Armee de l'Air and DAT

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gregorianchant
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Armee de l'Air and DAT

Post by gregorianchant » 26 Jul 2020 20:40

I am trying to better understand what the total number of personnel in the Armee de l'Air was in September 1939- May 1940, and whether the personnel numbers of the air force included France's DAT (Defense Aerienne du Territoire) troops/units. DAT units were French interior units comprised largely of static AA units (separate from Army mobile and static anti-air units), passive air observation units such as District Anti-Air Alert Centers, and searchlight units. Secondary sources I have read on the French air force seem indirectly to treat DAT as something separate from air force (and army), but they may just be making the distinction from the operational air force as opposed to the service itself. (Lee Sharp details DAT formations in his books on the French Army, but it was not clear to me if that was because they were ground formations under the command of Army Military Regions or if because they were part of the Army de Terre.)

From a post in these forums I saw that Pierre Le Goyet states the Armee de l'Air had ~181,000 personnel in Jun 1940. I have seen other sources state 160,000 by March 1940 and another 153,000 by May 1940. I would estimate the DAT troops--based on Lee Sharp's French Army books--were ~80,000, so if they were part of the personnel numbers generally cited for the air force, that would leave ~100,000 for the operational air force in May/June 1940.

I haven't been able to find information on the non-flying units of the operational French air force so hard to validate whether ~100,000 for the air force (excluding DAT troops) is correct. Based on what I know of (a) the air force HQs and flying formations (both in the flying formations directly under air force control and those assigned to Army/Corp HQs) and (b) French training units/schools (making guesses on personnel of the schools), if I guestimate ~30,000 men in airbase units (units operating/maintaining the airbase separate from flying units), ~10,000 in signals units, and ~6,000 men in the French Aerostation units (balloon observation units that were attached to the army corps), then that adds up to ~100,00 men which when combined with the ~80,000 in the DAT would add up to the total number I have seen cited, but that really is total guess work. I can also imagine there being another 80,000 men in ordnance/repair/support units (beyond the ~30,000 airbase type unit personnel already estimated) and the DAT personnel not being part of the figure cited for the air force.

Any thoughts/insights as to whether DAT troops were counted in these air force personnel numbers (i.e., what the total personnel of the air force was not including DAT troops) would be greatly appreciated! For that matter, any sources/info about Armee de l'Air non-flying units (other than DAT) would also be very much appreciated!

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Loïc
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Re: Défense Aérienne du Territoire

Post by Loïc » 27 Jul 2020 13:31

The «DAT» is a term covering both Army and Air units in Air Defence tasks under Regional Commands, but this concerns mainly ARMY AAA Groups and batteries from DCA serie 400 artillery regiments, more infantry machine-gun companies, nothing to do with the Air Force's strenght

The DAT units coming from the Armée de l'Air were only the 56 protection balloon sections then companies from the Aérostation if each had 167 men this should give 9352 without staffs
this one counting also, in non-DAT duties but as field or support units, 30 Battalions Staffs and 49 Observation Companies, 11 Parks, 28 Park Sections and 2 Repair Workshops, numbering a total of 10 900 men

«153 000» was more the real strenght
«181 000» it seems more a figure for the theoretical strenght - budgetary establishment reaching 187 395 in january 1940 (vs 153 819 as real number)
there were 166 172 aviators the 25th june 1940 of which 8892 officers

pilots and flying (Recce Bomber Fighter Observation) Groups are only the tip of the iceberg always exposed to the lights and interest of the people,
while the rest of the Air Force is actually a whole lesser known galaxy remaining on the soil of many logistics specialised companies such Signals Battalions Staffs companies and detachments, Phares, Munitions, Combustibles Liquides, Dépannage, Terrains, Monteurs de Hangars Companies, Aviation Parks and Specialized Sections, and others...as well as the Air Battalions for major airbases and Air companies for smallest or improvised airfields
no idea about the figure of each one, except maybe some companies like the Air companies
for a major Air site like Toulouse the Air Battalions 101 and 153 (Balloon) and both Bombardment and Balloon Training Centers gathered ~4500 aviators

gregorianchant
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Re: Armee de l'Air and DAT

Post by gregorianchant » 27 Jul 2020 20:09

Hi Loic,

Thank you very much, this is extremely helpful, and corrects some false assumptions/guesses I was making. If you know of any good sources for the ground/logistics units (signal, ordnance, fuel, etc.) that you mentioned, I would appreciate it, but it sounds like that information may not be readily available. Sadly I am monolingual, but if the source is online and in French I can always use Google translate. I wish there was an Armée de l'Air equivalent of Lee Sharp's French Army!

Best regards,

Greg

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Loïc
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Re: Armee de l'Air and DAT

Post by Loïc » 29 Jul 2020 13:00

Hello

actually Lee planned to complete his serie by two final further volumes, 600 pages each, with the Armée de l'Air
but it will not before 2024, and was planned before the Brexit and Coronavirus

archiveruk
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Re: Armee de l'Air and DAT

Post by archiveruk » 31 Jul 2020 21:57

Hi

That date will be pushed back further due to COVID. I still need some additional information on airbases to complete the research.

Lee

gregorianchant
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Re: Armee de l'Air and DAT

Post by gregorianchant » 20 Aug 2020 23:53

archiveruk wrote:
31 Jul 2020 21:57
Hi

That date will be pushed back further due to COVID. I still need some additional information on airbases to complete the research.

Lee
Dear Mr. Sharp, I look forward to when you can publish it and when I can buy a copy! Best regards, Greg

AllenM
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Re: Armee de l'Air and DAT

Post by AllenM » 21 Aug 2020 16:41

I have seen period photos of French Aero Club aircraft stored along with military aircraft at French air bases. As I understand it, these were impressed into service for reconnaissance. Perhaps some will find the following helpful:

https://www.jstor.org/stable/26279444?seq=1

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