Thursday, 21 April 2016

Batailles Aériennes 76 - " Non-Stop Offensive" - the Luftwaffe on the defensive, June-July 1941 by Jean-Louis Roba

"...This issue of Batailles Aériennes, dedicated to the first period of what we then called the "Non-stop Offensive" offers a surprising parallel with the news, especially with the continuing air strikes on Syria. Admittedly, the comparison stops there but we can not help thinking about the ineffectiveness of air strikes in the absence of planned ground operations to destroy an opponent. This is what is happening in Syria, where French and her allies can have no intention of dispatching an expeditionary force; similarly, Britain, 75 years ago, was incapable of mounting a ground campaign to drive the Germans out of France. The RAF therefore undertook its "Non-stop Offensive" which took a large toll of men and machines for meagre returns; the Luftwaffe needed only to maintain two fighter wings on French territory to oppose the large formations of British fighters. Despite the fact that the German fighter force in the West was hopelessly outnumbered, the two fighter Geschwader managed to resist effectively..."

  From early 1941 the skies of northern France were criss-crossed with contrails on an almost daily basis, the result of the aerial clashes between the RAF and the two Luftwaffe Geschwader remaining in France in what has been dubbed " the year of the Circus". Taking the war to the Luftwaffe, the RAF's tactic was to lure the fighters - principally of JG 2 and JG 26 - into the air to write them down using a handful of bombers as 'bait' escorted by sometimes as many as nine squadrons of fighters. The latest issue of Batailles Aériennes is out now  and continues the chronology started in Batailles Aériennes no 35 "Le RAF contre-attaque" (now sold out). This latest Roba work covers barely two months of air combat action from June 1941 to mid-July 1941 and will be followed by two further issues. Jean-Louis Roba describes the clashes between the Bf 109s of JG 2 and JG 26 with the Hurricanes and Spitfires of 242, 609, 303 and other RAF fighter squadrons illustrated with many period photographs of the machines and aces that fought through this period of dog-fighting over northern France. Most of the images have been obtained from German sources so will be new to many. The text (French language) describes the action day-by-day and is completed with a full list of losses for the period and is superbly illustrated with a large selection of Thierry Dekker artworks. Superb. Recommended at 12,50 euros

Lela Presse web page text translation by this blog author

 Go here to order (English spoken) and see a pdf excerpt

Lt. Robert Menge's 3./JG 26 Bf 109 E-7. Menge was KIA on 14 June 1941 during a clash with 92 Sqd Spitfires. The emblem of 3./JG 26 under the cockpit was a representation of a diving eagle clutching a bomb