FRANCE: AIR POWER, 1919-1945

Selected References at Air University Library

November 2001

Compiled by Bibliography Branch
Air University Library
Maxwell AFB, AL


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All sites last accessed November 1, 2000.

Internet Resources

Grolier Inc. World War II Main Article.
See especially: Between the Wars, Developments in Air Warfare.


Alexander, Martin S.  The Republic in Danger: General Maurice Gamelin and the Politics of French Defence, 1933-1940.  New York, Cambridge University Press, 1992.  573 p.
    In index, see these terms:  Air Force and France--Defence Policy, Inter-War.
Book call no.: 944.0815  A377r

Cain, Anthony Christopher. Neither Decadent, nor Traitorous, Nor Stupid: The French Air Force and Doctrine in the 1930s. Ph.D. Thesis, Ohio State University, 2000. 243 p.
Book call no.: 358.400944 C135n

Calculations: Net Assessment and the Coming of World War II., edited by Williamson Murray and Alan R. Millett. New York, Free Press, 1992. 354 p.
     French Net Assessment, by Steven Ross, pp 136-174. See especially The Military Dimension, pages 148-155.
Book call no.: 355.0330043 C144

Chapman, Guy. Why France Fell: The Defeat of the French Army in 1940. New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968. 399 p.
     See especially discussion of French air force before WWII on pages 33-34, 69-72. See also Air Operations, pages 351-354.
Book call no.: 940.54 C466w

Christienne, Charles and Lissarague Pierre. A History of French Military Aviation. Washington, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986. 531 p.
Book call no.: 358.400944 C555h

Cohen, Eliot A. and Gooch John. Military Misfortunes: The Anatomy of Failure in War. New York, Free Press, 1990. 296 p.
     Catastrophic Failure: The French Army and Air Force, May-June 1940, pp 197-230.
Book call no.: 355.480904 C678m

The Conduct of the Air War in the Second World War., edited by Horst Boog. New York, Berg, 1992. 763 p.
     The High Command of the French Air Force and the Problem of Rearmament, 1938-1939: A Technical and Industrial Approach, by Patrick Facon, pp 148-168.
     Cooperation between Air Force and Army in the French and German Air Forces during the Second World War, by Michel Forget, pp 415-457.
     French Air Policy in the Inter-War Period and the Conduct of the Air War against Germany from September 1939 to June 1940, by Lucien Robineau, pp 627-657.
Book call no.: 940.544 I61c

Cot, Pierre. Triumph of Treason. New York, Ziff Davis, 1944. 432 p.
     Chapter 2: The French Defeat, pp 45-80.
     Chapter 6: The Military Preparation of the War, pp 177-212.
     Chapter 7: The Role of the Military in the Defeat, pp 213-273.
     Chapter 8: Aviation and the French Defeat, pp 274-306
     Chapter 9: Aviation Policy of the Popular Front, pp 307-335.
Book call no.: 940.5344 C82t

Doughty, Robert Allan. The Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Hamden, CT, Archon Books, 1990. 374 p.
     Chapter 1: Strategy and Doctrine, pages 7-32. Compares French and German defense strategy and doctrine, without specific discusssion of airpower. See also index under French Air Force.
Book call no.: 940.5421 D732b

Doughty, Robert Allan. The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919-1939. Hamden, CT, Archon Books, 1985. 232 p.
     Does not discuss airpower, but provides a general overview of French doctrine and strategy in the interwar years. See index under Doctrine, French and Strategy, French.
Book call no.: 355.00944 D732s

Gunsberg, Jeffery A. Divided and Conquered: The French High Command and the Defeat of the West, 1940. Westport, CT, Greenwood Press, 1979. 303 p.
     See index under French Air Forces.
Book call no.: 940.54 G975d

Haigh, R. H. and Turner P. W. Defence Policy between the Wars 1919-1938, Culminating in the Munich Agreement of September 1938. Manhattan, KS, Military Affairs/Aerospace Historian, 1979. 179 p., in various pagings.
     French Defence Policy 1919-1938: Progress to Impotence? (See volume's third section; each section has its own page number sequence.)
Book call no.: 940.53112 H149d

Horne, Alistair. To Lose a Battle: France 1940. Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1969. 647 p.
     The French Air Force, pages 81-85. See also comparison of French, German and British air forces on pages 184-185, and French Air Force in index.
Book call no.: 940.542 H815t

Kiesling, Eugenia C. Arming Against Hitler: France and the Limits of Military Planning. Lawrence, KS, University Press of Kansas, 1996. 260 p.
     The Sources of French Military Doctrine, pp 116-135. See also these terms in index: Aircraft, Air Force, Doctrine.
Book call no.: 940.5344 K47a

Krauskopf, Robert W. French Air Power Policy, 1919-1939. 452 p. Ph.D. Dissertation, Georgetown University. Reproduced from microfilm by University Microfilms, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI.
Book call no.: 355.033044 K916f

Military Effectiveness. Volume II: The Interwar Period, edited by Allan R. Millett and Williamson Murray. Boston, Allen & Unwin, 1988. 281 p.
     The French Armed Forces, 1918-40, pages 39-69.
Book call no.: 355.00904 M644 v.2

Military Planning and the Origins of the Second World War in Europe, edited by B. J. C. McKercher and Roch Legault.  Westport, CT, Praeger, 2001.  212 p.
      Weaknesses in French Military Planning on the Eve of the Second World War, by Henry Dutailly, pp 89-101.
Book call no.: 940.53  M644

Morrow, John H. Jr. The Great War in the Air: Military Aviation from 1909 to 1921. Washington, DC, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993. 458 p.
     Examines the rise and decline of military aviation from 1909-1921 in the major combatant powers. See index under France.
Book call no.: 940.44 M883g

Overy, Richard and Wheatcroft Andrew. The Road to War. London, Macmillan, 1989. 364 p.
     "...each of the nations eventually involved [in WWII] had complex motives for their policy in the years between the wars...The aim of this book is to retell the story of the twenty years between the wars without benefit of hindsight." Chapter 3 discusses France, pp 105-142.
Book call no.: 940.5311 O92r

The Paths of Heaven: The Evolution of Airpower Theory, School of Advanced Airpower Studies and edited by Philip S. Meilinger. Maxwell Air Force Base, AL, Air University Press, 1997. 650 p,
     Chapter 5: Airpower Thought in Continental Europe between the Wars, by James S. Corum, pp 151-181. France, pp 151-159.
Book call no.: 358.4 P297

Peterson, Edward N. An Analytical History of World War II, Volume 1. New York, Peter Lang, 1995. 470 p.
     A year-by-year examination of the nations involved in World War II, including the military power of each, from 1931-1945.
Book call no.: 940.54 P485a v. 1

Posen, Barry R. The Sources of Military Doctrine: France, Britain, and Germany between the World Wars. Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1984. 283 p.
     Chapter 4: France, pp 105-140.
Book call no.: 355.02 P855s

Shirer, William L. The Collapse of the Third Republic: An Inquiry into the Fall of France in 1940. New York, Simon and Schuster, 1969. 1082 p.
     Decline, II: The Erosion of Military Power 1925-1934, pages 172-187. See also French Air Force in index.
Book call no.: 944.08 S558c

Watt, Donald Cameron. Too Serious a Business: European Armed Forces and the Approach to the Second World War. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1975. 200 p.
     See index under France and Italy.
Book call no.: 940.5311 W344t

Weber, Eugen.  The Hollow Years: France in the 1930s.  New York, W.W. Norton, 1994.  352 p.
      See index under Army, French--air power and, pp 253-255; also defensive doctrine of, pp 245-248.
      See also Appendix 2: Military Attache Report on General Disposition of French Air Army in May 1940, pp 283-287.
Book call no.: 944.081  W373h 

Young, Robert J. In Command of France: French Foreign Policy and Military Planning, 1933-1940. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1978. 346 p.
     See index under France--Air Force.
Book call no.: 327.44 Y75i


Condray, Patrick Albert. The Battle of France: Crisis in the Theory and Practice of Airpower. M.A. Thesis, University of Maryland, 1971. 179 p.
     Failure of the French and British Air Forces to contribute effectively to the Battle of France in May and June 1940 was a primary cause of Allied defeat. This failure rose from a dispersion of effort dictated by prewar doctrines concerning the use of airpower.
Doc. call no.: M-U 43567-854

Kirkland, Faris R. The French Officer Corps and the Fall of France, 1920-1940. Ph.D.Thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 1982. 2 vols.
     See especially Aviation, pages 436-458.
Doc. call no.: M-U 43567-107


Cot, Pierre. The Defeat of the French Air Force. Foreign Affairs 19:790-805 July 1941.
     Argues that many of the reasons for the World War II defeat of France's air force stemmed from French military leaders' underrating the importance of aviation in modern warfare.

Cot, Pierre. The French Air Force Never Fought! Flying 34:21-23+ April 1944.
     The author, French Minister of Aviation, 1933 and 1936-38, contends that "the French did not lose the air battle; the bad organization of their aviation did not even let them fight it."

Gunsberg, Jeffery A. Armee de l'Air vs. the Luftwaffe--1940. Defence Update International No. 45:44-53 1984.

Harvey, A. D. The French Armee de l'Air in May-June 1940: A Failure of Conception. Journal of Contemporary History 25:447-465 October 1990.
     Author argues that "the failure of the Armee de l'Air is symptomatic of the deficiencies in organization, doctrine and leadership which also characterized the ground forces."

Kier, Elizabeth. Culture and Military Doctrine: France between the Wars. International Security 19:65-93. Spring 1995.
     Outlines the roles both of domestic politics and of the military's organizational culture in the origins of military doctrine, and explains doctrinal developments in the French army during the 1920s and 1930s. Does not include discussion of airpower specifically. (A critical review of this book is in the Spring 2000 issue of International Security, pages 157-180.)

Kirkland, Faris R. The French Air Force in 1940: Was it Defeated by the Luftwaffe or by Politics? Air University Review 36: 101-118 September-October 1985.

Kirkland, Faris R. French Air Strength in May 1940. Air Power History 40:22-34 Spring 1993.
     This article's purpose is "to offer an alternative to the interpretation by official historians that the air force was denied a chance to fight on even terms because industry and government could not produce enough planes of modern design." The author argues that the organizational and personnel policies implemented by the senior officers of the air force were among the primary causes of French aerial weakness.

Murray, Williamson.  Comparative Approaches to Interwar Innovation.  Joint Force Quarterly No. 25:83-80  Summer 2000.
      Traces experimentation and innovation in the German, French and British militaries.

Porch, Douglas. Military "Culture" and the Fall of France in 1940. International Security 24:157-180 Spring 2000.
     Reviews the book Imagining War: French and British Military Doctrine between the Wars, by Elizabeth Kier. The author argues that Kier's book rests on the flawed premise that offensive doctrines offered a better, more modern option for France in 1940, and that she overstates the role of organizational culture in explaining military doctrine.

Vennesson, Pascal. Institution and Airpower: The Making of the French Air Force. Journal of Strategic Studies 18:36-67 March 1995.
     Analyzes the decision "to promote multi-purpose aircraft instead of a clearly focused aircraft like a long-range bomber, the creation of a catch-all military organization, instead of a sharply defined professional jurisdiction, and the definition a low-key, unclear military doctrine emphasizing cooperation, instead of an ambitious, articulated, explicit set of guidelines defining the new service's legitimacy and symbolizing its strength."

Young, Robert J. The Strategic Dream: French Air Doctrine in the Inter-War Period. Journal of Contemporary History:57-76 October 1974.

Young, Robert J. The Use and Abuse of Fear: France and the Air Menace in the 1930s. Intelligence and National Security 2:88-109 October 1987.
Examines the idea that the French government's response to Munich "was shaped partly by the concrete circumstances of 1938--as they concerned the air imbalance, the new air mobilisation system, and the condition of the nation's passive defences--and partly by a climate of 1938...authors, for diverse reasons, had succeeded in publicising the spectre of air warfare for nearly two decades, exploiting through exaggeration popular fears of German air attack, and thus firmly seating that idea in the public consciousness. In the end...they may have contributed unwittingly to the immobilisation of the national will to resist in 1938 and thus presented Hitler...with an already well-turned bludgeon."

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