Evaluation of Somua 35

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Somua2
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Evaluation of Somua 35

Post by Somua2 » 22 Aug 2007 23:30

We all know about the 1 or 1.5 man turret etc. It's just too easy to judge the S-35 by the standard of of the T-34 (By Russian standards, very little production in 1940 and really started a whole new era with its combat debut).and later panzer versions. Training, doctrine and leadership being equal, how do you think the S-35 really stacks up against the Allied and German tanks of 1940.

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 23 Aug 2007 00:09

Actually I've never seen it compared with the T34, because its about a half a generation behind it. More usually its overal design is benchmarked against the first cast-hull Shermans which its shared a general profile with. It was fast, and heavily armoured - and more reliable than most French medium or heavy designs. Thus due to the advantages the cast armour gave it most experts rank it as the best tank as of 1940. Unfortunately its design was 6 years old by then, and though described as "sloping" armour, it was actually very steeply angled and not the defecting planes of a T34 or Panther. The Germans did however consider it a "hard kill" with the infantry's PAK AT guns of the day. It also like the Grant and Sherman had a very high profile in the field, hard to get "hull-down". Again it was hampered by its one man turret - never heard it described as a 1.5 man one! - and I don't think any had radios fitted.

So overall its pluses were very good compared to rivetted and early, thin welded-up designs, but it did have significant minuses. But period experts regarded it as the finest of the Class of '40 due to its speed advantage over the other hard-to-kill design as of 1940, the Matilda II.

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Post by Somua2 » 23 Aug 2007 00:27

I don't recall the sources, but I've read a time or two that there was just enough room for a crew member help by loading the main gun - hence the description of 1.5. I would not be surprised if efficiency was compromised by a hunched position etc.

It's not that the S-35 has its stats compared directly to the T-34 as the Pz III and IV do, it's just that the T-34 and S-35 were both in production in 1940 and T-34 attracts the spotlight at the expense of the S-35, Matilda etc. I imagine a searches on this forum would produce a lot bigger numbers for the T-34 compared to those two. They can just seem like such short lived novelties relative to that revolutionary machine.

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Post by phylo_roadking » 23 Aug 2007 00:48

I read that somewhere a long time ago, about the loading assistance. But it was discounted...as after the breech closed the guy had to duck right down into his position in the hull to avoid getting squished by the recoil! :lol: So him having to pop up and down like a jackrabbit actually slowed things down. The ONLY adavnatage in having him "assist" is when the commander would be up with his head out of the turret.

Don't be overly generous to the T34 - the very first production items only rolled in September 1940 and only in limted numbers at one plant, KhPZ No. 183. There were a whole lot of supply problems - the diesel engine was late and petrol engines had to be used, defective armourplate, the original-spec'd gun was poor, subassemblies being made all over Russia etc. proper series production didn't begin until early 1941. Infighting between the Army who wanted increased production of earlier models, the designers of the rival KV1 and IS-2's, and advocates of the T-34M all meant that it didn't get the emphasis and proirity of resources it should have in 1940.

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Re: Evaluation of Somua 35

Post by cbo » 23 Aug 2007 09:05

Somua2 wrote:We all know about the 1 or 1.5 man turret etc. It's just too easy to judge the S-35 by the standard of of the T-34 (By Russian standards, very little production in 1940 and really started a whole new era with its combat debut).and later panzer versions. Training, doctrine and leadership being equal, how do you think the S-35 really stacks up against the Allied and German tanks of 1940.
The Somua S-35 had a three man crew: Commander/gunner/loader in the turret, driver in the hull and a radio-operator in the hull. IIRC the radio operator could assist the commander by handing him ammunition from the ammo boxes in the hull, but that was it.
Armour, gun and mobility was fine for the day, but it did of course suffer from French doctrinal thinking which resulted in the one-man turret, which resulted in some tactical limitations compared with tanks with 2 or 3 man turret crews.
The Germans recognized the Somuas superiority in terms of gun and armour, but this was negated by its lack of mobility and manouverability. I think that latter must have been a function of its one-man turret and the commanders inability to fight a moving battle more than it was the Somuas technical design.
The same would probably apply if you compared with Soviet BT's and British Cruisers, while a tank like the Matilda II would seem to be superior in every way but speed.

cbo

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 23 Aug 2007 22:58

Hello,


This tanks was designed and manufactured by the Société d'Outillage Mécanique et d'Usinage d'Artillerie (SOMUA) and comes from a requirement from the French High Command in 1931. It was a tank for the cavalry, fast, well armed and well protected. It was the world first tank made of whole cast armor instead of bolted plates. It entered in service with the French army in 1935/1936 and a total of 400 Somua S35s had been produced on May 10 (including 288 in service in the 3 DLMs). Due to the French tactics at the time it was not used to its best effect. Equipped with excellent cast and sloped armor, the tank was considered hard to kill by German anti-tank gun teams as well as by German tank crews. One other advantage was that it was able to turn on the spot because of differential steering (like on the B1bis) which allowed both tracks to go in opposite directions (without moving forward), one track was slowed down while the opposite track was accelerated. Its only but serious failing was the mono-seated turret even if actually the Somua S35's APX1CE turret is sometimes described as a "one-and-a-half-man turret", as the enlarged turret ring (CE = chemin élargi), compared to the APX4 found on the B1bis, allowed the radio operator to provide more easily assistance to the commander/gunner/reloader. This tank was the core of the tanks battalions of the DLM (Division Légère Mécanique = light mechanical divisions), what the French made the closest to the German Panzer Divisionen. The Somua carried 118 rounds for the gun (78 HE and 40 APC) and 3750 rounds (25x150 rounds drum magazines for the 7.5mm MAC31).

The Somua of the platoon commander had an ER29 radio set (weight 50 kg, range up to 5 km), the squadron commander had both ER29 and ER26ter radio sets (weight 150 kg, range up to 30 km (moving) to 60 km (station) – voice and morse key) and the commander of a group of squadrons had an ER27 radio set (weight 200 kg, range up to 50-60 km by voice and up to 30-100 km by morse key). The driver sat at left front and the radio operator/loader sat on the right slightly behind him. This position allowed him to pass ammunition to the commander/gunner.

Technically the Somua S35 is a full-tracked armored hull, with a V8 engine at rear and the fighting compartment up front (with a bulkhead/firewall between). The hull itself is made of 4 castings, bolted together :
• a two-part bottom hull, joining lengthwise
• a front upper hull over the fighting compartment, with the cast turret on top
• a rear engine hood

Turret rotation speed (electric + manual for final aiming) : 360° in 28 seconds electric rotation for the APX1 turret (12 V Ragonot electric engine). According to J.G. Jeudy in "Chars de France" more powerful electrical engines were fitted to the later Somua S35 compared to the very first models, making the Somua S35's turret to perform a 360° turn in ABOUT 20 seconds, which is not very precise. The batteries allowed the electric system to be available even with the main engine off.

Experiments went on after the tank being delivered to combat units. For instance resistance to German AT mines is tested in March 1940, with sometimes disastrous results when large charges are used. Also in March, a tank without turret is tested against 20x110mm AP shells (from the gun of a Morane-Saulnier MS.406 aircraft). 13 impacts are counted but only one shot perforated the upper hull near the turret race (the turret being absent), but this was a weak point with only 12mm armor thickness, the upper hull armor being generally 20mm thick.

The master engineer has previously worked with Skoda on sub assemblies, mainly the suspension and the 5-speed gearbox. Some parts of the Somua S35 are therefore somewhat 'related' to the Skoda LT35.

In May 1940 only three tracked vehicles were able to make a 280-300km stage without minimal maintenance: the Pz35(t), the Pz38(t) and the Somua S35 all the other German or French tanks made generally 120km - 150km stages per day or needed maintenance.

Running gear has a front idler, a rear sprocket and 4 bogies (2 wheels each) plus a 9th roller at rear, independently sprung. Suspension is provided by leaf springs on the bogies, or coil spring for the last station wheel. The upper run of track travels on 2 rollers and 2 skid rails. Mud scrappers are installed and the bogies are protected under hinged panels to keep away mud projections. They rise to do maintenance on the suspension. The track is made of 103x105mm elements.

Other 'unusual' for the time feature concerning the Somua S35 is the automatic fire extinguishing system. Made by "Telecamit", it is made of 3 pressurized tanks containing each a litre of methyl bromide. Situated between the access hatch and the firewall and near the driver, the tanks are connected to sprinklers set around "hot "spots" (carburettors, fuel dump, fuel tanks, etc.). As a plus, the 2 fuel tanks (one 100l and the other 410l) have a valve to prevent overfill (the tanks are located close to the engine, that can be hot and so set the fuel on fire).

Driving the Somua S35 is practiced as if in a car and there is even a direction wheel. With an average road speed of 35 km/h and a high range, the S35 capabilities are rated among the best at the time. It is even truer if you take into account the more than 40mm thick armor and the power of the 47mm SA35 gun allowing engaging and destroying the German tanks at 800m. But is has a defect added to the 'one and a half' man turret : a too high center of gravity and so a propensity to turn over ; a track not set high enough at the front to negotiates obstacles in rough terrains (but the cavalry doesn't care because emphasis is on protection and range). Another defect of the S35, though not particular to it, as all French tanks had the same problem, is the communication capabilities. In spite of a program dating from 1925, no radio set is installed in subaltern tanks (the ER28 is not yet released in 1940), the platoon commander had an ER29 set, the squadron commander had an ER29 and ER26ter radio set and higher echelons have a ER27. Roughly only one fifth of the Somua S35 tanks equipped with a radio set means also that the enemy could more or less easily spot the command tanks. Moreover, the radio communications were rarely used in combat ; they were in fact often forbidden because the "higher bras" was phobic of eve droppings. To cap it all, the ER29s operate on a different wavelength than the radio sets of the accompanying infantry (the "dragons portés") and artillery, supposedly meant to provide support. Also very interesting is that, according to veterans, the Somua S35 tanks from at least the 18e RD (Régiment de Dragons) had a complete intercom system.

In 1940, an improved version of the Somua S35 is tested and called Somua S40, 374 of these tanks were ordered but no one delivered to the French army. The hull is 33cm wider than the one of the S35 (lower center of gravity), the sprocket is set higher on the hull and there is a longer track work (one more wheel) to increase the cross-country capabilities. It is powered by a more powerful (219 hp) Hispano diesel engine. The S40 was to be equipped with the new ARL2C turret (welded plates and not cast due to emergency) and the new design was to be substituted to the APX1CE turret beginning August 1940.

Weight: 19.5t
Length: 5.38m
Width: 2.12m
Height: 2.62m
Crew: 3 men (Commander, driver, radio operator)
Maximum armor: around 47mm
Maximum speed: 45 km/h (Somua 8 cylinders V8 engine, water cooled, gasoline – 510 litres, 190 hp at 2000 rpm, up to 2300 rpm, 12700 cc)
Transmission: 5 forward, 1 reverse
Autonomy : 255 km (on road)
Armament : a 47mm SA35 L/32 gun (78 HE and 40 APC - traverse 360° and elevation -18 to +18°) and a coaxial 7.5mm MAC1931 in the turret (3750 rounds, RoF = 750 rpm, traverse 10° left and right and elevation -18 to +18°).

Detailed armor thickness (mm) roughly like:
Turret Front: 42mm/0° + gun and CMG mantlet /round
Turret Sides: 42mm/23°
Turret Rear: 42mm/24° (rear hatch is 42mm thick)
Turret Top: 30mm/74° and 90°
Copula: 40mm/25° and 90° (round)
Hull Front, Upper: 47mm/21°
Hull Front, Lower: 47mm/round
Hull Sides, Upper: 40mm/15°
Hull Sides, Lower: 40mm, 25mm+10mm/0° (10mm of protective skirting plates to protect the wheels)
Hull Rear: 35mm/0° and 25mm/30°
Hull Top: 25mm/82° and 90°
Hull Bottom: 20mm/90°


Somua S35 tank vision means:

Hull:
3x PPL RX 160 episcopes (68° horizontal field of view, 24° vertical field of view)

APX1CE turret (42mm armor, probably between 2100 kg and 2570 kg) :
1x sight for the 47mm SA35 gun (4x L.762 sight, + reticle, field of view 11.82° - or L.731 ?)
2x PPL RX 160 episcopes (68° horizontal field of view, 24° vertical field of view)

Cupola:
1x periscopic binocular (4x magnification, 9.9° field of view)
1x PPL RX 160 episcope (68° horizontal field of view, 24° vertical field of view)
1x Estienne slit (114° field of view – 120mm x 10mm slit protected by a 24mm thick armored shutter)


The Somua S35 with its armor and its powerful 47mm gun was able to destroy all German tanks at long range (600-1000m) unlike the German ones. At this range the Somua S35's armor cannot be penetrate by the German guns. During the Hannut / Gembloux battles, even counterattacks led by 10 Somua S35s were viewed as critical on the German side.
One of the best unit of the French army is probably the 1e DLM. This division has been very well trained for long, all the crew were highly motivated and knew very well their tanks (mechanics, functions, armament, tactics) etc. The division had practised division-scaled trainings and inter-arms trainings (tanks + infantry + artillery) before the war. This is a perfect example of a very good mechanized unit of the French army. In opposition there is for example the 7e RC (Régiment de Cuirassiers) formed after May 10, 1940: brand new tanks but 80% of the crew were perfect rookies.
On May 18, 12 Somua S35 tanks of the squadron of Capitaine Dunoyer de Segonzac from the 4e RC are holding the town of Jolimetz along with one company of Moroccan tirailleurs and the 13th squadron of the III/4e RDP (Régiment de Dragons Portés from the 1e DLM) in support. During all the day they faced half of the 5.PzD (about 120 tanks and massive infantry, field artillery, AT guns and aviation support) on the move in this area. 1 Somua S35 tank (Maréchal-des-Logis Enfroy) is at first damaged during a reconnaissance and sent back to Quesnoy. Only 11 French tanks are then controlling the town. The German attack is launched at first by hiding tanks and troops among columns of refugees. The Somua tanks and the dragons portés launch even a small counter-attack towards the woods. After a few losses the Germans sent preferentially the heavier Panzer IVs in the town itself. At the end of the day the town was completely surrounded. In 10 vs 1 odd, the French have lost 10 tanks (destroyed or abandoned) and the Germans 26 tanks, mostly Panzer IVs.


Lieutenant-colonel Baillou who served in the 3e DLM in 1940, in the 2e DB (1943-1945) and who was later instructor for the French armored units after WW2 wrote himself about the Somua S35 that it was one of the best tank of 1940.
• The 3 main parts of the hull could easily be removed and made the maintenance work very easy
• the at least 40mm armor all over the tank have proven their efficiency (see for example the battle of Hannut)
• the engine was very good, sufficient to move the 19 tons of the tank at the required speed
• differential steering enabling the tank to turn on the spot
• a speed of more than 40 km/h, on hard ground during a test in Senegal Baillou reached 50 km/h top speed
• the fiability was overall satisfactory. In Tunisia in 1943, despite the lack of spare parts and the rough sandy and rocky ground, each of the Somua S35 tanks moved on about 1,000 km.
The drawback was mainly the 1-man turret and Baillou said that the Somua S35 was a tank built for speed, he regreted that the tank had not a Christie type suspension like on the T34. The common lack of intercom (except a few units) was also a drawback.

After failure of the Free French to rally Senegal to their cause in 1940, the Vichy French Army succeeded in convincing the Germans forming part of the Wiesbaden "Commission d'armistice" (created to deal with the truce terms) of the need for a modern tank squadron in Africa to defend the Empire against the Allies next attack.
The Germans saw it as reinforcement for the Dakar out-post against the Gaullist threat. But for the French, the true aim was to create a battle worthy amored unit away from the eyes of the Axis.
The 12e GACA (Groupement Autonome des Chasseurs d'Afrique) is created on the 1st of September 1941. The first elements of what will eventually become the 12e RCA (Régiment de Chasseurs d'Afrique) on 15th February 1942, unload in Senegal in November 1941. The nucleus is a motorcycle squadron built around a HQ and 4 platoons of 13 side-cars emanating from the 2e RCA and 5e RCA. But before that, the 23 Somua S35 tanks earmarked for the unit have already been released from France and unloaded on the Senegalese port of Thiès on July 19, 1941. In fact, they were first delivered to Oran in Algeria and loaded on a train to Casablanca where they were brought to operational status after such a long lull since 1940, and the crews trained.
Much time was spent peacefully in Senegal (more than a year), but the 12e RCA moved back to Oran on January 21, 1943 and later to Algiers on February 8, 1943. On February 20, the 2nd tank squadron, commanded by capitaine Gribius, was sent to the front in Tunisia where it was integrated in the 19e GBF (Groupement Blindé Français) as the 7th squadron from the 12e RCA. The French Army in Africa was then in full metamorphosis and its armored corps consisted in heterogeneous units :
• Valentine tanks in the 1st squadron of the 5e RCA
• Somua S35 tanks in the 7th squadron of the 12e RCA
• M10 tank destroyers in the 4th squadron of the 9e GACA
• a Stuart light tank company
The group fought during the last phase of the Tunisian campaign, beginning with the attack on Gafsa on March 17, 1943. The Somua squadron got its last mission in May 1943 : help the 8th Army, coming from the south, to cut the Cape Bon peninsula where 200,000 German and Italian troops were concentrated, hoping for an improbable evacuation by sea. The Somua squadron began its attack on May 9, 1943, and initially meet no serious opposition. A second platoon followed the first one 2 km behind. Their crews were the helpless witnesses of the fate of the mates, slaughtered by the guns of camouflaged Panzer IVs. They later counted up to 12x 75mm shots on one of the 2 destroyed Somua S35 tanks. The 3 other tanks of the platoons escaped thanks to their speed. On May 11, the French troops in the 19th Army Corps crushed the remnants of the 21.PzD, and 2 days later the capitulation of the Axis forces in Africa was signed.
During these exhausting battles, the Somua S35 tank has once more displayed its inherent qualities. A total of only 4 were lost in combat. Capitaine Gribius wrote then : "the Somua tank can still be counted as one of the best of the mechanically, with the speed, range, reliability and simplicity of the best US tanks to date. But its inferiority lies in the insufficient armament, lack of communication equipments, in its well designed but not thick enough armor, and in its internal layout in the crew compartments (ergonomics) that is no more suited to the present tactics (1943)".
Among the 19 surviving tanks, 17 will be kept in the 1st squadron of the 7th Régiment de la Garde to show the flag in this part of the French Empire. But before leaving their tanks, the crews pulled away the embossed "SOMUA" plates and welded them on the Shermans received from the US.

Regards,

David

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Michael Emrys
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Post by Michael Emrys » 24 Aug 2007 02:20

Thank you, David. A wonderfully informative post on a tank that has, as noted in the earlier posts, not received its fair share of attention. But when you say, "The common lack of intercom (except a few units) was also a drawback," I am left wondering how the tank commander communicated with the rest of his crew. Or were you referring to radios (wirelesses)?

Michael

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David Lehmann
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Post by David Lehmann » 24 Aug 2007 06:48

Hello Michael,

In 1940, few French tanks really had an actual intercom system (headphones etc.) for the crew. Most of the crewmember communicated by shouting inside the tank or for example the tank commander who was sitting in the turret had his feet close to the shoulders of the driver below ... just by pushing or kicking he was able to order (left, right etc.).

Than on several vehicles like the Renault UE tankette, the B1 / B1bis tanks you also had an order transmitter with some lights on the driver's instrument panel which allowed the commander in the turret to order simple thinks like: forward, turn right, turn left, speed up, slow down, warning, cease fire etc.
The radio operatore had a specific aluminium helmet with a speaker and headphones. A complete intercom installation was e.g. tested in the B1bis tank, allowing the crew members to communicate together thanks to laryngophones and headphones. A complete drawing of the system can be seen in a document dated from March 1940 and from several photos it seems that it has been used in May/June 1940 by several tanks or even tank battalions.

It seems that this system was not only tested but issued to combat units and not all French tanks were devoid of intercom system. On a photo of the B1bis "Ulm" (47e BCC) the tank commander seems to speak in such a device. On another photo of the B1bis "Tahure" (49e BCC), all the crew members have helmets with headphones instead of only the radio operator.
According to testimonies from veterans, the Somua S35 tanks from the 18e RD (Régiment de Dragons) had also an intercom system in May 1940. On this photo from a Somua S35 of this precise unit the commander seems indeed to have a helmet with headphones.

Therefore I am convinced several French tank units had a complete intercom system but to what extent compared to all the French tanks? For rather sure, all the pure infantry support tanks like the R35 tanks - let's say the tanks not included in divisions (3 DLMs, 4 DCrs and the DLCs) - had not such an intercom system.

On the German side, the Panzer III and Panzer IV had a complete intercom system AFAIK, adding to the "serenity" of a German crew. In the Panzer I and Panzer II (1-man turret), which were the most numerous German tanks, there was apparently not always an intercom system but I am not 100% sure.

Regards,

David

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » 24 Aug 2007 11:47

"In May 1940 only three tracked vehicles were able to make a 280-300km stage without minimal maintenance: the Pz35(t), the Pz38(t) and the Somua S35 all the other German or French tanks made generally 120km - 150km stages per day or needed maintenance. "

Thats information difficut to find. What sources or reading can you recomend on the subject of reliability of these tanks? Anything else on the subject that can be posted easily here?

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Post by Michael Emrys » 25 Aug 2007 02:33

David Lehmann wrote:Hello Michael,

In 1940, few French tanks really had an actual intercom system (headphones etc.) for the crew. Most of the crewmember communicated by shouting inside the tank or for example the tank commander who was sitting in the turret had his feet close to the shoulders of the driver below ... just by pushing or kicking he was able to order (left, right etc.).
Ouch! That must have been a bruising experience for the driver, especially whenever the TC got excited in combat.

But I think this system was not exclusive to the French army. ISTR something similar being reported by tankers in some of the early war US tanks.
Than on several vehicles like the Renault UE tankette, the B1 / B1bis tanks you also had an order transmitter with some lights on the driver's instrument panel which allowed the commander in the turret to order simple thinks like: forward, turn right, turn left, speed up, slow down, warning, cease fire etc.
That's very interesting. I've never heard of that before. I have to wonder if the reaction times of the crew might sometimes have been slower with a visual system due to the crewmembers being distracted and having their eyes fixed somewhere else.

Thanks once more, David.

Michael

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Post by David Lehmann » 25 Aug 2007 09:09

Carl Schwamberger wrote:"In May 1940 only three tracked vehicles were able to make a 280-300km stage without minimal maintenance: the Pz35(t), the Pz38(t) and the Somua S35 all the other German or French tanks made generally 120km - 150km stages per day or needed maintenance. "

Thats information difficut to find. What sources or reading can you recomend on the subject of reliability of these tanks? Anything else on the subject that can be posted easily here?
Hello,

I took that once in a book and it has remained as such in my notes for long ... but indeed I must say it sounds a bit too inclusive/exclusive and we don't know exactly on what it is based.
Even on the French side you would find examples proving French tanks able to do better ... but on the other side there are also examples of the same models of tanks with mechanical breakdown quite rapidly.

In notes from General Jean Perré, commander of the 2e DCr in 1940 you can read: "Concerning the robust and sturdy characteristics of our tanks, the B1bis tanks went beyond our hopes. Several of them had crossed 1,600 km without more maintenance than a quick oiling on the evening. The Hotchkiss H39 tanks proved to be more fragile. The Renault R35 tanks were exceptionally robust."

Indeed, I have read many times that the R35 was exceptionally robust and sturdy. A simple tank ... with other drawbacks of course (speed etc.). This tank could apparently cross 500 km without a single maintenance or oiling operation if needed. But such thing are indeed hard to generalize to all tanks from same model.

About the autonomy of the tanks (in km, by road), I have these data roughly:

Panzer I: 170
Panzer II: 200
Panzer III: 165
Panzer IV: 165
Panzer 38(t): 250
Panzer 35(t): 190

Renault FT17: 35
Renault ACG1 (2-men APX-2 turret): 160
Renault R35/R40: 140
Hotchkiss H35/H39: 150
FCM36: 225 ==> single French tank with diesel engine
Renault D1: 90
Renault D2: 100
Somua S35: 255
Renault B1bis: 160

Regards,

David

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Post by David Lehmann » 25 Aug 2007 09:30

Michael Emrys wrote:
That's very interesting. I've never heard of that before. I have to wonder if the reaction times of the crew might sometimes have been slower with a visual system due to the crewmembers being distracted and having their eyes fixed somewhere else.

Thanks once more, David.

Michael
I am not home right now but I have probably a photo or 2 of such light panels to show you.

Regards,

David

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Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Sep 2007 05:02

"About the autonomy of the tanks (in km, by road), I have these data roughly: "

David... what do you regard as the most relaible sources for this sort of data?

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Post by David Lehmann » 04 Sep 2007 07:04

Carl Schwamberger wrote:"About the autonomy of the tanks (in km, by road), I have these data roughly: "

David... what do you regard as the most relaible sources for this sort of data?
Hi,

For French tanks I rely on original technical data and then on books and articles by Stéphane Ferrard, François Vauvillier, Pierre Touzin, Pascal Danjou, Antoine Misner.

For the German tanks I often see e.g. Jentz. The latter is full of errors concerning the French tanks but since it emphasizes on the German ones I guess it is more accurate for them.

Regards,

David

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Post by Tim Smith » 04 Sep 2007 12:24

Thanks to David for more brilliant information on French forces (as always!)

The Somua 35 is indeed a very impressive tank indeed by 1938 standards. Despite its one-man turret and poor communications equipment, I regard it as superior to any of the following contemporary foreign tanks - German Panzer III Ausf D, British A9 Cruiser Mk I and A10 Cruiser Mk II, and Czech LT-38 / Pzkpw 38(t).

Very telling that the Germans needed to roll out their 'heavy tank' - the Panzer IV - to beat the S-35 medium tank, and even then they took considerable losses in tank vs tank combat. (Panzer IV was regarded as a heavy tank in 1937-1940.)

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