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Old November 27th, 2012, 09:10 PM   #1
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Battle of France in numbers


Different sources stating slightly different numbers of divisions and tanks which took part in Battle of France 1940, but the difference is not significant. Most sources are oscillating around numbers shown below.

Netherlands
Infantry divisions;8 Armored division;0 Horse cavalry division;0 Tanks;0

Belgium
Infantry divisions;20 Armored division;0 Horse cavalry division;2 Tanks;10

United Kingdom
Infantry divisions;13 Armored division;0 Horse cavalry divisions;0 Tanks;310

France
Infantry divisions;97 Armored division;3 Horse cavalry division;5 Tanks;3063


Poland;
Infantry divisions;4 Armoured Brigade;1 Horse cavalry division;0 Tanks;only one armoured battalion (approx 20 tanks) and motorised infantry battalion.
Note; formation of 3rd and 4th infantry divisions was incomplete before 10 May 1940 however units of these divisions took part in fighting at the later stage of the battle.

Czechoslovakia
Infantry divisions;1

Allied total;
Infantry divisions;143 Armored division;3.5 Horse cavalry divisions;7 Tanks;3383
Total: 153.5 divisions

Germany
Infantry divisions;131 Armored division;10 Horse cavalry divisions;1 Tanks;2445
Total:142 Divisions

German tanks included: Panzer-I ; 1276 tanks (armed only with MG)
Panzer-II; 1113 tanks (20 mm gun plus MG)
Panzer-III; 429 tanks (37 mm gun plus 2 MG)
Panzer-IV;296 tanks (75 mm gun plus 2 MG)
Panzer-35/38 ;391 tanks (37 mm gun plus 2 MG)
Total: 3209 tanks
Above number include all tanks in German inventory including armoured units, workshops and reserve. In Battle of France, only 2445 of these tanks was used..



The gun equipped (with guns above 37 mm calibre) tanks of both sides compared as below:
British
A12- weight 27 t. frontal armour 3.7 inch,main armament 40mm gun, speed 15 mph

French
Somua-weight 19 t, frontal armour 1.57” main armament 47 mm gun speed 25 mph
B1-weight 31 t, frontal armour 2.36” main armament 75 mm gun speed 17 mph

German
PzKpfw III weight 19 t, frontal armour 1.97”, main armament 37 mm gun,
Speed 25 mph
PzKpfw IV weight 22 t, frontal armour 1.97”, main armament 75 mm gun,
Speed 25 mph
In total, allies had 658 gun tanks vs 627 German gun tanks.
Allied tanks were had better frontal armour than German and gun calibre was on allied advantage.

Perhaps somebody will make comparison of opposing air forces?
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Old November 28th, 2012, 03:44 AM   #2
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Just proving, once again, 'It aint what you got, it what you do with it' that matters!
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Old November 28th, 2012, 03:56 AM   #3

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Interesting post, thank you. I'll add a similar re; air power if nobody else beats me to it.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:03 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by Sicknero View Post
Interesting post, thank you. I'll add a similar re; air power if nobody else beats me to it.





And in the meantime heres a taster.

World War II Online - Aircraft Numbers
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:10 AM   #5

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Originally Posted by funakison View Post
And in the meantime heres a taster.

World War II Online - Aircraft Numbers
You seem to have pretty much covered it
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:10 AM   #6

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These numbers are not certain at all, besides, the French and British deployed quite a lot of different tanks, comparing only the guns of the Somua and Char would not suffice.

The German divisons were of a different size.

There is no way that we can get exact and clear numbers on the airplanes or tanks during this battle, in France there were a lot of ad hoc tank armoured designs and also on the number of airplanes in the French Air Force was unclear.

On the matter of the Air Force this is no better in Germany, the German generals all gave different numbers after the war.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:12 AM   #7

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General Vuillemin, the Chief of the French Air Force, later contended: our aviation hurled itself against an enemy five times superior in number. Was this true? the facts are extremely difficult to determine, no sources on either side agree on the number of planes employed. And on the French side the figures given even vary so greatly that they become a mystery which even today can no be fully pierced. Gamelin himself testified several times that he could not understand the discrepancies in them. If they mystified the French commander-in-chief it is little wonder that they have a similar effect on the historian.One can only attempt to arrive at an approximate evaluation.

The Germans for that matter, are far from agreeing on how many planes they flung in to battle on may 10, 1940. The usually carefull Jacobsen gives a German total of 3,534 planes: 1462 fighters, 1,016 bombers, 501 reconnaissance and 555 others, but this is almost certainly too high by some 500 planes. A check with Luftwaffe officers made by general Cosse-Brissac in 1947 gave the number of 3,00 planes, of which only 700 to 800 were fighters, 1,200 bombers and the rest 'destroyers' (the Me110) and reconnaissance. General Kesselring cites official figures of 2,670 planes for the two air fleets assigned on the western front.- 1,309 fighters and 1,361 bombers, including suka dive-bombers- but he thinks the number of fighters given is to high. A total figure of 1,700 to 3,000 planes including about a thousand fighters, would seem to roughly near the mark. The air forces of France and Britain, together, proved considerably weaker in the number of planes thrown in to battle. This qualification is important not only because the British held back the bulk of their fighter planes for the defence of their island but because the French, for reasons never explained also held back a substantial number of their first line aircraft. There is a baffling discrepancy between the number of modern planes the French had on hand in 1940 and the number they used in combat. Guy La Chambre, who was air minister from 1938 to 1940, told the post-war parliamentary investigating committee that on the day the German offensive began the French Air Force had a total of 3,289 planes, of which 2,122 were fighters, 461 bombers, 429 reconnaissance and 277 observation. But only one-third of them were on the front: 790 fighters, 140 bombers, 170 reconnaissance and 210 observation planes, or a total 'front line strength' of 1,310 aircraft. The remaining two-thirds, it appears were in the interior.
A few were overseas. It seems surprising that the French would not put more of their planes at the front or in immediate reserve where they could be thrown into battle if needed. According to the Air minister, the French Air Force was even stronger during the fighting than above figures would indicate. He testified that between may 10 and June 12 some 1,131 new planes were delivered to the Air Force as replacements, among them 668 fighters and 355 bombers. Thus he declared, a total of 2,441 modern planes were available to the front during the battle. If these figures are accurate the French and British would have had a numerical quality with the Germans - some 3,000 planes each wit the Allies being actually superior in fighters and the Germans in bombers. A study of military archives made by General de Cosse-Brissac, which he gave me in 1963 substantially supports La Chambre's figures. He arrives at a total of 2,923 modern French planes, of which 1,648 were in line or in immediate reserve. Of the latter, there were 946 fighters (of 2005), 219 bombers (of 433) and 483 reconnaissance and observation planes (out of 485). The Air Force Command itself advised General Georges at the beginning of May that by the 15th it could put in to action 1,300 aircraft of which 764 were fighters and 143 bombers.

So far so good. There is approximate agreement among these French sources that the Air Force had a front between 800 to 1,000 fighters which was about what the Germans had. The French were thus about equal in fighter strength and a little stronger if the odd 150 British fighters were added. In bombers the Allies were outnumbered two to one. But since they were fighting a defensive battle the strength in fighters seemed the more important.
To utterly confuse the picture, however, there are other sets of figures from French sources, particularly from the flying officers themselves. According to these the French Air Force was practically non existent.
Colonel Pierre Paquier for example, in his post-war study contends that the French had on the North-East front only 420 fighters and 140 bombers, backed up by 72 British fighters and 192 bombers. This seems a small number compared to the aircraft available but the Air Froce colonel makes it even smaller. 'Actually', he says, the French had on the front on May 10 only 360 fighters and 122 bombers. The mystery thickens. General d'Astier de la Vigerie, who commanded the Z.O.A.N. (zone of air operations, north), covering army group 1, says that he had a total of 432 fighters, of which 72 were British and 314 bombers, of which 192 were British - or a total of 746 aircraft pitted against the 3,000 planes of Germany's two air fleets. His zone, that of Army Group 1, comprised the entire area of the German offensiveand the general points out that he was given but one-third of the available bombers and three-fifths of the fighters. But according to General Vuillemin, Chief of the Air force, the French had only 580 fighters on the entire front plus 160 British fighters. General d'Harcourt, Chief of Fighter Command, testified at Riom that he had a total of only 418 serviceable fighters. One can only ask; where were the rest?

The deposition of an Air Force General at the Riom trial provided what is probably the best answer we shall ever get to that question. This was General Massenet de Marancour Commander of the Third Air Region, extending from Brittany to the Pyrenees.

... I was in close and frequent touch [hedeposed] with General Redempt (commander of the Air Force's special depots) about the excessive number of war planes which he deposited at my air schools because no cover for them was available elsewhere. I frequently listened to his complaints about planes which he didn't know what to do with and which the Air Force High Command would not take from him. I know that nearly every evening General Redempt sent to Air Force General Headquarters the list of all planes ready for delivery, and this list was long.

The general explained that at Tours alone he had over 200 war planes, o fwhich 150 were Bloch 151 pursuit aircraft.

On May 10, 1940 these 150 Bloch 151's were still at Tours... We had neither the necessary machine guns nor cannons but by sending trucks to Chatellerault I found immediately all the arms I needed, which proves we really lacked nothing.

At another field, the general related, he assembled 30 fighters to be thrown in to battle. A month passed, he said. No orders came.
General Gamelin himself, reviewing the causes of defeat after the war,
posed the question: why out of 2,000 modern fighters on hand at the beginning of May 1940, were fewer than 500 were used on the North-East front? Neither the generalissimo nor anyone else got an answer. 'What is behind this mystery about our planes?' Gamelin asked while testifying before the Parliamentary Investigating Committee. 'I humbly confess to you that I don't know'. As to wide discrepancies in the figures given by the French militarysources between the number of new planes on hand and those which participated in the battle, Gamelin comments: 'We have a right to be astonished'. So has the historian trying to make sense of these confusing figures, and the astonishment is all the greater when one comes across the testimony of General Vuillemin himself that at the end of the Battle of France, despite considerable losses, he had more first-line planes than at its beginning.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:16 AM   #8
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Just proving, once again, 'It aint what you got, it what you do with it' that matters!
Indeed; in this case, the new revolutionary German tactics regularly covered under the term "Blitzkrieg".

This is indeed a fascinating topic and hope it will not just degenerate into another futile testosterone length comparison on which comrades-in-arms may have shown more or less courage while being duly crushed primarily by superior tactics.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:22 AM   #9

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Originally Posted by sylla1 View Post
Indeed; in this case, the new revolutionary German tactics regularly covered under the term "Blitzkrieg".

This is indeed a fascinating topic and hope it will not just degenerate into another futile testosterone length comparison on which comrades-in-arms may have shown more or less courage while being duly crushed primarily by superior tactics.
Well said Sylla :-)

Aside from the Blitzkreig tactics I understand that another major difference was communications and crew. I.e. radio vs field telephones, and Allied tank crews being over-tasked compared to the Wehrmacht with larger crews. I might well have fallen victim to an "accepted truth" though.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 04:25 AM   #10

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Well said Sylla :-)

Aside from the Blitzkreig tactics I understand that another major difference was communications and crew. I.e. radio vs field telephones, and Allied tank crews being over-tasked compared to the Wehrmacht with larger crews. I might well have fallen victim to an "accepted truth" though.
They did have smaller crews but a well trained crew could handle it.
The real problems started when the Crew had to be replaced.

And you are also right on the communication part, even in the high command of the Allied armies generals often used messengers on motors, which of course was very troublesome considering the flow of refugees.
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