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The direction of French Tank Designs?

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  • The direction of French Tank Designs?

    Probably need some input from the French members here.
    It may also be a AH thread, so no problems in moving if necessary.

    Some French tanks in 1940 were pretty good on a number of levels. Obvious candidates are the Souma S35 and the Char B1 bis. The two noted were let down by one man turrets, but were otherwise decent designs in their required roles.

    In what direction was French armour design going as far as design and battlefield capability was concerned?

    What could have they produced in numbers by 1941/2 etc?
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  • #2
    Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
    Probably need some input from the French members here.
    It may also be a AH thread, so no problems in moving if necessary.

    Some French tanks in 1940 were pretty good on a number of levels. Obvious candidates are the Souma S35 and the Char B1 bis. The two noted were let down by one man turrets, but were otherwise decent designs in their required roles.

    In what direction was French armour design going as far as design and battlefield capability was concerned?

    What could have they produced in numbers by 1941/2 etc?
    The French tanks also lacked radios. From the diagrams I've seen, the next generation of French tanks were supposed to be equipped with some very large caliber main guns, 75mm up to 90mm. They would have been a bad surprise to the Germans had enough of them made it to the battlefield in time.
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    • #3
      The one-man turret would have died out once combat experience had been absorbed.

      The tanks did have radios; the best of them, the Souma, had a man next to the driver who's only job was to work a radio.
      He didn't even have a Machine Gun.

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      • #4
        French 1940 armor design reflected their doctrinal policies. There were two lines of development in progress at the time:

        Infantry support and cavalry / reconnissance.

        The infantry line had heavily armored vehicles in what might be called light and heavy designs. The light side is represented by the H 39 or H 40 tank with a 37mm gun and a machinegun. These had two man crews and were to accompany the infantry forward.
        The heavy side were the Char B, C, D series. These had 47mm guns and up. The Char B1 bis had a 47mm DP gun and a 75mm howitzer. It was designed more like a miniature overage / bunker and mini-Maginot Line than as a vehicle for fighting moble battles. The 75mm was fixed in traverse and aimed by turning the whole vehicle. The driver aimed and fired the gun. Elevation was by the loader or driver manually. The 75mm loader had to fuze and load the gun like a field artilleryman would. The 47mm gun was more for all around defense of the vehicle than as an offensive weapon. The turret crewman (commander would be imprecise) also acted as an observer for the driver to aquire targets.
        The two types would then support an infantry attack with the lights advancing with the infantry and the heavies staying back and adding support fires. They would only move up periodically as the battle advanced.

        On the recon / cavalry side there were long range vehicles, mostly armored cars, medium range vehicles, lighter machinegun armed tanks, and battlefield vehicles like the S 35 or R 35 that could fight for information.

        Everything was designed into a doctrine that saw the battlefield as an orderly, precise, chess game where each move was comptemplated by the high command and very detailed orders would be given for a very methodical battle.

        I don't see the French as changing any of that in the near future to 1940 unless the Germans invade Poland like they did and prove pretty much that French doctrine is not up to WW 2 tactical standards. But, one year is not sufficent to change what decades of instutionalized doctrine drilled into every officer had already produced.

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        • #5
          As TAG pointed out, the problem wasn't with the excellent French designs, but with their tactics of utilization. French policy was to commit tanks piecemeal as infantry support.

          Where was France going with their designs? Well....




          http://i242.photobucket.com/albums/f...oto/tank03.jpg

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          • #6
            FCM-FI Prototype:

            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
              FCM-FI Prototype:

              What an ungainly bastard and a veritable shot-trap that would have been for German 88mm anti tank guns. Looks almost like a French Maus tank
              "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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