Layout tank Renault G1R
In France, as in other European countries, before the start of World War II, work in the field of tank building intensified. French designers, like their colleagues from the USSR and Germany, worked on creating a tank that would satisfy the demands of a future war. Unlike the Germans, who could not part with the box-shaped form of the hull, which had both its obvious advantages and its equally obvious disadvantages, the French designed tanks with a rational arrangement of armored vehicles. The medium infantry tank G1 with anti-shell armor and adequate armament could become for the French army a kind of analogue of the Soviet thirty-four.
The beginning of the design of the tank G1
In the mid-1930s, France was in the process of forming mechanized units. Five mechanized infantry divisions were created in the country, the armament of which had to put 250 new tanks. Moreover, the military samples at their disposal were not enough and not all of them met changing requirements. The first assignment for the design of a new medium infantry tank was issued in December 1935. Initially, it was a 20-ton combat vehicle. At the same time, in May 1936, the requirements for the new tank were revised. According to the new specification, it was planned to create a combat vehicle with anti-shell armor and main armament, which would allow fighting enemy tanks. But the combat mass of the tank was planned to be kept at the same level.
In the future, the new tank was supposed to replace all medium tanks Char D1 and Char D2 in the army. The first of them was created in the early 1930s, and the second was a modernized version of 1934. Five French companies were engaged in the development of a new project, which received the Char G1 designation, for a long time, that is, almost all the major engineering companies of those years, including Lorraine-Dietrich and Renault, were connected to the project. And two other major manufacturers FCM and SOMUA withdrew from participation in the project at an early stage.
It is clear that the French military was impressed by the civil war that began in Spain. Already in October 1936, the design of the new tank was adjusted in favor of increasing the reservation. The forehead, sides and feed of the tank body were supposed to get armored plates up to 60 mm thick. Another important condition for the French military was that the new combat vehicle fit into the dimensions of the railway platforms. At the same time, the armament was supposed to provide an opportunity to combat tanks of a similar type; in addition, two machine guns were planned to be installed on the tank.
The abandoned Char D2 tank, which was to be replaced by G1 tanks
Specifically, the implementation of the new project began in the winter of 1936-1937, five participating companies: Baudet-Donon-Roussel, SEAM, Fouga, Lorraine de Dietrich, Renault. As we wrote above, two more companies quickly got out of the process of developing a new combat vehicle. Consideration of project applications by companies took place in February 1937, at the same time the main leaders were identified, which were the companies SEAM and Renault, which already had ready projects of tanks weighing 20 tons by that time. At the same time, SEAM even managed to assemble a prototype of a new combat vehicle.
Project Features and Renault G1R Tank
Much of the design of the new tank was aimed at improving the visibility of both the driver and the commander of the combat vehicle. In particular, it was planned to install new lateral observation devices to the left and to the right of the driver so that he could see the dimensions of the tank. At the same time, it was assumed that the commander of the car would still have a better view, so voice communication was necessary between the driver and the commander. The commander initially received at his disposal a commander’s cupola, which, incidentally, was not available to Soviet tankers on the T-34.
In the commander’s cupola, which provided good all-round visibility, it was planned, in addition to the machine gun, from which the tank commander himself could fire, to establish a range finder. An optical rangefinder would provide accurate target designation for firing at moving objects located at a distance of up to two kilometers. This innovative solution by French designers was aimed at making full use of the capabilities of a 75-mm gun with a barrel length of 32 caliber. In addition to the optical rangefinder, the G1 tanks were supposed to get a new telescopic sight with a 4-fold increase, which together would make it possible to use the gun effectively over the entire practical range.
Model of the tank Renault G1R
At the same time, the appetites of the Infantry Administration, which was the customer of the new tank, were not limited to one rangefinder. The developers of the new medium tank were required to provide the combat vehicle with the possibility of firing at a speed of up to 10 km / h while driving over rough terrain. The French borrowed this idea from the British, and the latter, in turn, were seriously impressed by the demonstrative Kiev maneuvers of 1935. In relation to the G1 project, the new requirements of the military assumed serious work and a change in the chassis of the tank, or work in the most promising direction at that time - the development and installation of an arms stabilizer on the tank.
The French military most relied on the success of Renault. Not without reason, given that this company was one of the leaders in French tank construction. It was this company that gave the world the Renault FT-17 - the first in stories tank classic layout. The model, which was developed by Renault engineers, received the designation G1R. The tank of this project outwardly looked the most aesthetically pleasing, distinguished by smooth contours of the hull and turret. The armor plates were located at rational angles of inclination and provided very good protection for the crew, components and assemblies of the combat vehicle. The hemispherical tower was located in the middle of the hull. Initially, it was planned to put a 47-mm SA35 gun inside. Also considered was the option of installing another of the same guns in the hull, but over time they abandoned this idea.
The chassis of the medium infantry tank G1R included 6 dual track rollers for each side, the guides were the front wheels, the rear ones were the leading ones. To improve the patency of the tank on the ground, the designers decided to use a double caterpillar track. This “tricky” move of the developers had a completely prosaic explanation - it allowed avoiding the design of a new wide track. The suspension of the rollers on the G1R tank was originally developed by the torsion bar. At the same time, all open tank suspension elements, as well as track rollers, had additional protection in the form of bulwarks.
Model of the tank Renault G1R
An important feature of the G1R was the initially wide body, which made it easy to fit into constantly changing specifications. So in 1938, a proposal was made to establish a new tower with more powerful weapons. The wide body made it possible to place any tower of the options already proposed by different companies. Therefore, by the summer of 1938, Renault became a clear favorite. It was believed that mass production of the G1R tank could be deployed in 1,5-2 years.
Along with the installation of a new turret with a 75-mm gun, the mass of the combat vehicle grew. Given the fact that the tank had a crew of four and a minimum ammunition load, its combat weight still could not be less than 28 tons. Over time, the French military brought the specification to 30 tons. But Renault itself believed that the combat weight of the tank would be up to 32 tons. According to this indicator, the tank seriously circumvented both the T-34 and the German PzKpfw IV early series. In this case, the engine became a problem, since back in 1938 the French military hoped to get a car with a maximum speed on the highway up to 40 km / h. And this is with the requirements for a circular reservation of 60 mm. In the end, the work on creating the tank slowed down significantly and almost completely stopped over time. Before the war itself, financial support from the military almost completely stopped and the project remained forever paper.
The fate of the project of the medium tank G1
By 1939, four companies left the design race at once. So the company SEAM by that time already had a ready-made prototype without a tower and, accordingly, weapons. The project was considered one of the closest to completion, but was stopped in 1939 due to lack of funding. Three BDR companies (Baudet-Donon-Roussel), Lorraine de Dietrich and Fouga also left the project in 1939. At the same time, the companies BDR and Lorraine de Dietrich had by that time only wooden and metal models, respectively. All three companies stopped development in favor of programs from other designers.
Model tank Renault G1R from the game World of Tanks
By the end of 1939, the only company that continued to work on the medium infantry tank was Renault. The development of a combat vehicle was carried out with the direct participation of Louis Renault and continued until 1940 until the complete military defeat of France after the attack of Nazi Germany. Moreover, by that time only a wooden model was ready.
It is worth noting that, despite the fact that the G1 medium tank project has remained unrealized, it is still of historical interest. At the time of the work, the G1 tank was by far the most advanced and advanced development of the French tank industry. In terms of armament and mobility, the new medium tank was comparable to the best medium tanks of the Allies - the Soviet T-34 and the American M4 Sherman. Like the Soviet thirty-four, the tank was distinguished by good ballistic armor with armor plates at rational angles of inclination. In some respects, the unrealized French project even surpassed the best Allied tanks. The installation of an optical rangefinder, a gun stabilization system and the implementation of a semi-automatic tank gun loading mechanism were considered innovative solutions.
Unfortunately, the French military did not receive a new tank. There were several explanations for this. Firstly, the representatives of the Infantry Administration, who almost every year changed the specification and performance characteristics of the new machine, can be blamed for the fact that the project was never implemented. This was largely due to an understandable desire to get the best tank in the world, but there is a limit to everything. At the same time, the desire of the French military to get an average tank in the best way combining protection, weapons and mass drove all the designers into an almost deadlock situation. A separate problem was the technical equipment of the new tank. And if the French companies could cope with the transmission and the design of the chassis, then the French industry was able to design a sufficiently powerful diesel engine only after the war. Another problem of the project could be too many participating firms. It was already some kind of excessive competition, perhaps if two or three companies worked on the project, the design would go faster.
Model tank BDR G1B from the game World of Tanks
It so happened that none of the projects of the medium tank G1 was not built in finished form and did not get to mass production. The tank, which was supposed to be a serious competitor to Hitler’s cars and tanks of the Allies, remained an unrealized project, whose only life was possible only in computer games. Such developments in 1940, French engineers and designers just could not imagine. The World of Tanks game, popular in the territory of the former USSR and in the world, was reached by two tanks created under this program: the Renault G1 medium tank and the BDR G1B heavy tank.