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The French Aviation Industry 1936 to 1940

galgot

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Well, the french aero industry BEFORE the war was far from a model of perfection either, fact is it was quite a mess due to nationalizations, and corruption. Producing an plethora of ineffective models and with only a few models that could have been useful if production had been focussed on them.
Then with 4 years of occupation, during which rest of the world aero technology went from 600hp piston engines to jet age, while french engineers were still working on paper about how to improve their VG-30s (example).
I can understand the postwar French project monsters, they just had no clue where to go, all new stuff to catch on, what prewar stuff could be worth keeping (not much)... Ect...
Also the same messy prewar state procurement system was in place.
Only now there was some resources. So yes some of it went into these useless monsters, and certainly to keep engineers working and catch up even with errors (one learns a lot from falling if he stand up again).
In fact i'm surprised how well it recovered from the complete mess it was in, once the state reorganized the procurement system and some worthy names began to appear.

(Edit: Was writing when our distinguished Archibald posted with a much detailled response)
 
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blackkite

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If France had inough resources?
 

galgot

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Well, I thought the nationalizations was part of the reason for the mess cause it was badly done. I stand corrected then.
If you tell me it was even worst before, I agree .
Big part of it was corruption too…
 

Archibald

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Well, I thought the nationalizations was part of the reason for the mess cause it was badly done. I stand corrected then.
If you tell me it was even worst before, I agree .
Big part of it was corruption too…

It was badly done and created utter chaos. no offense to Pierre Cot or Front Populaire, his right-wing successor Guy la Chambre hardly did better.

Ever heard of France Fights On (join, if you want ! we want new recruits !)

I did some research on the SNCA / 1936 nationalizations for the project. And I nearly banged my head against the wall.

Basically I come with a personal theory about the 1936 nationalizations.

1 - One of Pierre Cot bureaucrat took a map of France.
2 - Then a team of bureaucrats meticulously pinpointed every single aviation plant in the country, whatever the company or owner.
3 - Then they draw lines according to geography.
4 - Cutting the map, France, and its aviation industry, somewhat, like a freakkin' pizza.
5 - Six slices: North, West, East, Center, South-West, South-East.
6 - And then within each slice, they glued together all the plants into SNCA - like SNCF, but for aircraft, not trains. Same era, 1937.
7 - Whatever we owner, the company, their culture history. Screw all that !
8 - The plants that are, geographically close, must work together. To ease production ! genius idea, isn't it ? that was the dogma. no kidding. So they created the SNCA as "frankenstein-monster-industries" gluing together, one bit of Bloch with the nearby bit of Breguet, and also a bit of Amiot not too far away.
France ended with a Frankeindustry of aviation. Dear god.

Potez. Henry Potez. He was sacked from his Meaulte, nationalized plant. No problem ! He used the money given to him as indemnity to... create a new, private Potez. Then the government called him to the rescue: the nationalized Potez did not worked. So Potez ended with two Potez, the public one, with Potez back at the controls; and the brand new, private Potez, with a strawman called... Abel François Chirac. Yes, Chirac, the father of... you know who.

A banker and a good friend of Bloch ( =Dassault) and his good friend Potez, that helped them using their government indemnities (compensation for being expelled from their own companies, now nationalized) to... undermine the same government by recreating the private industries they had been deprived off by the french government.

In a nutshell, Dassault, Potez and Chirac father used the government money to recreate a private industry to compete with the government. Go figure.
 

galgot

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Well, I thought the nationalizations was part of the reason for the mess cause it was badly done. I stand corrected then.
If you tell me it was even worst before, I agree .
Big part of it was corruption too…

It was badly done and created utter chaos. no offense to Pierre Cot or Front Populaire, his right-wing successor Guy la Chambre hardly did better.

Ever heard of France Fights On (join, if you want ! we want new recruits !)

I did some research on the SNCA / 1936 nationalizations for the project. And I nearly banged my head against the wall.

Basically I come with a personal theory about the 1936 nationalizations.

1 - One of Pierre Cot bureaucrat took a map of France.
2 - Then a team of bureaucrats meticulously pinpointed every single aviation plant in the country, whatever the company or owner.
3 - Then they draw lines according to geography.
4 - Cutting the map, France, and its aviation industry, somewhat, like a freakkin' pizza.
5 - Six slices: North, West, East, Center, South-West, South-East.
6 - And then within each slice, they glued together all the plants into SNCA - like SNCF, but for aircraft, not trains. Same era, 1937.
7 - Whatever we owner, the company, their culture history. Screw all that !
8 - The plants that are, geographically close, must work together. To ease production ! genius idea, isn't it ? that was the dogma. no kidding. So they created the SNCA as "frankenstein-monster-industries" gluing together, one bit of Bloch with the nearby bit of Breguet, and also a bit of Amiot not too far away.
France ended with a Frankeindustry of aviation. Dear god.

Potez. Henry Potez. He was sacked from his Meaulte, nationalized plant. No problem ! He used the money given to him as indemnity to... create a new, private Potez. Then the government called him to the rescue: the nationalized Potez did not worked. So Potez ended with two Potez, the public one, with Potez back at the controls; and the brand new, private Potez, with a strawman called... Abel François Chirac. Yes, Chirac, the father of... you know who.

A banker and a good friend of Bloch ( =Dassault) and his good friend Potez, that helped them using their government indemnities (compensation for being expelled from their own companies, now nationalized) to... undermine the same government by recreating the private industries they had been deprived off by the french government.

In a nutshell, Dassault, Potez and Chirac father used the government money to recreate a private industry to compete with the government. Go figure.

Seems their nationalization program, almost soviet style, just couldn’t work in France of the time, still a parliamentary democracy, with strong right wing political and financial forces to work against it, as you say.
They tried too much control on the industry.
 

dan_inbox

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Seems their nationalization program, almost soviet style, just couldn’t work in France of the time, still a parliamentary democracy, with strong right wing political and financial forces to work against it, as you say.
They tried too much control on the industry.
It was not only in the aircraft industry: It was across the whole economy. There was an ideological war between the finance, economic circles and right wing parties on one side, and the Front Populaire on the other side. That Front-Popu was an alliance of the SFIO-French Section of Workers' international, the Radical party, and the Communist party. It was a war to death between those sides from minute one.

Clearly the Economic circles did all they could to make that government collapse, further hurting the economy in the process. (and succeeded in 2 years, basically).
On the other side, the Left wasn't only trying to implement radical socialist economic policies (questionable economics as the USSR's history would show), but they were also enacting "la revanche de la Classe Ouvrière sur les Oisifs" ie the revenge of the Working Class against the (rich) Idle Class.
To paint it black-and-white, hurting the Rich was important, besides trying to help the Poor. Those Rich were the Class enemy.
This kind of thinking, a totally inexperienced group at the top, in a tough international context post-Depression, against the establishment soaping up the plank, no wonder it didn't work out.

The point is: yes the nationalisations made a mess of aircraft industry, but not particularly worse than other sectors. This program of nationalisations made a mess of the whole economy, basically.

(not meant to start a political discussion on who was right or wrong, or on any current affairs. Just providing context about that era in France)
 

galgot

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Well, we are getting far from SNCASE (Sud-Est) Postwar flying boat projects... into a very French historico-political debate ;p
Thank you both for your informations on which I know only very little. As there isn't always ONE single reason for a historic even (like a big mess), I suppose its a mix of things.
Anyone read the book "l'étrange defaite" ?
Bonne année au fait !
 
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dan_inbox

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The notion that the Fench economy collapsed between 1938 and 1940 is just factually wrong.
Hmm. I didn't write that the economy collapsed "between 1938 and 1940", but between 36 and 38. FYI that's the duration of Front Populaire.
This collapse is factual, and was actually the reason Blum resigned (twice, in 37 and 38) when he was denied the "pleins pouvoirs financiers" for a socialist-style reform plan to restart the economy.

38-40 was the time or Daladier, no longer the Front Populaire. Even though he was from the Left (Radical), he endeavored to "remettre la France au travail" --put it back to work, and basically undid the FP's reforms which he called "loi de paresse et de trahison nationale" (laziness and national treason). When the communist union CGT started general strikes, he sent the army to the factories and jailed some 18,000 leaders of the union. Quite a different kettle of fish.

Note I'm not approving one side or the other, just reminding the context.

Note that the Front Populaire nationalised part of the defence (not aviation per se) industry (not even all of it) and rail transportation. (...) Just compare with the Labour policy in 1945
Yes: Front-Popu nationalised armament, aviation, railway. And reduced the work week from 48 hours to 40, with the foreseeable effect on production.
And No, I won't compare with any other countries or periods. Or discuss whether UK's Labour or anyone else at any time was more or less extreme than FP.
It's not about judging politics, which would be completely out of place here, it's about providing context for what happened to French aviation industry at the time of the SNCAs.
 

dan_inbox

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Again things were much more complex.
Of course. But here is not the place for a 10-volumes dissertation (even if we had the competence for it). Yes, shortening makes it more black-and-white.

In 1938-1939 (...) the output rose sharply.
In 38-39, it was Daladier, reversing the FP policies. See above. Again trying to credit the wrong side.

You insist to paint it that everything wrong was due to the previous right-wing governments, and that the Front Populaire brought successful economic salvation. It's fully your right to think so, even if it a, er, peculiar opinion in the history of Economics.
And I won't discuss it. Not here. Wrong place.
 

dan_inbox

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You do not know what you are talking about.
Ah. The sign of an intelligent and constructive discussion from mature, sensible and respectful people. Makes this forum more valuable and pleasant.
Congratulations. I'm out.
 

Archibald

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I'm guilty of this !

Too much France Fights On ! But one can't deny the french aviation industry got thirty years in hell - 1922 - 1952, three lost, bleak decades.

Whatever, this blog rules. http://sam40.fr/a-propos/ An excellent reading, well documented.

By contrast this one is more one-sided. https://aviadrix.blogspot.com/
In fact the first one was conceived, somewhat, to balance the second one which is too much partisan.
 

edwest2

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My French is very poor. Is there something in English that covers the same ground?
 

Hood

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This is an interesting thread, I didn't really know much about the background to the nationalisation. I knew about the critical comments about the scheme but haven't ever seen a detailed analysis.
Are there any good sources that have been translated into English?

I don't think we should be too critical, the aircraft industries were still young and forming and organisation had to evolve. All nations introduced some form of state control or direction at the very least. The results were mixed across the nations. What mattered was getting modern designs and the productive capacity to churn them out.
 

kaiserd

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Interesting discussion above, appears to be a classic example of how any historic “simple answer” is at best a partial picture of what actually happened and why.
Real life is always more complicated than that, despite human nature always wanting that “simple answer” that lines up with our own prejudices and attitudes.
 
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