french planes

4

Dewoitine D.520 fighter plane

Manufactured by SNCAM - formerly Dewoitine - c.1938, introduced in 1940.

Primary Gun

Hispano-Suiza HS.404 Mle 1938 autocannon

Designed by Marc Birkigt.
20x110mm 60-round drum magazine
Gas operated, delayed blowback
500 r/m

Located in the engine and firing through the propeller’s shaft.

Secondary Guns

MAC 1934 M1939 machine gun

An aircraft variant of the Mle 1931 Reibel.
7,5x54mm MAS Mle 1929 675-round belt
Gas operated
1450 r/m

Two in each wing.

Engine

Hispano-Suiza 12Y-45 engine

Pictured here with its autocannon.
12-cylinder V-type, 930 horsepower

It gave the D.520 a top speed of 540km/h and a range of 1540km

Empty weight of 2092 and 2790 when loaded.
Less than 900 produced.

Arguably the best French fighter of the World War 2, similar in many aspects to the earlier Messerschmitt Bf109, with a better autonomy, maneuverability and ease of maintenance but failing to attain anywhere near its production run before the fall of France.

3

Ousmane Dembélé is in the house!

The French striker’s plane touched down at El Prat Airport at around 5.30pm CET on Sunday, from where he was taken directly to the Camp Nou to pose for the traditional picture outside the club offices, next to the enormous club crest.

“I am very happy to be here. It has always been my dream to be at Barça. And now I’m here I’m very happy to have achieved my dream. This is the best club in the world with the best players in the world … My aim is to do everything for the club, everything for the team, and to have an understanding with my team-mates.”

10

French planes of WW2

The french air force fielded a wide array of planes at the start of WW2 most of them were quite new to the air force at the outbreak of war such as the D.520 fighter. Unfortunately for the French Air Force they could not fight back as well against the more experienced Luftwaffe.

April 16, 1917 - The Nivelle Offensive Begins

Pictured - “En avant !” French soldiers go over the top, April 16 1917.

“The artillery conquers; the infantry occupies.” This was the mantra of Robert Nivelle, France’s commander-in-cheif as of Joffre’s dismissal in December 1916. Nivelle had led the successful French counter-offensive at Verdun, where he had crafted a successful strategy, smashing in German positions with huge artillery bombardments, and then covering the advancing infantry with creeping bombardments that swept any remaining defenders away. Now France’s top soldier, he promised he could replicate his victories on a wider scale.

Nivelle’s target was the Aisne, in a region called the Chemin des Dames, named after a road traveled by the daughters of Louis XV. Nivelle promised wild success, claiming that with his new tactics the Germans would be irreversibly crushed. Several short, sharp assaults, that could be halted if they did not succeed - not that he expected anything other than total victory.

The BEF to the north had launched an assault on Arras in support of Nivelle’s attack, but the troubles the British ran into should have been a warning to the French military. Both British and French politicians, however, eagerly looked to Nivelle to end the dreadful (and politically unpopular) war of attrition.

After a number of delays because of bad weather, Nivelle’s battle went ahead on April 16. The general had amassed twenty divisions from two armies - the Fifth and Sixth - alongside 3,810 guns and 128 brand new French tanks, the hulking, boxy Schneider CA1. A third army was held in reserve, a fourth earmarked to give support and trick the Germans into thinking the main push would come east of Reims.

But the tactics of Verdun would be much harder to replicate on a grand scale. The French artillery failed to cut the German wire, just like the British on the Somme a year earlier. The creeping barrages were difficult to coordinate, they needed to proceed according to carefully-planned time tables, but often they left the infantry far behind. By the time the troops had reach the German trenches, the artillery had already moved far away. One African division reached the German trenches to find their enemies undisturbed and waiting, machine-guns fully loaded. “Decimated by machine gun fire,” wrote one historian, “Senegalese troops break and flee.”

Nivelle hoped to advance a full six miles on the first day. Most of his men only made it six hundred yards. Many parts of the operation met disaster. The French planes were bested by German Albatrosses, bring “Bloody April” to French pilots. The tanks performed miserably. Of 128, thirty-two were knocked out on day one. The German defenses were also much better than they had been at Verdun. Since 1916, the Germans adopted a technique of “elastic defense,” building multiple lines of trenches and strongpoints that supported each other, rather than one single defensive line. Rather than standing and dying, German troops could fall back from one position to another, shooting the French to pieces as they tried to keep up. On the Aisne they had four heavily fortified sections of the Hindenburg Line.

To the French army’s credit, it did make some successful advances, just nowhere near to the scale promies. The Fifth Army penetrated over 3 miles and captured Juvincourt, the next day the Sixth captured a German position Fort Condé. But in their wake they left a trail of corpses. NIvelle had expected 15,000 casualties, he already had lost almost 100,000.