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Tactical Effectiveness of the French Air Force During The War in the West - 1939-1940


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This study assesses the tactical effectiveness of the French Air Force during the Battle of France from September 1939 to June 1940. The author analyzes the several different factors that shaped, led, and drove the tactical system of the French Air Force during this period. During the interwar years, the French situation in terms of politics, military, and society was characterized by a stalemate that explained the inability of France to prepare for the war to come. This stalemate can be traced through the French Air Force, which adopted tactical approaches, including a pursuit mission, that were not consistent with its strategic objectives, operational capabilities, and support requirements. The same factors had similar effects in terms of French bombing. While the French High Command had no clear vision about how to use the tactical system of French bombing, the latter was plagued by the FAF tactical concept in terms of training, operational capabilities, and supply. This study concludes that, although the French defeat in 1940 had broader roots than the tactical system of the French Air Force, the latter was not organized, trained, and equipped to achieve strategic objectives.



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