This page lists the organization of various minor power air forces during World War II. This is based on information gleaned while researching WW II aircraft for Clash of Arm's Fighting Wings series of games, Over the Reich, Achtung! Spitfire, and Whistling Death. The information, of course, is applicable to any historical game for that period.
These pages will grow as I complete more research - and have the time to post it here.
Air forces covered here are divided into geographic areas:
This section includes the air forces from the following countries:
The Belgian Aeronautique Militaire worked closely with the British. Its pilots were well respected even if their equipment was mostly obsolete. By the way, the "Bridges at Sedan" scenario in Achtung Spitfire actually took place in Belgium, and the valiant (but fruitless) mission was flown by the Aeronautique Militaire. In May, 1940, the BAM was organized into 3 Regiments:
|1st - Observation and
|6 squadrons - 62 aircraft||41 early mark Fairey Fox biplanes
21 Renard R-31 parasol wing
|2nd - Fighters||6 squadrons - 79 aircraft||11 Hurricane Mk I (not operational)
15 Gloster Gladiator
23 Cr.42 biplanes
30 Fairey Fox VI & VII
|3rd - Bombers||4 squadrons - 41 aircraft||14 Fairey Battle III
27 Fairey Fox (lt bomber marks)
In addition, a unit was forming using Belgian-built Hurricane Is armed with four wing-mounted 12.65mm Browning MGs, but these were not operational in May, 1940.
Pilot Quality: Good
A more detailed look.
The Dutch Luchtvaarafadeling (LVA) was small, but well-equipped in 1938 - and a bit obsolete by 1940 when the Germans attacked. The LVA also seem to have had some issues with maintenance. They expected their declared neutrality would keep them out of the war and out of need for a larger, more modern air force. The LVA fought valiantly but ineffectively for five days, completely overwhelmed by the number of German aircraft. Many were destroyed on the ground. After 3 days, ammunition ran out - and the remaining aircraft spent more time on the ground as targets.
|1st Regiment||2nd Regiment|
|4 fighter sqdns (2x D.XXI, 2x G.Ia)
1 bomber sqdn (T.V mdm. bomber)
1 recon sqdn (mixed Fokker and Koolhaven biplanes)
|2 fighter sqdns (1x D.XXI, 1x DB-8A-3N lt bomber)
4 recon sqdns (mixed Fokker and Koolhaven biplanes)
Douglas DB-8A-3N is a Douglas-built A-17A light bomber. It was pressed into use as a fighter since it had 4 forward-firing MGs. The Fokker D.XXI, G.I , the DB-8A-3N, and the T.V bomber are available for download.
Pilot Quality: Average
The Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF), like the rest of the Dutch military in the East Indies, remained Allies after May, 1940. It is covered separately under Asian air forces.
I will not here document the entire French Air Force (you can find it here). I will discuss the French model of organization. French aircraft were generally deployed as a group, being made of two squadrons of 9 (+3 reserve) aircraft of the same type (often the same same model).
Groupes contained about thirty pilots/crews. They were rarely split up by escadrille. Groupes were specialized by function:
Groupes were made of two escadrilles (sqdn).
Pilot quality: Average
The French Naval Air Force was smaller, and was organized as individal squadrons (escadrilles) of a single type of aircraft. It included:
(More detail available).
Pilot quality: Average
|10 kg Frag||Frag||22 lbs||0.5||2/0||1939|
|10 kg flare||Flare||22 lbs||0.5||--||1939|
|15 kg Frag||Frag||33 lbs||0.5||3/0||1939|
|30 kg Flare||Flare||66 lbs||0.5||--||1939|
|50 kg HE||HE||110 lbs||1.0||10/5||1939|
|100 kg HE||HE||220 lbs||2.0||20/10||1939|
|type I2 (N)||HE||330 lbs||2.5||28/13||1939|
|200 kg HE||HE||441 lbs||3.0||32/15||1939|
|Type K (N)||HE||496 lbs||3.0||36/18||1939|
|SC250 (German)||HE||551 lbs||3.0||40/20||1941|
|Type P (N)||HE||992 lbs||4.5||75/35||1939|
|500 kg HE||HE||1102 lbs||5.0||80/40||1939|
|Mk. 47 Depth Charge (N)||DC||330 lbs||2.5||22/11/18*||1946?|
|26DA Toulon/St. Tropez||torp||1427 lbs||7.0||80/65||1934|
|Launch parameters: Height: 0.3, speed: <3.5. 26DA moves 1 hex each turn. Range: 22 hexes.|
|Torpedo (N)||torp||1654 lbs||7.0||90/75||1946?|
|90mm Rkt (N)||Rkt||0.5||1946|
|* 3rd value is use against submerged targets|
Uncle Ted's has a number of French aircraft ADCs.
The Swiss Air Force is an interesting entity. They did patrol regularly to enforce Swiss neutrality, occasionally facing both German and allied aircraft.
The Swiss Fliegertruppe included both German and French equipment:
The Swiss did build some of their own designs, including the EKW C.3600 series of single engine light/recon bombers.
In September, 1939, the Fliegertruppe consisted of 7 109 squadrons: 1 with Bf109Ds and 6 with EKW biplanes. These were replaced by 1940 with 109Es.
By 1946, this had shifted to 6 squadrons of Bf109Es and 1 squadron of Bf109G-6s.
They also included about 20 squadrons of D.3800s and about 10 squadrons of C.3601
Uncle Ted's early Bf109 ADC file includes the Swiss D and the E-1. The other Bf109s are available through OTR, ASp, and in back issues of Air Power magazine. The Ju52 is available with the German bomber ADCs. The D.3800's original is available with the French fighter ADCs.
The Luftwaffe's organization is well described in a number of places on the net and in Air Power #33. Luftwaffe TO&Es for various campaigns are included for each campaign. To go over it briefly:
Luftflotte: A large air unit covering an area, Similar to a USAAF numbered air force. There were originally three Luftflotte, which increased to six during the war. A Luftflotte had operational units and units that administered airfields within the reagion. The number of operational units fluctuated depending on what operations were going on in the area.
KG - KampfGescwader (bombers)
JG - JaegerGeschwader (fighters)
StG - StukaGeschwader (Stuka dive bombers) and so on
Actual flight elements (flight of two pairs, three, or each pair) would be drawn from those aircraft going on the mission.
|AB70||Bomblet box||154 lbs||1.5||15/5|
|AB250||Bomblet box||550 lbs||3.0||45/15||1941|
|AB500||Bomblet box||1100 lbs||5.0||80/25||1941|
|AB1000||Bomblet box||2200 lbs||7.0||180/50|
|Flam 250||Liquid Incendiary||550 lbs||3.0||80/15|
|Flam 500||Liquid Incendiary||1100 lbs||5.0||180/50|
|SB2500||(few made)||5503 lbs||18.0||450/200||1942|
I will not describe the entire Italian Air Force - the Regia Aeronautica, since it was a major air force (if only by size) from 1940-43. I will discribe the organization of its air units, and describe the units used in individual campaigns elsewhere. Each unit was made of the same type of aircraft; a Gruppo or a Stormo would be all fighters or all bombers. A Gruppo of fighters and one of bombers would be two Gruppi, and not be combined into a mixed Stormo.
Italian pilots were well-trained in navigation. Italian fighter pilots were well-trained in aerobatics, but had very little training or practice in air-to-air gunnery.
After the Italian surrender, some Italian aircraft flew for the Allies and some for the Axis (for the RSIAF, the rump state in northern Italy the Germans set up under Mussolini).
The original theory behind Italian aerial weapons was that more small weapons would be more effective due to a larger number of hits. By mid war, this ha dchanged a bit to a mix of lighter (2-100 kg) weapons with a few medium (250 and 500 Kg) weapons.
|1 kg AP||2.2 lbs||0.0||0.5/0||1938|
|15 kg HE||33 lbs||0.5||3/0||1936|
|20 kg HE||44 lbs||0.5||5/2||1936|
|36 kg HE||80 lbs||0.5||7/3||1936|
|40 kg HE||88 lbs||1.0||8/4||1936|
|50 kg HE||220 lbs||1.0||10/5||1936|
|100 kg HE||220 lbs||2.0||20/10||1936|
|160 kg HE||352 lbs||2.5||32/15||1936|
|250 kg HE||496 lbs||3.0||40/20||1939|
|500 kg HE||1102 lbs||5.0||80/40||1939|
|630 kg HE||1386 lbs||6.0||110/60||1942?|
|640 kg AP||1400 lbs||4.0||65/130|
|800 kg HE||1760 lbs||7.0||150/75||1942|
|70 kg depth charge (N)||154 lbs||1.5||8/5/12*||1940|
|160 kg depth bomb (N)||352 lbs||2.5||24/12/20*|
|Whitehead Torpedo (N)||1760 lbs||7.0||100/80||1939|
|Launch parameters: Height: 0.1, speed: <4.0. Whitehead torp moves 1 hex each turn. Range: 34 hexes.|
|Fiume Torpedo (N)||2000 lbs||7.0||100/75||1939|
|Launch parameters: Height: 0.3, speed: <3.5. Fiume torp moves 1 hex each turn. Range: 34 hexes.|
|* 3rd value is use against submerged targets|
Uncle Ted's has a collection of Italian aircraft designed by John Carr.
This section includes air forces of the following countries:
The Danes had a very small air force attached to the Army. They had no military effect on the German invasion of Denmark; most aircraft were destroyed or captured on the ground. They were organized as follows:
|Jutland Battalion||Sjaeland Battalion|
| 1 fighter sqdn - 13 Fokker D.XXI
1 recon sqdn - 11 biplanes
| 1 fighter sqdn - 8 Fokker G.Ia
1 recon sqdn - 14 biplanes
ADCs for the Fokker D.XXI and G.Ia fighters are available for download.
Pilot Quality: Limited
In November, 1939, the tiny Ilmavoimat defended brave little Finland against invasion by the Soviet Union, consisting of the following:
|PLeLv 10 (3 sqdns)||12 Fokker C.X biplanes|
|TLeLv 12 (3 sqdns)||13 Fokker C.X biplanes|
|TLeLv 14 (3 sqdns)||4 Fokker C.X biplanes
7 Fokker C.V-E biplanes
2 Fiesler Fi156C Storch
|TLeLv 16 (3 sqdns)||9 Blackburn Ripon IIF
5 Junkers K.43
3 VL Saäski
|HLeLv 24 (5 sqdns)||36 Fokker D.XXI|
|HLeLv 26 (1 sqdn)||10 Bristol Bulldog IVa (biplanes)
Gladiators after 2-Feb-40
|HLeLv 28 (1 sqdn)||Morane-Soulanier MS.406s available 17-Feb-40|
|Lentorykmentti 3||TLeLv 36 (2 sqdn)||6 Blackburn Ripon IIF|
|TLeLv 39 (1 flight)||2 Junkers K.43|
|PLeLv 44 (3 sqdns)||8 Blenheim I|
|PLeLv 46(3 sqdns)||8 Blenheim I|
Additional aircraft used for training. The Junkers K.43 was a smaller, older sister to the Ju52; it was a bomber/transport. The Luftwaffe used non-bomber versions as W.43.
The Ilmavoimat was sent (as gifts and as sales) reinforcements from many nations during the Winter War of 1939/40 (30-Nov-39 to 4-Mar-40), including:
Some equipment was sent or promised during the Winter War, but did not arrive in time:
After the fall of France and the Low Countries, Finland's ally Germany offered several aircraft for sale or as gifts, including 44 Hawk 75As from Norway and France and additional MS-406s. and MS-410s from France. These were used against Russia in 1941.
|LeLv12||3 Gladiator II, 6 Fokker C.X
2 Curtiss Hawk 75
|LeLv14||9 Gladiator II, 8 Fokker C.X
Traded 6 Gladiators for 6 Curtiss Hawk 75s in July '41
|LeLv16||4 Lysanders, 5 Fokker C.X,
(3 + 6 Gladiators from LeLv14=) 9 Gladiators.
|HLeLv 24||33 Brewster F2A-1 Buffalo (4 flights)|
|HLeLv 26||25 Fiat G.50bis Freccia (3 flights)|
|HLeLv 28||30 Morane-Saulanier MS-406 (3 flights)|
|HLeLv 30|| 4 Hurricane I, 18 Fokker D.XXI
Originally 5 Hurricanes; one lost on takeoff at the first day of hostilities.
|HLeLv 32||18 Fokker D.XXI (3 flights)
Jul-41: re-armed with Hawk 75As
|HLeLv 34||didn't take part in combat action, was
assigned to training duties.
Mar-43: armed Bf109Gs and used in combat
|PLeLv 42||9 Blenheim I|
|PLeLv 44||3 Blenheim IV, 4 DB-3M (DB-3Ms took
no part in any combat action)
Switched to Ju88A-4 in Apr-43
|PLeLv 46||8 Blenheim I
Switched to 15 Do17Z-2 in Feb-42
|PLeLv 48||Founded 23-Nov-41. Flew captured Soviet equipment (DB-3s, DF, Pe-2s)|
They also captured a good deal of Russian equipment (and got some after Barbarossa from Germany) that they then used:
In Jan 1943, Germany sold Finland 30 Bf109G-2s in order to upgrade their effectiveness. In the summer of 1944, Germany sold/gave an additional 36 Bf109G6s and just under 100 Bf109G-14s. These soldiered on into the early 1950s.
The Ilmavoimat was organized into 4 Flight Regiments, each with a special purpose. (fighter, bomber, etc.). The Regiments were composed of Wings of 2-4 squadrons each. Each squadron had (ideally) 8 aircraft (plus a reserve). They fought as two finger-four flights -
For more information about Finnish aerial tactics for the Winter War and Continuation War, see the direct source: The Finn Fighter Tactics Academy's history page.
Pilot Quality: Excellent
Many of aircraft used by the Finns are available from Uncle Ted's, including the F2A-1 Buffalo, Fokker D.XXI, Maarko Morane, Myrsky II, and various captured Russian aircraft.
The Norwegian Air Force was quite small. Its most modern fighter aircraft were Gloster Gladiators (6 Is and 6 IIs). All were used to defend Oslo - and all were destroyed or captured on the first day of the German invasion in April, 1940. Norway also had older biplane fighters and light bombers. 24 Hawk 75A-6s were captured still in their crates (later sold to Finland).
The Norwegians also had a number of Heinkel He-115A-2 seaplanes, an early version of the He-115B naval torpedo bomber that Germany used in the North Sea and the Med. A few of these escaped to Britain, and were later used to infiltrate agents into Norway.
See Weserübung: The Norwegian Campaign.
Pilot Quality: Limited
As the 30s drew to a close, Sweden wanted to upgrade its indigenous J-5 and J-6 Jaktfalk biplanes. Swedish neutrality has been guarded by military might. The Swedes realized that this meant that they needed their own aircraft manufacturing capability. Before that was fully developed, the Flygvapnet bought aircraft from other nations, including Britain, Italy, and the USA. These include:
|J-7||Bristol Bulldog (UK)|
|J-8A/B||Gloster Gladiator I/II (UK)||55 (37/18)|
|J-9||Seversky EP-106 (P-35) (US)||60 (60 others impounded by USAAC)|
|J-10||Vultee P-48C (P-66) (US)||None (confiscated by USAAC)|
|J-11||Fiat Cr.42 (Italy)||72|
|J-20||Reggiane Re.2000 (Italy)||60|
|J-26||North American P-51D (US)||50 (Bought in April '45)|
|B-3/A/B/C||Junkers Ju86K (licensed)||56 (3/20/17/16)|
|B-4||Hawker Hart (light bomber)||15|
|B-5B/C||Northrop A-17A (licensed)||91 (52/39)|
|B-6||Republican Guardsman 2PA-204 (US)||None (confiscated by USAAC as AT-12)|
|B-16||Caproni Bergmaschi Ca.313 (Italy)||31|
During the Russo-Finnish War, Sweden gave (lent) a number of Gladiators and Harts to Finland, flown by volunteer pilots released from military service.
As the war progressed, the Swedes developed their own aircraft designs:
The Gladiator and CR.42 have been published in Air Power. The Re.2000, Vultee P-48C (US P-66), Seversky EP-106 (P-35), and the Northrop A-17A (Douglas DB-8) are all available on Uncle Ted's ADC collection.
More information about the aircraft used by the Swedish Air Force.
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