Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Spring of 1940

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by GunSlinger86, Apr 4, 2021.

  1. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,118
    Likes Received:
    43
    The French had capable aircraft at their disposal, as well as tanks on an equal or better footing than Germany, and millions of men. Why did they take such a defensive, non-aggressive strategy? And why did they not use their Air Force after seeing how the German Luftwaffe handled Poland?
     
  2. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    24,601
    Likes Received:
    1,657
    Location:
    Finland
    Their plan was the Dyle plan, where the Allied troops would enter and make a defensive line along the river Dyle in Belgium. The Maginot line would protect elsewhere. They did not believe the Germans could cross the lines elsewhere but they did cross the Ardennes and surrounded the Allied troops with their troops surrounding the Dyle line from both sides.The Allied belief was that the war after phoney war would be the same as in WW1. I guess the Allied went into a panic like state once they noticed the Germans were behind the main troops that had been going to Belgium.

    Employed in the roll of a tactical bomber,Fairey Battle equipped squadron's were sent into combat in the skies over France. However, the vulnerability of the aircraft soon became obvious, as German Luftwaffe fighter attacks ravaged the normally unescorted Battle formations. During May 1940, as the Battles' were thrown fruitlessly against the advancing German Blitzkrieg, almost half of all of the available Battle's stationed in France was lost in one day.

    With little choice left to the Air Ministry, the remnants of the Battle squadron's were withdrawn from France and returned to their stations in England. Were they were to be rested and rebuilt to full their original full operational strengths.

    With still no replacement aircraft types becoming readily available. Battle equipped squadrons continued to operate offensively from England and played a major roll in the destruction of German invasion barges in the Channel ports

    [​IMG]

    Once the Germans had attacked in the northern section the Allied troops started their march north.

    [​IMG]

    The German offensive. Sorry about the map language but the red arrows show the German counter so well.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2021
  3. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,118
    Likes Received:
    43
  4. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2013
    Messages:
    1,118
    Likes Received:
    43
    The French had 1 or 2 good fighters that could have played a role in fighting back the attack. France should have known from World War I that airpower played a major role on the battlefield.
     
  5. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,213
    Likes Received:
    866
    It was a matter of timing and doctrine.

    Four of twenty-eight day fighter squadrons of the Metropolitan French Air Force were converting to modern aircraft...the twenty-four operational squadrons were all flying obsolescent aircraft. All six North African fighter squadrons were flying obsolescent aircraft. Only eleven Metropolitan bomber squadrons were operational, all with obsolescent aircraft, thirteen others were converting to modern aircraft. Of nine bomber squadrons in North Africa, seven were converting to modern aircraft.

    The French ground forces were equally in disarray. Few units were equipped to modern standards. Few of the excellent, modern 47mm AT gun were available, even fewer tanks were equipped with modern guns, most were designed for infantry support and had limited AT capability. Organizations were in flux too. The "armored divisions" were all newly organized and were not "armored divisions" in the accepted sense. They were infantry support units, designed for attachment to an infantry corps or division as a reinforcement for the deliberate break-in offensive battle. In essence, they were a slightly stronger version of the infantry support tank brigades common with the infantry corps. The Division Légère Mécanique was closer to an armored division in organization, but there were just three of them, to concentrated as the Corps de Cavallerie and were more intended doctrinally for a cavalry mission. The Division Légère Cavallerie were mostly horse cavalry with a mechanized element, so were neither fish nor fowl. They were not strong enough to do either reconnaissance or counter-reconnaissance versus the Panzer divisions.

    Doctrinally, the French army expected to execute a deliberate attack, heavily supported by artillery and infantry tanks, which was all well and good if they were allowed the time to array their forces and develop an attack. heir defensive doctrine was based on the Maginot Line and well-prepared field fortifications, which again was all well and good if they were allowed the time to array their forces and construct their defenses. However, the decision to advance into Belgium threw the defensive plans out the window and left the 9e Armee at the "hinge" at Sedan vulnerable. Its two light cavalry divisions and single Spahi brigade failed to do their reconnaissance/counter-reconnaissance job in the face of the advancing Panzers, leaving the army's infantry divisions vulnerable.
     
    GunSlinger86 and Kai-Petri like this.
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,513
    Likes Received:
    2,252
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    France had only one "good" fighter, the D.520, and it was roughly the equal of the 109. However, it was suffering developmental problems, and did not start deploying until January, 1940, as earlier production aircraft were retrofitted with fixes for their problems. As such, it was not available in meaningful numbers to hinder their German air assault.

    The French bombers were in even worse condition.
     
    Kai-Petri and RichTO90 like this.
  7. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,213
    Likes Received:
    866
    In ZOAN (Northern Air Operations Zone), G.C.III/3 at Beauvais-Tille had 4 D.520, of which 2 were operational on 10 May.
    In ZOAS (Southern Air Operations Zone), G.C. III/6 at Chissy sur Leu had 3 D.520, none of which were operational and G.C. II/7 at Luxeil-Saint Sauveur had 4, one of which was operational.

    Otherwise, G.C. I/3, training at Cannes-Mandelieu, had 36, of which 34 were operational and G.C. II/3, training at Le Luc had 4, of which 2 were operational.

    So, 51 in total, of which 39 were operational. In contrast, the Luftwaffe in the west had 1,266 Bf 109, of which 897 were operational.
     
    Thumpalumpacus, Takao and Kai-Petri like this.
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2010
    Messages:
    9,513
    Likes Received:
    2,252
    Location:
    Reading, PA
    A handful or so were also operational with various DAT units(Défense Aérienne du Territoire (in-depth defence), aka "chimney flights" - essentially point defense fighters for factories), but, often, are not included in regular rosters.
     
  9. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    4,587
    Likes Received:
    286
    Location:
    MIDWEST
    ..it takes time, analysis, training, etc to adopt new tactics-strategies-etc.....
    ..also, you have higher ups that have different ideas on how best to use the force you have--ground or air --so there is not an agreement how how best to use the forces ...you had that all over during the war--
     

Share This Page