At the end of the First World
War, France had the most powerful aviation in the world: Its machines
were modern and of high quality, but the end of the conflict put
an end to this development. When peace returns, aviation is confined
to a transport or tourism role.
It was not until September 1928 that the Ministry of Air was created,
to direct what was still only the "Air Force of the Earth"
... and would become "The Air Force" that in 1933 under
the impulse of Pierre COT, the Minister of Air.
In order to modernize this aviation, renovation plans are then launched.
Plan 1 had to deliver 1300 aircrafts, but the Aeronautics Industry
was not designed for that purpose, and only 500 machines were manufactured,
most of which were out of date. It was in this context that the
concept of "BCR" was born: Bombardment-Combat(Fighting)-Reconnaissance.
These planes intended to be multi-tasking, were in reality adapted
to none of them like the Bloch 131 or Potez 540
A Quinquenal plan was therefore launched in 1936 to try to catch
up but was finally abandoned one year later. The plan will include
the Morane MS405 and Bloch 131
Plan II or "1500" plan therefore takes over with a priority
oriented towards the Bombardment. The Moranes 406, and the Potez
630 and derivatives are launched. We also see aircraft launched
in 1932 that will be delivered in 1938, totally outdated. This plan
is very disturbed by the restructuring and the Nationalizations
of the Aeronautical Industry, and here again the delays are consequent.
Plan III aims to strengthen anti-aircraft defense and fighter planes,
and Plan IV is abandoned before it can modernize Reconnaissance
aviation as planned.
Events in Europe precipitate the decision to make a Plan V intended
to provide 4739 aircrafts including the MS406, Bloch MB152 and D520
for fighter aviation, Breguet 690 for Assault Aviation and LeO 45
and Amiot 350 for Bombardment. This plan has been revised upwards
several times to arrive at a forecast of more than 8,000 aircrafts
delivered in late 1939. But again, delays in delivery are enormous,
and by the end of the first part of the plan only 527 machines on
the planned 1880 are delivered ...
This prompted the Air Ministry to move towards purchasing aircraft
abroad, mainly in the United States, with the purchase of Curtiss
H75 for the fighter aviation, Gleen-Matin 167 and Douglas DB7 for
The bombing and North American NAA57 and 64 for the Training
At the declaration of hostilities, the Air Force is in full mutation,
and if the modern aircrafts begin to arrive in the Squadrons, some
units will start fighting with old-fashioned equipment: Amiot 143,
Dewoitine D510, Blériot Spad 510 or Potez 25 ...
A Plan V "of War" was launched in September 1939 to allow
delivery of 6,500 aircrafts by April 1940. Again delays accumulate
and only the Hunting receives 2,138 of the 2,960 aircrafts scheduled
while the Bombardment receives only 280 out of 1940 and Reconnaissance
is even worse served ...
A Plan VI was launched in
April 1940, scheduled to deliver 1770 Fighters, 732 Bombers and
1032 Reconnaissance Aircrafts, but the events would not allow Plan
VI to take up space.