CFS3 Attack in the West '40 Campaign

CFS3 Attack in the West '40 Aircraft

Viso's Aircraft Tutorial for Gmax
Viso's Vehicle Tutorial for Gmax

CFS3 Attack in the West '40 Campaign

(Formerly known as the Battle of France Campaign for CFS3)

Send an email to Craig

Last Updated 08-October-2007


Where Can I Get the Campaign?

Historical Notes

The CFS3 Attack in the West '40 campaign ... well, I guess it depends which one you're talking about! Originally, the CFS3 Attack in the West '40 campaign was a simple reformulation of the generic CFS3 campaign. It emulated the conflict in western europe between May 1940 and October 1940. The campaign was designed to provide CFS3 players with a new experience but without requiring an extensive array of downloads.

However, in September 2008, an enterprising group of CFS3 modders (The Groundhogs) released a major add-on to CFS3. It took the original CFS3 and refreshed numerous elements, in particular adding the ability to play in any of five "eras". The ETO package includes all required aircraft, vehicles, and facilities for all of the missions and campaigns covering all five eras.

When starting ETO, selecting Era #1 will take you to the period of the Battle of France. This includes about two dozen aircraft, several driveable vehicles, a dozen missions, and campaigns for both the Phoney War and the Battle of France. Most of the time, you'll take off from grassy fields soaring through the spring skies while French and German tanks duke it out beneath you. Both campaigns are great ways to experience this piece of history. Also, the missions are nearly all historically based and provide challenges for both single-play and multiplayer-play. I highly recommend downloading the ETO package as the preferred means of experiencing the Battle of France.

Campaign News

ETO's release in September 2008 marks the completion of a journey I began back in Fall 2004. Through exploring the many downloads available at the time, I wondered if I would be able to piece together a simple BoF campaign. However, I was surprised to find a serious lack of early-WWII aircraft. No Fairey Battles, no MS-406s, no Ju-87Bs ... almost none of the major aircraft of the BoF. That's when I set out to learn gmax, to build the missing pieces, and to assemble the campaign.

Along the way, a funny thing happened. I started to meet other CFS3 fans who shared my passion for BoF and we started working together. We worked together on BoF, and then on MAW (Mediterranean Air War), and most recently on the ETO Expansion. In many cases, I built aircraft and vehicles from scratch. In other cases, I adopted partially-completed models from others and then saw them to completion. Over the years, the members of the team developed skills in all sorts of areas. I think we've all made a real contribution to the CFS3 community. Since the launch of West '40 Mark I on 27-Apr-2006, this website has received over 15,000 hits. I hope that the launch of the ETO Expansion will introduce more people to this quirky little corner of history - and vice versa.

Having committed the last four years to this project, I am glad to have seen it to completion along with the rest of the team. It's also a logical point to make some personal decisions. So, I'm going to retire (mostly) from the CFS3 community in order to pursue other interests. I harbour no bad feelings. Nobody has put be off. It's just time for me to make a change. Feel free to drop me an email if you like. It's just that I won't be building anything new or playing much CFS3. I would like to thank all the members of the core Battle of France / Attack in the West team for labouring with me these many years. I'm sure that we'll all keep in touch. I'd also like to thank the Desert Rats, The Groundhogs, Sim-Outhouse, Netwings, and the many other groups that have helped me grow through this wonderful hobby.

Where Can I Get the Campaign?
Option #1 - Original Campaign: Campaign Package (ZIP file includes a copy of the Installation Notes) and Campaign Installation Notes
Option #2 - ETO Expansion: Download instructions as (If the link doesn't work, try the forums)

Historical Notes

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of this campaign is the lack of true fighter-bombers. Early WWII aircraft were fairly segregated according to their roles: either they were fighters or they were bombers.

France was particularly desperate to obtain effective tactical air power. In one instance, they resorted to dropping depth charges from the air! In another, MS-406s were pressed into service as tank busters. Unfortunately, their 20mm cannons lacked armour-piercing rounds. Losses from both of these attacks were heavy and neither inflicted any significant damage.

Neither the RAF nor the Armee de l'Air made an effort to equip themselves with dive bombers. Britain's Fairey Battle evolved more out of indifference than anything else. Prior to 1939, it was recognized as being too slow and vulnerable. However, production continued and the Battle was pressed into service because the RAF lacked alternatives. In one of the grimmest example of "use them or lose them", Fairey Battles were destroyed in droves between May and June 1940. Subsequently, these units were withdrawn from combat and re-equiped either with Blenheims or heavy bombers.

Meanwhile, the Armee de l'Air declined to purchase the Liore et Nieuport 41 dive bomber (the Aeronavale ordered 40 of them) and opted instead for the modern but somewhat over-engineered Potez 63 to fill the "army cooperation" role. Relations between the French army and air force were hostile throughout the 1930s, and the Armee de l'Air saw little purpose in coordinated air-ground operations. (In 1940, the RAF wasn't much better in this respect.) Performing reconaissance for local army commanders, the Po-63 was a poor choice in that it was difficult to operate from unimproved airfields. Many of these aircraft were captured as airfields were overrun.

On the other hand, Germany developed an effective dive bomber (the Ju-87) and integrated air support closely with its land operations. The Ju-87 certainly played a major role in Germany's early successes, but only when air superiority had already been achieved. Otherwise, these aircraft were highly vulnerable to enemy fighters, and losses during the early stages of the Battle of Britain resembled those of the Fairey Battle in the Battle of France. Still, the impact and reputation of the Ju-87 were considerable, especially when recognizing that they accounted for only 360 of Germany's 2,138 bombers available on the western front in May 1940 (the He-111 accounted for nearly 1,000).

To some extent, most nations laboured under the misguided belief that the bombers would always get through. This was a popular notion in the 1930s, promoted by Italian airman Giulio Douhet. The theory suggested that there was no real defense against a bomber attack. Therefore, the only effective course of action was to bomb your opponent into submission before they did the same to you.

This doctrine focused on strategic bombing, prophesying the obliteration of enemy cities and the complete destruction of a nation's will to fight. However, tactical bombing was considered by Douhet (and many nations) as an auxiliary function. Douhet's theory suggested that armies and navies would no longer be relevant, since strategic bombing would win the war. The logical conclusion was that tactical bombers were deemed superfluous. Thus, effective tactical bombers were scarce in 1940, and the few in widespread use (like the Ju-87) were notable both by their presence (in the absence of similar aircraft), by their versatility (Ju-87s operated well from unimproved airfields), and by their accuracy (dive bombing was far more accurate than level bombing).

France was an early adherent of Douhet's concept of "battleplanes" - multi-engined aircraft that would simultaneously fulfill the roles of bombing, combat (air superiority), and reconaissance. As a result, France is notable for its abundance of bomber designs circa 1930. The Amiot 143, MB 200, and Farmann F222 are good examples of this doctrine.

Hampered by political infighting and doctrinal meandering, France was slow to modernize its air force, although efforts were under way from 1938 through 1940. Modern bomber designs, such as the LeO 451 and MB-174 appeared in early 1940, but France's operational bomber force at the time of the invasion numbered about 300 plus another 300 reconaissance aircraft - Germany fielded over 2,000 bombers. Similarly, the Armee de l'Air was modernizing its fighter force. The first round of upgrades replaced many of the MS-406s (which had begun replacing France's aged biplane fighters in mid 1938) with American-designed Curtiss H-75s (P-36As)and Dewoitine D-520s, and subsequent orders would have included more recent American designs such as the P-40. However, France could not deploy all of these aircraft quickly enough - there simply wasn't the infrastructure to train so many pilots in such a short time frame. When the Battle of France began, the Armee de l'Air's 600+ fighters (about 900 fighters if we include Britain, Belgium, and the Netherlands) faced almost 1,600 German fighters.

Given the state of aircraft technology in 1930, development options with respect to fighter-bombers were somewhat limited. Following years of bomber-centric malaise, early research efforts were focused on developing fast, well-armed fighters, the first prototypes of which appeared circa 1934. Engine technology was probably a key limiting factor for fighter-bombers in combination with stronger design structure to permit larger payloads. As equipment improved, the first fighter-bombers began to emerge; Germany began experimenting with true fighter-bomber ("jabo") units before WWII. Given the horrific losses of tactical bombers experienced by both Britain and Germany, it isn't surprising that alternatives to traditonal light bombers were sought. Eventually, good fighter designs served as the basis for early fighter-bomber designs, such as the Hurricane "Hurribomber" and the Bf-109 "Jabo".

Ground attack missions were no less dangerous in 1943 than they were in 1940 - in many respects, they were even more dangerous. However, the multi-purpose fighter-bombers of 1943 were much better equipped to carry out their duties than were the single-purpose tactical bombers of 1940. It is my sincere hope that the West '40 Campaign will serve as an enjoyable device to gain some insight into the challenges of 1940.

For Further Reading

  • A CLASH OF MITARY CULTURES: GERMAN & FRENCH APPROACHES TO TECHNOLOGY BETWEEN THE WORLD WARS By James S. Corum. September 1994. Corum examines the subject from a fairly broad perspective. A studious look at two differing organizational approaches.
  • The French Air Force In 1940: Was it defeated by the Luftwaffe or by Politics? By Lt. Col. Faris R. Kirkland September 1985. Kirkland briefly compares French and German aircraft before examining political and organizational factors. I didn't agree with all of his conclusions but I thought his main point was well presented.
  • The Blitzkrieg Myth: How Hitler And The Allies Misread The Strategic Realities of WWII by John Mosier. 2004. Mosier illustrates the post-WWI beliefs that future wars would be swifty resolved by armoured breakthroughs and strategic bombing. It's a compelling examination of how fascination with novelty can blind us to the facts. I highly recommend it for strategy afficionados.