fighters and for the "Stab" (staff) of 4. The author(s) give, among other information, the numerical strength of all (? - my copy is in a box) engaged Me 109-units at different dates, like 40 on May 9 or 10 (before missions were flown) and, quite typically, 17 about June 10, 14 or 18. I can't be more precise for the moment because my copy of this interesting book is not available right now but if you own a copy yourself you can have a look at these tables of numerical strength. If I remember correctly several Me 109 "Gruppen" had only 17 fighters left around the middle of June and the number of operational pilots (which could be sent into battle) was strongly reduced too, both in spite of received replacement aircraft and pilots. I guess the numerical strength in fighters had been reduced to about 20 or 25 at best on average for all "Gruppen" (40 at the beginning).

This reduction of the numerical strength of Me 109 units is very impressive.

You can also look at the total aircraft losses (destroyed AC only) suffered by the Luftwaffe in both great air campaigns of 1940 according to American historian Williamson Murray:

French Campaign : 1,428
almost exclusively from May 10 through June 15. From June 16 through June 24 only a few aircraft were lost every day, or none at all, on both sides. So the Luftwaffe lost approximately 1,420 AC in 37 days (on average: 1,150 in a month of 30 days)

Battle of Britain (July 10-September 30): 1,636 in 83 days, which is 591 for a month of 30 days.

According to these figures the German loss rate was almost twice as high over France and the Benelux countries as over the UK (in the BoB).

I have to add that Murray's German loss figure for the BoB is by about 200 higher than the usually mentioned figure (1,428, and 1,469 in the French Campaign). This is possibly one of the consequences of using an American translation of German documents. If we use the most frequently published figures the above-mentioned loss rates per month become:

1,191 over France etc.

516 in the BoB.

In this case the German loss rate over France etc. was clearly higher than twice the BoB loss rate.

This does not belittle the achievements of the RAF in the BoB. There the aim was NOT to destroy a maximum number of enemy aircraft but to survive as an operational (usable) air force and still be around in spite of German attacks. This goal was perfectly achieved by the RAF thanks to excellent leaders: Dowding and Park.

It does not belittle the achievements of the RAF in the BoB and it proves that French fighters put up a terrific fight in May-June 1940 for nobody can believe that about 100 Hurricanes and a few Gladiators (!), "Defiants" and Blenheim fighters (! again) (reinforced by more squadrons but they all suffered very high losses) did almost all of the job - supplemented by RAF 11 Group during the 9 days of the Dunkerque air battle. 11 Group had a numerical strength of about 250 fighters (Spitfires too) and Dowding refused to engage more fighters than these above Dunkerque. (Fighter Command then had about 600 fighters.) According to myself the Luftwaffe lost about 90 AC to RAF fighters in the Dunkerque battle (at the same time the fighting went on against the French in other areas) even though optimistic RAF fighter pilots claimed about 400. They fought as best they could and the British soldiers there were very unfair to them, accusing the RAF of doing nothing against the German air attacks which terrorized these terrible warriors. French Fighters for their part still had a numerical strength of 600-800 (I can't be more precise right now).

The 1940 French fighter arm deserves the utmost respect and admiration for its bravery and its outstanding achievements (just as the RAF fighter boys for their achievements both over France etc. and in the BoB). This is quite simply the truth, it is reality - I hope I proved it in the above text. It is about time to admit this fact at last, which does NOT lower other people's merits.

Last edited by rof120; 19th November 2019 at 18:06.
Old 19th November 2019, 18:32
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Re: French fighter scores, mainly 1939-1940

Well then. A book, or several books, appear to be in order. Minus the personal asides of course.

Old 19th November 2019, 19:05
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An important detail

Williamson Murray's book "Luftwaffe etc." is most interesting and very useful even though most readers who are writers too did not understand what he was talking about (Murray did) and foolishly took his "Losses as Percentage of Initial Strength" (last column of tables III - French Campaign - and IX - Battle of Britain -) as the loss percentage in combat, which is seriously wrong because the actually engaged force was much less numerous than the "initial force". For example the latter was 1,369 for Me 109s on 4 May 1940 but "only" 1,016 were actually deployed. This means that no less than 353 Messerschmitt 109 fighters existed but were NOT engaged in combat (more than 1/3 of the engaged force - possibly Me 109 B, C or Ds...). The late Patrick Facon, historian with the historical dept. of the Armée de l'Air, is one of those who didn't understand and hence drew wrong conclusions "proving" how ineffective French fighters were. Facon is a highly-respected historian (not by myself) and his works are often quoted… Big sigh…

Apart from this W. Murray indicates that 169 Me 109s were lost in combat (table III). In table V we can see that the "Number of fighter pilot casualties" was… 169 too. This can be true - such a coincidence is possible when publishing so many figures and statistics. Nevertheless it would mean that almost every single Me 109 destroyed in combat had a killed pilot too. Accidents caused some casualties but in very many cases the pilots survived accidents on take-off or landing, in particular if caused by the narrow undercarriage, and some other accidents too (this seems to have changed later in the war because green German pilots were by far not as good as 1940, but we are discussing only 1940 here).

As I explained in previous posts I don't believe that Me 109 losses IN COMBAT (including losses to AA and air-gunners) were as low as Murray's 169 (some error or misunderstanding probably occurred) and I believe that they were much higher than that, something like approximately 420-430 (plus losses to other causes than air combat - taking "Der Spiegel's" total figure of 535 as a basis). This makes 169 pilot casualties much more credible for, as far as I know, approximately one fighter pilot died for every three destroyed fighters (roughly 1/3). But unfortunately I don't know if we can trust this figure of 169 killed. Perhaps someone has more precise information, possibly from Prien's JFV volume 3.
Old 28th November 2019, 21:57
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A first striking example

Hello again dear, faithful readers,

If you know any details on the famous French-German air battle on November 6, 1939 (see below), I would be very grateful if you could share these details with me or with everybody (right here in this thread).

By the way, your comments are always welcome even, or rather in particular, if you dare disagree with me. Either you're right and I am grateful for having learned something thanks to you, or you're wrong and I can help you perfect your knowledge.
(Who - I'm asking you - knew that the Germans lost slightly more aircraft during the French Campaign (only 38 days of real fighting) than in the Battle of Britain (83 days), so that the German loss rate was about twice as high in May-June 1940 as in July-September (BoB)?)

Today I was in the hands of the dentist again. I hope I have all your sympathy for my suffering and bravery. But most of you certainly are similar victims and martyrs. In order to console everybody I’ll give you a first example of what I consider one of the great differences between French victory claims (I did not write « fighter pilots’ claims » - on purpose) and victory claims filed in other air forces.

There is a great difference and I feel I was not clear enough in my preceding posts so I have to apologise. As far as air victories are concerned the French system for claim filing, screening and official confirmation was entirely different from what the corresponding procedures, IF ANY, were in other air forces. The German system is well-known: one man only for one victory. The RAF procedure is not quite clear in the minds of many persons because it changed strongly in the course of the war and eventually even included the film footage shot at the same time as the firing of guns (1940 the French had nothing of this kind and it was not widespread in other air forces).

I am discussing only 1940 French victories here, nothing else like 1942 or 1943-45 or the Free French aircrew - which is an entirely different story - because almost everybody in the world believes that 1940 there were only a few French victories or none at all – which is the contrary of reality – and that French fighters were very few and far between – but actually 1940 there were more French fighters in first-line units than within the RAF and ON AVERAGE their quality and effectiveness in combat were about even in both countries. Some misguided fanatics even believe that French aircrew would not fight – I need not comment on such stupidity. In May-June 1940 (French Campaign) the Luftwaffe lost combat aircraft (Ju 52s being eliminated from this calculation) at roughly double the rate of the Battle of Britain (per week or per month on average), of course with significant Dutch, Belgian and British contributions as well as AA successes. As I already remarked this does not mean that the RAF was not really good in the BoB for the combat conditions and goals were entirely different: the main British goal was not to destroy as many E/A as possible but to remain « in being » with a strong fighter force to reckon with, which made a German invasion impossible (assuming it would have been possible at all, which is doubtful).

The following is what everybody who is interested in the 1940 air war – including the BoB - has to grasp and be aware of:

The 1940 French victory figures are NOT the victory claims made by fighter pilots. They are what unit COs (escadrille leaders leading about 15 pilots and mainly their direct superior officers the commandants de groupes leading about 30-36), claims filed as what these units (the groupes de chasse or GCs) thought was their victories of the day after screening and assessing what the pilots or their CO claimed, knowing in advance that victory claims would be scrutinized very exactly so it didn’t make any sense to file any unserious claims. There was some overclaiming (by very far not as hair-raising as within Luftwaffe and RAF), yes, but underclaiming too. These reports were forwarded to French Air HQ for processing and for official confirmation too. Most victories were never confirmed because the Germans were so unfair and occupied French airfields, barracks, HQs and… farms, where they « freed » good food and good wine. From about 700-900 actual victories (depending on sources) it seems that HQ had the time to confirm only 245 before the whole paperwork broke down and vanished. Obviously this does NOT prove that French fighters won only 245 victories; exactly the same problem was encountered by GERMAN fighter pilots at the end of WW II: thousands (?) of real German victories were never « bestätigt » (confirmed).

Now an example – an air battle, well-known or even famous, at least in France. On November 6, 1939, nine Curtiss H-75 fighters of GC II/5 led by lieutenant Houzé met “27” Me 109s at an altitude of about 6,000-7,000 meters. There was a terrific, long dogfight. After landing the French pilots reported having shot down ten (10) Me 109s, of which 2 crashed in Germany. Eventually 4 (four) “victoires sûres” were credited to them as well as 6 “victoires probables”. You can see that the alleged “French overclaiming” had very strong limitations.

It seems that the German pilots identified Lt Houzé's fighter as the French leader's aircraft and he had to fight half a dozen 109s. Eventually he escaped and made a belly-landing with his badly shot-up fighter. Ten to one for the French, it seemed! But 2 more Curtisses had to make forced landings (one because of fuel starvation), so that we can (today) say: 8 to 3 for the French. Not one single French fighter was destroyed, all were intact or repairable. The whole Allied press (in the UK too) reported this story as a fascinating event and evidence of French superiority in air combat. This air battle is well-known in France as “le combat des neuf (9) contre vingt-sept (27)”, which means 3 German fighters against every French opponent. At the time the French reported “about 20” Me 109s flying at about the same altitude as they did, plus 7 (counted by Houzé, it seems) flying higher. I doubt that these figures were, and are, accurate, for the Germans flew in pairs (Rotte), in double pairs (Schwarm) and in multiples of these except, of course, if some aircraft had engine trouble or similar problems and had to turn back. The first formation of 20 is quite possible but 7 is not very likely: it probably was rather 8 (2 Schwärme), except in the case of engine trouble etc. Experience shows that pilots very often saw more enemy aircraft than actually were there so these 27 could have been anything from 12 + 8 (20) to 16 + 8 (24) or even 28. Precise data from the German side would be most welcome.

The French pilots claimed 10 victories if I remember correctly. Eventually four (4) “victoires sûres” and 6 (six) “victoires probables” were credited to them. In Peter Cornwell’s big book TBOFTN (page 112) we can find 5 Me 109s destroyed and 3 damaged. Only one victim of sgt Legrand is mentioned but even long after the war he reported two shot down in his book “Chasseurs en vue, on attaque!” and I have a strong tendency to believe him. We have no evidence that German documents mention all the losses suffered in this air battle. I can’t remember J. Prien’s version: anybody?

This air battle was a disaster for the Luftwaffe and this event reached the nazi political level for Göring was not only the LW’s supreme commander but also the nazi regime’s N° 2 after Hitler. He summoned the unit’s CO, Hauptmann (captain) Johannes Gentzen, to report in Berlin. This unit, JGr. 102, was disbanded and its pilots were incorporated into a new “Zerstörergruppe”, in theory flying Me 110s but at this time many of the “Zerstörer” AC were still Me 109 Cs or Ds. According to various Internet-sources Gentzen was the only German "ace" of the Polish Campaign with 7 confirmed victories, but the Luftwaffe did not use the Allied word (coined during WW I) nor the notion of "ace". Later the best German fighter pilots (having won at least several dozen victories) were called "Experten". Gentzen won an 8th victory on November 8 (a Morane 406) and a 9th on April 9, 1940 (a Curtiss - for revenge), and he was killed on May 26, 1940, in an accident when taking off in an emergency in his Me 110 C, his airfield being attacked by British bombers. Interestingly I found some Internet-articles discussing Gentzen and his career, or JGr. 102, but… none of these even mentions the air battle on November 6, a German disaster. This is very typical: in one single encounter French fighters destroyed at least 5 out of about 28 (?) German fighters and damaged at least 3 but nobody knows about it nor mentions it. It's not fashionable even to mention actual French successes (in this case a triumph which became known worldwide - see P. Cornwell's book, page 112). No wonder most people know nothing on French fighters or only the usual libelling and insults ("refused to fight" etc.).

The German losses included two “Staffelkapitäne” (Oberleutnants) killed as well as one more Lt captured unhurt by the French. These three pilots can hardly have been beginners, and the death of two Staffelkapitäne (corresponding each a RAF Sqn Leader as far as numbers are concerned) within a few minutes was a very hard blow. One more German pilot was wounded and another one was taken prisoner by the French. Pilot losses, at least provisionally: 5. I don't know if the Gruppenkommander of JGr. 102 - Hauptmann Johannes Gentzen - took part in this air battle, and I would like to know. I consider it very likely. P. Cornwell mentions Me 109s from Stab and 1., 2. and 3./JGr.102 so that it seems that the whole Gruppe (3 Staffeln and the Gruppenstab) took part in this air battle. One Luftwaffe-fighter Gruppe had a complement of 40 fighters including the Stabsschwarm (4 AC), of which about 70 % (28 fighters) were serviceable. Evidence of French and German origins match fine.

We have to remember that on this day JGr. 102 was flying obsolescent Me 109 Ds, which were being replaced, from September through December 1939, by the much-improved Me 109 E. It was much better mainly because of a much stronger engine with fuel injection (DB 601 a) made by Daimler-Benz. Before the 109 Es arrived French fighters Curtiss H-75 (4 Groupes de chasse) and Morane-Saulnier MS 406 (7 groupes) (and British Hurricanes) clearly had the edge over Me 109s, MS 406s not least thanks to their very effective cannon HS 9 or HS 404 (with almost doubled rate of fire: 600-700 rounds/minute). With the Me 109 Es this edge was reversed (provisionally). You can’t win all the time. It seems that by December 1939 at the latest all Me 109 Ds had been replaced by Es in first-line units.

This thread has been viewed more than 3,000 times already. It could rise to 4,000 or even 5,000 and more, given time. 3,000 in less than 2 months is very satisfactory because this subject (1940 French victories) is one of the worst-known of the entire WW II and also one of those which were the victims of the worst authors (many being British, but mainly French authors) and the worst research and publications except in a few magazine issues like "avions", in particular 2 special issues on 1939-1940 French aces - "Les As français 1939-1940" (83 pilots IIRC). Let us hope that this gap in the knowledge of WW II will be closed.

Remember please: the German air force lost as many combat aircraft in the French Campaign (virtually in 38 days) as in the Battle of Britain (83 days) which followed, but in half the time, over France and Benelux, as compared to the duration of the BoB.

Last edited by rof120; 30th November 2019 at 17:05.
Old 30th November 2019, 19:01
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"Of course"

Originally Posted by edwest2 View Post
Well then. A book, or several books, appear to be in order. Minus the personal asides of course.
Hi Mr. wizzard (not a warlock),

Could you please be more specific and tell us exactly what you call "the personal asides"? Clearly this is a direct personal attack but I don't care more than for my first socks in life when my age was 2 months. "Of course". As Bungay wrote in his book "The Most Dangerous Enemy", "of course" (sic, or perhaps "obviously") "French aircraft production was not of the same quality". Hee hee hee. In fact this is true for the French aircraft production was much better than in other countries with numerous excellent or even superlative designs which were actually produced in hundreds of models each: LeO 45 (over 500 made before German infantry occupied land and factories), Breguet 693 (several hundred), Dewoitine 520 (over 400), Bloch 174-175 (only less than one hundred but production was rising steeply) etc.; there are many more, as I already explained. So "of course" ought to be used more carefully.

You have every right not to like what I write. Denigrating me is another matter. You're reacting like about 99 % of all human beings when confronted with something new, anything, which they weren't used to before, like the Earth not being flat and not being the center of the Universe. They burned you for claiming such absurd things. Do you want to burn me because I do not admire German, British and mainly US aircrew fanatically enough? (Not the French either, I'm just matter-of-fact in fact Mr. Usual Disclaimer). I fear what I wrote on French aircraft production with its superb designs, on French fighter victories and on the horrendous German losses, suffered mainly (not exclusively) at the hands of tough, die-hard French fighter pilots, was a great surprise to almost everybody except perhaps a few "frogs". I feel 1940 Dutch fighter pilots were possibly just as good as the French or perhaps even better. Just look at the details given by Peter Cornwell on German losses 10-14 May, 1940. I think I didn't stress this strongly enough. Too bad there were too few of them and the NL stopped fighting after a few days (5 days but they gave the Germans a good taste of their own medicine).

Like it or not: the Earth is not flat and Washington is NOT the centre of the Universe.

It seems that some people simply can't stand praise for French aircrew (except for Free French, who IMHO were more than okay). What's the matter with such people?

Mr. Wizzard don't feel offensively attacked if some facts (I stress FACTS) disagree with your old errors, clichés and illusions.

Oh yes I could write some posts as short as yours: "You're wrong, learn better." - is that short enough or am I still verbose? In the eyes of some intolerant people, often fanatics, I am ALWAYS verbose, no matter what I do including writing ONE WORD. Bleah bleah bleah! Too bad I respect the readers (not only you) and I feel I have to explain things which not everybody in the world is aware of.

Everybody is able to skip what he finds too long, unnecessary or boring.

Usual disclaimer.

Last edited by rof120; 1st December 2019 at 20:28.
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