FRENCH INFANTRY TANK

FRENCH INFANTRY TANKAfter the First world war, France had the largest tank Park in the world. And the main part of it were the fighting vehicles Renault FT17— without a doubt the best tanks of the last war, which allowed them not to hurry with the creation and adoption of new models of armored vehicles. However, in 1926, he developed the first post-war concept of development of armored forces. The armament of the infantry was supposed to have three types of tanks: light, medium (or “combat”—weighing up to 20 tonnes) and heavy.

 
Technical requirements for a light tank provided for the creation of combat vehicles weighing from 9 to 12 tons and a speed of 12 km/h. the Throughput of the new tank was not supposed to be lower than the FT17, and the armor is able to protect against any infantry weapons. The weapons intended from a twin installation of gun and machine guns, and firepower increased by the installation of guns caliber 47 mm instead of 37 mm from FT17. Every tank had to have a radio station, and the crew was introduced the third man—radio operator. In addition to technical characteristics, the requirements for new tank stressed the need for simplicity in manufacture and low cost, as it was supposed to deploy its mass production.
 
The contract for the design of the chassis of the new tank received a firm “Reno”—the Creator of the FT17. The tower instructed the firm “Schneider”—a certain logic in this decision was: with weapons it was a finished unit, so you can use it on the tanks of other types. By this time, Renault has developed a tank NC (also known as NC27—development FT17) with a more powerful engine and lengthened chassis. In addition, gearbox has been installed on it traditionally behind the engine. The vehicle had a suspension of two types: the first with a metal caterpillar-like (FT17) and blocked with coil-spring suspension, the second with rubber caterpillar type “Kegress” and blocked the suspension on the leaf springs. Tank NC made just 13 copies were tested in many countries and was even purchased by Sweden and Japan.
 
Char de bataille D1
 
Char de bataille D1
 
Tank D1 with removed bulwark.
 
Tank D1 with removed bulwark:
 
1 — idler; 2—driving wheel; 3 — rocker; 4—truck suspension; 5—single rear support roller; 6—front single support roller; 7 — a tension mechanism; 8—spring suspension
 
New light tank decided to develop on the basis of the NC metal caterpillar. Initially, the project received the designation NC 1928 (NC28), later changed to D (and from the beginning of development D2—D1). The first design studies are not completely satisfied military, but at the same time showed that the implementation of their conditions according to specifications is unlikely. This fact pushed, on the one hand, the development of new requirements, led to the appearance of the tank D2, and with another — has caused doubts about the possibility of the implementation of the programme of tank 1926 for technical and economic reasons. Was that a light tank, if all the requests, it is not so easy and is quite expensive and therefore not widespread. This realization has led to the need to develop more of a light tank than envisaged by the requirements of 1926. But that’s another story, unrelated to the tank D1.
 
However, the development of D1 it was decided to continue, as this project could be implemented in the near future. The contract it signed in may 1929, and in December issued the order for the manufacture of a batch of ten tanks. Without waiting for the release of the prototype, 23 December, 1930, was issued an order for another 70 cars. The first tank was produced in may 1931 and the last in November. As soon the tanks were tested, and the design of the following instances changes were made. The first instance assembled chassis had the exhaust pipe on the left side, as in NC; later on all D1 it was moved to starboard.
 
Because the design of the new tower was late, on the first cast D1 mounted machine gun turret from the FT17, but the gun was missing. There was no antenna. The remaining nine cars of the initial batch had cast or riveted turret with 37-mm guns and antennas in the rear of the case.
 
The legacy of the NC new tank went to the unsatisfactory operation of the transmission. D1 is not very well managed and had defects in the chassis.
 
Firm “Schneider” in the meantime, developed the ST1 tower, which was ordered in the amount of ten pieces in November 1930. By design, she kept repeating the tower of one of the prototypes of the tank, but instead of right 7,5-mm machine gun was equipped with 47 mm SA34 gun. It should be noted that the ST1 tower was used not only in the D1 and installed on the prototype tanks and D2. Therefore, not all ten were on made chassis D1.
 
Test chassis with D1 tower ST1 showed that the new tank can be put into service after the elimination of some defects. So, on the newly manufactured cars were required to install the new engine produces 74 HP (which, however, was never implemented), to increase the area of the radiator, change the transmission ratio at the 5th and 6th gears, strengthen the chassis and… to develop a new tower.
 
Tests of the upgraded chassis have been quite successful, and all of the instances from the party that was ordered in 1930, was manufactured with the above changes (except picking a 74-horsepower engine). The next order for another 30 tanks followed by 12 June 1932, and the last (for 50 cars)-16 October 1933. The supply of tanks began in January 1932. The tower was still not ready, coming in troops and tanks temporarily received a tower from the same FT17.
 
Meanwhile, we have developed two new types of towers—ST2 and TS. To be safe I decided to do both. In 1933 they were ready and tested. The best results showed ЅТ2, and although she is not completely satisfied military, it was still decided to put it in the episode, however, again after making changes. In the original version of the commander’s cupola was fixed, but it could recline. Another door was on the side wall ЅТ2. In a serial option the commander’s cupola to rotate, but do not recline. Thus, the epic creation of the first production of French tank turret with dual installation of armament was completed, and D1 to become intended for them a tower directly on the Assembly line. Replaced the tower and released earlier tanks. By the end of 1930-ies tank D1 tower ЅТ1 preserved only in the tank school in Versailles.
 
Serial production of the D1 took place slowly, and the last tanks left the Assembly shop in early 1935, when it was deployed to the release of more modern machines. There were built about 160 tanks, including the first 10.
 
Building D1 was going in the frame corners using rivets. The thickness of the frontal, side and stern armor was 30 mm, undercarriage and the roof—10 mm. Between the driver (left) and radio operator (right) in the Department of management was placed stationary in the housing of the 7.5-mm tank machine gun “Chatellerault” model 1931 (Chatellerault М1931), the fire from which was the driver. The latter was located in a special cabin, in front of the compartment where there was a hatch with a hinged lid, equipped in turn with a viewing hatch. This design of the hatch cover was used on some FТ17 when upgrading them to the level of FТ31. In addition, the driver for observation there were two observation slits in the side walls of the wheelhouse and the roof could be installed in the periscope. The same periscope was the radio operator—he is, in fact, was his only means of observation. A round hole in the front armor plate in front of the radio operator to serve as a loophole for firing personal weapons (such loopholes D1 did not have), and was designed for mounting lights carried inside the tank and used as needed.
 
Tank D1
 
Tank D1:
 
1—the tower ЅТ2; 2—mirror vision devices; 3—the radio antenna; 4—tail; 5—towing device; 6-47-mm gun; 7-7,5 mm machine gun; 8—cover of the driver’s hatch; 9—cap radio operator hatch; 10—commander’s cupola; 11 —the aft hatch tower; 12—damper

 
Radio ЕR52 or ЕR52bis had an unusual antenna in the form of L-frame in the stern of the hull. More than on any French tank, this antenna was not used, and D1 they were removed after the armistice of 1940.
 
The tank commander was the sole occupant of the towers cast ЅТ2. The thickness of its armor was about 40 mm. Coupled install the 47-mm gun ЅА34 with a barrel length of 20 calibers, and 7.5-mm machine gun Chatellerault М1931 allow disconnection from the sight of his gun, and machine gun. This, at first glance, a strange decision was allowed in case of failure of the machine gun to continue firing from a gun or when the purposes for the gun was not to fire from one gun. Horizontal tower unfolded with the worm gear, vertical arms were locked manually. Armor-piercing projectile leaves the barrel of a cannon with an initial velocity of 450 m/s (armor piercing shot was adopted in 1892 for naval guns). The 7.5-mm machine gun “Chatellerault” had store-bought food. This gun was produced in two versions: with the left or right connection of shop. In D1 were applied two machine guns with the right disk magazine to 150 rounds each.
 
To monitor a tank commander had three mirrored viewing device in the walls of the tower. Because these devices were installed on French tanks for the first time, just in case they were duplicated observation slits. In the roof of the tower was the rotating commander’s cupola with a single observation slit. However, fire from a cannon or a machine gun would be sitting or kneeling, look in the mirror observation devices—only standing, but in order to take advantage of the commander’s cupola, we had to stand on a seat! So the excess observation devices, the commander often watched the battlefield through the scope. In the open position, the manhole cover in the side wall of the tower formed a seat, which the commander could use on the March. The lid had a spring-loaded compensator for easy opening. Lateral placement was possible to use the cover and leaving the whole crew of the damaged tank: unfolded hatch from the enemy tower was protected from bullets.
 
4-cylinder carburetor engine “Reno” with a capacity of 65 HP was too weak to 11-ton tank. To temporarily increase the power used off the muffler. Now this method is almost forgotten, but in the beginning of the last century, such devices were often equipped the cars. The fact is that, lowering the noise level, the silencer creates additional resistance for the exhaust gas, slightly reducing the power of the motor. Two radiators placed at the sides of the engine, perpendicular to it. Air through them chased two axial fans placed in the partition separating the motor from transmission. Air intake for cooling was through the armoured shutters, located behind the tower, and the ejection through the blinds in the roof above the transmission. The whole sloping roof over the engine was a two hatch and could recline. These hatches had a mount for ZIP. In the compartment mounted six-speed transmission, differential and final drives. Above the transmission was located 165 litre fuel tank, providing a supply of fuel of up to 90 km and the Tank was covered with a thick layer of rubber that kept its integrity with the defeat small-caliber projectile or fragment of the armor.
 
Tank D1 with turret FТ17
 
Tank D1 with turret FТ17
 
Abandoning the tail on the tank NC, D1 back, as increases in core permeability was considered to be more important than the deterioration of the maneuverability. At the end of the tail is attached to a spring of the towing device, and on the sides of the hooks for tow chains.
 
Chassis tank D1 was performed according to the type of tank NC and obsolete by the beginning of the development, and by the end of the serial production was a complete anachronism. The Shoe tracks had a width of 325 mm and performed by the teams: plice truck was pricipales plate, forming a treadmill for skating rinks. From falling caterpillars kept not the ridges on the tracks, while the flange on the rollers.
 
Sloth with a screw mechanism tension was located in the front and drive sprocket at the rear of the case. Single gear ring of the drive wheel is not removed, like on modern tanks, but since the speed of movement D1 was small, he almost never wore out. Support rollers were not, and the upper branch of the caterpillars slid the glasses pendants, and special troughs. Suspension of the tank is blocked, for one Board consisted of three rocker arms, each of which is attached to two carts (two in each rink). In addition, between the front yoke and idler, and between the back yoke and an asterisk was on one strong rink with its own suspension system. Interestingly, under normal conditions of operation of these rinks (or rather, crawler tracks, on which they relied) did not touch the ground, and played the role of idlers—requirements for the tension of the tracks from D1 was very hard, because the slightest slack it came off the bead rollers. On hard way the tank was moving, relying on the lugs of the tracks, a large area which is allowed to do this without destroying the road. On soft ground cleats were zaglublenie, and tank have relied on Pliny caterpillars (12 rollers on each side). And only on very weak ground, the caterpillar is so failed that the work entered is the last two pairs of rollers, increasing the length of the support surface to the maximum.
 
Since the rate of movement D1 in comparison with FТ17 increased, the tank had to be equipped with wings. To cover the entire upper branch of the caterpillar engineers at Renault decided not to, and the wings were only in the back part of it. On the left wing is attached to the muffler of the motor, and on the right is usually transported a canvas awning.
 
Delivery D1 in the armed forces of France, as mentioned earlier, began in January 1932 and ended in early 1935. Of these tanks formed into three battalions (VSS) for 45 tanks. Their staff structure was the same. Separate tank battalion consisted of three companies and a reserve of six combat vehicles. The company consisted of four platoons, three in each tank, and tank company commander. Support units consisted of about a hundred vehicles, but repair Department was weak, and caterpillar tractors for the evacuation of the destroyed tanks was not simple.
 
The original tank battalions, armed with D1, were placed in France. But with the arrival into service more modern machines D1 were transferred from North Africa. Transfer tanks in Tunisia began in 1937 and ended in 1939. Only in Africa were transferred 152 tank D1, and in France there are only eight machines that were probably used for training purposes. In Tunisia, D1 has received three tank battalions—61, 65th and 67th BCC. The 61st and 67th battalions was stationed in Bizerte, and 65th in Gabes. In Gabes was the so-called ROAR (Parc d enngins blindes Park armored vehicles), where he kept the other 17 tanks. This Park was carried out not only storage, but also repair, allowing you to maintain a constant composition of the tank battalions (tank, needing repair, have been reported in the ROAR, and in its place from the Park came another). These parts were intended to cover the Eastern border of Tunisia from the Italians, who with the advent of Mussolini to power, tried to play a dominant role in the region. In case of conflict, the D1 would be a formidable opponent for the Italian tankettes, because these tanks were the most powerful of the French tanks in North Africa. But the war began not in Africa but in Europe.
 
On 1 September 1939 the German Wehrmacht crossed the border of Poland and the Second world war. Poland was quickly occupied by Nazi Germany. Security guarantees given to it by France and England, turned out to be simple declarations. Although these countries and declared war on Germany, a real help to Poland was limited to the attempted delivery of weapons and minor show of force at the border. The West was “strange war”. Hitler’s proposal about the world was rejected by Britain and France, but large-scale hostilities was not conducted. Italy, although he was an ally of Germany, but was not at war with England and France. However, the clarity with the position of Mussolini it was not—will do it when the opportunity in the war on Germany’s side or remain neutral? In such circumstances, to denude the border in Tunisia the French were not resolved, and the issue of return D1 in the metropolis while not standing (in addition, the tank was considered obsolete for the European theater of operations).
 
Arrangement D1
 
The layout of the tank D1:
 
1-7,5-mm a machine gun course; 2—seat driver; 3—seat radio operator; 4-47-mm gun; 5 —telescopic sight; 6—louver air intake; 7—engine; 8—cooler; 9—tank; 10—louver air throw; 11 — transmission

 
Finally, the “phony war” began and ended with “blitzkrieg”. After the disaster at Dunkirk, the French finally decided to throw one tank battalion, armed with D1, in the metropolis. 67th BCC was sent by sea from Bizerte to Toulon. History of the combat use of tanks D1 in the campaign of 1940 is rather short. In fact, the battalion ceased to exist a few days from the moment of arrival on front.
 
The Germans captured 18 D1 in the state allowing introduction into the system, but there is no evidence that they tried to do it. An older car, the same awful slow, was just not needed. Perhaps they used the tower of D1 in the construction of defensive structures, but evidence for this is also not found. After the armistice with Germany and Italy 61st and 65th VSS was disbanded and all the equipment has been in storage under the control of Italy. Since the signing of the truce in Tunisia there were 107 tanks of type D1, 20 of them from the line of the Lamai beach in Tunisia, the French had managed to quietly withdraw to Algeria, and the Italians did not know. These machines become a “secret” tanks of the French army. 10 D1 was in such a condition, which excluded the possibility of exploitation, but the French still did not declare the desire to put them in storage. Perhaps they later dismantled for parts. Thus, in the summer of 1940 the storage under Italian control was 77 tanks D1.
 
In October 1940, the French appealed to the Italians to allow the commissioning of 62 light tanks, citing the need to protect its colonial Empire. The necessary consent they received, but D1 number of these machines were not. By the end of December 1940 the Italians allowed operation 50 tanks, but again, without D1. Permission to unlock 62 D1 Italians were only given in the summer of 1941, and when the transfer of these tanks to Algeria. To have these quite powerful tanks in his backyard in Tunisia Italians feared, and therefore consent to unlock another 15 D1 for service in Tunisia by the French was not obtained.
 
In 1942, D1 tanks had to shoot at the Americans who landed on November 9 at Oran. The main objective of the landing than the environment of the city, was the rapid seizure of airfields, which was planned to throw the allied air forces. Therefore, at 9.00 a light armored column of Colonel waters, speaking of the Gulf of Arzew, started the movement to capture the airfield, Tatarasi. At 11.00 a.m. the convoy reached the airfield, where he was kondratkova French. In the brief battle, the Americans destroyed 14 French tanks, and an hour later, waters reported that the airfield was ready to receive aircraft from Gibraltar. In the heat of battle the Americans had identified the destroyed tanks Renault R35 and since then this legend roams the American and British books about the battles in North Africa. In fact, in Oran R35 did not exist (as, indeed, and H35). However, the battle with the French at the airport was not easy. About their losses the Americans to spread not love, but after the capture of the airfield Tatarasi column of Colonel waters lost the ability to attack and stopped. The loss of the Americans almost doubled from the French.
 
In Tunisia, allied landings had been made, and the commander of the French forces of the army General Georges Barre did not know how to do it. On the one hand, all pre-war plans were designed to cover Tunisia from the Italian-German troops. On the other hand, things were not as intended. In November 1942 German and Italian troops began landing in several cities of Tunisia. True, the French part was given in a state of combat readiness, including 15 tanks D1. Barre knew that sooner or later, and to fight with the Germans have, and was preparing to deploy its troops in the mountains West of the city of Tunis, front to the East, but without entering into direct confrontation with the Germans and trying to stall for time. Nine tanks D1 in the composition of the consolidated group took Medjez-El-Bab, to delay the advance of the Germans to Algeria. On 11 November 1942, the British captured the port of Bougie, in front of the French parts, and on November 16 came into contact with the forces of General Barre. The unit that took Medjez-El-Bab, it is possible to slightly delay the German part, not engaged in battle, but in the end he has to go to Mediesu. But how long this game of “cat and mouse” could not continue. The Germans sent to Barre your representative, demanding unconditionally be on their side. Barre this requirement rejects, and the German representative said that from 7 am on 20 November the Germans began hostilities against the French troops. The next day the French enter the fray with the Germans seeking to take Mages, in defence of which actively participate and tanks D1. In the end the French had to move away, but the first time they enter into battle in North Africa on the allied side.
 
In the continuing struggle for Tunisia all the remaining D1 were consolidated into one battle group. They could still be used in the defense, but when the allies themselves took the offensive, the obsolescence of these slow-moving machines became apparent. Therefore, in the beginning of March 1943 all D1 was withdrawn into reserve, and their crews began transition training on the British tanks “Valentin”. So the defeat of the Italo-German forces in North Africa occurred without their participation. However, the service D1 has not yet been completed. After the end of hostilities in this theatre 10 D1 was fixed and included in the protection of Tunisia. But it was the end of the story of this tank.
 
Unfortunately, to date there is no single instance of the tank D1.
 
V. MALGINOV

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