View Full Version : Normandie-Niemen Regiment

06-29-2007, 05:33 PM

While browsing the "bouquinistes" (used book sellers) in Paris I found a copy of Roger Sauvage's "Un du Normandie-Niemen". I'm not sure if it's available in English bit I highly recommend it. It's an account of his time with said fighter regiment which he joined in Russia at the end of 1943. He already had two victories flying for the French Armee de l'Air and was credited with fourteen more in Russia. It's an excellent account of life in a fighter squadron in Russia. Living conditions and rations were very basic, and the attrition rate was high.

During '44-'45 the regiment flew the Yak-3 and -9. The Yak-3 was the more maneuverable of the two but was very unreliable at first. The landing gear would often unlock and extend during flight and the engine-driven fuel pump would fail with depressing regularity, Sauvage returned from more than one mission keeping the engine running with frantic pumping of the engine primer. Apparently it got so bad that Soviet Air Force HQ put out a directive strongly discouraging flights of more than 45 minutes due to the fuel pump problem. Both problems were eventually corrected but not before several losses due to engine failures. The regiment also suffered many losses due to landing and takeoff accidents since they rarely operated from prepared or paved airfields.

During the last few months of the war they operated in the Konigsberg sector against JG51 "Molders" and I was surprised to read that the Normandie-Nieman often found themselves outnumbered in combat with the Lufwaffe. I always though it was the other way around, especially on the Russian front.

Naturally, after reading the book I had to try out the Normandie-Nieman campaign in IL2. In my opinion it has the best speech pack of any nationality, from using their actual call signs (Rayaks) to the French slang used during combat. I don't know who scripted the speech but it's the most immersive in the game, and I'm not French, though I speak it.

Tres bon travail 1C.

Good hunting,

06-29-2007, 05:46 PM
Interesting information. I wish there was a English version of this book...I didn't see anything but I'll keep looking.

Its fully possible to be fighting the Luftwaffe and find yourself outnumbered. It happened on both fronts but the Luftwaffe could only sustain local air superiority...on the whole they were outnumbered. If you read Closterman's The Big Show you can see that even on his last mission the numbers opposed were something like 12 Tempests against 20 German fighters.

06-29-2007, 05:55 PM
True enough IceFire, it's just that according to the book it happened a lot, which you wouldn't think would be the case in the spring of 1945, given the state of the Luftwaffe although I understand that Konigsberg was a well supplied "pocket" and only fell very late in the war.

Good hunting,

06-29-2007, 05:57 PM
Incidentally Roger Sauvage was probably the only black pilot ever to fly on the Russian front, he was an Afro-Caribbean Frenchman who made his career in the French Armée de l'Air.

http://home.sprynet.com/~inniss/sauvage.htm (http://home.sprynet.com/%7Einniss/sauvage.htm)


06-29-2007, 10:17 PM
Nice find Superaero http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Good hunting,

06-30-2007, 03:07 AM
http://www.worldwartwobooks.com/product.php?xProd=2311&...b9c35a4111b206f309e6 (http://www.worldwartwobooks.com/product.php?xProd=2311&xSec=10&jssCart=493e52a9f920b9c35a4111b206f309e6)

I have a copy of this available for under half retail price if anyones interested send me a pm

07-02-2007, 05:59 AM
Yes - I also have read Sauvages book in french and am not aware of an English translation. French Eagles Soviet Heroes is the only English book on the subject that I've come across. However, it's a real yawn to read, more like a regurgitation of flight log stats - surprisingly little first hand accounts.

There are several other memoirs and books in French. Best thing to do is visit the Normandy Niemen Museum at les Andeleys. It's half way between Paris and Rouen and was set up by the brother of one of the pilots that did not get back. There you will see a good collection of artifacts from the squadron, a short film and they have a bookshelf with most available books on the subject which you can buy (best speak french or have someone with you that does).

Being outnumbered most of the time was normal. The VVS would allocate squadrons and flights to sections of the front line - this spread them very thin. The Luftwaffe concentrated their lesser resources, moving them against one point of the line at a time.

This gave them temporary local air superiority. So VVS pilots often encountered nobody most of the time - then overwhelming numbers.

07-02-2007, 10:52 PM
Thanks for the info Stenka http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Good hunting,

07-03-2007, 09:41 PM
Yeah, the Luftwaffe (unlike the Japanese, Russians, or French) for the most part resisted the urge to start doling out units in penny packets to try to stem the tide when their ground units started losing. Against 8th Air Force bomber streams it generally did not make a whole lot of difference (those formation being so large to begin with), but against Allied tactical formations, the Luftwaffe often could force local parity or numerical superiority. The problem for them and the rest of the Werhmacht was that the German's aircraft numbers were too low to sustain air control. The Luftwaffe would bloody one group, but a half hour later more Typhoons, P-47s, or Il-2s would be back to continue where the others had left of, while the Luftwaffe was nowhere to be found.