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Engineer Joseph Molinié about the AMX 40


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Souroy #1 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 15:34

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Firstly I apologize for probably not being on the good part of the forum, being from the EU server I can't create a thread on most sections of the forum.
I saw that some people were interested, or at least intrigued, by the AMX 40 I decided to translate an exchange (letters, documents, notes) between historian Stéphane Ferrard and the IGA (Ingénieur Général de l'Armement - General Engineer of Armament) Joseph Molinié about the AMX 40 before the death of Molinié the 13th February 1983.
Joseph Molinié, after finishing Polytechnique in 1925, devoted his life toward tank development, he joined AMX in December 1936 and became director in 1945, participating (when not commanding) every tank related projects (AMX 13, AMX 50, AMX 30, ...) of the company until its retirement in 1961.
This exchange, presented as an interview, was published in GBM n°95 (January/February/March 2011) in an article of Stéphane Ferrard (Pages 78 to 86).
I tried to keep the translation as "pure" as possible but I apologize for all the mistakes that probably litter it.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
My General, in your book Les engins blindés du monde 1917-1967, that you published in 1981 with Argout Editions, you refer, pages 14 and 15, to the Franco-English cooperation on the matter of tanks during the 1938-1940 period.
You quote in particular the joint study of a French « Cavalry tank » based on the Cruiser A13.
Can you give us more details about this project ?

- Joseph Molinié :
Before talking about this project whose study was launched in 1940, let me quickly retrace the background of the Franco-English cooperation on tanks you just evoked.
Even before Munich Agreement in September 1938 which appeared, for both side of the Channel, as a reprieve, we were all convinced that war was ineluctable.
From that moment, political, military but also technical contacts intensified between France and the United Kingdom.
Exchanges more and more numerous and close happened between the two allies.
In April 1939, a French military mission directed by the general Martin visited the British technical services, more particulary in the tanks domain.
It appeared to the eyes of the French officers that the British had no battle tank as our Char B available. Followed an exchange of technical comissions : the British came in France to examine the Char B from which they developped a version, future Churchill tank, with a French 75mm in casemate and a two-men turret equipped with a 2-Pounder. I gave more details about this in my book.
But if the British, in 1939, had no battle tank, they had a fast tank called Cruiser A13 then in industrialization process in the Lord Nuffield factories of Birmingham.
This fast tank caught our attention by its innovatives technical solutions which seemed to us superior to those used on our combat armored cars – cavalry tanks if you prefer – such as the Renault ACG 1, or even the Somua S35.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
What were those technical innovations ?

- Joseph Molinié :
They mainly relied on the suspension which was of Christie design from the American inventor of the same name and of which the British but also, before them, the Russians had acquired the license.
This suspension was considered obsolete by the US Ordnance and as such, Washington had authorized its exportation.
Which made the success of the famous T-34, here isn’t the least of the paradoxes.
But if we appreciated its mobility, we also noted with interest the modifications brought by our British homologues who were anxious about firing on the move.
On that score, as i wrote it, ther perfectionned the shock absorbers of the suspension but also the gradualness of the hydraulical control of the gun, more supple than the electrical command of our APX turrets which equipped our B1 bis, D2 and S35.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
Why haven’t simply bought or built under license the A13 ?

- Joseph Molinié :
I know the question of the purchase of the A13 was asked in early 1940. However, it clashed with the weakness of the Franc to the Pound. The A13 would have costed too much for the taxpayers.
At this era, the French government prefered to engage importation expenses for aeronautical material principally.
Moreover, a production under license would have clashed with the well-known problem which I talked about in my book, the incompatibility between English and French measurement units.
Tools would been send from England and our staff should have followed a probably lengthy formation because, at this era, in this domain, few knew English ; and I’m not speaking of the working-class.
The contrary was as true for our British friends which explain they built their own « version » of the Char B, future Churchill.
But, beyond to this important problem which was, by the way, quickly resolved when American equipement, which was not in the metric system, arrived in our harbors of North Africa from 1943 – proof of the ability to adapt of the workforce – existed a technical restraint.
The superstructures of the A13 offered plate at 0° of incidence, that is to say true « shots traps » as most of the British tanks of the time.
For us, it was out of question to take back this design all the more the HQ was asking for an augmentation of the armor up to 60mm for light infantry and cavalry tanks, or its sloped equivalent.
An uparmored A13 to 60mm – it was only armored at 30mm – would have transformed it, by weight augmentation, in an infantry tank, that is to say it would have lost its mobility, essential for a cavalry tank.
The English protection was unacceptable and as such, we had to rethink a Cruiser a la french.
This is what we’ve done from 1939 to establish this cavalry tank project.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
From which parts the study of the new tank was conducted ?

- Joseph Molinié :
From a mix between elements of the Christie suspension which would have been supplied by Nuffield, the British system of hydraulical turret control and French mechanical organs.
These organs consisted essentially in the diesel engine from Aster, a 4-cylinder two-stroke giving 130hp at 1900rpm.
The study of this engine was made by the demand of the AMX to Mr. Jean Aury, technical director tasked of studies of the Aster society of Saint-Denis, as I precised in my book.
This engine was to equip the AMX 38 light infantry tank but also the cavalry tank.
An extension in a 400hp 12-cylinder was planned in 1940 for heavy tanks.
As you know, I was a supporter of the diesel engines in combat tanks as they considerably improved the autonomy.
Moreover, diesel fuel, less volatile than gasoline greatly lowered lowered the risk of fire and as such participated to the protection of the vehicle.
It’s for this reason that, during the rearmament of the French army, I advocated in late 1942 for the diesel engine version of the Sherman which was made for the Russians.
During this era I was part of general Béthouart’s military mission at the Pentagone et I was entrusted with the liaison bureau.
But let’s get back to the era you’re interested in.
During the development of this engine, Aster encountered some difficulties which, in 1940, were about to be solved.
The typical example of this kind of difficulties is writed down in the letter, of which you have a copy, Jean Aury sent me the 13th November 1939, following the order for six 400hp diesel engines destined to the future AMX heavy tanks prototypes.
With the mobilization, Aster lacked cruelly of workers who were in huge majority mobilised in the armies.
Thus, its study bureau tasked with the realisation of diesel tank engines counted only an engineer and a draughtsman. A new engineer was expected for the 20th December as well as the return from the armies of one specialist but – and despite the support of the AMX – at an unknow date.
During the elaboration of the future tanks program by the general Keller, inspector of the tanks, he considered « meager » the 130hp engine of our AMX 38 prototype.
This engine, let’s admit it, was often subject of failures, due to a lack of development.
In my report to the general Keller, you can read that, for me, the 130hp 4-cylinder was just the first step and it should be followed, on the prototype n°2 of the AMX 38, by a 4-cylinder giving 160hp at 2000rpm. To this I added :
« Thereunto, it is necessary to add that the Aster engine is build as a fixed engine and its power correspond to a sustained output and not to a burst output as on car engines. »
It’s this version that was planned for the cavalry tank then in study.
Early 1940, we were thinking to be able to up its power to 220hp but by going from 4 to 6 cylinders.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
Sir, was this cavalry tank an official program or an initiative from your company like the AMX 38 light infantry tank ?

- Joseph Molinié :
It effectively was an initiative from our studies bureau, for a powerful tracked armored car when at this era, the leadership of the cavalry was thinking of a similar engine but wheeled, which launched the study and realization of of the famous AM 201 by Panhard, future EBR.
Through our cavalry tank, we were offering a tracked/wheeled alternative to the fully wheeled Panhard project.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
The tank developped by AMX was then a two-seater, as the AM Panhard 201 ?

- Joseph Molinié :
No, it was a three-seater following the formula of the Renault ACG 1 that I considered to be the best adapted for anti-tank combat with a two-man turret and a single man, the driver, in the hull.
The British used this layout for their Matilda infantry tank with a two-men turret and on the Cruiser A13 but with a three-man turret.
I reused the same formula after 1945 through the AMX 13, then the AMX 50 and to finish with the AMX 30.
The future successor of the AMX 30 should follow it too.
Indeed, we should have chosen the formula of the three-man turret for every vehicles destined to anti-tank fighting.
It’s what was applied as soon as 1916 for the prototype of the 1A heavy tank then the 2C of FCM.
A Char B with a three-man turret armed with a 75mm would have done wonder in 1940. I talked about it in my book.
By the way, following the first battles of May, ARL worked in emergency and under the energetic direction of the IGA Lavirotte on a version of the Char B with a 75mm equipped turret ; time lacked for its realization.
However we met it again in 1944 with the first prototypes of the ARL 44.
Let’s notice that every modern tanks actually use the formula of the ACG 1 with a two-man (autoloading) or a three-man (manual loading) turret and only the driver is in the hull.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
So, your cavalry tank was revisited ACG 1 ?

- Joseph Molinié :
In a way, but of the ACG 1, as I just said, we kept only the layout and the armament, that is to say the excellent 47mm SA35 which armed the turret of our S35, D2 and B1 Bis.
Contrary to the ACG 1, the hull of our tank was entirely made of sloped casted steel while the turret was shaped by deep drawing.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
Wasn’t this project a direct rival to the Somua by ~1942 ?

- Joseph Molinié :
At long-term, the true contender would have rather been the G1 project with a 75mm gun in the turret.
However, i t was an infantry program and not a cavalry one.
Technically, we knew the Somua was condemned on the long-term, principally because of its heavy and costly suspension, too sensitive to mines.
With the Christie suspension, we brought a design which was lighter, cheaper, less sensitive to mines and with a superior road and cross-country mobility as the T-34 showed it afterwards.
Rather than as an adversary, we placed ourselves as an alternative to the Somua, even in its last version S40.
A variant of the Somua with a Christie suspension would have put us in a totally different situation.
But let’s not forget that early 1940, this cavalry tank was only a study that could only evolve.
We could hardly hope for a prototype before, at best, late 1940 but rather early 1941 before beginning the tests and as such this is not before late 1941 that the first production models would have been ready.
Meanwhile, the cavalry tank would have evolved by the evolution of warfare toward a more powerful armament such as the 47mm SA37, or even a 75mm and as so would have increased in size and mainly in mass to wind up toward a « French T-34 ».
But we don’t remake history.

- Stéphane Ferrard :
Thank you Sir.
Versailles 1981 / Provins 2010
Edit: Don't know what happened but the text layout was completly changed, should be fixed now.

Franz_Schubert #2 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 15:55

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cool stuffs

Dominatus #3 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 17:34

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Souroy strikes again! This is some really interesting info. Never knew it ran on Christie suspesion, or that it was supposed to be a cavalry tank. By the way it is in game, one would have thought it be an infantry tank.

Shrike58 #4 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 17:41

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Interesting material, particularly on why the Somua 35 was seen as a dead-end project.

Souroy #5 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 18:44

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View PostShrike58, on Aug 13 2013 - 17:41, said:

Interesting material, particularly on why the Somua 35 was seen as a dead-end project.
Evolutions were still studied for it, well for the S40 at least (whose production was to start in July 1940).
During the occupation two studies occured:
- One official by Vichy, which saw the development of two turrets by FCM in 1942, one two-man (47mm SA35 - let's call it Biplace to simplify) and one three-man (47mm SA37 - Triplace) destined to the S40 (it's unknow what modification the hull received, if any, as no plans were found), in both case the radio was moved from the hull to the turret, the driver being the only crewmember in the hull.
I'll pass the details (though you can ask if you want more) but the idea was to be authorized by Germany to build them in exchange of giving part of the production to the Axe (plus some others concessions).
800 Somua were planned with 200 for Vichy forces, the rest being shared between Germany and Italy.
A note from February 1942 also mention the possibility for Japan to buy 250 S40 (version not precised).
The project was halted following Operation Torch and the subsequent invasion of the Vichy free zone, no prototypes were made.
- One unofficial which took as basis the S40 to develop clandestinely the SARL 42.
Here again no prototypes were made (though in any case without any infrastructure (for a time they thought about producing it in the USA, quite unlikely) the project was compromised from the start).

To illustrate (From GBM n°90, sorry for the bad scan and "retouching"... :ph34r: ).

Edited by Souroy, Aug 15 2013 - 21:01.


Shrike58 #6 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 18:49

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View PostSouroy, on Aug 13 2013 - 18:44, said:

Evolutions were still studied for it, well for the S40 at least (whose production was to start in July 1940).
During the occupation two studies occured:
- One official by Vichy, which saw the development of two turrets by FCM in 1942, one two-man (47mm SA35 - let's call it Biplace to simplify) and one three-man (47mm SA37 - Triplace) destined to the S40 (it's unknow what modification the hull received, if any, as no plans were found), in both case the radio was moved from the hull to the turret, the driver being the only crewmember in the hull.
I'll pass the details (though you can ask if you want more) but the idea was to be able to be authorized by Germany to build them in exchange of giving part of the production to the Axe (plus some others concessions).
800 Somua were planned with 200 for Vichy forces, the rest being shared between Germany and Italy.
A note from February 1942 also mention the possibility for Japan to buy 250 S40 (version not precised).
The project was halted following Operation Torch and the subsequent invasion of the Vichy free zone, no prototypes were made.
- One unofficial which took as basis the S40 to develop clandestinely the SARL 42.
Here again no prototypes were made (though in any case without any infrastructure (for a time they thought about producing it in the USA, quite unlikely) the project was compromised from the start).
To illustrate (From GBM n°90, sorry for the bad scan and "retouching"... :ph34r: ).

Thank you again; I look forward to something like these winding up in the game.

Edited by Shrike58, Aug 13 2013 - 18:50.


Slash78 #7 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 19:09

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They need to add more french tanks to the game.  At least one full line.

Okinoshima #8 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 20:51

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I'm actually very interested in the SARL 42 and other clandestine and official tank projects that were going in Vichy France during the war, if you find anything else please post it! IIRC there were also plans to restart R40 and H39 production with additional improvements? And was there any transitional tank designs between the SARL 42 blueprints and the first ARL 44 mock ups?

Souroy #9 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 22:52

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View PostOkinoshima, on Aug 13 2013 - 20:51, said:

I'm actually very interested in the SARL 42 and other clandestine and official tank projects that were going in Vichy France during the war, if you find anything else please post it! IIRC there were also plans to restart R40 and H39 production with additional improvements? And was there any transitional tank designs between the SARL 42 blueprints and the first ARL 44 mock ups?

About the SARL 42:

To begin, the acronym:
S - Somua
ARL - Atelier du Rueil

The project was launched clandestinely at the 21, rue de Madrid, Paris, by a team officially tasked with the study of civilian equipements, leaded by the engineer Lavirotte (remember, the one who directed the team working on the new B heavy tank (aka B40)) and composed of ex-engineers ("ex" by obligation as Germany closed most of the tank related factories) from ARL and AMX.

There were 5 different studies of the hull, taking as a basis the S40 but quite different due to the chosen construction method: the laminé-soudé, in English it should be laminated-welded (method patented by Fives-Lille, which during 1939-40 was one of the company which worked on the B1 Ter, realizing one prototype).
Armor: 40/30/30

Three-man turret developped by a team made of ex-engineer from ARL, leaded by the engineer Devenne and located at Caussade, near Montauban (in Vichy free zone).
To note that Lavirotte and Devenne worked together, until June 1940, on the ARL 3 destined to the G1 project.

Crew layout:
Hull: Driver
Turret: Commander (also communicating firing solution with the telemeter) - Gunner - Loader/Radioman (the radio set being in the turret)

As you can see it's as on the S40 with the FCM Triplace turret.
The tank weighted around 22 tonnes.

The gun was a 75mm designed by engineer Lafargue on the basis of the 75mm Mle.1933 de forteresse (here on dual turret) using the barrel of the 75mm Mle.1897 but shortened (by 30cm, making the gun loose 15m/s) and using the OR Mle.1897/1940 à coiffe (APC) and the OE Mle.1915 (HE).
Work on this restarted in 1944 under the designation 75mm SA45 for the modernization of the AMD Panhard 178, despite an order the Panhard were in fact upgunned with the 47mm SA35 thus receiving the designation AMD Panhard 178 B.

However, as asked by the chef d'escadrons (commandant) Demetz (Armistice army HQ officer, after the war he was the instigator of the restarted production of Panhard 178 as well as the project of an air-portable light tank, future AMX 13) a new gun based on the 75mm CA Mle.1928 was developped.
This gun, whose study was made by the Lafargue's team for the clandestine heavy tank project (future ARL 44) of the Lavirotte/Devenne team (yep, they were working on two tanks at the same time) was known after the war as the 75mm SA44 ("Long 44" Ingame).
It used the OR Mle.1928/1940 à coiffe (APC, V°715 m/s).

The project was abandonned after the invasion of the free zone in November 1942.

If produced (by miracle, as no factories were available) it would have been outdated in term of armor as a "frontline" tank, however it could have made an interesting TD.

As other project we can mention the B40.

Work started early 1940 and aimed as a replacement for the B series (the B1 Ter was seen as a stop-gap solution), two companies were tasked with this, AMX and ARL.
ARL was quite fast as they managed to build an incomplete prototype before the defeat, the only drawing of the B40 was actually made from a photograph of the prototype given by Lavirotte to the draughstman.
According to Stéphane Ferrard there's a possiblity that the prototype was evacuated on the same ship than three prototypes of the B1 Ter, the ship was sunk on 21st June 1940.

This prototype was of the initial design, after the first battles in May 1940, the design changed from a 47mm SA37 in turret and a 105mm in the hull to a single 75mm in a two or three-man turret.
During the occupation, as indicated previously, they kept working on it and after the war it became the basis of the ARL 44.

We can also mention Vichy secret upgunning of the Panhard 178 with the 47mm SA35 (under the terms of the Armistice they could only be equipped with mgs), after the invasion of the free zone most of them were found by the Germans but some ended with the Resistance and were used during 1944-45.

I don't recall mention of a new batch of H39 or R40 after the war.
In 1940 both had superseded their respective ancestor in the productions lines, a evolution I only recall the fact that the APX-R turret was to be replaced by a new FCM turret, similar to those equipping the FCM 36 but armored at 50mm and with a 37mm SA38 (have a pic of the mock-up if someone's interest), need to find back the source though.

Dominatus #10 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 22:57

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Wow, where do you get all this stuff from? +2!

Edited by Dominatus, Aug 13 2013 - 22:57.


15lisovp #11 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 23:00

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Cool wall of text.I guess I'll :popcorn: while I read this.

Edited by 15lisovp, Aug 13 2013 - 23:01.


Razven #12 Posted Aug 13 2013 - 23:38

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View PostSouroy, on Aug 13 2013 - 22:52, said:

About the SARL 42:

To begin, the acronym:
S - Somua
ARL - Atelier du Rueil

The project was launched clandestinely at the 21, rue de Madrid, Paris, by a team officially tasked with the study of civilian equipements, leaded by the engineer Lavirotte (remember, the one who directed the team working on the new B heavy tank (aka B40)) and composed of ex-engineers ("ex" by obligation as Germany closed most of the tank related factories) from ARL and AMX.

There were 5 different studies of the hull, taking as a basis the S40 but quite different due to the chosen construction method: the laminé-soudé, in English it should be laminated-welded (method patented by Fives-Lille, which during 1939-40 was one of the company which worked on the B1 Ter, realizing one prototype).
Armor: 40/30/30

Three-man turret developped by a team made of ex-engineer from ARL, leaded by the engineer Devenne and located at Caussade, near Montauban (in Vichy free zone).
To note that Lavirotte and Devenne worked together, until June 1940, on the ARL 3 destined to the G1 project.

Crew layout:
Hull: Driver
Turret: Commander (also communicating firing solution with the telemeter) - Gunner - Loader/Radioman (the radio set being in the turret)

As you can see it's as on the S40 with the FCM Triplace turret.
The tank weighted around 22 tonnes.

The gun was a 75mm designed by engineer Lafargue on the basis of the 75mm Mle.1933 de forteresse (here on dual turret) using the barrel of the 75mm Mle.1897 but shortened (by 30cm, making the gun loose 15m/s) and using the OR Mle.1897/1940 à coiffe (APC) and the OE Mle.1915 (HE).
Work on this restarted in 1944 under the designation 75mm SA45 for the modernization of the AMD Panhard 178, despite an order the Panhard were in fact upgunned with the 47mm SA35 thus receiving the designation AMD Panhard 178 B.

However, as asked by the chef d'escadrons (commandant) Demetz (Armistice army HQ officer, after the war he was the instigator of the restarted production of Panhard 178 as well as the project of an air-portable light tank, future AMX 13) a new gun based on the 75mm CA Mle.1928 was developped.
This gun, whose study was made by the Lafargue's team for the clandestine heavy tank project (future ARL 44) of the Lavirotte/Devenne team (yep, they were working on two tanks at the same time) was known after the war as the 75mm SA44 ("Long 44" Ingame).
It used the OR Mle.1928/1940 à coiffe (APC, V°715 m/s).

The project was abandonned after the invasion of the free zone in November 1942.

If produced (by miracle, as no factories were available) it would have been outdated in term of armor as a "frontline" tank, however it could have made an interesting TD.

As other project we can mention the B40.

Work started early 1940 and aimed as a replacement for the B series (the B1 Ter was seen as a stop-gap solution), two companies were tasked with this, AMX and ARL.
ARL was quite fast as they managed to build an incomplete prototype before the defeat, the only drawing of the B40 was actually made from a photograph of the prototype given by Lavirotte to the draughstman.
According to Stéphane Ferrard there's a possiblity that the prototype was evacuated on the same ship than three prototypes of the B1 Ter, the ship was sunk on 21st June 1940.

This prototype was of the initial design, after the first battles in May 1940, the design changed from a 47mm SA37 in turret and a 105mm in the hull to a single 75mm in a two or three-man turret.
During the occupation, as indicated previously, they kept working on it and after the war it became the basis of the ARL 44.

We can also mention Vichy secret upgunning of the Panhard 178 with the 47mm SA35 (under the terms of the Armistice they could only be equipped with mgs), after the invasion of the free zone most of them were found by the Germans but some ended with the Resistance and were used during 1944-45.

I don't recall mention of a new batch of H39 or R40 after the war.
In 1940 both had superseded their respective ancestor in the productions lines, a evolution I only recall the fact that the APX-R turret was to be replaced by a new FCM turret, similar to those equipping the FCM 36 but armored at 50mm and with a 37mm SA38 (have a pic of the mock-up if someone's interest), need to find back the source though.

We must petition WG to fund an expedition to locate that sunken ship with the prototypes.

Slash78 #13 Posted Aug 14 2013 - 00:27

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View PostRazven, on Aug 13 2013 - 23:38, said:

We must petition WG to fund an expedition to locate that sunken ship with the prototypes.

That or the History Channel.

:hiding:

Okinoshima #14 Posted Aug 14 2013 - 04:48

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Thanks for the very informative text, it looks like WG has a lot to work with and.... decided to not really do much with it. The French tech tree is woeful compared to what is available historically.

About the Vichy comment though, I mean't specifically I've read that there were plans by the Vichy government to resume light tank production but this was vetoed by the Germans.

Souroy #15 Posted Aug 14 2013 - 12:23

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View PostOkinoshima, on Aug 14 2013 - 04:48, said:

Thanks for the very informative text, it looks like WG has a lot to work with and.... decided to not really do much with it. The French tech tree is woeful compared to what is available historically.
Well adding new tanks would be nice, especially when classics such as the S35, R35, FCM 36,... are missing but some corrections for already existing vehicles would be a good thing too.
For example what we have ingame isn't an AMX 38 but a weird mix between the AMX 38 (turret) and the AMX 39 (hull and engine).
At the origin the AMX 38 (then designated as Char léger AMX - AMX Light tank) was to be some kind of better FCM 36 which was at that time the best light infantry tank of the French forces (greatly superior to both H35 and R35).
But following general Keller's future light tank program the AMX 38 was heavily modified to keep with the program's requirements, a new version was also studied, receiving the designation of AMX 39.
To simplify:
AMX 38 (aka Prototype n°1):
Weight: 13.5 tonnes
Total Length (without crossing tail): 5.00m
Hull Width: 1.280m
Total Width: 2.110m
Hull Height: 1.427m
Turret Height: 0.80m
Armor: 40/40/40
Engine: Aster 4-cylinder 130hp
Max. Speed: 25km/h
Autonomy: 16h
Crew: 2
Armament: 37mm SA38 / 1*7.5mm MAC31 (+ 1 in kept in reserve)
Radio: Planned
AMX 39 (aka Prototype n°2): (In construction in 1940)
Weight: 16.5 tonnes
Total Length (without crossing tail): 5.279m
Hull Width: 1.340m
Total Width: 2.110m
Hull Height: 1.427m
Turret Height: 0.80m
Armor: 60/40+8/40
Engine: Aster 4-cylinder 160hp
Max. Speed: 25km/h
Autonomy: 14h
Crew: 2
Armament: 47mm SA35 / 1*7.5mm MAC31 (+ 1 in kept in reserve)
Radio: ER 28
What general Keller's program asked for:
Weight: Under 20 tonnes
Armor: 60/60/60
Armament: 47mm SA35
Power/Weight ratio of at least 10hp/t
A radio
These requirements were deemed physically unrealizable for this weight limitation by AMX engineers, instead they started working on a heavier variant:
25t "Super AMX 39" (planned for mid-1941):
Weight: ~25 tonnes
Armor: 60/60/60
Armament: 47mm SA35
Engine: Aster 6-cylinder 230hp
There have been quite a few frictions between Joseph Molinié and the Keller's program commission, Molinié trying by every means possible to show them the reasonableness of AMX's design (tests with the AMX 38, even when lested to simulate the AMX 39 (while still keeping the 130hp engine) were quite succesful (with the exception of the previously mentioned engine problems)) and the unfeasability of the requirements.
The commission didn't change their opinions and put a Renault project forward, the DAC 1 from which basically nothing remain except that it followed the requirement (basically a kind of "Look, your rival is doing better than you do !").
The DAC 1 was originally a cavalry design (from which it received the nickname of Billancourt's Somua, Billancourt being where Renault's headquarters are located) which later evolved as some kind of mix between cavalry and infantry design.
Only things known about it is it was a three-man design weighting around 16t, no prototype made (project launched in 1939).

View PostOkinoshima, on Aug 14 2013 - 04:48, said:

About the Vichy comment though, I mean't specifically I've read that there were plans by the Vichy government to resume light tank production but this was vetoed by the Germans.
It's possible, during the occupation Vichy still disposed of some armored units (FT, D1, R35 and H35/H39) but all were in the colonies (that was a condition of the armistice, NO TANKS IN MAINLAND FRANCE, as said previously the closest thing available there were Panhard 178 with an additional 7.5mm mg instead of the 25mm).
AFAIK, this has been only exception (taken from David Lehmann's1939-1940 French Armament).
These S35 came for the majority from the very last production of May/June 1940.

Okinoshima #16 Posted Aug 14 2013 - 13:40

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Fantastic stuff once again, The AMX 39 is very interesting. Is there any movement or sentiment on the EU server for overhauling the French tech tree?

BTW what is your opinion on the AMX 40s speed? The tank was to have a Christie suspension but the engine was rather weak but I've read that it had a new, specially designed transmission to compensate for that?

Souroy #17 Posted Aug 14 2013 - 17:03

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View PostSlash78, on Aug 14 2013 - 00:27, said:

View PostRazven, on Aug 13 2013 - 23:38, said:

We must petition WG to fund an expedition to locate that sunken ship with the prototypes.
That or the History Channel.
:hiding:
At this subject there have been a few dives on the presumed wreck of the Mécanicien Principal Carvin by the divers of an underwater contemporary archeology association (Expédition Scyllias).
There they identified several parts of the ship (the two boilers, part of the machinery, ...), on the machinery they found a plate indicating a product of Schneider & Cie as well as the date of production: 1920, which fit with the Mecanicien Principal Carvin (launched in April 1922).
Two problems:
First, the boilers found were intact which does not compute with the testimony of the captain of the ship, the capitaine Videau.
His ship was hit by two bombs, the first one landed on the rear of the 3rd hold, the 2nd directly on the machinery, damaging most of it.
Secondly, the area where the wreck is located is too shallow for the ship's draft and we don't know what happened to it after its evacuation. Did it sunk immediately ? Or maybe it drifted toward the coast ? Did the crew tried to beach the ship before evacuating ?
Another wreck situated a bit farther from the coast could also be the Mécanicien Principal Carvin, but afaik no dive happened since 2009.
In any case it would cost millions to refloat the ship, which is not helped by the location, right on the biggest estuary of Europe, the visibility at the bottom is 1m at best.
But it would be wonderful to find and refloat the ship one way or another: 3 B1 Ter (the original prototype built from the very first B1 (n°101) plus the prototypes from ARL and Fives-Lilles), possibly the only prototype of the B40, one 380mm destined to the turret n°2 of the Jean Bart, two propellers also for the Jean Bart....
You can find more infos and pics on the dedicated ATF40 thread (in French).

View PostOkinoshima, on Aug 14 2013 - 13:40, said:

Fantastic stuff once again, The AMX 39 is very interesting. Is there any movement or sentiment on the EU server for overhauling the French tech tree?
I can't really say as I don't often go on the EU forums since the new layout (I find it counter-intuitive, personal opinion) but I recall people were wondering when new French tanks were going to be released as it has been quite some time since the latest dedicated addition (not counting the two new SPG that came with the T10 arty patch).

View PostOkinoshima, on Aug 14 2013 - 13:40, said:

BTW what is your opinion on the AMX 40s speed? The tank was to have a Christie suspension but the engine was rather weak but I've read that it had a new, specially designed transmission to compensate for that?
The Somua S35 went up to ~41km/h with bursts at 46~50km/h (specific cases, it probably overstressed the vehicle - 1st number in Trackstory n°11, 2nd from David Lehmann, happened during a test on hard ground in Senegal).
This with a power/weight ratio of ~9.74hp/t and an outdated suspension (in comparison of the AMX 40's).
GBM estimated the AMX 40 to weight around 16t (seems low for me, WG's weight looks more realistic) for a 160hp engine, which give a ratio of ~10hp/t.
Then Joseph Molinié mention, about this engine, "Early 1940, we were thinking to be able to up its power to 220hp but by going from 4 to 6 cylinders.". Which give us ~13.75hp/t.
With WG weight and with a realistic depiction of the tank (so no Renault-Balland turret nor 75mm)... let's say ~20.5t.
So ~7.8hp/t with the 160hp engine, ~10.7hp with the planned 220hp one.
As you can see, in three cases out of four the AMX 40 is above the S35 in term of hp/t; add to this a better suspension (already renowed for the high speed attained by tanks equipped of it), the whole vehicle being designed as a fast cavalry tank...
I would dare to say that yes, the AMX 40 would have been significantly faster, and nimbler, than the S35 (without being a turbocharged tank on nitro as the BT family of course).
But that's just my personal opinion, in no case I would pretend to be an engineer

Meplat #18 Posted Aug 15 2013 - 02:53

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I'd love to see some more of the prewar French armor added, but their MM would have to be very capped.

The AMX 40 as it is (at least in my case) always seems to be bottom of the bucket, good for nothing more than handing out Steel Wall medals.

Love the tank, hate it's MM.

Okinoshima #19 Posted Aug 15 2013 - 14:00

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Thanks for that!

The AMX 40 has always troubled me, a lot, the Renauld-Balland turret is completely ahistorical and is completely cartoonish (especially IIRC the Renauld-Balland wasn't a conventional turret IIRC?)

Speaking of turrets, Joseph Molinié mentioned a Char B with a three-man turret armed with a 75mm three man turret. IIRC this wouldn't be the Char B1 Ter right? A different design?

Also what do you know about the AMX 39 medium tank project and the AMX tracteur series of tanks?

Dominatus #20 Posted Aug 15 2013 - 15:26

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Shouldn't be the Ter. I wonder if there are any diagrams or blueprints of it around? The Char B's hull seems wide enough for a enlarged turret ring.

Edited by Dominatus, Aug 15 2013 - 15:26.





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