Tim Gow’s latest Megablitz game was held at the Defence Academy’s Tank Sheds again. He offered me the role of Air Umpire once more, in the mistaken belief that it would “keep me out of mischief”. Unsupervised with Luftflotte 2 and l’Armée de l’Air! What could possibly go wrong? This time, after pre-game pestering, Tim brought ground crew along, but I added a few 20mm trucks of my own and left them with Tim afterwards (‘cos he clearly does not have enough!).
The French Général de Corps Aérien Bout de Souffle got off to a splendid start by deciding to name all 6 airstrips under his command after wives and mistresses. Unfortunately no-one else understood this, so referred to them by their locations of north (east, centre, west) and south (east, centre, west). In general fighters were staged to the east and bombers to the west. The command structure, which proved key, imposed an extra level of command on the French compared to the Luftwaffe.
A plan for air patrols was agreed in principal, and business of the day was concluded. Bout de Souffle had people who could handle that level of detail and headed to PARIS for some well-earned leave. Mon General Bassett was astute enough to realise that orders issued one day in advance would be useful and two days even better. So when the first Luftwaffe airstrikes came in, the impotent French pilots could only watch from their deckchairs, with no orders to intercept!
The Germans were dogged by the need to channel all requests for air support through HQ West and had decided early on to concentrate air assets rather than penny-packeting. This meant that when the Luftflotte turned up, it at least had some effect, but was limited to one sortie a day per unit. It wasn’t long before cries of ‘wo is die Luftwaffe?‘ were heard across the advancing German panzer park as it rolled over the northern French plains at a brisk tempo previously unseen in modern warfare.
In the top left of the picture on day two, a Fieseler Storch recce flight struggles to keep up with the advance. In the lower centre, ground crew at CLAIRE (N Centre) destroy fighters prior to retreating.
This caused the Germans some problems, as the Luftwaffe recce reports sometimes ran along the lines of ‘The town and bridge are full of panzers heading west!‘ The air traffic was not all one-sided on the second day, as a lone squadron of Bloch MB 210 bombers with fighter support caused havoc and delay amongst the supporting Wehrmacht infantry korps, if not actual casualties.