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"Trial by Fire The Char B1 Tank During the Battle of France" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse22 Jan 2019 10:09 p.m. PST

"During the interwar period, France was the military powerhouse of Continental Europe. Being victors of the First World War, the French began to develop weapons technology as well as to finance a massive standing army. As such, they took on a leading role when it came to the mass production of tanks which were, in the 1930s, considered state-of-the-art weaponry.

Even though French tanks were advanced for their time, the doctrines under which they were operated still dated from the Great War. The emphasis was on their offensive role during large-scale breakthroughs of fortified and entrenched frontlines…."
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Lee49422 Jan 2019 10:29 p.m. PST

So how many parallels can you find between the Char Bs failure to stop the Germans in 1940 and the Tigers failure to stop the allies in Normandy in 1944? Its not always about the biggest gun and thickest armor!


Frederick Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 10:11 a.m. PST

The Char B1 was a real challenge for the tank commander, who had to be commander, loader and gunner as it had a one-person turret for the 47mm up top while the 75mm in the hull had limited traverse – plus they cost a fortune (like half of the budget for infantry tanks)

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 10:27 a.m. PST

Even if the French tank commander wanted to pop his head out for a look it was very difficult.


Mobius23 Jan 2019 11:57 a.m. PST

One thing I'm having a problem is believing that 75mm/L17.1 hull gun has a muzzle velocity of 475 m/s.
Obus de rupture Mle1910M (APHE)

Caliber : 75x241R mm
Weight of projectile : 6.400 kg (90g explosive)
Length of projectile : 239.5mm

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse23 Jan 2019 11:58 a.m. PST



Fred Cartwright23 Jan 2019 4:46 p.m. PST

So how many parallels can you find between the Char Bs failure to stop the Germans in 1940 and the Tigers failure to stop the allies in Normandy in 1944?

Not many really. It was a very different campaign. The allies had many more advantages in terms complete air, naval and logistics superiority which the Germans had no answer to. In 1940 the odds were still in favour of the allies on paper. They had nearly twice the artillery, more tanks and parity in infantry. The only thing they were lacking was in air support, but even then the Germans didn't enjoy the sort of complete air superiority the allies had in 44 or sheer numbers of planes available. How good or bad an individual type of tank was in 1944 it was never going to save the Germans.

Wolfhag Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2019 5:38 p.m. PST

I did see some references the MV was 220m/s.

This chart would confirm it: PDF link


Mobius23 Jan 2019 6:53 p.m. PST

The 75mm/L9.5 takes that honor. The numbers for the 75mm/L17 just doesn't fit. I've been modifying my NaaB2 naval ballistics program to calculate land Army guns. Especially, for guns that there is not proper firing tables or graphs. Often secondary countries guns will have just one or two data points.

Gerard Leman23 Jan 2019 7:01 p.m. PST

One thing I'm having a problem is believing that 75mm/L17.1 hull gun has a muzzle velocity of 475 m/s.
Obus de rupture Mle1910M (APHE)

The 75 was designed primarily as an infantry support weapon to take out pillboxes, fortified buildings, etc. For that purpose, the low velocity 75mm round was just fine, thank you very much. The 75mm round would also do a number on the Pz I's, and II's that comprised about 75% of the German tank forces in 1940. However, for anti-tank work, the French expected to mainly use the turret-mounted 47, which, again, was more than adequate to deal with German 1940 armor.

Lion in the Stars24 Jan 2019 3:33 a.m. PST

The problem with the Char B1 was the one-man turret. You just cannot fight effectively from that.

The problem with the French Military in general is that they were fully geared up to refight WW1, complete with the slow rate of advance and communications.

The Germans saw the immense losses in men and materiel of WW1 as unsustainable, and figured out a way to not allow the French time to get dug in and working on those slow timetables.

Mobius24 Jan 2019 4:28 a.m. PST

The French lacked manpower. The high WWI losses caused the French to try to do with less men. So they went with a minimum number of crewmen.

Mobius24 Jan 2019 10:08 a.m. PST

Wolfhag ypu are right that the MV of the 75mm/L17 was 220 m/s. link

I read on a post on Axis History that it was the /L9.5 gun that had that velocity.

Thomas Thomas24 Jan 2019 3:59 p.m. PST

The small crews stem from the success of the FT17 in WWI which had a 2 man crew – not due to manpower shortage but design. It worked great in 1918 when it did not have to fight other tanks but infantry (kind of like a bunch of armored knights against peasants).

Chars sluggish in combat v. panzers with better ergonomics. Best way to represent is to have mutual move/fire phases but with Germans moving 2nd and shooting first (think X-wing).

French Cav insisted on expanding very similar turret in Somua so that it accommodated a stand up loader.


Mobius24 Jan 2019 4:42 p.m. PST

That's a common myth. The majority of German tanks in the invasion of France also had a single man turret. Less than 25% had 3 man turrets.

donlowry25 Jan 2019 9:32 a.m. PST

Only the Pz I had a one-man turret, and it didn't have a main gun to fire and load, just machine guns. The Pz II had a 2-man turret and a semi-automatic gun (so loading was less of a hassle); and, IIRC, the Pz 38(t) and 35(t) had 2-man turrets. And, of course, the Pz III and IV had 3-man turrets.

Gerard Leman25 Jan 2019 10:14 a.m. PST

You're right, donlowry, but it is still the case that well over 50% of the German tanks in 1940 were Pz I or Pz II.

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