French airforce from 1935 to 1940-41?

tomo pauk

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We agree on the fact that a) a 20 mm gun (except on a B-52 much later) is not a good defensive weapon
and b) it deprived French fighters from much needed guns.

Agree on a).
Disagree on b) - the French manufactured 20mm cannons to the tune of several thousand, a few times the number of fighters they made.

No information by me - but, have the French tested even the 20mm cannon against AFVs?
A 20 mm cannon was effective against most WW2 AFVs. The longer the barrel and the faster the muzzle velocity, the more likely it is to puncture armor plate.
Also remember that most AFVs have thick frontal armor, but progressively thinner armor on the sides, rear and roof.
Ergo, a dive bomber is far more likely to kill an AFV than a ground-mounted anti-tank gun firing the same 20 mm ammo.

We can recall that Polish and Danes made a number of kills by land-lubber 20mm cannons; Polish kills included the Pz-35(t)s.
A numerous force of fighters and 1-engined bombers armed with HS 404 with AP ammo can devastate a lot of AFVs Germans were using in 1940. There was no self-propelled Flak force around to protect them.
 

Archibald

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The manufacturing of the H.S. 404 was slow and costly. At the beginning of the war only 928 units had been delivered to l’Armée de l’Air and in March 1940 there were 2,319 units available.
- Breguets 690 needed 1*20 mm gun in the nose
- Bloch 152 / 155 series needed two of them (one per wing)
- motor-canon fighters from MS-406 to Arsenal VG-33 needed one in the nose
- and then the bombers needed it as defensive weapon

The AdA planned 9500 aircraft for spring 1941 or later.

Sooner or later, the four kind of aircraft described above, in need of HS-404, would have overtaken H.S slow and costly production.

Something would have to give, and my bet would be the bombers, as it made no sense as a defensive weapon...

Then again, LOGIC and COMMON SENSE were seemingly alien to late 1930's France, notably its politicans and military leaders...
 

Justo Miranda

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Lützow, as an instructor at the fighter school at Schleißheim, cooperated with Wolfgang Falck and Hannes Trautloft on a fighter training manual which went by the title of "Der Jagdflieger in der Ausbildung" ('The Fighter Pilot in Training'), and was unofficially called "Der kleine Trautloft" ('The little Trautloft'). Lützow based on his Spanish Civil War experience considered a high muzzle velocity and highly destructive explosive rounds as superior to a larger number of rapid-fire (machine) guns, and the MG FF might indeed fall short of the "high muzzle velocity" criterion. Subsequently, Lützow was ordered to Berlin to formally evaluate the Spanish Civil War experience, and seems to have authored one or two more papers in 1938, so his thinking might indeed have influenced Luftwaffe decision in the way you described.

It is worth mentioning that the Luftwaffe were initially interested in a very high-velocity motor-cannon, the 2cm MG C/30L, which fired the same 20 x 138B ammunition as the Flak cannon. This was tested in a prototype He 112 in Spain, and found to be very effective in ground attack against vehicles but too slow-firing against aircraft (the rate of fire was 300-350 rpm). Ammunition supply was via a huge 100-round drum mounted under the gun. After that experience, the Luftwaffe chose a high rate of fire instead of high velocity (c. 1000 rpm for 2 x MG FF).

P.S. you can find details of the armament performance, as well as photos of the ammunition, here: https://www.quarryhs.co.uk/WW2guneffect.htm
During the Spanish Civil War the He 112 V5 prototype (D-IIZO) was used in strafing missions achieving the destruction of three republican armoured vehicles piloted by the unteroffizier Max Schulze. I read stories about the He 112 V5 in which it is said that Schulze was prowling the Flak units of the Legion Condor asking for 20 mm ammunition for the cannon of the He 112 V5, which confirms that it is compatible with the Flak MG C/30L.
 

tomo pauk

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The AdA planned 9500 aircraft for spring 1941 or later.

Sooner or later, the four kind of aircraft described above, in need of HS-404, would have overtaken H.S slow and costly production.

Something would have to give, and my bet would be the bombers, as it made no sense as a defensive weapon...

Then again, LOGIC and COMMON SENSE were seemingly alien to late 1930's France, notably its politicans and military leaders...

AdA's plan for 9500 aircraft for spring of 1941 is/was devoid of common sense, too.
 

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It would have been Kafka with wings.

Consider the fact that Allison V-1710 and Merlin variants of many existing types were considered (D-523, D-524, and the like) and same thing for radials, British Hercules and American Pratts (Breguet 695, Amiots 350, LeO-455, MB-176...)
Just because Hispano Suiza and G&R bosses were corrupt jerks unable to provide reliable engines and engines powerful enough - or both.

The Aviation ministry in France truly went in panic mode by 1938 and some definitively absurd decisions were made. "Aircraft, we need aircraft, lots of them !"

France literally raided US aircraft plants or even the USAAC reserves for anything that flew, trading aircraft against the country gold reserves.

Plans were made to build an Amiot 350 production plant in Louisiana, and Breguet 690s in Canada.

Not only P-36, but P-38, P-39, P-40 were also considered (the British got them instead).
Naval aircraft, dive bombers of every kind... and even very erly B-24 Liberators (LB-30s).

France ordered 50 Koolhoven FK-58 from Netherlands already unable to supply their own air force. Only 14 were delivered to the Armée de l'Air, which never wanted them in the first place. :oops:

I swear I saw somewhere Polikarpov I-16s were considered (but I wouldn't bet on that).

France ordered Caproni Ca-313 as tactical reconnaissance aircraft, 5 were delivered early June 1940... only days before Benny the moose declared war to France.
 
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Justo Miranda

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The 'Panic Effect' caused by the Munich Agreement forced the French Government to carry out large massive purchases of foreign aircraft, initiating talks with the USSR for the acquisition of Polikarpov I-16 fighters, an operation that was cancelled after the German-Soviet non-aggression Pact. They placed orders for two-hundred Curtiss H.75A and hundred Curtiss H.81 (P-40) fighters to the USA and acquired forty Koolhoven FK.58 fighters to the Netherlands together with the license to manufacture them in Nevers-France. One Spitfire Mk.I was also purchased to Great Britain to study the compatibility of its engine with the D.520.

On March 1940 l’Armée de l’Air had 18 serviceable Koolhoven. During the Battle of France they were used to equip four Patrouilles de Défense piloted by Poles. On June 25 ten of them had survived the combats.

The Curtiss H.81 did not arrive in time to prevent the fall of France and they were transferred to the RAF, but the H.75A performed well, fighting on equal terms with the Messerschmitt Bf 109 D during the Phoney War and eluding the attacks of the Bf 109 E during the Battle of France, thanks to its greater manoeuvrability, but its armament of four machine guns proved to be insufficient to destroy German bombers.



During the period between both World Wars, the size and weight of the fighters was progressively augmented in parallel with the increasing power of the available engines. Against that general trend, there was a minority of aeronautical designers defending the small sized fighters, known as 'Jockey Fighters' at that time. This type of airplanes, if well designed, could generally compete in performance with the conventional fighters, using a less powerful engine, with an important save in fuel, manpower and strategic materials. They were also easier to maintain and store and their reduced size and weight helped to increase agility in combat, making more difficult to be seen by the rear gunners in the bombers, or by the pilots in the escort fighters, and their destruction required a higher consumption of ammunition.

At the beginning of World War II, the conventional fighters used to have 10 to 12 m of wingspan, operational weight of 2,500 to 3,500 kg and a maximum speed of 450 to 500 km/h. The light fighters of the time could be divided in two categories:

‘Jockey Fighters’, with less than 10 m. wingspan, maximum weight of 1,800 to 2,500 kg and the same speed than the conventional fighters.

‘Midget Fighters’, with less than 10 m wingspan, maximum weight of 600 to 1,800 kg and maximum speed of 350 to 400 km/h.



Potez 230​

The Potez 230 inherited the most advanced elliptical wing of the time, built with an integral torque box, from its ancestor, Les Mureaux 190 light fighter, developed during the 30s. The philosophy of design of the Potez 230 was based on the specification Chasseur Monoplace C1 (June 3, 1937), calling for one high-performance small airplane that could use some technical elements left aside by first line fighters.

Thus, the surplus of Hispano-Suiza H.S.12 Xcrs engines, H.S.9 cannons and MAC 34A machine guns coming from the obsolete Dewoitine D.510 fighters could go back to combat without overloading the French war production of H.S.12 Y-45, H.S.404 and MAC 34 M39, intended for the Dewoitine D.520. Would the new equipment be available in enough quantity, it would also had been used by the Potez 230 as it was compatible to both of them.

A prototype was built in the Potez C.A.M.S. factory of Sartrouville in 1939. During a series of tests performed in the Villacoublay test centre in March 1940, it reached the speed of 560 km/h being equipped with an H.S.12 Xcrs of just 680 hp (the Dewoitine D.520 reached 525 km/h and the Bf 109 E-1, 575 km/h with much more powerful engines). It was expected that the Potez 230 could fly at 622 km/h after the installation of one of the new H.S.12 Y-45 of 910 hp but it was captured by German forces in June and translated to a technical research centre of the Luftwaffe to study the wing construction system.

Technical data

Engine: one 680 hp Hispano-Suiza H.S.12 Xcrs twelve-cylinder ‘Vee’ liquid-cooled, driving a three-bladed Ratier airscrew with pneumatic variable-pitch. Armament: one 20 mm engine-mounted H.S.9 cannon and four 7.5 mm. MAC 34A machine guns mounted under the wings. Wingspan: 8.74 m, length: 7.57 m, height: 2.18 m, wing area: 10.97 sq.m, maximum weight: 1,800 kg, maximum speed: 560 kph.



Roussel R.30​

The Roussel R.30 was conceived as a private venture ‘Jockey Fighter’ in answer to the Programme technique A.23 (12 January 1937) that required a light fighter able to fly at 520 km/h. Construction of the prototype began at Courbevoie, flying for the first time equipped with a 690 hp Gnôme-Rhône 14 M7 engine in April 1939.

In August 1939 it was transferred to the Centre d’Essais du Matériel Aérien (C.E.M.A.) for official trials, as a result of which it was recommended to install a more powerful engine to better use its excellent flying performances. During the Battle of France, the airplane was armed with two 20 mm Oerlikon FFS cannons mounted in the wings and some tests were performed for the installation of a bomb rack under the fuselage.

In combat, the R.30 could have destroyed any Luftwaffe bomber thanks to its high fire power of 2 Kg/sec, 2.8 times that of the Bf 109 E-1. In ground attack mode it would have had more possibilities to survive the Flak than the unfortunate Breguet 693 of the GBA 54 due to its high speed and small size. The only prototype was destroyed in Bordeaux-Mérignac airbase during a He111 bomb raid.

Technical data

Engine: one 690 hp Gnôme-Rhône 14 M7 of fourteen-cylinder, air-cooled radial driving a Ratier 1527 airscrew with electrically adjusted pitch. Armament: two 20 mm Oerlikon FFS cannons and one 250 kg G.P. bomb. Wingspan: 7.75 m, length: 6.15 m, height: 2.10 m, wing surface: 10 sq.m, maximum weight: 1,766 kg, maximum speed: 520 kph at 6,000 m.

Bloch M.B.700​

The Bloch M.B.700 was also designed as an answer to the Programme technique A.23. This small interceptor differentiated from the Roussel in that it was built from wood. This fact made its mass production easier as it did not require strategic materials that could be used for the Dewoitine D.520 conventional fighter. Outwardly, it looked like an 83% scaled down version of the conventional fighter Bloch M.B.152. The main advantage of the M.B.700 reduced size was that while equipped with an engine with 75% the power of an M.B.152, it flew 80 kph faster, still carrying the same armament, and was a more difficult target in dog-fight.

In 1939 a prototype was built in the Blériot-Aéronautique of Suresnes, flying for the first time by mid-April 1940. During the flight tests made on 13 May, it reached a maximum speed of just 380 kph, instead of the expected 580 km/h. As a consequence, the Mercier engine cowling and clear canopy were modified, and external plates were installed in the main undercarriage.

The airplane was destroyed shortly afterwards by the German troops in Buc airfield. There was a plan for a shipboard variant named M.B. 720 with tail hook and the armament reduced to four MAC 1934 M 39 machine guns.

Technical data

Engine: one 700 hp Gnôme-Rhône 14 M6 fourteen-cylinder, air-cooled radial engine driving a Gnôme Rhône variable-pitch airscrew. Armament: two 20 mm Hispano-Suiza H.S. 404 cannons and two 7.5 mm MAC 1934 M39 belt-feed machine guns mounted in the wings. Wingspan: 8.9 m, length: 7.34 m, height: 3.4 m, wing surface: 12.4 sq.m, maximum weight: 2,000 kg, maximum speed: 550 kph.



Caudron C.R. 714​

On 12 July 1934 the Service Technique de l’Aéronautique laid down the Programme Technique de Chasseur Léger C.1, a specification for a light weight interceptor with a maximum speed of 400 kph and armed with four machine guns. The original specification was amended in August 22 dividing it in two categories: one for aircraft powered by 800-1,000 hp engines, armed with a cannon and two machine guns, and another for 450-500 hp engines and two cannons. On 17 December 1934 the maximum speed rose to 450 kph and on 16 November 1935 to 500 kph. The winner of the first category was the Morane-Saulnier M.S.405, winning the production of the 860 hp Hispano-Suiza H.S.12 Y engines.

In the second category were competing small manufacturers and designers of racer airplanes experienced in obtaining the maximum speed with minimum power, often using self-made engines. The success achieved by the Caudron racers, encourage designer Marcel Riffard to build the C.710 and C.713 prototypes, two wooden, cannon-armed, light fighters capable of flying to 455-470 kph powered by a 450 hp Renault 12 R.01 engine. On December 1937 l’Armée de l’Air dismissed its serial construction in favor of the Arsenal VG 30, much faster and with better climb rate.

On November 1938, to meet the requirements of Plan V, l’Armée de l’Air ordered the production of 200 units of the C.R. 714 model, an aerodynamically improved version, with a 450 hp Renault 12 R.03, twelve-cylinder, air-cooled, inverted-Vee engine and four MAC 1934 M39 machine guns. The order was later reduced to only 20 aircraft when all the spruce stocks were assigned to the massive construction program of the Arsenal VG 33.

On January 1940 the C.R. 714 were handed over to l’Armée de l’Air who used them as advanced trainers at l’École de Chasse et d’Instruction Polonaise. The G.C. I/145 was formed during the Battle of France with M.S. 406 and C.R. 714 fighters piloted by Poles who claimed the destruction of four Bf 109 and four Do 17. The formula was perfectioned with the C.R. 760 and C.R. 770 prototypes, powered by 730-800 hp engines and armed with six MAC, but both were destroyed to prevent their capture by the Germans.

C.A.P.R.A. R.300​

The midget fighters usually are a good defensive solution when a country feels threatened and needs to quickly increase its production of combat airplanes. The C.A.P.R.A. R.R.20 was a small racer airplane designed by Roger Robert in 1938 to compete in the Coupe Deutsch 1939 race. After the declaration of war the project was modified to be used as a fighter-trainer under the name R.30 or as the R.300 Midget Fighter.

Entirely built in metal, the R.30 would be powered by a 360 hp Bèarn 6C-1, six-cylinder in-line air-cooled engine, with which it was expected to reach 539 kph maximum speed and 9,500 m service ceiling. The wings, spanning 7.5 m with sq.m surface, would serve as housing for the hyper- sustentation system, the Messier landing gear and the armament, possibly two MAC 34A machine guns for the R.300 version. Not a single unit was built.
 

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Elan Vital

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Some tidbits I found recently: apparently the French Président du Conseil Aristide Briand rejected the proposal of the creation of an independent AdA in 1929.

Second, apparently the average age of French machine tooling was 20 years in 1932 against 7 years in Germany. Germany had at the time 70k qualified workers in the machine tooling industry against 10k French.
 

Deltafan

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Well, most of the Potez 63s built were the Potez 63.11, the reconnaissance version with the raised cockpit and the glazed nose. This was slower that the fighter/attack versions and essentially unarmed. Theoretically it could take four 50 kg bombs, but only if you dismounted the cameras first, which was time consuming and had to be done by specialists. Ironically the 637, derived from the 631, but with a ventral observer's position, was faster than the 63.11, but seen as an interim model. They really wanted the 63.11.
This for me is the main single thing you could do to improve the capability of the AdA: build something else than the 63.11, an attack version of the 631, for instance, or even Br 693s of Vultee Vengeances if you must.
Also, according to my data, the main difference between the 630 and the 631 is the engine; HS for the 630 and GR for the 631.

With 730 Potez 63.11 build, any armed variant instead can only help.

For the sake of comparison, its former rival Breguet 690 produced
- 78 Br.691
- 128 Br.693
206 aircraft, of which 78 were unusable.

128 Breguet 693 is six times less than the Potez 63.11 alone, and eight times less than the total number of Potez 63 built.

Makes one think...
Well, maybe Potez had more production capacity than Breguet at the time, and due to the Breguet not getting its engines as early as the Potez it was substantially delayed to production. The Breguet was a slightly better airframe aerodynamically, but as it first flew later than the Potez due to a lack of test engines it was not chosen as the primary aircraft of the type.
Yes. The Bréguet 690 was a private initiative of Breguet from 1935 (therefore outside the 1934 program which saw the choice of the Potez 63). But as Breguet had refused the nationalization of his company, Minister Pierre Cot retained its engines, which arrived 11 months late .. The Br. 690 then showing excellent performance ..
 

Elan Vital

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Maybe if the Bloch-Potez megacorp of 1934 (with numerous smaller companies bought by them, including Lorraine) actually worked and endured as a powerful corporation and retooled itself rather than being a loose conglomerate of small companies that don't cooperate and synergise with each other... A revitalized Lorraine competing with HS and GR in the powerful aircraft engine market under the auspices of Potez and Bloch...
 

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the Bloch-Potez megacorp of 1934

I never heard about this, but it seems to have big ATL potential.

Potez and Bloch were born the same year or so (1892) and they had the same banker: Abed François Chirac (yes, CHIRAC, as in JACQUES CHIRAC. Guess why ? it was his father.)

I suppose the "megacorp" you mention was eviscerated in 1936 - since Potez-Méaulte become SNCA-Nord, and Bloch in Talence (near Bordeaux) part of SNCASO ?

About these nationalizations, Potez, Bloch, and Chirac Sr. went into weird business with the government, with all kind of bizarre deals.

Potez, notably, created a "new private Potez" company in 1937; he put Chirac Sr. as manager... and then got himself re-hired by the SNCA-Nord, now in shambles after a botched nationalization.

So by 1938 there were kind of TWO potez companies, one private, one public !

The government gave money to Potez and Bloch as compensations for seizing their companies. Banker Chirac helped them to re-create private aviation companies with the said money.

strange days !
 

Elan Vital

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the Bloch-Potez megacorp of 1934

I never heard about this, but it seems to have big ATL potential.

Potez and Bloch were born the same year or so (1892) and they had the same banker: Abed François Chirac (yes, CHIRAC, as in JACQUES CHIRAC. Guess why ? it was his father.)

I suppose the "megacorp" you mention was eviscerated in 1936 - since Potez-Méaulte become SNCA-Nord, and Bloch in Talence (near Bordeaux) part of SNCASO ?

About these nationalizations, Potez, Bloch, and Chirac Sr. went into weird business with the government, with all kind of bizarre deals.

Potez, notably, created a "new private Potez" company in 1937; he put Chirac Sr. as manager... and then got himself re-hired by the SNCA-Nord, now in shambles after a botched nationalization.

So by 1938 there were kind of TWO potez companies, one private, one public !

The government gave money to Potez and Bloch as compensations for seizing their companies. Banker Chirac helped them to re-create private aviation companies with the said money.

strange days !
This was formed between 1932 and 1934 as part of the centralisation policy encouraged by the Air Ministry. Potez and Bloch made deals to buy out numerous small manufacturers, among which CAMS, ANF Les Mureaux, SAB (Société Aérienne Bordelaise), Motobloc and Lorraine (engine and automobile part at least).
Unfortunately, Potez and Bloch mostly exploited that policy to increase their factory surface and thus get more aircraft orders, but production wasn't rationally distributed, the design bureaus weren't really working together and tooling wasn't really modernised that much in most places. The group would need to be disciplined by a politician who is also willing to cooperate with the industry and provide the financial means to retool.

IMO, Paul Reynaud might be the man for the job if he becomes War or Finance Minister as he was in favor of rearmament and industrial revitalization, was well-versed in defence matters and wanted the state to help the corporations and orient their efforts without actual nationalisations. He might also see through the shenanigans of Potez and Bloch.
Ideal option might be Doumergue following Reynaud's and André Tardieu's advice on the state reform and retiring after the resulting snap elections in 1934, with Tardieu becoming Président du Conseil, Reynaud at Finance or War Ministry (Pétain at war if Reynaud picks Finance, maybe) and other industrialist politicians like Amaury de La Grange being involved. That should avoid the Front Populaire-style govt and ensures proper funding with "bellicists"* in power.

*bellicists in the sense that they were in favor of rearmament and a hard line against the Germans to save peace, as opposed to the pacifism of Flandin on the right or most of the French left.


In any case, a proper use of the companies against the Bloch-Potez megacorp would provide great synergies. Potez "teaching" Bloch about mass producible aircrafts and better aerodynamics, Lorraine improving on the Petrel and Sterna engines for the aircrafts developped by the corp, ANF being experienced with smaller aircrafts...​
 

uk 75

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The impact of the First World War runs through this thread. In France even more than in Britain this war had been an apocalypse which effected every family.
Only 20 years separated Munich from Versailles.
The impact in both France and Britain of a pathological desire to avoid war was great.
Unlike World War 2 which was seen as a clearly necessary struggle against German aggression, the Great War as it was known was seen as a tragic mistake by muddle-headed politicians.
Rearmament from 1934 took place against widespread public horror that money needed for social improvements was being squandered on "armaments".
"Deterrence" of war was used to justify the expenditure, especially by Chamberlain. But Hitler could not be detered.
Sorry to mention politics but it is important to understand the influences at work on the politicians, military and industrialists. Wishful thinking seems short-sighted to us but for them it was all they could imagine to stop the nightmare of war.
 

Elan Vital

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The impact of the First World War runs through this thread. In France even more than in Britain this war had been an apocalypse which effected every family.
Only 20 years separated Munich from Versailles.
The impact in both France and Britain of a pathological desire to avoid war was great.
Unlike World War 2 which was seen as a clearly necessary struggle against German aggression, the Great War as it was known was seen as a tragic mistake by muddle-headed politicians.
Rearmament from 1934 took place against widespread public horror that money needed for social improvements was being squandered on "armaments".
"Deterrence" of war was used to justify the expenditure, especially by Chamberlain. But Hitler could not be detered.
Sorry to mention politics but it is important to understand the influences at work on the politicians, military and industrialists. Wishful thinking seems short-sighted to us but for them it was all they could imagine to stop the nightmare of war.
Pacifism was prevalent everywhere, but that alone doesn't explain why the armed forces had to be weak. At the military level at least there was always intense debate on what should be done. On the political level, the partisans of proper deterrence were less prevalent but still had their chance to win.

Many, if not most high-ranking officers were in favor of transforming the army with new weapons (vehicles, aircrafts) ever since 1919, and wanted an army capable of maneuvering to defend the country. By the late 1920s-early 30s when the smaller conscription classes were soon expected, motorization/mechanization was deemed even more important as it could allow reduction in required troop numbers while maintaining capability.
In the debate about fortifications, what became the Maginot Line was also not well-liked. In fact most of the officers in the commission on fortifications wanted only to fortify very specific areas of the border to facilitate French troop movements, and they were opposed to the concept of "inviolability of the territory". They felt that a more ambitious defensive line would force the Army into a defensive doctrine and reduce funding for motorization, preventing any movement into enemy territory. The prevalent idea among many officers was to rush to the Rhine as it was a natural defensive line.

However, for the socialist and radical-socialist-leaning governments of the late 1920s and early 30s, a large defensive army with a low conscription time (1 year) and large fortifications was preferred. New weapons were mostly dismissed by them for the entire 1920s, leading to a relative lack of experiments compared to other countries during that period and poor experience with mass production.
 

Archibald

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The impact of the First World War runs through this thread. In France even more than in Britain this war had been an apocalypse which effected every family.
Only 20 years separated Munich from Versailles.
The impact in both France and Britain of a pathological desire to avoid war was great.
Unlike World War 2 which was seen as a clearly necessary struggle against German aggression, the Great War as it was known was seen as a tragic mistake by muddle-headed politicians.
Rearmament from 1934 took place against widespread public horror that money needed for social improvements was being squandered on "armaments".
"Deterrence" of war was used to justify the expenditure, especially by Chamberlain. But Hitler could not be detered.
Sorry to mention politics but it is important to understand the influences at work on the politicians, military and industrialists. Wishful thinking seems short-sighted to us but for them it was all they could imagine to stop the nightmare of war.

Imagine leaving through these times

July 31, 1934: WWI beginning + 20 years
November 11, 1938: Armistice + 20 years
More amusingly: July 14, 1939: French revolution, Bastille day +150 years !

The two dates are very striking and somewhat ironic, considering what happened in May 1940. They are also quite revealing...

November 11, 1938 "Geez, 20 years ago 1.4 million men died, and for what ? back to square one..."

July 14, 1939 Bastille day + 150 years. That day was a huge military parade of a seemingly all powerful French Army and Air Force... (sigh) Weygand famously said "Ah, sure, what a parade... French Army never has been so strong !"

He must have felt weird only 10 months later, May 19, 1940... when Gamelin crétin was fired and he was called back in emergency to replace him.
To his credit, he did an honest job in early June (June 5 to June 9, say). Only to became a traitor as much as Pétain and Huntziger... he knew he wouldn't do any miracle with 64 divisions left against 145 German ones, and as such the idea of an Armistice was in his mind right from May 22 - and exactly a month later, it drove him to Vichy.

Sic transit gloria mundi...

These two dates are revealing how skizophrenic France had become.
 

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The manufacturing of the H.S. 404 was slow and costly. At the beginning of the war only 928 units had been delivered to l’Armée de l’Air and in March 1940 there were 2,319 units available.
- Breguets 690 needed 1*20 mm gun in the nose
- Bloch 152 / 155 series needed two of them (one per wing)
- motor-canon fighters from MS-406 to Arsenal VG-33 needed one in the nose
- and then the bombers needed it as defensive weapon

The AdA planned 9500 aircraft for spring 1941 or later.

Sooner or later, the four kind of aircraft described above, in need of HS-404, would have overtaken H.S slow and costly production.

Something would have to give, and my bet would be the bombers, as it made no sense as a defensive weapon...

Then again, LOGIC and COMMON SENSE were seemingly alien to late 1930's France, notably its politicans and military leaders...
Yes, but it was not just guns that gave or not entirely at least. Propellers, gun sights, exhaust manifolds, and instruments were all in short supply. The reason was not so much demand as failure of the distribution system. The necessities were often available, but not where they were needed and with no way of transporting them.
 

iverson

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It would have been Kafka with wings.

Consider the fact that Allison V-1710 and Merlin variants of many existing types were considered (D-523, D-524, and the like) and same thing for radials, British Hercules and American Pratts (Breguet 695, Amiots 350, LeO-455, MB-176...)
Just because Hispano Suiza and G&R bosses were corrupt jerks unable to provide reliable engines and engines powerful enough - or both.

The Aviation ministry in France truly went in panic mode by 1938 and some definitively absurd decisions were made. "Aircraft, we need aircraft, lots of them !"

France literally raided US aircraft plants or even the USAAC reserves for anything that flew, trading aircraft against the country gold reserves.

Plans were made to build an Amiot 350 production plant in Louisiana, and Breguet 690s in Canada.

Not only P-36, but P-38, P-39, P-40 were also considered (the British got them instead).
Naval aircraft, dive bombers of every kind... and even very erly B-24 Liberators (LB-30s).

France ordered 50 Koolhoven FK-58 from Netherlands already unable to supply their own air force. Only 14 were delivered to the Armée de l'Air, which never wanted them in the first place. :oops:

I swear I saw somewhere Polikarpov I-16s were considered (but I wouldn't bet on that).

France ordered Caproni Ca-313 as tactical reconnaissance aircraft, 5 were delivered early June 1940... only days before Benny the moose declared war to France.
The Caproni order was probably diplomatic, at least in part--aneffort to keep the Duce from signing up with Germany by emphasizing the old alliance and future economic ties between the countries. I believe that the RAF considered ordering the Re.2000 as well. The Caproni firm had a lot of influence.
 
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