Why did the French stick to single towers?

88
Why did the French stick to single towers?

French Tanks The 30s are notorious for their single turrets. If in other countries such turrets were installed only on the lightest and most compact vehicles, then in France they can be found even in the project of a 45-ton tank. It hardly needs proof that this is a very bad decision. During the battles of 1940, the Germans noted that French tanks were slow to respond. Overburdened commanders could not as effectively detect the enemy, monitor the battle and give orders. This reduced efficiency and controllability.

In this article we will try to figure out why the French stuck to single towers for so long. Note that it is impossible to give a simple answer to this question by indicating only one reason. We'll talk about mounting the main weapons in the hull, touch on types of radio communications, and also look at how the French and Germans approached the same problems differently.



Brushing aside some myths


Single turrets, like other problems with French tanks, are often explained by the backwardness of military thought. They say that the generals were preparing for a repeat of the last war and ordered the engineers the good old Renault FT in a new version. One can hardly agree with this view. The French were the first to launch a tank with a turret, created heavy tanks with three-man turrets, and implemented precise gun guidance by rotating the hull. They came up with swinging towers, experimented with strobe lights, and were the first to think about installing a rangefinder on a tank. Taking into account these achievements, it is rather reckless to talk about backwardness.

The influence of the Renault FT should not be overestimated. The success of this tank was determined not by its technical characteristics, which were rather modest, but by its mass and cheap production. The French infantry initially ordered the D1 light tank with three crew members and a 47 mm gun. However, it turned out to be too heavy and expensive, and also extremely structurally unsuccessful. Therefore, instead it was necessary to purchase R 35 and H 35 tanks with a very weak 37 mm cannon and two crew members. The French cavalry lacked powerful S 35 tanks, so its tank divisions received mediocre H 35s. In general, this was not story admiration for the success of Renault FT, and a banal shortage of tanks on the eve of a new world war. Actually, even during the great war, the “father of tanks” General Etienne would have preferred to have more vehicles with 75 mm guns instead of the Renault FT.


An example of a “head transplant” is the R 35 with a welded turret FCM 36. The turrets of these tanks were interchangeable

Recently, another myth has appeared: supposedly the French installed single-man turrets on most tanks due to unification. Indeed, many French tanks have the same shoulder straps, so their turrets can be swapped. There is nothing strange about this. There were cases when the turret was replaced with a more successful one, or an improved chassis was created for the existing turret. In addition, the French often developed turrets and tank chassis independently by different companies.

This practice was not unique. In Germany, the development of turrets and tank chassis was also often carried out by different companies. The Germans unified shoulder straps and engaged in “head transplants”, but came to different results. This means that the point is not in the unification itself.

The appearance of the radio operator


In the 20-30s, the French took tank protection perhaps more seriously than anyone else. Therefore, they tried to reduce the armor volume and make do with a minimum crew, because otherwise the weight of the tanks would become too large. In these conditions, it is extremely important how the crew members combine their responsibilities.

At first, the successor to the Renault FT was thought of as a two-seater tank, but the installation of a radio station required the introduction of a third crew member. In those years, the infantry used Morse code, the radio operator typed messages with a key and could not effectively help the turret. On D1 it was placed in the hull, but the turret remained single-seat. Similarly, on tanks D2 and B1, the commander worked alone in the turret, and the radio operator sat in the hull. The French themselves called him a radiotelegraphist (radiotélégraphiste). Let us emphasize once again: the radio stations ER52 and ER53 of infantry tanks could not transmit voice in principle. This drawback was eliminated in the ER51 radio of the 1938 model, when the appearance of the tanks had already taken shape.


Cavalry tank AMC 35 with a two-man turret and a 47 mm cannon. She had hatches on the roof and rear sheet

Unlike the infantry, the cavalry chose voice radio communications, which is why two-man turrets appeared on the AMC 34 and AMC 35 tanks. Of course, many tanks did not receive radio stations at all. The French were doing poorly with them, both in terms of quantity and quality. However, the possibility of radio communication was provided, and then one of the towers became a radio operator.

Stay in the 20-ton class


Generally, the French cavalry's approach to the towers was more intelligent than that of the infantry. The turrets of cavalry tanks and armored vehicles were equipped with hatches on the roof, with the help of which it was convenient to leave the vehicle or conduct observation outside of combat. But the turrets of infantry tanks were equipped with blind observation turrets and seat hatches in the sides. The French tankers didn't like them. The Germans often sawed off the roofs of the turrets on captured tanks, welding double-leaf hatches.


Captured S 35 in German service. The Germans installed their own radio stations and sawed off the blind turrets, welding double-leaf hatches

The AMC 35 cavalry tank received a two-man APX 2 turret with a good 47 mm gun, a 1395 mm shoulder strap, an electric drive and a roof hatch. However, it could not become the main tank of the French cavalry. Firstly, its chassis was constantly breaking down. In those years, Renault made its tanks cheaper by hook or by crook, so their reliability was poor. The AMC 35 was no exception. Secondly, the military demanded that the armor thickness be increased to 40 mm. This led to the creation of the larger SOMUA S 35 heavy tank.

The chassis of the S 35 tank turned out to be very modern and, most importantly, reliable. However, its APX 1 turret was originally the same as that of the B1 and D2 infantry tanks. She had no sunroof, and the commander became a one-man band. Why did this happen? The radio operator was again sitting in the building, because on the command vehicles he worked with two radio stations. The two-seat turret required a crew of four, but the engineers hit the 20-ton limit—the weight of the S 35 was 19,5 tons. The single-man turret helped lighten the tank, meeting the requirements. Judge for yourself: the AMC 35 turret weighed 2 tons with 25 mm armor, and the S 35 turret weighed the same 2 tons, but with 40 mm armor.


S 35 prototype with APX 1 turret on a 20-ton platform. In this form, tanks were transported over long distances.

The 20-ton limit did not appear by chance. The military assumed that a tank weighing up to 20 tons could withstand 90% of bridges, and only 20% of bridges weighing more than 50 tons. In the first case, the tank is much easier to transport across constructed bridges and transport on platforms. In 1935, the French had about 200 tractors with platforms that could transport tanks weighing more than 20 tons, and a thousand platforms for lighter tanks. These considerations forced a compromise. The crew of the S 35 was limited to three tankers, but the turret ring was expanded from 1022 mm to 1130 mm so that the radio operator could help the commander with reloading. The converted turret was called APX 1 CE (chemin élargi - increased shoulder straps), sometimes it is called a “one and a half man” turret.

Failed compromises


Like the French, the Germans tried to keep the weight of mass-produced tanks at 18-20 tons. The reasons were similar: crossing bridges, the carrying capacity of platforms and the possibility of evacuation with heavy half-track tractors. However, they spent the same limit differently. The French D2 and S 35 weighed 19,8 and 19,5 tons, the German Pz.Kpfw.III Ausf.E and Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.B - 19,5 and 18,5 tons, respectively. The French are distinguished by powerful 40 mm armor and a crew of three. The Germans have a crew of five people, but the 37 mm gun is weaker than the French 47 mm caliber, and the armor thickness does not exceed 30 mm in the forehead and 20 mm in the sides (for the Pz.Kpfw.IV it is 14,5 mm).

Both compromises failed. German tanks were too poorly protected. Their armor was easily damaged even by a light 25mm Hotchkiss anti-tank gun, which can be hidden behind any bush. French tanks were poorly controlled and their commanders were overburdened with responsibilities. But after the battles, the Germans drew conclusions, strengthened the frontal armor to 50-60 mm and installed a 50 mm cannon on the PzIII. But the French were defeated; they had practically no opportunity to develop their tanks under German occupation.


This is what a SOMUA might look like with a three-man turret and an SA37 cannon. The S 40 chassis differs from the older S 35 with raised idlers, a more powerful engine and reinforced armor.

Technically, the S 35 chassis made it possible to install a turret with 2-3 crew members. What this could look like is shown by the projects of the FCM company, which found itself outside the occupation zone. In 1942, its engineers secretly developed a two-seat welded turret for the S 35 with a 1435 mm shoulder strap. She received a polygon, as well as a commander's cupola with a hatch and a retractable anti-aircraft machine gun. Next, FCM prepared drawings of a three-man turret with the same shoulder strap and a more powerful 47-mm SA 37 cannon. By the time of the liberation of France, the S 35 was hopelessly outdated, so the projects remained on paper.

Battle check


While we were discussing technical details, such as the specifics of radio communications or weight restrictions. But there was another reason for the passion for single towers - the French simply did not understand how bad a compromise this was! Here are the memories of Lieutenant Jean Baillou, who served on the S 35, and later on the Sherman. According to him, before the war, French tank crews were worried about the low reliability of radio stations. They constantly broke down, so during exercises the Hotchkiss and SOMUA tanks had to be driven with flags. But the tankers didn’t care about the single-seat turrets. It was only after the first battles that they realized how bad an idea this was.

Bayu gave an example of a battle that took place on May 13, 1940 in Belgium. His tank was crossing the village and unexpectedly collided with a German Pz.Kpfw.II, which was facing in the other direction. He fired a confident shot from 50 meters, breaking through the tower and killing the commander. The German began to retreat in reverse. The Bayou tank went into battle without a radio operator, so there was no one to help with reloading. Bayou looked up from his sight, loaded his gun and saw the edge of a German tank. The second shot finished off the German tank.


Interior of the APX 1 CE turret of the S 35 tank. Although the shoulder straps became larger, there was clearly not enough space for two people. The radio operator-loader had to dodge falling cartridges

This incident made a great impression on Bayou. It was dark in the tank, so when he looked up from the observation devices, his eyes could not immediately adjust to the darkness, and vice versa. Because of this, finding the necessary ammunition was difficult, and the seconds were counting. Bayou kept several 47mm rounds in his pockets from then on. After the war, he studied detailed Belgian chronicles and was surprised to discover that two Pz.Kpfw.IIs were destroyed at that site. It turns out that he knocked out the first tank and did not notice that it had retreated and a second one was visible in its place. This once again proves the importance of continuous observation in combat.

General Etienne's legacy


The French concept of single-man turrets was based on the assumption that it would not be too difficult for the commander to load the cannon himself. Jean Bayu was even able to organize the first-stage ammunition rack in his pockets, fortunately, the shots of 25-47 mm calibers were small. But more powerful 47 mm guns required a separate loader, not to mention guns of 75-105 mm caliber.


Draft design of the 1939 AMX medium tank. Note the shape of the hull and the crew of four, two of whom worked in the turret

Indeed, French designs for super-heavy tanks included three-man main turrets. At a late stage of development, G1 medium tanks also received two- or three-man turrets with a 75 mm gun. Here the French did not constrain themselves with a minimum price or a 20-ton limit. The preliminary design of the AMX medium tank with thick sloping armor and a powerful 47 mm SA37 cannon is indicative. It was impossible to push it into 20 tons, so they didn’t save money and planned a normal two-man turret.

The B1 heavy tank with a 75 mm main gun in the hull and a single-man turret, like the D2, deserves special consideration. It grew out of an idea by General Etienne during the First World War. The logic was this. France built the Renault FT light tank en masse, but its 37 mm gun was too weak. The FCM 1A heavy tank with a three-man turret was armed with a 105 mm cannon, but was too large and expensive. The best type was a medium tank with a 75mm cannon that could destroy light fortifications and enemy tanks.


The B1 tank in its original form is essentially a self-propelled gun with a machine-gun turret. The antenna indicates the presence of radio communication

This is how the idea of ​​a tank, essentially an assault gun, with a 75-mm cannon in the hull and a crew of three people arose. The commander sat in the machine-gun turret, conducted observation and scared off enemy infantry. The driver controlled the tank and aimed the gun, and the third tanker was the loader. The gun in the hull was very low in order to hit embrasures at ground level with extreme efficiency. In addition, the tank turned out to be lighter. The installation of a 75-mm gun with armor weighed about a ton. Let us remember that the two-man turret with a 47-mm cannon weighed two tons.

And then the assault tank began to “get fat.” A radio operator was added to the crew, who was located in the hull. The machine gun turret was replaced with a turret with a 47 mm cannon. On production B1s, the armor thickness was increased to 40 mm, and on B1 bis to 60 mm. In total, an assault gun weighing 15-20 tons turned into a heavy two-gun tank weighing 32 tons. And this is not the limit: the experienced B1 ter “gained weight” by another 4 tons. Actually, the 45-ton heavy tank mentioned at the very beginning also repeated the B1 concept, but was even more powerful and heavier. Hence his anecdotal single tower.


Interior of a production B1 bis with two guns. The radio operator was placed next to the commander

Conclusion


If we put all the facts and reasoning together, we will see the following picture.

1. Light tanks like the R 35 or H 39 inevitably received single-man turrets, because they were designed to be as widespread and cheap as possible. The German Pz.Kpfw.I and Pz.Kpfw.II with single turrets are no better here.

2. On medium tanks D2 and S 35, the crew grew to three people, but the turrets remained single-seat. By making this compromise, the French received adequate armor in the 20-ton class, but worsened handling. They did not understand how critical the division of duties is in battle.

3. The B1 heavy tank was created around a 75 mm cannon in the hull. Its single-man turret was originally just a commander's machine-gun turret. Self-propelled guns SAu 40 and ARL V39 had similar turrets. If we draw analogies, then the B1 was something between the StuG III assault gun and the experimental VK 30.01 (H) tank.

4. Rare tanks and armored vehicles with turrets for 2-3 people, as a rule, were vehicles with weak armor or, conversely, very powerful tanks. The first ones were quite light and easily fit into strict weight limits, while the second ones obviously fell out of them.

The author expresses gratitude to Dmitry Babkin for his assistance in working on the article.

Sources:
  • Magazine Histoire de guerre blindes et materiel (No. 78, 79, 83, 84)
  • Books in the Trackstory series by Pascal Danjou (No. 1 and 3)
  • Steven J. Zaloga. French Tanks of World War II (1). Infantry and Battle Tanks
  • Yuri Pasholok. The best is not the enemy of the good (https://warspot.ru/9756-luchshee-ne-vrag-horoshego)
  • Some illustrations are taken from the Duel book series by Stephen Zaloga (Panzer III vs SOMUA S 35 and Panzer IV vs Char B1 bis)
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    1. 0
      1 December 2023 05: 03
      They say the generals were preparing for a repeat of the last war

      Isn’t that so? wink
      1. +16
        1 December 2023 06: 48
        No not like this. No one was going to sit in the trenches for years like in a great war. The French began the 1940 campaign by advancing into Belgium under the cover of their tank divisions. At first, tanks helped cover the deployment of a new line of defense. Then this line was supposed to stop the German advance, and after that the tanks were supposed to help break through the German positions. Char B1, in fact, was prepared for this role.
        1. -4
          1 December 2023 07: 38
          Quote from: geraet4501
          No one was going to sit in the trenches for years like in a great war

          The entire French military doctrine was built precisely on the idea of ​​sitting behind the Maginot Line and not sticking its nose out, which seriously strained France’s allies in the Little Entente. Once they went beyond this Line, but as soon as they left, they immediately entered wink
          1. +12
            1 December 2023 07: 48
            Where did you get all this from? You wrote about the Maginot Line under my last article. I recommended that you at least find this very line on the map. Soon two months will pass, but you still haven’t been able to do this.
            1. BAI
              +9
              1 December 2023 09: 00
              Please forgive me for interfering.
              I recommended that you at least find this very line on the map.

              Which one is needed?

              1. +5
                1 December 2023 09: 35
                The top one will do. The French sent cavalry armored divisions to the area between Liege and Namur to cover the defense deployment. The center of the front line was planned on the geometric line Brussels-Namur. This is where the main battles were planned. And a weak extension of the Maginot Line along the Belgian border was left behind for beauty. If it weren’t for the diplomatic “achievements” of the Belgian king, you see, they wouldn’t have spent money on him.
                1. +3
                  1 December 2023 14: 05
                  As far as I remember, the French really hoped more for the Maginot Line, having swelled the military budget into it for several years; except for de Gaulle, no one planned to use tanks in the form of tank/mechanized divisions; some of the tanks were generally assigned to infantry units.
                  1. TIR
                    0
                    24 January 2024 23: 53
                    There are still bunkers there intact. And the grass was not crushed by the amount of metal and explosives in the ground
                  2. TIR
                    0
                    24 January 2024 23: 53
                    There are still bunkers there intact. And the grass was not crushed by the amount of metal and explosives in the ground
                2. 0
                  1 December 2023 14: 05
                  As far as I remember, the French really hoped more for the Maginot Line, having swelled the military budget into it for several years; except for de Gaulle, no one planned to use tanks in the form of tank/mechanized divisions; some of the tanks were generally assigned to infantry units. The line did direct the Germans to Belgium, where the French were thinking of fighting, but if you look at the “strange war,” the French had no real desire to conduct offensive actions.
                  1. +3
                    2 December 2023 00: 33
                    but if you look at the “strange war,” the French had no real desire to conduct offensive actions.

                    These are old stories about how the French did not want to fight. At one time this was indeed the case, but already in 1939 the country was morally ready. Hitler missed this point, as did the supporters of the myth.

                    From the point of view of the military command, there was nothing strange in that period. The French were preparing for serious operations in 1941-42, forming up tank divisions, etc. The Germans understood that time was against them, so they did not wait an extra two years.
                    1. 0
                      3 December 2023 15: 53
                      Honestly, it’s strange how much I was interested in this topic, I never saw that the French wanted to fight, why????? What can they add anyway?
                      1. 0
                        6 December 2023 07: 55
                        This is not a desire for war for conquest. It’s just that by 1939, French society realized that a big war was inevitable, and began to psychologically prepare for defense. The fighting in 1940 was very stubborn and tough. When the Germans encountered the French in Belgium, they were on the verge of panic a couple of times as the offensive was met with desperate defence.
            2. -9
              1 December 2023 09: 02
              Quote from: geraet4501
              I recommended that you at least find this very line on the map

              I don't need any card. I was there and even saw how the French grow champignons in some of its areas. And I would also recommend that you write about tanks and don’t get involved in things you don’t understand anything about. Study French military doctrine first
              1. +10
                1 December 2023 10: 24
                Study French military doctrine first

                Good advice. Only you yourself, for some reason, don’t follow it, so you write nonsense about French military doctrine like
                French military doctrine was built precisely on the idea of ​​sitting behind the Maginot Line and not sticking your nose out of there

                French military doctrine before World War II was called bataille conduite - literal translation - controlled battle.
                To briefly summarize the essence of the French doctrine, it is a carefully planned offensive operation in which artillery played the main role.
                If you delve into detail, the French generals imagined the future military campaign as a tightly controlled offensive operation, during which the actions of all units were carried out according to pre-developed detailed plans with clearly defined goals for each unit. No improvisation was allowed, decision-making was strictly centralized.
                The Maginot Line was supposed to prevent the possibility of a German attack on France from the east and direct the German offensive to Belgium, where the French army, having carefully prepared an offensive based on a powerful defense, these same Germans would bataille conduite and will break it.
                By the way, the small number of crews of French tanks and the primitive radio communications of French tanks in particular and the entire French army as a whole were largely determined by their military doctrine. It was believed that for actions according to strictly established plans and schedules, wired telephone communications and messengers would be quite sufficient. Independent actions of tanks outside infantry formations were not considered.
                1. +10
                  1 December 2023 11: 33
                  Independent actions of tanks outside infantry formations were not considered.

                  Not certainly in that way. Firstly, tanks were in cavalry tank divisions. Secondly, there were also battles over infantry support. Some military men believed that tanks should attack before the infantry in order to suppress the enemy and reduce the losses of their own infantry.
                  1. +2
                    1 December 2023 12: 52
                    Firstly, tanks were in cavalry tank divisions. Secondly, there were also battles over infantry support. Some military men believed that tanks should attack before the infantry in order to suppress the enemy and reduce the losses of their own infantry.

                    Battles are not yet a military doctrine. The French did not change their military doctrine to accommodate the new capabilities that tanks provided. They discussed how best to integrate tanks into the existing doctrine. This is the fundamental difference.
                2. -5
                  1 December 2023 11: 36
                  Quote: Dekabrist
                  bataille conduite - literal translation - controlled battle

                  Are you, by any chance, confusing this concept with WWI?

                  Quote: Dekabrist
                  The Maginot Line was supposed to prevent the possibility of a German attack on France from the east and direct the German offensive into Belgium

                  The Maginot Line assumed a strategy of “dumb defense” and “trench warfare” in the spirit of WWI, only with more comfortable conditions. Belgium was considered by France as another line of defense, but when there was a smell of war in Europe, the Belgian king declared the country neutral, after which the French grabbed their heads and began to complete the Line to the North Sea itself, but to build it as super-fortified as it was to the south, failed

                  Quote: Dekabrist
                  French generals envisioned the future military campaign as a tightly controlled offensive operation

                  This is all, perhaps, in the wet fantasies of Lieutenant Colonel de Gaulle

                  Quote: Dekabrist
                  the small number of crews of French tanks in general was largely determined by their military doctrine

                  I agree with this. Sit behind the Line in the second or third echelon and keep a low profile, securing the front line of defense
                  1. +3
                    1 December 2023 12: 40
                    Are you, by any chance, confusing this concept with WWI?

                    This is all, perhaps, in the wet fantasies of Lieutenant Colonel de Gaulle

                    Aggressive ignorance is a modern trend, including on this site. Judging by your comments, you are determined to be “in trend.” But maybe you will condescend and cite the sources from which you draw your revelations?
                    1. -3
                      1 December 2023 14: 35
                      Quote: Dekabrist
                      But maybe you will condescend and bring sources

                      First, I'd like to hear it from you. Especially about bataille conduite wink wink
                      1. 0
                        1 December 2023 16: 24
                        First, I'd like to hear it from you.

                        By answering a question with a question, you, in fact, confirmed the preliminary diagnosis - militant ignorance, Michael. Get well.
                        1. -4
                          1 December 2023 18: 49
                          Quote: Dekabrist
                          Answering a question with a question

                          You don’t have to worry about my health; I once passed the flight commission with a bang! and now I feel in great shape. And if you consider yourself too smart, I would still ask you to explain to me the essence of the phrase you saw somewhere written on a fence or a shit site, where you get your “knowledge” from, but did not understand anything in it bataille conduite, otherwise it will be like the proverb “looks at a book, but sees nothing.”

                          And further. I would like a link to your pearl, I quote: "To briefly summarize the essence of the French doctrine, this is a carefully planned offensive operation". Only a link to the document, and not your meaningless verbal excrement. I'm waiting
          2. +8
            1 December 2023 11: 47
            Quote: Dutchman Michel

            The entire French military doctrine was built precisely on the idea of ​​sitting behind the Maginot Line and not sticking your nose out of there.


            It remains to be understood why almost all of France's mechanized and tank forces ended up outside the Maginot Line, in Holland and Belgium, according to Plans D and E.
            The funny thing is that you are repeating the Vichy propaganda within the framework of the so-called. "Tribunal Riom" when grandfather Petain began to look around and ask, "who did this??!"
            1. +1
              1 December 2023 11: 54
              Quote: deddem
              why almost all mechanized and tank troops of France ended up outside the Maginot Line, in Holland and Belgium

              Because the Franco-Belgian border was the weakest point, which opened a direct road to Paris. Let me remind you that it was almost not protected by the Maginot Line
              1. +2
                1 December 2023 11: 58
                You haven't answered the question asked. If the Maginot Line was so weak on the border with Belgium and if the French were really going to sit behind it in deep defense, why didn’t they defend the line with tanks and throw the best part of them into an open field?
                1. -5
                  1 December 2023 14: 27
                  Quote from: geraet4501
                  If the Maginot Line was so weak on the Belgian border

                  For those who are in the tank, I have already answered about the shortest route to Paris and the unfinished Maginot Line. Read me and school history textbooks. And keep writing... wink
                  1. +4
                    2 December 2023 00: 29
                    I finally understand you. Initially there were no fortifications on the Belgian border. Afterwards, some light fortifications were built there, which did not affect the weather. That is, in the key direction the French never had a powerful line of defense. But at the same time, their doctrine meant sitting behind the line of defense without sticking out. The picture has taken shape, you don’t have to continue.
        2. +1
          3 December 2023 16: 41
          Thank you for the article.
          Very interesting.
          Will there be a continuation about French tanks?
    2. +2
      1 December 2023 05: 52
      The French wanted to “climb the tree without scratching your buttocks.”
      They made tanks with conventionally projectile-proof armor and tried to fit into the tank's mass of up to 20 tons.
      And after WWI there were a lot of FT-17s left.
      They bought them reluctantly, and it was a pity to send them to be melted down...
      On the plus side, Europe was rocked by economic crises and the size of its military allocations was greatly reduced.
      And when it was time to “wake up”, they chose quantity + very dubious quality.
      The French artillery and air force did similar things.
      1. +5
        1 December 2023 07: 07
        And after WWI there were a lot of FT-17s left.

        It is already a bad tradition to mention FT inappropriately and inappropriately. There were no illusions about their capabilities. The Char D1 grew out of the 1926 program; another question is that Renault made a bunch of junk for the military.

        They made tanks with conditionally ballistic armor and tried to fit into the tank’s mass of up to 20 tons

        This position is very much criticized, while forgetting or not knowing that

        1). The Germans initially understood that they would use some of the tanks for meat:
        "Calculations and exercises have shown that a battalion of 100 tanks attacking on a front of 500 m can overcome the anti-tank defense of an infantry division with 72 anti-tank guns, at the cost of losing half the tanks, even if all the anti-tank gun shells fired before they were discovered and destroyed hit to the target [1, 2]. For officers and generals with experience of the First World War behind them, such losses were acceptable. From ordinary tankers, aggressiveness in the offensive and readiness for self-sacrifice were required."
        http://ser-sarajkin.narod2.ru/ALL_OUT/TiVOut10/Pz2Hist/Pz2Hist001.htm

        2). After the French campaign, the Germans began to strengthen the frontal armor of 20-ton tanks to 50-60 mm.
        1. 0
          1 December 2023 07: 52
          2). After the French campaign, the Germans began to strengthen the frontal armor of 20-ton tanks to 50-60 mm.

          After French?
          Not after POLISH???
          Are you 100% sure?
          Only the Teutonic infantry division had 72 37mm anti-tank guns.
          The French, like all other opponents of the Third Reich, had less anti-tank weapons. And the main weapon was a 25mm cannon model 19341937-XNUMX.
          The infantry division had 52 such guns.
          Light mechanized division - 24 such guns (12 each in the dragoon regiment and divisional anti-tank squadron).
          There are 28 such guns in a light cavalry division (8 in a dragoon regiment, 4 in two cavalry regiments, 12 in an anti-tank squadron).
          Tank division - a dozen 25-mm anti-tank guns.
          1. +4
            1 December 2023 08: 32
            After French?
            Not after POLISH???
            Are you 100% sure?

            We started thinking about strengthening after the Polish one, but didn’t really manage to do anything. Additional armor in the forehead of the PzIV Ausf.D was introduced in July 1940. Work to strengthen and rearm the Pz.Kpfw.III - late summer/early autumn 1940.

            And the main weapon was a 25mm cannon model 19341937-XNUMX.

            Which turned any German tank or armored car into a sieve in May 1940. With the exception of the 50 mm forehead of the newly appeared StuG III, the Germans had nothing to boast of.

            Only the Teutonic infantry division had 72 37mm anti-tank guns.

            This is a theoretical construct. In practice, anything can happen, for example, in the case of DLM, you need to take into account the firepower of tanks and armored vehicles. And the Germans themselves hit the tanks not only with 37-mm mallets, using everything that came to hand.
            1. +4
              1 December 2023 09: 02
              The “sluggishness” of the German industry in work to strengthen the frontal armor of even produced tanks is surprising.
              But this means that the German military was happy with everything. Or the industry could not immediately produce the required number of shielding kits.
              Which turned any German tank or armored car into a sieve in May 1940. With the exception of the 50 mm forehead of the newly appeared StuG III, the Germans had nothing to boast of.

              This “hole puncher” has no explosive charge in its armor-piercing shells.
              Just a steel blank.
              And it is unknown what the armor effect of these shells was.
              There are descriptions of the knocking out of 7 German tanks with one gun, and there is a description of the knocking out of one tank out of three, the temporary “stopping” of the second and the lack of results from firing at the third tank.
              "Firing all guns at tanks" was practiced by many armies.
              But I don’t know whether the French used this method.
              A captured German general (in North Africa) was perplexed by the reluctance of the British to use their anti-aircraft guns to fight Teutonic tanks!
              And it turns out that “every hut had its own rattles”!
              Which they might not have gotten rid of until the end of the war!
              1. +2
                1 December 2023 17: 04
                This “hole puncher” has no explosive charge in its armor-piercing shells.
                Just a steel blank.
                And it is unknown what the armor effect of these shells was.


                It sucks. Sometimes the tank received minimal damage, but sometimes it was very lucky, especially since the gun is very compact and fast-firing. Example of dung camouflage: http://ser-sarajkin.narod2.ru/ALL_OUT/TiVOut10/Fra25PTO/Fra25PTO004.htm

                Plus, a similar gun could be placed on any bucket like the AMR 35. The same Panhard 178 could be handed out to any German tank in a random encounter, and many German armored vehicles had nothing except a rifle-caliber machine gun.
                1. 0
                  1 December 2023 21: 15
                  In the battles on the Khalkhin Gol River, one of the Soviet T-26s received 5 hits from Japanese guns, but arrived at SPAM under its own power.
                  In the battles near Leningrad on December 22-23, 1941, one of the T-26s received 9 holes, but withdrew from the battle under its own power.

                  Many German armored cars could also “distribute” “Panhard” from their 20mm guns!
              2. -1
                2 December 2023 00: 35
                The “sluggishness” of the German industry in work to strengthen the frontal armor of even produced tanks is surprising.
                But this means that the German military was happy with everything. Or the industry could not immediately produce the required number of shielding kits.


                I think the Germans deliberately did not begin to thoroughly prepare in the manner of the French. Time was on the allies' side, so they had to move.
              3. +2
                2 December 2023 18: 01
                Quote: hohol95
                And it is unknown what the armor effect of these shells was.

                Bad. Rommel writes that at the beginning of the fighting in France, his tank was hit by a 25-mm cannon. At first, the general and the rest of the crew hastily left the car, but then the Germans calmed down, saw that the penetration did not cause any internal damage, and climbed back. If it had been a 47 mm gun, the Desert Fox's career would have ended at the very beginning.
                1. 0
                  2 December 2023 20: 57
                  It's a pity that it wasn't a 75mm shell.
                  As in the case of Otto Carius.
                  "Sorokopyaka" only knocked out his tank and Otto survived. Only the radio operator’s left arm was crushed or torn off.
        2. +2
          1 December 2023 08: 42
          Quote from: geraet4501
          Char D1 grew out of the 1926 program

          I'm curious, but did you know that not one of the General Staffs, not one of the states, was planning to use tanks to fight with tanks? Hence the weak armor and small caliber guns.

          Quote from: geraet4501
          Renault made a bunch of junk for the military

          Nor Char D1Or FT-17 They weren't trash at all. They began to be called junk after the war, when it became clear that such tanks were not at all suitable for a new war. But at that time they fit perfectly into the military doctrine existing at that time.
          1. +3
            1 December 2023 09: 06
            Neither the Char D1 nor the FT-17 were trash. They began to be called trash after the war

            You did not understand me. The D1 and D2 were poorly designed and constantly broke down, making them very unreliable tanks. When the military received D2 from the second batch, they even suspected the Renault workers of sabotage.

            I'm curious, but did you know that not one of the General Staffs, not one of the states, was planning to use tanks to fight with tanks?

            Two quotes from General Etienne, the ideologist of French tanks:

            "A gun capable of destroying field fortifications and hit armor-piercing projectile against long-term structures and enemy tanks, which ultimately requires a caliber of at least 75 mm and a high-level projectile flight path."

            "The minimum mass of a tank capable of conducting all types of offensive (establishing and clarifying contact, breaking through the front, pursuit, anti-tank warfare, attacks on motorized columns of second echelons, etc.), definitely depends on the power of the enemy’s anti-tank weapons."

            Hence the weak armor and small caliber guns.

            Are you sure you're talking about the French?
            1. +1
              1 December 2023 09: 15
              Quote from: geraet4501
              Two quotes from General Etienne, the ideologist of French tanks

              In the interwar period, these war ideologists were higher than the barn roof. I can even remind you of one - General Douhet with his doctrine of air warfare. There were many ideologists, but the generals were practical people and everyone prepared to the last war. It seems that only our T-34 and KV were ready for a new war, but, alas, there were few of them...
              1. +4
                1 December 2023 10: 35
                Only Etienne directly led the development of the Char B1, it is literally his brainchild. And the turret with a 47-mm cannon did not appear on it for beauty.
            2. +2
              1 December 2023 23: 31
              Greetings. You read about the testing of tanks in Kubinka (before the Second World War, during the Second World War and beyond) and there the specialists compile a complete list of problems with the turret, gun, suspension, etc.. I don’t remember exactly now, but something similar to “the loader rests elbow there...., severe gas pollution, fatigue after 2 hours of driving." The French, in theory, should have carried out the same tests and come to the conclusion that a single-man turret was “bad.”

              Why do you think it happened that the country (not the last in the tank business) missed the mark so much with the design?
              1. 0
                2 December 2023 00: 17
                It is believed that the crews of French infantry tanks were poorly trained. Often serious exercises were neglected, and if they were carried out, it was some kind of routine shooting of stationary enemy firing points. Single towers were still suitable for this. In real battles, it suddenly turned out that the Germans were much more agile than static targets.

                For cavalrymen the problem was less pronounced. If we subtract the initially infantry Hotchkiss, which was imposed on the cavalrymen, and Somyua, which essentially has the turret of an infantry tank, then the rest of the cavalrymen, if not double turrets, then at least turrets with normal hatches through which you can at least adequately look around.
          2. +1
            2 December 2023 18: 07
            Quote: Luminman
            But did you know that not one of the General Staffs of any of the states was planning to use tanks to fight with tanks?

            Yeah, that’s why British tanks were equipped with 40-mm hole punchers, the ammunition of which included exclusively armor-piercing shells. The same garbage happened with Czech tanks; the Germans had already ordered anti-personnel shells for them, almost following the results of the Polish campaign.
    3. +6
      1 December 2023 06: 45
      Excellent article, which has become a rarity lately in VO.
      1. +2
        1 December 2023 07: 40
        Quote: Cympak
        Excellent article, which has become a rarity lately in VO

        Join us!
      2. +3
        1 December 2023 09: 10
        Excellent article, which has become a rarity lately in VO.

        To the point, an article that was written by a knowledgeable person and which is useful to read, and not a reprint from other sources or a crooked translation of foreign articles. hi
    4. +4
      1 December 2023 07: 34
      Excellent article, wonderful illustrations, thanks to the Author.
    5. +1
      1 December 2023 08: 18
      You can try and feel all this in the famous game! All models, turrets, guns, very cool :)
      1. The comment was deleted.
    6. 0
      1 December 2023 10: 23
      I wonder how the single-seat turret of the domestic BTR-60/70/80 looks against the background of the arguments voiced by the author? While the absence of an electric drive and the short standard machine gun belt on it can still be explained, the absence of a hatch will be more difficult to explain.
      1. 0
        1 December 2023 13: 01
        But there is no tower there, the shooter is sitting in the body of an armored personnel carrier
      2. +2
        1 December 2023 14: 58
        The turret on the BTR-60/70/80 is small, the KPVT breech is large, even if you make a hatch in the turret, you won’t be able to get through it.
        Why is there a hatch on the tower:
        1. Landing, disembarkation, evacuation. The armored personnel carrier has much more convenient hatches for carrying out all these operations
        2. Increased situational awareness: first to see, first to strike. If this is critically important for a tank, then an armored personnel carrier has other priorities: deliver troops to the front, cover with fire if necessary.
        1. 0
          1 December 2023 19: 26
          That is, you insist that the turret on the BTR-60/70/80 and BRDM-2 is a masterpiece of design? I have a slightly different opinion.
          1. +2
            1 December 2023 21: 03
            Whatever task the designers were given, that’s what they completed.
            The tower was constructed in the early 60s of the 20th century. BTR-60PB began to be produced in 1965.
            Are you saying this was a bad design for 1965?
            If on T-60/70 tanks the tank commander took aim through an optical sight, then
            1. 0
              3 December 2023 16: 20
              Do you want to say that you can do it even worse and even more primitive?
              1. 0
                3 December 2023 16: 29
                You would have created the best design!!!
                1. 0
                  3 December 2023 16: 49
                  First of all, it would be better if such structures did not appear in the future. And I don’t find anything difficult to still make a hatch for the machine gun gunner with the same turret pursuit, especially considering the difficulties with the vehicle with hatches in general.
                  1. +2
                    3 December 2023 16: 58
                    It would be an interesting sight to see a gunner leaving an armored personnel carrier through the turret hatch and jumping from a height of almost 2 meters under enemy fire.
                    I heard that when landing over the side of the first BTR-60, soldiers broke their legs!
        2. +3
          2 December 2023 18: 19
          Quote: Cympak
          Landing, disembarkation, evacuation. The armored personnel carrier has much more convenient hatches for carrying out all these operations

          There are legends about the convenience of hatches on Soviet four-axle vehicles. Unprintable.
          1. 0
            3 December 2023 19: 06
            Have you had any experience of landing from foreign armored personnel carriers???
    7. +2
      1 December 2023 13: 30
      Great article, it was a pleasure to read it. Regarding the invasion of France and Belgium, the most serious mistake made by the British and French was that they did not move their military forces into Belgium before the war began and then act together for common defense. It should be borne in mind that the Belgians, French and British, of course, knew about the German attack on them, both in the details of the attack and in the date of the attack, but did nothing and fell into the German trap. . . . They marched into the Bulge and then were defeated at Dunkirk.
      1. 0
        2 December 2023 00: 23
        The Belgians, French and British, of course, knew about the German attack on them, both in the details of the attack and in the date of the attack, but did nothing and fell into the German trap

        No, everything is more complicated and interesting here. Firstly, the Allies proceeded from the first editions of the German plans, when the Germans thought of delivering the main blow in Belgium. Then Schwerpunk was postponed, but the allies overlooked it.

        Secondly, the Allies fell into the trap precisely because they were proactive. If we had sat upright, the war would have gone differently. And so the French advanced sharply into Belgium without clear withdrawal plans or significant reserves in case everything went differently. The Belgians abandoned the Ardennes altogether. When the French military found out about this, they were ready to beat the Belgians instead of the Germans, the officers on the ground were furious. And when the Germans broke through the defenses and it was necessary to urgently launch a counterattack, the French government started changing the commander-in-chief, throwing away two days. All this was fabulous luck for the Germans.
        1. +2
          2 December 2023 13: 39
          The Ardennes Forest was protected by a single small reinforced concrete bunker, blocking the entire column of German tanks; it took a long time to defeat him; Having done this, they quickly crossed the Meuse to Sedan and, having crossed this city, broke through the front. Only one episode was noteworthy in the French defense, which occurred in the small village of STONNE, where fierce battles took place between German and French tanks for several days. If you have time, I recommend you read this chariot battle in this village because it is very interesting.
    8. +1
      1 December 2023 13: 39
      It was interesting to read, thank you, but this struck me:
      They came up with swinging towers, experimented with strobe lights, and were the first to think about installing a rangefinder on a tank.

      M.b. did you mean gyroscope? In general, if illustrations of these innovations had been given, the article would have benefited greatly.
      1. +2
        1 December 2023 13: 49
        It's a strobe light.
        They tried to adapt this unit to tanks.
        1. 0
          1 December 2023 14: 22
          Quote: hohol95
          It's a strobe light.
          They tried to adapt this unit to tanks.

          What is this for ? Did they have ignition problems?
          1. +1
            1 December 2023 14: 53
            Problems with monitoring the battlefield.
            Look for articles on VO and on the Internet.
      2. +3
        1 December 2023 15: 02
        VO has an article about stroboscopic domes on tanks
        https://topwar.ru/122216-a-tebya-vizhu-a-ty-menya-net-stroboskopicheskie-kupola-na-tankah.html?ysclid=lpmkoiwxgm802762534
        And a very elegant solution was found and first used in France on the FCM tank (Société des Forges et Chantiers de la Méditerranée) immediately after the First World War. It was based on the ... stroboscopic effect. Moreover, this effect itself was used in the Victorian era in the entertainment setting Zeotrope, which used a slit cylinder with a series of images on the inside of the cylinder. When the cylinder rotates, the images merge into one moving image, and it seems that the gaps between frames disappear. This is caused by the phenomenon of persistence of vision - since the human eye sees the world "at speed" 0,1 seconds. That is, our brain at a higher rate of breaks simply does not see. Nor do we see frame breaks on the film, although they are there, of course.

        1. 0
          1 December 2023 17: 31
          Thank you ! I didn't know about this protection option.
    9. +3
      1 December 2023 16: 04
      Quote from cpls22
      Quote: hohol95
      It's a strobe light.
      They tried to adapt this unit to tanks.

      What is this for ? Did they have ignition problems?


      No, they tried to solve the problem of protecting viewing slots from bullets and metal splashes.
      By the way, we also dabbled with strobes on the Grotte tank and T-28 prototypes.
      The problem was satisfactorily solved only with the introduction of the MK-4 periscope devices (aka Mk.IV, nee “Gundlyakh periscope”).
      1. 0
        1 December 2023 17: 36
        Quote: deddem

        The problem was satisfactorily solved only with the implementation

        Interesting. They probably abandoned this idea due to the need to maintain the movement of the dampers, which could both jam and make noise. Although there was a plus in this decision - additional air flow.
        1. +2
          1 December 2023 20: 52
          They write that it was possible to see at least a little through a strobe only on a sunny day.
          On a cloudy day, visibility was like looking through dark glass.
          Twilight and night were “impenetrable” for the strobe light. Visibility dropped to 0.
      2. 0
        1 December 2023 23: 43
        For some reason, the Germans did not copy Gundlyakh’s product. They made do with their own work. Just like the Americans. The British implemented it on all their tanks.
        We copied them from British tanks.
    10. +5
      1 December 2023 16: 17
      Quote from: Semovente7534
      Great article, it was a pleasure to read it. Regarding the invasion of France and Belgium, the most serious mistake made by the British and French was that they did not transfer their military forces to Belgium before the war began


      The problem is that the Belgian kinglet Leopold #3, who ascended the throne after the accidental death of his father on a camping trip, was a Germanophile and _left_ the defensive alliance with the Anglo-French. They could not bring their troops into Belgium without violating its neutrality.
      Moreover, the new Belgian defensive line, KW-Linie, was turned against the French for a good third of its length :)
      And when the kinglet did call the allies for help (after the rapid fall of the “indestructible fortress” of Eben-Emael, not only was it too late, but the French were also very surprised to discover that, contrary to previously signed plans, the Belgians withdrew all their troops from the Ardennes ( where their corps of Ardennes riflemen could quite confidently hold the defense for at least a whole week), and the line of defensive positions near Gembloux consists of several dozen chaotically scattered, half-assembled anti-tank “gates” (the Germans would then drag them and install them on the beaches of Omaha and Utah).
      The funny thing is that the little king never admitted his guilt, and after the war he had to be forced to renounce by force.
    11. +6
      1 December 2023 16: 21
      Quote: hohol95
      A captured German general (in North Africa) was perplexed by the reluctance of the British to use their anti-aircraft guns to fight Teutonic tanks!


      There is nothing surprising here; the user manual for the British 94-mm anti-aircraft gun directly prohibited firing at low declination angles, except in extreme cases, due to the failure of recoil devices.
      1. 0
        1 December 2023 23: 35
        This means that this Wehrmacht general was not aware of such technical subtleties of the British anti-aircraft gun!
        After all, he perfectly saw the work of his anti-aircraft gunners on enemy tanks!
        And British tanks (armed with cannons, not howitzers) did not have high-explosive fragmentation shells in their ammo.
        Tanks with howitzers did not have armor-piercing shells in their ammo.
        "Every hut has its own rattles"
        1. +1
          2 December 2023 09: 37
          Moreover, when the industry proposed to produce HE for tanks with guns, the wise authorities refused, because then these tanks would be distracted from their direct task (fighting enemy armored vehicles) to secondary ones (suppressing infantry). The same wording, only mirrored, was applied to ballistic missile launchers for howitzer tanks.
    12. +3
      1 December 2023 16: 28
      Quote: Dutchman Michel
      Quote from: geraet4501
      If the Maginot Line was so weak on the Belgian border

      For those who are in the tank, I have already answered about the shortest route to Paris and the unfinished Maginot Line. Read me and school history textbooks. And keep writing... wink


      No one was going to build a Maginot Line on the Belgian border.
      In any case, the left flank had to enter Belgium in order to secure the industrial area of ​​Lille-Maubeuge, which stood right on the border (and this, for a minute, for example, is 70% of French armor steel production capacity).
      Those tiny pillboxes that were built along the border during the “Phantom War” were, in fact, useless and served more to keep the soldiers occupied with something, so that they would not suffer foolishly.
      1. 0
        1 December 2023 18: 54
        Quote: deddem
        No one was going to build a Maginot Line on the Belgian border

        I would love to discuss with you, but not on this page wink
    13. +5
      1 December 2023 16: 59
      Quote: Igor1915
      As far as I remember, the French really hoped more for the Maginot Line, having swelled the military budget into it for several years; except for de Gaulle, no one planned to use tanks in the form of tank/mechanized divisions; some of the tanks were generally assigned to infantry units.


      This is not true; the budget for the Maginot Line did not exceed the military budget in any year.
      By the way, they were financed under completely different budget items and even under different departments.
      In the context of the economic crisis, the construction of the line can even be seen as an infrastructure project designed to reduce unemployment.
      At the same time, a number of works were stuffed into the line’s budget for which parliamentarians did not give money when considering the military budget (for example, modernization of 75-mm anti-aircraft autocannons, development of walkie-talkies with quartz stabilization, etc.).
      And only politicians and the general public believed in the impregnability of the line; all military plans directly stated that the line’s task was to hold the border for the 9 days required for mobilization.

      Well, in order not to get up twice: the French created tank and mechanized divisions thanks to generals Weygand, Flavigny and Prioux.
      De Gaulle was simply much more noisy and public, despite the fact that his project for a tank division was an uncontrollable monster a la our early mechanized corps, and in reality he commanded his division very badly, making a full set of classic mistakes of bloody July 1941.
    14. 0
      1 December 2023 18: 49
      Not serious considerations - the possibility of accommodating 2-3 people in a turret is determined by the diameter of its shoulder strap - didn’t tank hulls make it easy to do this? - and a turret for 2-3 people - yes, it would be a little heavier - however, it could easily be compensated by the weakening of the armor of its unaffected areas - the stern and roof - the armor of which was clearly excessive. So single-seat turrets are simply French idiocy, which has no reasonable explanation, just like the aforementioned lack of normal hatches in the turret of infantry tanks and radio operators who squealed in Morse code.
    15. The comment was deleted.
    16. +4
      2 December 2023 09: 31
      Quote: Bone1
      radio operators screaming in Morse code.


      The funny thing is that in the mossy cavalry of the French, speaking with a voice was _allowed_.
      But for infantry and tank crews it is _forbidden_, in the name of maintaining _secrecy_.
      And the radio operator in V.1 squatted in front of the walkie-talkie, frantically leafing through a notebook with codes and encryption keys for the current week with one hand, and tapping Morse code with the other.

      Still, the French are close to us in spirit, at least in military matters... woodpeckers - for sure.
    17. +1
      2 December 2023 09: 45
      Heh, I just noticed that the AMC35 in the photo is not a simple one, but one of 13 export vehicles for the Belgians.
      Identified by the armor cuff of the twin turret Browning and the different shape of the gun's muzzle plug.
      1. 0
        2 December 2023 18: 13
        Yes, in one of the GBM issues there was an article about the Belgian AMC 35 with a review of the two-seat turret, a photo from there. It shows both tower hatches, so I used the illustrations.
    18. +1
      7 December 2023 19: 17
      [quote] during the great war[/quote
      It seems like it’s supposed to be written with a capital letter? Still a proper name.
      It turns out that there is a Freudian slip, after something like this you don’t really believe the author.
    19. 0
      10 December 2023 10: 56
      A single turret with a cannon is nonsense, of course (with a machine gun is another matter). At least two servicing the gun: a gunner and a loader. All you need to do is widen the tank's hull a lot (French tanks have very narrow but high hulls) - and enough space for a two-man turret. One and a half meters is the width of the hull, forty meters is the diameter of the turret ring. It is quite enough for 2 turrets and the breech of a small caliber gun (47-76 mm) with low muzzle energy.
      1. -1
        10 December 2023 19: 22
        Yes, their hulls are normal in width for double towers. Both the D2 and the S 35 have two tankers in the front hull. You can also fit a three-man turret with a 75 mm cannon into the SOMYUA size, Google SARL 42.

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