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French tanks, 1940

French early war

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The_Chieftain #1 Posted Oct 11 2012 - 20:15

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Read the latest Hatch article here!

DeadlyTreadly #2 Posted Oct 11 2012 - 22:35

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The article leaves out the fact that the French had to split thier army at the last moment to support Holland, Denmark and Belgium. If the French had let them go under without helping them the Germans would not have been able to split thier army and the result may have been very different.

CaguamaMkII #3 Posted Oct 11 2012 - 23:59

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My grandpa fought in may 40 and he always commented that the key factor for the german victory was the "luftwaffle": the french lost the war in  the moment they lost control of their own airspace...
Salut la compagnie!!! :Smile_honoring:

thandiflight #4 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 00:08

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Thanks for another fascinating read - especially the "order of battle" of the armoured forces. Interestingly little attention has been given to the political motivations behind the positioning of forces and the extent of the Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line was conceived as a counter to the strategy employed against the French in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Experience during The Great War/WW1 showed the possibility of attack through Holland and Belgium. The French had wanted to extend the Maginot Line to the Channel coast but the political implications to the Belgians to the north were a significant limiting factor. It was politically acceptable to extend the line to cover Luxemborg but not Belgium. Nor did the French believe that the Ardennes was impenetrable but the belief was that the terrain would slow any advance sufficiently for a response to occur. Positioning the BEF was an issue of logistics and not so much an issue of doctrine. The entire doctrine was on containment and not attack. Once the containment plan was curtailed by the decisions of the Dutch and Belgians the weakness of the strategy, and of the forces designed to employ that strategy, became all too apparent.

As you rightly stated the deployment of your forces is 50% of the battle. In 1940 it was 80%.

thandiflight #5 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 00:26

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View PostCaguamaMkII, on Oct 11 2012 - 23:59, said:

My grandpa fought in may 40 and he always commented that the key factor for the german victory was the "luftwaffle": the french lost the war in  the moment they lost control of their own airspace...
Salut la compagnie!!! :Smile_honoring:

The Luftwaffe - aside from the fighters - was essentially "airborne artillery". It was "artillery" that was exceedingly mobile and did not require all the extra work needed to set up a fire-support battery. This was Close Air Support as nobody had ever practiced on this scale before.

Echo_Sniper #6 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 01:36

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I haven't fisnished reading the arcticle, which as always is quite interesting. But I'm at the ''mitrailleus'' part. There's an ''e'' missing at the end of each.

Edited by Echo_Sniper, Oct 12 2012 - 01:36.


Tiger_23 #7 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 01:58

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If The French army had attacked in September/October 39 (with clear superiority in Troops/Arty/Air Force - Germany didnot had tanks at the Western front), The german forces called 'Western Front''  would not have resisted for a week or two...

(Siegfried Westphal)

Baron_de_Pencier #8 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 04:10

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View PostEcho_Sniper, on Oct 12 2012 - 01:36, said:

I haven't fisnished reading the arcticle, which as always is quite interesting. But I'm at the ''mitrailleus'' part. There's an ''e'' missing at the end of each.

THIS. So much this.

oahe007 #9 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 04:32

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View Postthandiflight, on Oct 12 2012 - 00:08, said:

Thanks for another fascinating read - especially the "order of battle" of the armoured forces. Interestingly little attention has been given to the political motivations behind the positioning of forces and the extent of the Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line was conceived as a counter to the strategy employed against the French in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Experience during The Great War/WW1 showed the possibility of attack through Holland and Belgium. The French had wanted to extend the Maginot Line to the Channel coast but the political implications to the Belgians to the north were a significant limiting factor. It was politically acceptable to extend the line to cover Luxemborg but not Belgium. Nor did the French believe that the Ardennes was impenetrable but the belief was that the terrain would slow any advance sufficiently for a response to occur. Positioning the BEF was an issue of logistics and not so much an issue of doctrine. The entire doctrine was on containment and not attack. Once the containment plan was curtailed by the decisions of the Dutch and Belgians the weakness of the strategy, and of the forces designed to employ that strategy, became all too apparent.

As you rightly stated the deployment of your forces is 50% of the battle. In 1940 it was 80%.

Not only were there political implications for not extending the line, but also cost.  France simply couldn't afford buillding more of the line because of how hard the depression hit them. In addition to potentially abandoning allies and cost, the extension would also run through industrial areas which was not really something they wanted to do. Finally, it would mean fighting a war in France as opposed to Belgium.

Ironically, as the line was supposed to conserve forces and free up more of the army for more mobile operations, it left them with so little cash they couldn't afford the "mobility" that their doctrine relied on. Defense was still a dominant theme in their planning, and while they talked mobility they didn't really follow through with it.

The smaller, mobile army some wanted and their plans kind of called for didn't come to fruition and what they had was a slow, large army that couldn't respond well to the new battlefield.

agentpineapple #10 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 04:37

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That's some nice writing Mr. Singer. My tank memory banks is admittedly still cursory at the moment but I enjoyed parts like these in particular:

Quote

The result of these characteristics was that French tanks tended to fight their own private battles, even when they were fighting alongside their comrades-in-arms.  The French had envisioned tank battles as set-piece affairs, where orders would be received over the radio from higher headquarters, unit commanders would brief all subordinates, and then each tank would fight independently to achieve its own part of the plan.

It seems the French were still at a very theoretical stage on their doctrine, preferring to treat armored elements as set pieces and so forth, which made the Germans' integrated forces their natural enemy. You can't be blind as a bat and remain on an offensive posture.

Also I did a little searching after reading your article and landed on this article by Prof. Karl G. Larew.

Quote

[In 1940, the French] were even worse off, with about 80 percent of their tanks having no radios at all.5 By contrast, the German military, under the guidance of Colonel, later General, Heinz Guderian, had embraced radio technology wholeheartedly. Sometimes known as the single most important German father of the blitzkrieg, Guderian’s work with tank radios was a critical aspect of his research and development.6

Can't imagine how the French tankers would've felt during all that. The more I read about these topics, it becomes easier to see how they were so summarily defeated. If these "concentrated" advances weren't stalled early and bludgeoned to submission, there was no way the French could expect to maintain a front for any interval. The Blitzkrieg approach feels incredibly natural when followed this way.

thandiflight #11 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 05:07

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View Postoahe007, on Oct 12 2012 - 04:32, said:

Not only were there political implications for not extending the line, but also cost.  France simply couldn't afford buillding more of the line because of how hard the depression hit them. In addition to potentially abandoning allies and cost, the extension would also run through industrial areas which was not really something they wanted to do. Finally, it would mean fighting a war in France as opposed to Belgium.

Ironically, as the line was supposed to conserve forces and free up more of the army for more mobile operations, it left them with so little cash they couldn't afford the "mobility" that their doctrine relied on. Defense was still a dominant theme in their planning, and while they talked mobility they didn't really follow through with it.

The smaller, mobile army some wanted and their plans kind of called for didn't come to fruition and what they had was a slow, large army that couldn't respond well to the new battlefield.

There has been considerable debate over the issue of the cost of the Maginot Line. There are those who have stated that the length of the line was limited by the cost and that France ran out of money - pointing to the relative lack of fortifications along the Belgian Border. This is often countered by the issue that the Maginot Line came in under budget and that the real cost of the Maginot Line was considerably less than De Gaulle's proposed mobile force. Government records have apparently shown that there was much political maneuvering - especially with regard to the Belgians and their subsequent "neutrality". There are those that have regarded the Maginot Line as a massive public works stimulus at the time of significant economic downturn. France also suffered considerable man-power shortages as a consequence of the Great War and this also played a role in the strategy, its extent and its cost.

Maus123 #12 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 05:17

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You forgot one French tank from 1940:
http://t3.gstatic.co...sWh8SPPmrnkxarA

FaustianQ #13 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 11:24

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Surprisingly, this article actually describes why German armor is less useful in clan wars, and how UC battles have changed from how they used to be fought to how they are fought now. Current UC is an emphasis on mobility, communication, then firepower, with the focus on finding the enemy, delaying him, and then concentrating force to knockout a segment of enemy tanks through brute force or encirclement, and then using your new numeric superiority to crush the remaining enemy tanks.. Compare this to the old way, which were actually methodical set piece battles where forces slowly advanced by concentration of firepower and supporting artillery.

I think this simply show that it's not so much that newer tanks are better but that mobility simply trumps protection at the tactical and strategic level. Sorry, mildly offtopic but the immense parallels are there, please don't devolve into arguments of who's tanks are better now that I've brought the game.

oahe007 #14 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 13:18

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View Postthandiflight, on Oct 12 2012 - 05:07, said:

There has been considerable debate over the issue of the cost of the Maginot Line. There are those who have stated that the length of the line was limited by the cost and that France ran out of money - pointing to the relative lack of fortifications along the Belgian Border. This is often countered by the issue that the Maginot Line came in under budget and that the real cost of the Maginot Line was considerably less than De Gaulle's proposed mobile force. Government records have apparently shown that there was much political maneuvering - especially with regard to the Belgians and their subsequent "neutrality". There are those that have regarded the Maginot Line as a massive public works stimulus at the time of significant economic downturn. France also suffered considerable man-power shortages as a consequence of the Great War and this also played a role in the strategy, its extent and its cost.

The line was supposed to address the manpower issue, with the line allowing a few man to defend a large area. This was supposed to free men up for the mobile reserve, but they couldn't afford the "mobile" part for the reserve.

As for the line along Belgium, sure it was a mishmash of politics and money. They knew that when the first German stepped out of Germany into Belgium, Belgium would be calling for help. Their plan was to fight the war in Belgium, not France. If you buiild the line along Belgium's border, that would have assured two things; You abondoned Belgium to the fates, and you are fighting the war in France. Niether of these things were desirable.

PzKpfw_1 #15 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 13:44

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The French forces in 1940 were everybit the equal of the Germans in manpower & material, despite claims otherwise. What they lacked was elan or innovation, they were hamstrung by an outdated chain of command.

Its intersting to compare tank strengths from 1939.

French:

Souma S35 - 260
Renault R35 - 950
Char B1 bis - 311
Hotchkiss H35 - 545
Hotchkiss H39 - 276

British:

Matilda MKII - 75
A10 - 126
A13 - 30

German:

PzKpfw II -  1,095
PzKpfw III - 388
PzKpfw IV - 278
PzKpfw 35(t), 38(t) - 410

Concerning the  French Air Force or lack of in the fighting in 1940, we know fom histories, aneqdotal evidence etc that one of the main reasons given for the defeat, was the lack of French aircraft opposing the Luftwaffe. Yet we also know compareing the two air forces, that the French had 3,289 modren aircraft of which 2,122 were fighters. Versus 2,670 German AC operateing over France, of which 1,000 were fighters.

Yet during the conflict, you see statements that the Luftwaffe outnumbered the French AF ie, General Joseph Vuillenin, Cheif of the Air Force stated "Our air force ran into an enemy that outnumbered it by five to one".  La Chambre the French Air Minister 1938 - 1940 stated only 1/3rd of these planes were deployed at the front while the rest were in the interior.

None of these statements make any sense, the 'interior' was an 4 hour flight even for the slowest, most outdated, French bomber the Bloch MB 200. Another glareing example of how unreal the above statements is, was that between May 10 - June 12 the French recieved 1,131 new aircraft of which 668 were fighters. Even Vuillemin stated more aircraft were recieved in May, thru June then were lost. Yet French General d' Astier Air Commander of 1st French Army Group reported he only had 432 fighters of which 72 were RAF. Out of 2000 French fighters only 500 were deployed on the notheastren front.

So where were the French AC while the German AC operated at will?. The answer is most of the French airfeilds were overun in the inital attack, the planes were evacuated to various interior airfeilds mostly small private strips & commercial airfields behind the front, factory replacement, aircraft were ordered to airfeilds in the interior etc.

So while German bombers were pounding French infantry their were 200 French military aircraft parked at Tours airfield of which 150 were fighters. After the Armistance the Germans found 4,200 French aircraft in the unoccupied zone, of which 1,700 were frontline aircraft. The truth is the French high command, had no idea where their aircraft were that were evacuated etc, in the initial fighting.

Regads, John Waters

Edited by PzKpfw_1, Oct 12 2012 - 13:59.


tomego #16 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 16:50

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French armor also contributed to the mounting of the 8.8 cm cannon on tanks. Often French armor was inpenetrable to German tanks and the AA batteries had to be used for ground support. Most of the "armor" Germany had were pZ1s and Pz2s. The Pz1 is nothing more than a glorified armor car with a turret. Germany had only just replaced the pz3s to levels that had existed before the Battle for Poland. John Waters listed the 1939 strengths of each army but remember Germany lost vehicles during the Battle for Poland whereas the French were able to contibue production. I would imagine the numbers for France would be higher than Germany even with those numbers.

KamikazeSenpai #17 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 18:00

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Basically the french surrendered?

KamikazeSenpai #18 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 18:00

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Why the H35 is called Hotchkiss?

Edited by TheHighRoller, Oct 12 2012 - 18:01.


The_Chieftain #19 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 18:42

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Manufacturer of the vehicle.

agentpineapple #20 Posted Oct 12 2012 - 18:52

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[snip. looks like I'm just dealing with the wrong sort of crowd around here]





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