The Rise and Fall of the French Air Force: French Air Operations and Strategy 1900-1940

Author(s): Greg Baughen 

ISBN: 9781781556443
$28.00 $40.00
The full and untold story behind the defeat of the French Air Force in 1940.
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  • Explains what the French Air Force got wrong – and what it got right

  • Based on original archive material and supplemented with many unpublished photographs

  • Meticulously researched and of interest to the aviation and military historian as well as scale aviation modellers

On 10 May 1940, the French possessed one of the largest air forces in the world. On paper, it was nearly as strong as the RAF.

Six weeks later, France had been defeated. For a struggling French Army desperately looking for air support, the skies seemed empty of friendly planes. In the decades that followed, the debate raged about what had gone wrong. Were there unused stockpiles of planes? Were French aircraft really so inferior?

Greg Baughen examines the myths that surround the French defeat. He traces some of the problems back to the very earliest days of French aviation. He explains how the lessons of the First World War were forgotten and instead unproven, radical new theories came to dominate French thinking.

Just in time, the French realised their mistake, but right up to the decisive German offensive, poor decisions and bad luck dogged French efforts to modernise their air force. Yet, despite the problems, defeat was not inevitable. If better use had been made of the planes that were available, the outcome might have been different.

BOOK ISBN 9781781556443
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 320 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 76 mono/9 maps and 6 line drawings



Greg Baughen was educated at Sussex University where he obtained a degree in Mathematics. His interest in military aviation was sparked by curiosity over the calamitous defeat of British and French forces in the Battle of France in 1940. For many years, he has delved through public archives in Paris and London seeking explanations. The quest has taken him back to the origins of air power in both countries and forward to what might have been in the Cold War. Baughen is currently working on a series of studies that will trace the history of the RAF from its origins through to the thermonuclear age.