U.S. Warships At Martinique to Foil Nazis (11-2-40)

The Pittsburgh Press (November 2, 1940)


Destroyers Sent to Safeguard 100 Airplanes, Vichy Believes

By Paul Ghali

Vichy, Nov. 2 –

American destroyers which this week set out for an unspecified destination in the West Indies, arrived at the French isles of Guadeloupe and Martinique yesterday, I was informed by the French Minister of Colonies today.

Colonial circles here evince anxiety over this step, which is taken as indication that the United States will intervene to prevent 100-odd warplanes now at Martinique from falling into German hands.

These planes, sold to France before her collapse, are now aboard the French carrier Bearn. It is feared that a German mission is en route to the French islands and that it intends to pick up the aircraft. It is formally denied in Vichy that the Germans will be permitted to obtain the planes.

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Well, apparently it wasn’t quite 100. Here’s a list of what was supposed to be on board.

44 Curtiss SBC4
15 Curtiss 75A
6 Brewster F2A
25 Stinson 105 (commercial version of the L-5)

Now the bulk of these are the older “biplane” Helldiver, not the SBC5 Helldiver that saw widespread use in the USN during the Pacific theater. Very interesting, as the French Air Force had very few dive bombers, and really never even liked the concept much. These were maybe all for the Marine squadrons who thought a little different.

The Curtis 75’s were one of the most successful fighters France had in the German invasion, but only 15 would not do more than re-supply a single totally depleted squadron.

6 Buffalos don’t make much sense. Not enough to fill a squadron. Maybe they are just for evaluation & deck crew training (although the French Navy was well aware that the Bearn would never be a fleet carrier, just a shuttle/transfer one) . Finland did ok with them, but they did play with the engines a bit too.

25 Stinsons really don’t make sense. Ok, it’s a much more modern observation plane than the ANF Les Mureaux 113/115/117, but even those were still serviceable. Not that they got used much, but they could have. Same performance capabilities as the Hs-123’s the Germans were using, and it served them very well. I think the space would have been better used with more Curtis 75’s.