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Best Defensive Tank - Battle of France 1940

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  • #31
    Char b, for the same reason that I thought it the better offencive vehicle. Very good armour a good AT gun and the very useful 75 for the HE element. Again the 1 man turret being a bit of a bummer, but one can work around these limitations.
    The repetition of affirmations leads to belief. Once that belief becomes a deep conviction, you better wake up and look at the facts.

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    • #32
      Okay, I have announced loudly since I joined this Forum that I know little about those ugly green things, but I wanted to vote in Nick's polls, so I called my Daddy and had a 45 minute convo with him and am taking his recommendation and voted for the Char B as it was a heavily armored tank with a good gun that would have come off better if the French had listened to Fuller and DeGaulle
      Will no one tell me what she sings?--
      Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
      For old, unhappy, far-off things,
      And battles long ago:
      -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

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      • #33
        The Char B1 would have made a great range target in 1940 but not a defensive or offensive tank.

        Picture the scene:

        Char B1 trying to find a hull down position to receive enemy tanks, can't do it and fully six foot of it is poking up over the crest.
        It could reverse further down slope and mask its 75, that's a choice the commander would have to make, he knows there must be infantry with the enemy tanks after all.

        Here they are at last,the enemy are using cover most excellently,no tank being in sight for more than 30 seconds at a time.

        The TC is heads up, he spots a tank moving slower than the rest and ducks into the turret to find it in his sight but it's moved and he can't locate it, so back out the rear top he pops,finds another target and ducks back inside,this time he's got a good reference point and he squares the target in his sight, now he must quickly give orders to his crew and his troop, load an AP round all while tracking the target in the sight, it takes too long and the target disappears behind some scrub.

        He fires a round through the scrub to no apparent effect and as he's reloading the gun and otherwise distracted the target moves off out of sight He continues to monitor the scrub for movement for what seems a few seconds.
        Nothing, head back out the top, where are the enemy?
        Where've they gone?

        BANG!!

        His tank shivers from a small calibre hit somewhere behind him,he hesitates,unsure of whether to drop into the turret,tell his driver to slew to the new threat direction or traverse the turret himself.

        BANG!!!!!!!!!! bang,bang,bang!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Yelling at his driver to reverse he is told that the engine is overheating.
        Things are just so confusing,he never imagines it would be like this, firing on the ranges at set targets was how it should be.

        he ducks back inside as MG bullets liberally spatter the turret flanks, now he is blind,afraid to poke his head out again and that is the only way to spot the enemy.

        Now he can also smell the labouring,overheated engine, the driver shrieks that he's lost power, his erstwhile invincible Char B1 lurches to a halt,smoke and steam rising from the back deck.

        As he is being led away with his crew to a POW compound by German follow up troops he notices many small calibre hits on his tank all around the engine intake louvres,shaking his head in abject despair he begins his life as a prisoner.


        This scene was repeated over and over during May-June 1940, not just with Char B but every one man turreted tank.

        Picture this scene:

        The Matilda crept into a hull down position, ready to receive enemy tanks.
        Just two feet of it showing above the crest, here they are!

        The enemy advance skilfully making great use of ground, "Gunner! Target tank load AP 2'o clock 700yards!"

        "LOADED,UP!" Comes the swift reponse.

        "Engage!"

        A 2lb shot wings away narrowly missing the target tank high and left, the next shot hits but the tank doesn't stop, the next shot stops it and the crew bail out at about 600 yards, MG fire mows them down.

        Now for the next , there over to the right, the TC is talking to his troop as the gunner and loader working as a team and taking target directions from him engage and kill another two tanks.

        Time to go.reverse off the crest to the alternate FP and RV with his troop.

        All of this is achieved without any Matilda being in sight of one another.

        They are delighted with their performance, the German tanks die when they are hit and they estimate having stopped 5 of them between the troop.

        They are still coming though and by monitoring the Bn net the TC knows they are working around the flanks.


        Such is the difference between a three man turret and a one man.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Desiree Clary View Post
          Okay, I have announced loudly since I joined this Forum that I know little about those ugly green things, but I wanted to vote in Nick's polls, so I called my Daddy and had a 45 minute convo with him and am taking his recommendation and voted for the Char B as it was a heavily armored tank with a good gun that would have come off better if the French had listened to Fuller and DeGaulle
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Billotte

          On 16 May, while under heavy fire from German tanks, Billotte and his B1 Bis managed to break through the German defences and to destroy two German PzKpfw IV tanks, eleven PzKpfw III tanks and two enemy guns. Billotte's Char B1-Bis tank received 140 hits from enemy tanks and guns, but none were able to penetrate the tank's heavy armour.
          http://www.ww2incolor.com/french/char.html

          In his book "Panzer Leader", Heinz Guderian records the following incident during a tank battle south of Juniville in 1940:

          "While the tank battle was in progress, I attempted, in vain, to destroy a Char B with a captured 47 mm anti-tank gun; all the shells I fired at it simply bounced harmlessly off its thick armor. Our 37 mm and 20 mm guns were equally ineffective against this adversary. As a result, we inevitably suffered sadly heavy casualties".

          The best known havoc wrought by a Char B1 occured at the village of Stonne on May 16th, 1940.

          Char B1 "Eure", commanded by Pierre Armand Gaston Billotte, breached the German defences and attacked the enemy head on. It destroyed 13 German tanks!

          Two PzKpfw IV tanks, Eleven PzKpfw III tanks and two enemy guns fell victim to Billotte's Char. He recieved an amazing 140 hits from enemy tanks and guns! None were able to penetrate the tank's heavy armour.
          Your choice is a good one.
          How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
          Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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          • #35
            Char B was designed as an offensive/assault-enemy-position tank.

            A difficult tank to place in a hull down defensive and its size makes it hard to camouflage.

            I voted Matilda 2 (A12) - Great armour and a good gun. A bit slow moving but not much a problem if on a defensive position.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
              Yes I know of this incident and frankly have never believed it, so would you say even if it were true that it was typical of the performance of all Char B1's?
              Do you think that the startled German tankies still hadn't learned about the numerous shortcomings of the tank by the 6th day of operations?
              Perhaps they didn't know at this stage that even 20mm rounds into the huge engine cooling louvres on the side of the thing would kill it.
              Perhaps they didn't even know there was only one man in the turret acting like a demented one armed paper hanger?

              The Germans weren't supermen Nick,they could panic too.

              I would like to know the exact circumstances of Billotte's remarkable engagement, how and why did fully eleven Mark III's and two Mark IV's stay still long enough for him to shoot them and how did he control his crew and where was his troop while doing so?
              Were the III's refuelling/dismounted/resting/?

              Killing one or two enemy tanks while confined in a one man turret is incredible but 13!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
              Kind of stretches the bounds of credulity no?

              EDIT:

              It appears to be true after all,still it must have been a one off.
              Last edited by flash; 08 Feb 17, 09:08.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by flash View Post
                Yes I know of this incident and frankly have never believed it, so would you say even if it were true that it was typical of the performance of all Char B1's?
                Do you think that the startled German tankies still hadn't learned about the numerous shortcomings of the tank by the 6th day of operations?
                Perhaps they didn't know at this stage that even 20mm rounds into the huge engine cooling louvres on the side of the thing would kill it.
                Perhaps they didn't even know there was only one man in the turret acting like a demented one armed paper hanger?

                The Germans weren't supermen Nick,they could panic too.

                I would like to know the exact circumstances of Billotte's remarkable engagement, how and why did fully eleven Mark III's and two Mark IV's stay still long enough for him to shoot them and how did he control his crew and where was his troop while doing so?
                Were the III's refuelling/dismounted/resting/?

                Killing one or two enemy tanks while confined in a one man turret is incredible but 13!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                Kind of stretches the bounds of credulity no?
                It's actually been well described in a number of history books but usually ignored in English language histories. Blitzkrieg Then and Now covers it .

                And it's descibed here:
                http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=45336

                The 1/41e BCC outflanks Stonne by the north-west but capitaine Billotte is hampered by several cliffs and important slopes. He has to move to the right, arriving in Stonne itself (from the north-west) before the battalion commander. The B1bis "Eure" arrives nose to nose with 13 German tanks of Pz.Rgt.8 (10.PzD) in column in the main street of the town. The first tank is only at 30m. Billotte orders the driver (sergent Durupt) to target the last tank with the 75mm SA35 hull gun while he destroys the first tank with the 47mm SA35 turret gun. The first shots destroyed simultaneously the first and the last German tank of the column, the others could hardly move. In several minutes, the B1bis "Eure" advances in the street and neutralize the 11 remaining tanks while numerous shells are hitting the armor of the B1bis without penetrating it. 2 Panzer IVs and 11 Panzer IIIs are reported as being destroyed (It is however not 100% sure that among them there were not several wrecks from the previous day). Billotte crosses the whole town and destroys also two 3.7cm AT guns next to the "Pain de Sucre". The armor of the B1bis revealed later to be scattered with 140 impacts and gouges, none of the projectiles penetrated the armor according to the war diary of the 41e BCC. One can see here a kind of small reversed "Villers Bocage".
                So a simple summary. The terrain favoured the attacker. (Billotte mentions being uphill in the Blitzkrieg Then and Now account firing down on the attackers) The German tanks were on a narrow road in single file, with both the front and last tanks in the column taken out they were penned in.

                Histoire er Collections publishers have an English language book on the Stonne battle which provides more detail. They also have an excellent French language book on the Char B's detailing the use and fate of each individual tank. Makes for an interesting read in comparison to more Anglocentric books.




                Edit found this map for those interested in the layout of Stonne


                from here: http://kriegsimulation.blogspot.ca/2...-billotte.html
                Last edited by CarpeDiem; 08 Feb 17, 08:56.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post
                  It's actually been well described in a number of history books but usually ignored in English language histories. Blitzkrieg Then and Now covers it .

                  And it's descibed here:
                  http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=45336



                  So a simple summary. The terrain favoured the attacker. (Billotte mentions being uphill in the Blitzkrieg Then and Now account firing down on the attackers) The German tanks were on a narrow road in single file, with both the front and last tanks in the column taken out they were penned in.

                  Histoire er Collections publishers have an English language book on the Stonne battle which provides more detail. They also have an excellent French language book on the Char B's detailing the use and fate of each individual tank. Makes for an interesting read in comparison to more Anglocentric books.




                  Edit found this map for those interested in the layout of Stonne


                  from here: http://kriegsimulation.blogspot.ca/2...-billotte.html
                  Fair enough Carpe Diem, like I said ,I had heard of it but took it with a pinch of salt,putting it down to a tall tale told by a French officer to British comrades after he escaped. Clearly I was wrong to, thanks for helping me clear it up.

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                  • #39
                    Reminder- the 'A12' listed in the poll was better known as the Matilda II, it busted SS ass in France 1940..
                    Gen. Heinz Guderian quote from 'Panzer Leader' page 114-
                    "On the 21st of May a noteworthy event occurred to the north of us: English tanks attempted to break through in the direction of Paris. At Arras they came up against the SS Division Totenkopf which had not been in action before and which showed signs of panic"

                    (Later in 1940 it went through Italian tanks like butter in North Africa, earning for itself the title "Queen of the Battlefield", nobody better mess with that puppy!)
                    Below: Matilda II's


                    (PS- the Char B1bis was very good but its small cramped turret cut down its rate of loading and firing, so I voted for the Matilda II)
                    Last edited by Poor Old Spike; 26 Feb 18, 05:41.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                      Tanks are not defensive weapons. That is why 1940 went the way it did.

                      The ability to maneuver is the chief defense, because otherwise the enemy simply breaks through where your tanks are not, and wreaks havoc while your lumbering beasts run out of gas.

                      Which is what happened.

                      Therefore I voted the Mark IV.
                      Well said.
                      I still went for the Matilda though.
                      "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                      Samuel Johnson.

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