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  #61  
Old 7th August 2008, 07:24
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Re: Book on French AF 1939-40?

As far as Douglas is being ridiculous, I'd like to counter that we have an autobiography of a high ranking RAF officer versus the "logic" and guesses of a post war enthusiast. Now unless the enthusiast has hard data to clearly show that the visit didn't take place, or at a different date, or with different participants, I will continue to take Douglas' word over the educated guesses of the enthusiast, no matter what "logic" these guesses are wrapped in.

Within the chaos of that period, the purpose of visit has both urgency and reason behind it. It isn't as ridiculous as you assume with hindsight.

Douglas is not a hero of mine, nor do I place the RAF on a pedestal.

That the french were valiant, I have no doubt, but there is also no doubt that they also had problems of moral. Plenty of examples on the ground, there are no reasons to assume that the air component was entirely free of said phenomena. It takes a while to recover from a shock.

So unless there is hard evidence I find credible that:

1. visit took place
2. fighters were present
3. a limited number took off
4. field was bombed
5. left bad impression on Douglas

The rest is (also) interpretation and (also) subjective, unless proven by documents or at least similar sources. Actually I'd give up fighting this "infamous quote" unless supported by strong evidence instead of guessing. Without this, you'd better concentrate on events which proof your general point, but which are backed up with hard data.

Now before you grow a fit, I do see the French air force as an important and undervalued participant in the fighting in the West. However, and I've written this before in similar threads, proving the point is all about method.
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  #62  
Old 7th August 2008, 11:12
Grozibou
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Ridiculous?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski View Post
...instead of suggesting that Zumbach had no knowledge about fighter tactics. The latter makes you just ridiculous.
- Did I suggest such a thing? When? Where? Please be exact.

Who is ridiculous?
  #63  
Old 7th August 2008, 11:17
Grozibou
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Stand by!

My dear Ruy, my dear, dear, adored sweet Franek, you're wonderful and so clever but alas real life is catching up with me and I have a few other duties so I can't explain extremely obvious things for you for the 100th time (it seems you can't read English properly or that you don't want to...).

Once more we can see that the 1940 French air force is the only air force in the world which can be insulted at will by all possible incompetent, dirty people. This is a little strange indeed. There must be some explanation...

Don't worry : I'm not forgetting you. I'll be back.
  #64  
Old 8th August 2008, 14:50
Grozibou
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Air battles on June 3, 1940, and during the FC

Air battles on June 3, 1940

I know about your great impatience while I'm not able to post anything new so in an effort to help you to survive in your despair (this doesn't mean Mr. Grabowski) I'll answer one particularly disgusting post which is forever a shame for its author :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski View Post
In the effect Poles refused to fly with French, and wanted to fly with Czechs.


- There was a war on, remember? Nobody had the right to "refuse" this and that. When you are a soldier (even a pilot, ESPECIALLY a pilot!) you don’t choose what you fancy do. It was not a club of naughty little girls like the Polish air force and army. It was serious military units at war. Every pilot had to obey orders and do as he was told by his CO, "even" the Polish supermen - er, sorry, superlittle girls. Disobeying orders in combat can bring you in front of a firing squad quicker than you naively think, or to hard military prison for 20-30 years if you're lucky. I was an Air Force officer and a combat aircrew myself so I can tell you that this outrageous behaviour can be tolerated in no circumstances and that it would mean some immediate and harsh punishment including shooting the offender.

Quote:
According to Zumbach, on 3 June only one French pilot actually engaged enemy.


- One more particularly vile statement : I'm about to throw up. The official documents in archive canNOT be disputed, in particular on soldiers KIA. On 3 June 1940 French fighter units (Groupes de chasse) had the following losses :

10 French fighter pilots killed - 2 other French aircrew killed (Potez 631) - 3 Czech fighter pilots killed - 0 Polish pilot killed.

10 other French pilots were badly injured.

So obviously not "only one French pilot actually engaged the enemy" but at the very least about 20. In fact - luckily - all pilots who made contact were not killed or wounded; many even shot down German aircraft (a total of about 23).

According to Paul Martin in his book "Ils étaient là...", published by CJE, page 152, French fighters flew 243 sorties (not "one") on this day so they won about one victory per 10 sorties, which is fair enough. Add the local "chimney flights". Most of these sorties resulted in "contact" (with the enemy). So I'd say AT LEAST 200 French pilots (not one) engaged the enemy on this day, or were engaged by him, for dozens of them were caught taking off among exploding bombs or climbing, because the early warning system had not worked; most killed pilots were among these. P. Martin got his figures from official archives which can't be disputed and also from the numerous veterans he met.

If anybody doesn't believe the number of pilots KIA on this day it's very easy to check on their graves and count them. One of them was Czech pilot Stanislav Popelka (GC I/6, equipped with MS 406s, based at Lognes about 30 km East of Paris, not far from Meaux and Coulommiers, today a very active flying club which can be seen from the road). Most probably he was shot down and killed by captain Adolf Galland (JG 27). Popelka's body was found on June 5 at Ozoir-la-Ferrière and buried on the same day in the local cemetery (not far from Lognes), where my brother was buried, too, 20 years later. Two other - French - pilots from the same unit (GC I/6) were shot down during the same mission, one of them also probably by Galland. (Nowadays some authors claim these victories for Werner Mölders. Odd.).

[qutote]Poles had little success due to faulty aircraft, and in general both Czechs and Poles complained they had worsest aeroplanes.[/quote]

- The WORST, please! English please!

Everybody in the world agrees that the best fighter aircraft the French Air Force engaged 1940 were the Curtiss H-75 in spite of too low performances (max. speed approx. 500 km/h vs 570 for the Me 109 E) and above all the Dewoitine 520 or D.520, slightly slower than the 109 but which was simply a supreme, superlative aircraft even though its followers D.523 and D.524 were even better (up to 630 km/h etc.) and were following tightly behind the 520 in the factories. Deliveries would have started in August, giving the French fighter arm an aircraft in the Me 109 F-class but at least 6 months earlier and much better armed than both the 109 E and F (French not German cannon).

The Czech pilots were much better integrated in French fighter units simply because their country had been invaded by Hitler about 6 months to one year before he invaded Poland so the Czech pilots had had plenty of time to learn the particular French procedures and get used to the particular aircraft types. Also, perhaps they didn't think that every single Czech was a god much better than any bloody French frog. Besides, Poland, too, took advantage of the 1938 situation to claim some Czech territories...

This chronology resulted in far less Poles being permanent members of established French units. Remember that no Polish fighter was a "modern" aircraft with a retractable landing gear, flaps, variable-pitch propeller etc. and that all French fighters were equipped with all these modern refinements, plus one or two very powerful cannon (not the Curtisses). Polish pilots had to get many new habits and reflexes like for example lowering the landing gear before landing… Not so obvious, in particular for experienced pilots.

In spite of this the following two out of 177 Polish pilots flew Curtiss fighters :

Stefan Laszkiewicz (GC III/2) - Stefan Zantara (GC III/2). This unit was re-equipped by French AF HQ from MS 406 to Curtiss around June 1. All these 30 fighters were brand-new and of the latest mark : no “worst aeroplanes” here either.

Jan Bury-Burzynski and Leopold Flanek (killed on May 14) had been members of GC III/2. B.-Burzynski probably had been withdrawn from combat (?) (perhaps posted to some staff of the Polish Air Force in France) before he could fly a Curtiss, for he is not listed as killed nor wounded during the French Campaign.

In contrast to this 27 out of 111 Czech pilots served with Curtiss-equipped units, and this with great distinction. Several of them became great aces, the best of all being Frantisek Perina (GC I/5, 1re escadrille led by Cne Accart), who won 11 "certain" and 2 "probable" victories, alone or shared ones. Vasatko (GC I/5) won 12 + 2 victories and was one of the top aces of the Armée de l’Air. Nobody tried to steal their victories from them (!) nor to have them fly on the "worst" aircraft. As I said, many Czech pilots served side by side with many of the greatest French aces like Plubeau, Accart, Dorance, Marin-la-Meslée etc. simply because they arrived in France early enough to be properly re-trained and become part of a team (this is very important in the fighter business).

Many other Polish pilots flew Curtisses in DAT units (Défense aérienne du territoire (in-depth defence), or "chimney flights"), in particular seven of them (7) at Bourges, where these AC were assembled, armed (French light machine-guns - too bad they refused to keep the one .50 gun on each AC) etc. after delivery from the USA. Flying Curtisses at Bourges was a pretty convincing sign of confidence from the French! 8 more served at DAT Toulouse (Dewoitine factory), where they could fly Curtiss or D.520 fighters. Not bad! No less than 10 were based at Châteauroux in the centre of France, where the Marcel Bloch-factory was mass-producing MB 152 and 155 fighters. It is quite possible that many Polish pilots (at least 32) never had the opportunity to fly anything better than a CR.714 (considered NON-combat-worthy by French HQ) or (before that) MS 406s because Polish HQ insisted on creating an all-Polish fighter unit immediately, even with this poor aircraft which had hardly been test-flown and still had all its teething trouble. This was a Polish decision. This unit (GC I/145) won some 8 victories at the cost of 3 pilots killed and many more CR.714s shot down.

12 Polish pilots served with units which re-equipped from MS 406s to D.520s at the beginning of June (GC II/7) and from June 10 on (GC III/6, facing Italy, its most famous member being Le Gloan). The D.520s they received were brand-new, fresh from the Toulouse-factory. No "worst aircraft".

19 Czech pilots were posted to former MS 406-units which were reequipped with the superlative D.520 from April 1940 (GC I/3 with 34 D.520s) to the first days of June (GC III/3). GC II/3 was engaged with their 34 D.520s on 15 June. No “worst AC” here either. As I said, many Czech pilots flew the best French fighters simply because they arrived in France earlier. This is no anti-Polish discrimination or apartheid.

As you see no less than 46 Czech pilots flew both best French fighters types with great distinction and very successfully.

Numerous Polish and Czech pilots flew Bloch 152s. As a whole they simply flew whatever fighters were available, just like the French pilots, depending on aircraft production, losses and replacements. On May 10 several hundred FRENCH pilots were “still” flying the “obsolete” MS 406 and hundreds more flew the MB 152 – a new AC but with rather poor performance, with which they gave a good account of themselves. It seems that German fighter pilots were on strict orders not to insist if they had not succeeded in surprising even a MB 152 flying alone (at least if they were alone too).

It never occurred to me that Zumbach was an historian. He undoubtedly was a brave man like many others, an ace and also a phoney and a big mouth. I don't know why he complained : he was lucky enough to fly quite a few hours, and even at least one combat sortie, on the latest and best French fighter in June 1940, the Arsenal VG-33! Only very few FRENCH pilots were as lucky as he was. Only about 10 Arsenal VG-33s had been made AND were able to fly.

French fighter pilots including officers had a good opinion of their Polish comrades, whom they obviously were glad to receive in their units as a welcome reinforcement (but don’t forget that France had declared war on Germany only because of her aggression on Poland, and that France paid a very high price for this, including 563 000 people killed, much more than the USA in the Pacific AND in Europe together, who make such a fuss about their old Private Ryan and “dying for the French” (!)). In AT LEAST one instance I read the story of a Polish pilot who broke off his attack because he found the return-fire from the German bombers too dangerous. Up till now I never deemed him a coward but if you insist I could change my opinion. I just found this reasonable : don’t get killed for nothing today and you’ll be able to fight many more days and inflict a lot of damage on the enemy.

Here is the judgement of the French Air Force on Polish fighter pilots :

They were good pilots and eager to fight but unfortunately most of them didn’t really like or even understand discipline and they often left formation to attack some odd German AC they happened to see. The RAF made exactly the same experience including with those Poles who never had been in France but came directly to the UK. We all know that this behaviour is extremely objectionable and dangerous (for the whole formation and all comrades) in the combat area.

Polish pilots had another flaw : they were so fanatically enraged at the Germans (which I fully understand) that they often didn’t care about their petrol consumption and their own return to base. To them the important thing was shooting at the hated Huns, no matter what might happen. The result was higher losses to German fighters or else, and numerous belly-landings somewhere in the countryside. In the BoB this was not all too bad for the AC could be salvaged quickly but during the French Campaign (France is much larger than South-East England) this was a serious hazard and numerous good fighters were lost in this stupid way, probably also because Polish pilots were not so good at navigation : French fighter production was very high all right but not unlimited. Even the Armée de l’Air could not afford to lose one fighter per sortie! The fighter arm would have been wiped out in 4 days! This, indeed, could explain some problems between French officers and Polish pilots who behaved as if France had owned unlimited numbers of fighters. It would be interested to see how many fighters were belly-landed by Polish and by French pilots. This is not in every case evidence of a great skill – it depends.

Finally I find it very sad that precisely Polish people keep insulting and libelling the French all the time. There is no real, rational reason for this. I never noticed any French equivalent nor retaliation in kind (it is not too late to start and find a lot of not-so-glorious stuff about Poland and the Poles but this really would be a pity). It would be very easy indeed. During the FC they flew exactly the same, various fighter types as their French and Czech comrades in all possible Groupes de chasse and “chimney flights”, mainly DAT units (local defence flights deep inside the French territory, as far as even Toulouse or Salon near Marseille.
  #65  
Old 8th August 2008, 15:02
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Franek Grabowski
Re: Book on French AF 1939-40?

I thought that it was clear. Zumbach wrote that only one French fighter pilot from Etampes actually engaged enemy. The remaining chose the safer option. By crappy aircraft I mean that the Poles received faulty, badly serviced ones.
I agree about disobeying orders. Unfortunately, Polish commander had no position to shot French.
BTW
Prove that the Polish losses were extremely high.
  #66  
Old 8th August 2008, 16:47
Grozibou
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Correcting a small error

I wrote the following myself in my preceding post :

27 out of 111 Czech pilots served with Curtiss-equipped units, and this with great distinction. Several of them became great aces, the best of all being Frantisek Perina (GC I/5, 1re escadrille led by Cne Accart), who won 11 "certain" and 2 "probable" victories, alone or shared ones. Vasatko (GC I/5) won 12 + 2 victories and was one of the top aces of the Armée de l’Air.

Arguably the best of all was Vasatko not Perina for Vasatko won one more "certain" victory. Sorry!

WHAT? I am not unfallible (Vasatko)? This is an incredible historical discovery!

But the quality of a fighter pilot is not to be found in the number of his victories only. There are other important factors, like protecting their comrades and conversely, choosing good tactics etc. (I am not claiming that Vasatko didn't have these qualities but I think he did have them). Besides, Vasatko, too, was a member of 1st escadrille of GC I/5, together with many other top-ranking aces : CO Cne Acart, Lt Marin-la-Meslée, Sgt Morel, Perina, Vasatko, Rouquette, Muselli, Vuillemain, Penzini, Rey. Most of these pilots were GREAT aces (9-20 victories each). Simply flabbergasting. It seems that wizard Accart was able to make an ace out of any pilot under his command. Think that he had trained several others who then went to other units, including Ace N° 2 : Adjt. Camille Plubeau.

Last edited by Grozibou; 8th August 2008 at 17:47.
  #67  
Old 8th August 2008, 18:18
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Re: Book on French AF 1939-40?

Looks like one of my co-moderators unlocked the thread.

Hopefully we can keep it going in a constructive manner, or I will lock it permanently.
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  #68  
Old 10th August 2008, 14:59
Grozibou
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Etampes, Villacoublay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski View Post
I suggest you to look further for French airmen at both Etampes and Villacoublay
- OK, I looked at this.

Etampes : on June 3, 1940 the following victories were won by the local flight based at Etampes; it was equipped mainly with MS 406s and also with 3 MB 151-152s :

Victories :

Benausse (French) 1 certain victory (plus one probable on June 5)

Balmer (FRench) 1 certain and 1 probable victories

Karubin (Polish) 1 certain vict.

Three to one for the "non-eager-to-fight" Frenchmen although there were very numerous Poles in the local flights (for lack of time to re-train them in time and post them to regular fighter squadrons).

Villacoublay : never mentioned.

Losses (Etampes only) :

French adjdt. Doucet ( senior "sous-officier", NCO) wounded in combat

Ptacek and Vopalecy (both Czech) wounded in combat too.

SOURCE : "AVIONS" hors série N° 7 : La Chasse française inconnue mai-juin 1940 (special issue on French local air defence flights).

Villacoublay is OT. Some regular, permanent Groupes de chasse were based there from time to time : GC I/4 (Curtiss) May 21-June 1; GC II/8 (Bloch 152) May 20-27; GC I/145 (purely Polish, CR 714 fighters) May 17-June 2.

Source : Paul Martin.

That's all. A few units visited Villa 1939 but this is completely off topic.

To sum up : Polish losses or victories (Etampes) on June 3 : none, zero, 0, nada, nitshevo, ingenting, niente, que dalle mon pote. I suspect the POLISH pilots were hiding in concrete shelters whereas French and Czech comrades were fighting and dying for them (13 pilots KIA on the same day). Where was big mouth Zumbach all the time? How come this great ace didn't score and wasn't wounded either? He was so keen and so eager to fight : why was he not KIA in this very big air battle, "Operation Paula" against the whole Paris area?

All French pilots at Etampes were NCOs with 3 adjts. or adjt-chefs, most of them junior ones (sergent). The Czech section comprised two (senior)lieutenants - superior in rank to any French pilot.

The Poles based at Etampes comprised Zumbach, who was an officer -sous-lt. - senior to all French pilots, and commandant (major/Sqn Ldr) Krasnodebski, an "officier supérieur" (from Commandant upward) who certainly would not have tolerated nor accepted any discrimination of Polish pilots by French NCOs! Discrimination was out of the question anyway for, as I already mentioned, Czech and Polish pilots were a VERY WELCOME and VERY USEFUL reinforcement of their French comrades who, at the end of the French Campaign, had suffered approx. 40 % losses in men killed (30 %), wounded or prisoners (a small minority) shot down behind the German lines.

As you can see all this vicious anti-French propaganda, libelling and insulting is devoid of any justification. Admittedly all French pilots (who were well-trained) possibly were not geniuses at the same time as angels and aces - they did their best and fought to the death. Obviously Polish pilots wrere MUCH, MUCH better - and so honest and objective including in their hundreds of victory claims won flying aircraft which were able to fly only thanks to repairs performed with tape and strings and with stones as ammunition. Engine fuel for the Poles was water (big improvement as compared to the hundreds of gallons of alcohol they used to drink) and they even had to ride French cows because the naughty French would not give them any aircraft, not even some made of paper and glue. At least cow-milk could be used as aviation fuel in French engines.
  #69  
Old 10th August 2008, 15:58
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Re: Etampes, Villacoublay

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grozibou View Post
As you can see all this vicious anti-French propaganda, libelling and insulting is devoid of any justification.
After reading this I'm surprised that you come up with the following text, which is at the least just as offensive.

Quote:
Admittedly all French pilots (who were well-trained) possibly were not geniuses at the same time as angels and aces - they did their best and fought to the death. Obviously Polish pilots wrere MUCH, MUCH better - and so honest and objective including in their hundreds of victory claims won flying aircraft which were able to fly only thanks to repairs performed with tape and strings and with stones as ammunition. Engine fuel for the Poles was water (big improvement as compared to the hundreds of gallons of alcohol they used to drink) and they even had to ride French cows because the naughty French would not give them any aircraft, not even some made of paper and glue. At least cow-milk could be used as aviation fuel in French engines.
I must say that I am disappointed, this cannot lead to anything constructive and therefor I will close the tread.
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